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Anthony Kapel "Van" Jones born September 20, is an American news commentator, author, and non-practicing attorney. Anthony Kapel Jones and his twin sister Angela were born in in Jackson, Tennessee , about 90 miles east of Memphis. He would sit all day listening to the adults "in these hot, sweaty black churches". Jones was born after the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy , Martin Luther King, Jr.
Green-Collar Jobs, Defined and Counted
He pinned photographs of the Kennedy brothers to a bulletin board in his room in the specially delineated "Kennedy Section". Jones graduated from Jackson Central-Merry High School , a public high school in his hometown, in He received his B. He adopted the nickname "Van" when he was 17 and working at the Jackson Sun.
In , while still a law student at Yale, he was among several law students selected by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights , based in San Francisco, to serve as legal observers in the trial of four officers charged with attacking Rodney King.
King had been beaten by police officers in an incident caught on camera. Three of the officers were acquitted and the jury deadlocked on the verdict of the fourth man. Jones participated with many others in protesting the verdicts. He and others were arrested, but the district attorney later dropped the charges against Jones. The arrested protesters, including Jones, won a small legal settlement.
Jones later said that "the incident deepened my disaffection with the system and accelerated my political radicalization". In an October interview years later, Jones said he had been "a rowdy nationalist on April 28th"  before the King verdict was announced, but that by August he had become a communist.
His activism was also spurred by seeing the deep racial inequality in New Haven, Connecticut , particularly in prosecution of drug use: "I was seeing kids at Yale do drugs and talk about it openly, and have nothing happen to them or, if anything, get sent to rehab And then I was seeing kids three blocks away, in the housing projects, doing the same drugs, in smaller amounts, go to prison. After graduating from law school with his J. It protested against police brutality, held study groups on the theories of Marx and Lenin, and aspired to a multi-racial socialist utopia.
Jones was affiliated with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights , which had brought him to the city as a legal observer in In , Jones initiated their project of Bay Area PoliceWatch, the region's only bar-certified hotline and lawyer-referral service for victims of police abuse. The hotline started receiving fifteen calls a day. Now, obviously, just because somebody calls and says, 'Officer so-and-so did something to me,' doesn't mean it actually happened, but if you get two, four, six phone calls about the same officer, then you begin to see a pattern.
It gives you a chance to try and take affirmative steps.
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He operated out of "a closet-like office" within the space of Eva Paterson, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee, and used his personal computer. Andaya was accused of excessive force in the in-custody death in of Aaron Williams, an unarmed black man who fought on the street with several officers. There was community outrage about his death and pressure on the department to bring justice against Andaya, who witnesses saw kick Williams in the head.
In the year after the incident, the press reported that Andaya had a record of incidents of misconduct in the s. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in addition that Andaya was named in 10 complaints between and , eight of them allegedly for misuse of physical force, when he was a policeman with the Oakland Police Department. In and , Jones led a campaign to defeat Proposition 21 , which would increase "penalties for a variety of violent crimes and required more juvenile offenders to be tried as adults.
He began to work for more solidarity and building broader alliances across politics and class to achieve goals. The proposition was passed by voters, part of a nationwide wave of states' increasing punishments for crimes.
This has led to increasingly high rates of incarceration in the United States, especially of minorities.
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From to , he led an effort to block the construction of a proposed "Super-Jail for Youth" in Oakland 's Alameda County. Books Not Bars later launched a statewide campaign to transform California's juvenile justice system.
Color of Change's mission, as described on its website, is as follows: "ColorOfChange. Our goal is to empower our members—Black Americans and our allies—to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone.
By , Jones had begun promoting eco-capitalism and environmental justice. The Green-Collar Jobs Campaign was Jones' first effort to combine his goals of improving racial and economic equality with mitigating environmental damage.
Van Jones: The Green Collar Economy
He worked to establish the nation's first "Green Jobs Corps" in Oakland. On October 20, , the City of Oakland formally launched the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, a public-private partnership to "provide local Oakland residents with job training, support, and work experience so that they can independently pursue careers in the new energy economy.
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The plan grew out of his earlier work with the Ella Baker Center. Green for All formally opened its doors on January 1, In its first year, Green for All organized "The Dream Reborn", the first national green conference in which the majority of attendees were people of color.
It launched the Green-Collar Cities Program to help cities build local green economies and started the Green for All Capital Access Program to assist green entrepreneurs. As part of the Clean Energy Corps Working Group, it launched a campaign for a Clean Energy Corps initiative which would create , 'green-collar' jobs while retrofitting and upgrading more than 15 million American buildings. We have a long way to go. But today we have a strong organization to help get us there.
