Cover image for Behind the dream : the making of the speech that transformed a nation
Behind the dream : the making of the speech that transformed a nation
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Physical Description:
xx, 204 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
History in the making -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- A strike of lightning, then fifty years of rolling thunder -- In the present, tense.
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 323.092 JON 0 1
Book 323.092 JON 1 1

On Order



"I have a dream." When those words were spoken on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, the crowd stood, electrified, as Martin Luther King, Jr. brought the plight of African Americans to the public consciousness and firmly established himself as one of the greatest orators of all time. Behind the Dream is a thrilling, behind-the-scenes account of the weeks leading up to the great event, as told by Clarence Jones, co-writer of the speech and close confidant to King. Jones was there, on the road, collaborating with the great minds of the time, and hammering out the ideas and the speech that would shape the civil rights movement and inspire Americans for years to come.

Author Notes

Clarence B. Jones served as speechwriter and counsel to Martin Luther King, Jr. and is currently a scholar-in-residence and visiting professor at Stanford University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute. Selected by Time magazine in 1972 as one of "The 100 Future Leaders of America," and twice recognized in Fortune magazine as "A Businessman of the Month," Jones has received numerous state and national awards recognizing his significant contributions to American society. He lives in Palo Alto, CA.

Stuart Connelly is an author and filmmaker. He is a recent National Educational Press Association Award winner and blogs for The Huffington Post. He divides his time between rural Pennsylvania and New York.

Reviews 2

Kirkus Review

With the assistance of filmmaker and Huffington Post contributor Connelly, Jones, who was present at the creation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, revisits the forces that generated the 1963 March on Washington and that animated the speech that now represents an entire era.The author, a former attorney for King, does not offer a detailed account of how King and his advisors crafted the speech; for that, see Drew Hansen'sThe Dream (2003) or Eric J. Sundquist'sKing's Dream (2009).In fact, writes Jones, he did not even see a final copy before he heard it, but he was pleased that King kept his suggestion for the initial image of the promissory note. However, the author provides numerous intriguing insider insights about life on the road with Kingnotably, the amusing moment when Jones, frustrated with the egos of some of the other speakers elbowing for position in the event's final, prime slot, asked if any of them really wanted to follow King to the podium; none did. Jones also confirms a couple of stories: that the Justice Department did indeed have a "kill switch" on the sound system, and that gospel singer Mahalia Jackson urged Kingduring the speech to talk about his dream, at which point King turned his prepared remarks face down and continued somewhat extemporaneously. Jones explains how and why he, at the last minute, copyrighted the speech, and he pays homage to Nelson Rockefeller and Sen. Ted Kennedythough he is less generous to JFK and RFK. He describes severe worries and frustration, given that the daunting logistics of the March, and ends with some reflections on America's enduring racism, the contentious issue of reparations and the uneven presidency of Barack Obama.Essential reading about a moment of surpassing political and moral importance.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

On August 28, 1963, King delivered his "I have a dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Jones co-wrote it with King and now tells the behind-the-scenes story of the weeks of 1963 leading up to that watershed event. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Souls Beyond Measurep. xi
Chapter 1 History in the Makingp. 1
Randolph's Legacyp. 3
Home Away from Homep. 9
Spin Before There Was Spinp. 15
Divided We Stoodp. 21
Plagued by Doubtp. 27
The Celebrity Delegationp. 32
No Turning Backp. 42
Chapter 2 Tuesdayp. 49
Early Signs, Early Warningsp. 51
A Group of Lobbyistsp. 54
Memory and Metaphorp. 66
"To Counsel with My Lord"p. 77
Chapter 3 Wednesdayp. 81
Dawn Reconnaissancep. 83
So Tired of All the Exploitationp. 89
How Do You Know You're Making History?p. 92
'Buked and Scornedp. 95
Preparation: The Speech, Part Onep. 104
The Mechanics of Trustp. 113
Instinct: The Speech, Part Twop. 115
Electricity in the Airp. 118
Saving the Best for Lastp. 125
Chapter 4 A Strike of Lightning, Then Fifty Years of Rolling Thunderp. 127
Putting a Name to Itp. 129
Why Did "I Have a Dream" Capture the World?p. 134
Breaking the Recordsp. 138
Out from the Gloomy Pastp. 144
Chapter 5 In the Present, Tensep. 151
Welcome to Funtownp. 153
Money Makes the World Go 'Roundp. 159
The Shepherdless Flockp. 168
Dream On, March On...p. 181
Acknowledgmentsp. 189
Notesp. 191
Indexp. 199