“The symphony of social justice:” Dr. Clarence B. Jones reads Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”

“The number one document of all is the ‘Letter from the Birmingham Jail.’ That is the symphony of social justice that he wrote.” – Dr. Clarence B. Jones, from Peace Be Till

In 1963, Clarence Jones smuggled the words of Martin Luther King Jr. out of his Birmingham, Alabama, jail cell, where he was being held for his participation in a peaceful demonstration. The former personal counsel, speechwriter and advisor to Dr. King reads from King’s defense of nonviolent direct action in this excerpt of Peace Be Till, a work written in 2018 by Oakland-based composer Zachary Watkins for the Kronos Quartet.

Read KQED article about Peace Be Till >

Music composed by Zachary Watkins

Featuring the voice of Dr. Clarence B. Jones

Performed by Kronos Quartet
David Harrington, violin
John Sherba, violin
Hank Dutt, viola
Sunny Yang, cello

Additional vocals by Amber McZeal

Film edited by Evan Neff

Film produced by the Kronos Performing Arts Association

Zachary Watkins’ Peace Be Till was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by Carnegie Hall, with additional support from the David Harrington Research and Development Fund. Peace Be Till received its world premiere on January 19, 2018, at Carnegie Hall as part of The ’60s: The Years that Changed America festival.




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