BRONX, N.Y. – U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) today joined community leaders to honor civil rights icon Dr. Clarence B. Jones and recognize the Riverdale community for their historic contributions to the March on Washington held 60 years ago this week and America’s enduring civil rights movement.
“Today, as a Bronx family, we celebrate not only a great American but one of the greatest,” said Rep. Torres. “Dr. Clarence B. Jones is a man who labored and lawyered behind the dream for the greatest cause in American history – the cause of equal rights, equal justice, and equal protection under the law. As a Riverdale resident, Dr. Jones had a role in co-organizing America’s greatest march and in co-writing America’s greatest speech. Together, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Jones inspired a revolution where it matters the most – in the very soul of America. And as one of the few living members of Dr. King’s innermost circle, Dr. Jones is, in his own words, the last of the lions. Let us never forget his legacy and that we are all in this together, that we are all bound together by a common humanity, that we are all equal creations in the image of God. There is no one in America who knows this truth more deeply in his mind and who feels this truth more deeply in his heart than Dr. Clarence B. Jones.”
VIDEO of Rep. Torres’s full remarks can be viewed here.
Dr. Jones is a brilliant and dedicated speechwriter, lawyer, and trusted advisor who played a pivotal role in helping Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. craft his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He resided in Riverdale in 1963, where he arranged for Dr. King to move into his home ahead of the March on Washington. Dr. Jones’s Riverdale home came to be known as Dr. King’s “command post north.”
Further, Riverdale, known for its diverse and rich cultural tapestry, served as an inspirational backdrop for discussions that helped fuel the civil rights movement – a place where individuals from all walks of life exchanged ideas and organized action that contributed to the momentum for change.
As such, Rep. Torres presented Dr. Jones with an official statement placed in the Congressional Record and presented the first ever Dr. Clarence B. Jones “I Have a Dream” Award to Dr. Mehnaz Afridi, Director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center and Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College.