Van Jones is calling all people of conscience who care about America to get involved, stand up and help rebuild the American Dream.
Thursday evening I attended the "Rebuild the Dream" event in New York City hosted by Van Jones, featuring the musical group ROOTS with Shepard Fairey DJing. Honestly I went to hear Jones but also to see Fairey whose "Make Art Not War" poster hangs in my living room.
I didn't know much about Jones except he was Obama's Green Energy czar and was thrown under the bus when he was labeled a radical, leftist, commie, raised by Black Panthers or some other such nonsense by the king of fear mongering and right wing echo chamber lies, Glen Beck.
I admit I was skeptical. Is this a front group for Obama's reelection campaign because honestly if that's what this is I'm not interested. I'm suffering from buyer's remorse like many progressives but decided to keep an open mind.
Jones took the stage before a packed house and proclaimed, "We are being lied to." And we're not stupid enough to fall for it. The lies we'll break down tonight are: America is broke. Taxing the rich would hurt America's economy and be a job killer. And the most patriotic thing we can do is to dismantle the government and wreck it. Okay he got my attention.
Jones is handsome, funny, articulate and reminds me of a young Malcolm X. Oops, I mean a young Sidney Poitier. No need to give the psycho hypocrites on the right any ammo cause we know how they love to spin facts into misinformation and lies.
Jones grew up in West Tennessee, attended church, Bible study, public schools and his father, who served in the military police, sent him and several other members of their family to college. He sent Van to Yale Law School where he felt tricked by the poverty and injustice he saw around New Haven. Jones rebelled against his father's ideals and ended up on the "left side of Pluto" as he called it. He headed to Oakland, CA and worked in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America trying to keep kids out of jail by getting them into jobs but was attending more funerals than graduations. He learned, "Angry rhetoric may feel good but it doesn't make a difference. Education is the key to opportunity and nothing stops a bullet like a job." Jones ended up coming full circle back to the values his father taught him. Being an Army brat myself who rebelled against everything my father stood for I understand this quite well.
Jones became emotional, as did I, when he spoke of his father and the lessons he taught him. Including, "Nobody can give you anything that stops you from being poor. Every poor kid has to climb that ladder out of poverty. It's about personal responsibility and society has a responsibility to give us a ladder to climb." The American Dream for his father was the belief that if you worked hard you could create a better life for yourself and your family. Then he asked, "Why are we allowing the ladder of opportunity to fall over without a peep of protest?"