Jan 15, 2024 - Politics & Policy

MLK confidant: He would've been "astonished" if Trump wins again

The book cover for "Last of the Lions"

Photo: Redhawk Publications

Clarence B. Jones — who helped draft Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech — told Axios the late civil rights leader would be "astonished if Trump were re-elected, but not that he is a candidate for president again."

Why it matters: Jones, MLK's lawyer, was a direct witness to some of the biggest moments of the Civil Rights Movement.

Driving the news: Jones is out with "Last of the Lions," an autobiography co-authored by Stuart Connelly that takes readers "across his whole life" — organized from idea to idea.

  • Jones smuggled out King's famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail," which was written on scraps of newsprint and toilet paper.
  • He also acted as an ambassador between King and Malcolm X.

What he's saying: "What the world fails to remember about Dr. King is his steadfast commitment to the exercise and dedication to a commonly acceptable standard or political morality," said Jones, who answered Axios' questions via Connelly.

  • "He would not understand philosophical concepts of 'alternative truths,' or alternative 'facts.'"

Summarizing Jones' message to Americans today, Connelly said: "When you're in the moment, you don't know you're making history. Nothing is for certain, nothing is preordained."

  • "Don't be complacent, and realize that you have to make the next bit of history."

The one thing Jones would want the world to remember about King, who would've turned 95 today:

"With a historically unique alliance with the Jewish community and Hispanic community, in 12 years and 4 months from 1956 to April 4, 1968,  the date of his assassination, with the exception of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, Dr. King may have done more to achieve racial equality, access to economic opportunities, voting rights and personal access to political power, than any other person in the 400+ year history of the United States of America."
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