Jones advocates a combination of conservation, regulation and investment as a way of encouraging environmental justice and opposing environmental racism. The first wave is sort of the Teddy Roosevelt, conservation era which had its day and then, in , Rachel Carson writes a book, Silent Spring , and she's talking about toxics and the environment, and that really kind of opens up a whole new wave.
So it's no longer just conservation but it's conservation, plus regulation, trying to regulate the bad, and that wave kind of continued to be developed and got kind of a 2. Now there's something new that's beginning to gather momentum, and it's conservation plus regulation of the bad, plus investment in the good Jones published his first book, The Green Collar Economy , in He describes his "viable plan for solving the two biggest issues facing the country today—the economy and the environment.
The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems
In the book, Jones contended that invention and investment was needed to transition from a pollution-based "grey economy" and into a healthy new "green economy". We are entering an era during which our very survival will demand invention and innovation on a scale never before seen in the history of human civilization. Only the business community has the requisite skills, experience, and capital to meet that need.
On that score, neither government nor the nonprofit and voluntary sectors can compete, not even remotely. So in the end, our success and survival as a species are largely and directly tied to the new eco-entrepreneurs—and the success and survival of their enterprises.
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Since almost all of the needed eco-technologies are likely to come from the private sector, civic leaders and voters should do all that can be done to help green business leaders succeed. That means, in large part, electing leaders who will pass bills to aid them.
We cannot realistically proceed without a strong alliance between the best of the business world—and everyone else. Jones had a limited publicity budget and no national media platform. But a viral, web-based marketing strategy earned the book a 12 debut on the New York Times bestseller list.
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Jones and Green For All used "a combination of emails and phone calls to friends, bloggers, and a network of activists" to reach millions of people. Jones later said, "when they asked the question, I burst out laughing because at the time it seemed completely ludicrous that it would even be an option. I think what changed my mind was interacting with the administration during the transition process and during the whole process of getting the recovery package pulled together.
Columnist Chadwick Matlin described Jones as serving as "switchboard operator for Obama's grand vision of the American economy; connecting the phone lines between all the federal agencies invested in a green economy. He described his role as "the green-jobs handyman. I'm there to serve.
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I'm there to help as a leader in the field of green jobs, which is a new field. I'm happy to come and serve and be helpful, but there's no such thing as a green-jobs 'czar. Jones' appointment was criticized by conservative media such as WorldNetDaily and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck , who mentioned Jones on fourteen episodes of his show. In July Color of Change , which Jones had founded but left, launched a campaign urging advertisers on Beck's Fox News show to pull their ads, in protest of Beck's saying that President Obama had a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture".
He used strong language to refer to Congressional Republican lawmakers, and himself, when conveying that Democrats need to step up the fight.
Republicans persisted in their attack on Jones. If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize. As for the petition that was circulated today, I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever. Jones resigned on September 5, , saying he had been the subject of a "vicious smear campaign" by "opponents of reform [of health care and clean energy]" who were "using lies and distortions to distract and divide.
Some liberal commentators expressed continued support for Jones. He led their Green Opportunity Initiative "to develop a clearly articulated agenda for expanding investment, innovation, and opportunity through clean energy and environmental restoration".
In April Jones published his second book, titled Rebuild the Dream. Jones continued after the end of Crossfire as a regular CNN contributor. He has contributed to segments on a wide range of topics, including Obama administration policies,  Supreme Court decisions, protests in Ferguson, Missouri after the fatal shooting by police of an unarmed young black man,  and the Republican presidential primary. On October 18, , Hillary Clinton suggested Russians are "grooming" Tulsi Gabbard to be a third-party candidate who would help President Trump win reelection through the spoiler effect.
Jones is President of The Dream Corps,  a "social enterprise and incubator for powerful ideas and innovations designed to uplift and empower the most vulnerable in our society.
In early , Jones launched YesWeCode, an initiative aiming to "teach , low-income kids to write code". In Jones launched cut50, an organization focused on bi-partisan solutions to criminal justice reform issues.
In March cut50 hosted a "bi-partisan summit" with Republican Newt Gingrich , former Speaker of the House, to promote bi-partisan solutions. In November , cut50 gained the support of singer Alicia Keys.
Jones was a longtime friend of the musician Prince. Prince publicly supported several of Jones' advocacy projects.
After Prince's death, Jones revealed that the musician had been a major philanthropist who preferred to give anonymously to a wide spectrum of charitable causes. As one of Jehovah's Witnesses , Prince did not want to receive public credit for his charitable work. During the California gubernatorial recall election , Jones served as Arianna Huffington's statewide grassroots director. He addressed linking the fight against poverty with the fight against pollution, saying that green jobs would bring "real solutions" instead of "hateful rhetoric".
On April 15, , Jones spoke at Powershift in Washington, DC, addressing more than 10, students on issues of climate justice and standing up for underrepresented communities.