Van Jones, CNN commentator and new Roc Nation signee, brought his “We Rise” Tour to the District to mobilize millennials against hate and President Donald Trump.
The tour stopped at the Warner Theatre on Friday, Aug. 11 with Roc Nation recording artist Rapsody, American University student body President Taylor Dumpson and Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous.
“I am sick of you guys being stressed and depressed since this last election,” Jones said. “Part of the reason we’re doing the tour is because we think people need to begin now making a shift. I think what’s wrong with the country is too many mean dumb people are doing too much mean dumb stuff.
“That’s not the biggest problem,” he said. “The good people, the kind hearted people, have not gotten together yet and figured out what we want to do.”
During the 14-city tour, Jones aims to address the current divisive racial climate in the country and engage local communities and change-makers to help address issues such as climate change, criminal justice reform and equal access to opportunities in technology.
“I’ve gotten a chance to go all over the country and I’ve seen stuff that I don’t always get a chance to talk about on television,” Jones said. “What I discovered over this past few weeks was pretty extraordinary. I went to West Virginia and what I saw was poverty, addiction, high death rates and a broken criminal justice system. I went to South Central L.A., [the] Arizona-Mexico border, Chicago and I saw the same thing.”
Jones asserted that he saw a common pain with no common purpose, which he plans to do something about with well-meaning people such as Jealous, a longtime friend and former CEO of the NAACP.
“We’re getting tricked and manipulated when you have this many people with this many problems, and instead of turning to each other, we’re turning on each other,” Jones said. “It’s time for people like us to stand up to the government and say enough of the nonsense.”
Jealous used his time as the keynote guest to showcase why he’s the best choice for the governor of Maryland.
“My family’s been in Baltimore almost 80 years,” he said. “My grandma went to work for Planned Parenthood in 1940 in Baltimore. I know what it takes, because my family’s lived it. To go in a generation from raising your kids in a housing project to sending your child off to Oxford as a Rhode Scholar.”
Jealous said his success is largely due to affordable education.
“I can only explain it — yes, by my grandparents’ hard work, mom’s hard work and my hard work — but ultimately by public higher education that is free or almost free and good union job,” he said. That’s what made it possible.
“Our state had moved to a place where hard work is no longer enough,” Jealous said. “You got to have luck just to get down the street, so I’m running for governor to make sure hard work is enough.”