From the author of What Would Martin Say? and Behind the Dream comes a story ninety-two years in the making.
Last of the Lions is two histories woven together. It’s a personal history; the evocative life of Clarence B. Jones, from his Jim Crow-era upbringing living at the “Blessed Sacrament School for Colored and Native American Boys” through the election of the first Black U.S. President and the chaos beyond… and hundreds of amazing moments in between. But it’s also the coming-of-age story of this country, with the kind of intimate and thought-provoking perspectives that unfurl in classics like Soul on Ice, On the Road, and The Feminine Mystique. Jones participated in nearly every one of the most important political and social movements from the ’50s until today, seven crucial decades that have defined the “American Experience.”
During that time, the landscape of America’s relationship with her Black citizenry has shifted. Jones’ story is the bridge from one America to another – spanning poverty and prosperity, injustice and acceptance, Harlem and Wall Street, the militant philosophy of the radical Black Nation of Islam and the Gandhian philosophy of Dr. King. His experience is the connective tissue that clarifies our past, explains our present, points the way to the future.
Last of the Lions offers a vibrant perspective on human nature and serves as a valuable guide to the still-unfinished business of America: The erasing of the color line. Jones fought the battles, celebrated the victories, suffered the iniquities. And unlike most, lived to see both the fruits of his labor and its failings. History has never felt so present, philosophy so urgent.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR LAST OF THE LIONS
“Clarence B. Jones, in telling the story of his remarkable, consequential life, takes us on a searing and unforgettable journey. This revelatory and essential memoir is simply extraordinary.”
— Ken Burns, Filmmaker
“In a world where the odds are stacked against him, Clarence B. Jones has spent his life trying to level the playing field. Those looking for lessons in leadership, determination, and unerring bravery will find much to admire in Last of the Lions.”
— Stephen Curry, NBA All-Star Basketball Player, Businessman, and Philanthropist
“Clarence Jones is one of those rare people who witnessed an amazing spectrum of American history while making it himself. Not only was he one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s most trusted advisors, he has been a close confidant to presidents, athletes, actors, authors, and activists. Viewing American history through his eyes is a lesson in courageous and compassionate leadership and a window into lost chapters of America’s story.”
— Michele Norris, Columnist, The Washington Post; Former Host, NPR’s
All Things Considered
“Lawyer, activist, speechwriter, and confidant of Dr. King, Clarence Jones is an unsung hero of the Civil Rights Movement. His story is inspiring, compelling, and wonderfully affirming. A beautifully written, urgent, and timely memoir.”
— Bryan Stevenson, American Lawyer, Social Justice Activist, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and Author of Just Mercy
Clarence B. Jones has had a storied career in both the public and private arenas. Despite a busy life as a copyright lawyer, investment banker, newspaper editor, investor, and start-up entrepreneur, he still found time to volunteer as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal attorney, advisor, and draft speechwriter. Additionally, he helped form the Gandhi Society for Human Rights, was an elected New York State Democratic Party delegate, and has been an advisor to politicians at all levels. Dr. Jones has co-authored three books and countless editorials for major newspapers and magazines. A Columbia graduate, he’s taught at Stanford University and recently co-founded the University of San Francisco’s Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice.
STUART CONNELLY is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is the author of several books, including Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation (his first collaboration with Dr. Jones) and the upcoming family memoir Offered in Secret. Connelly’s directorial debut, The Suspect – a thriller that grapples with racial profiling – was the first dramatic feature film ever shown as part of a Brookings Institution panel. He’s a graduate of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and has taught at the Hill School.
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