Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Tragic Resignation of Van Jones and Why We (and the Obama Administration) Really Need Him

Van Jones resigned from his position as an environmental advisor Photo: GETTYIMAGES

Van Jones meets with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom at The Green Collar Economy book signing, October 14, 2008.


More very bad news for the Obama Administration (and most importantly the rest of us). The vicious racial and ideological McCarthyism of the national right wing cabal is going to drown this Presidency and everything it stands for if Obama doesn't fight back (and there are many indications and signals that he won't). His abject weakness in combatting his many virulent enemies is not only having a devastating effect on his ability to govern but also directly contributing to our collective inability as citizens to fully engage in meaningful and effective reform of the major problems facing the nation. What's making a very bad situation even worse is that the American Left has generally been as inept and clueless as the Obama administration has been in effectively fighting the pervasive rightwing/protofascist tide that continues to dominate, distort, and pervert the general direction of politics, economic policy, and cultural ideology in the United States. The massive failure of the left to thus far engage in a serious political effort to actively organize, educate, and mobilize millions of citizens to combat and defeat this rising tide of ideological and social insanity on the right is contributing to the weakneed half-measures of a braindead, opportunist, and highly compromised political party (i.e. the Democrats), and an administration that is constantly retreating and running scared in the face of the verbal and legislative onslaughts of a venal and utterly destructive political party (i.e. the Republicans)

On a personal note this development is also a individual tragedy for Van Jones a major black leftist organizer and thinker (and longtime Oakland, CA. resident!) who has throughout his brilliant career done some outstanding political and cultural work in the Bay Area and throughout the country and whose tireless community activism and critically acclaimed book from 2008 The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems (HarperOne Books) -- now available in paperback--has been very effective instruments of social change in this country. It's now clear from the vicious attacks and smears on his work and character by the Right that his thriving activist career and even his personal safety will be adversely affected by this libelous and slanderous campaign. In a fundamental sense we are all personally deeply responsible for and implicated in these heinous events precisely because we say we want, need, and desire fundamental social change. Needless to say President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the general Left are all at the forefront of this debacle as well.


Barack Obama aide resigns over claim that 9/11 was a pretext for war

Van Jones, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, has resigned after it emerged that he had signed a petition stating that the Bush administration may have allowed the September 11 attacks to happen as a pretext to go to war.

By Toby Harnden in Washington
Published: 06 Sep 2009
Telegraph (London)

The ousting of Van Jones, a Left-wing activist appointed by Mr Obama as his "special adviser for green jobs", is a victory for Republicans and a sign of growing weakness within the White House.

It was a major scalp for the Fox News host Glenn Beck, who brought Mr Jones's past to prominence and for weeks has been citing his presence in the Obama administration as evidence that the president is guided by a cadre of radical lieutenants.

In an angry statement issued on Sunday, Mr Jones spoke of a "vicious smear campaign against me" and blamed Republicans for "using lies and distortions to distract and divide".

He said: "I have been inundated with calls - from across the political spectrum - urging me to 'stay and fight'. But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past.

"We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future."

David Axelrod, a senior Obama adviser, praised Mr Jones for the "great deal of commitment on his part" in "removing himself as an issue".

Mr Jones apologised twice last week, for signing the petition and for describing Republicans as "assholes" in February, before he joined the Obama administration.

When asked before the weekend whether Mr Jones enjoyed the confidence of Mr Obama, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, would say only that he "continues to work in the administration".

The White House chose the very early hours of Sunday morning on the Labour Day holiday weekend to make the resignation announcement, a sign that it wanted to bury what had become a major distraction to the battle over health care reform.
Mr Jones's links to a group called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (Storm) led to allegations from the Right that he was a communist.

After the September 11 attacks in 2001, he attended a vigil at which "US imperialism" was blamed for the al-Qaeda strikes on New York and Washington.

In a 2005 interview, Mr Jones said that after the acquittal of the assailants of Rodney King, the black victim of a vicious beating by white police officers in 1991, he was transformed from a being "rowdy nationalist" into "a communist".

The racial overtones of many of his past utterances were a particular liability for a president whose election campaign was nearly derailed by the rantings of his former pastor Jeremiah Wright and has since been anxious to distance himself from black extremism.

Mr Jones had accused whites of using pollution as a weapon against blacks, stating that "the white polluters and the white environmentalists are essentially steering poison into the people-of-color communities, because they don't have a racial justice frame".

The episode has drawn attention to the large number of czars appointed by Mr Obama - many more than in previous administration - and a haphazard system of vetting appointees that allowed such an obviously controversial figure to get through.

"Curious how he made it that far into the administration when a google search could have told you he believed that the Bush Administration had allowed 9/11 to happen," Dana Perino, President George W. Bush's press secretary, told the Politico website.

"It'd be like the Bush White House having a former clansman or Holocaust denier in the West Wing."

Obama Swiftboats Van Jones By Linda Milazzo For OpEdNews September 6, 2009

I was out last evening. I tried to escape, just for a while, back to the days of (Taking) Woodstock when we who worked to end the Vietnam war did so as a united, free-spirited force. I readily admit that in today's times of racism disguised as patriotism, religious perversion, rampant ignorance, unhinged media menaces, and growing hostility amongst Americans, I yearn for that long ago era of 'peace and love.'

Enroute home after my wistful evening, I glanced at my phone and saw a Washington Post alert saying Obama's Green Jobs appointee, Van Jones, had resigned. I was shocked. I knew Jones was being assaulted by the right, but I didn't think he'd resign, and I didn't think the Obama administration would so readily sacrifice this brilliant advocate for the environment and the poor. After all, Jones is a person in the Obama administration who personifies the term "public servant." For progressives, Van Jones' appointment was, and is, Obama's tour de force gift to America of a high level appointee free of corporate entanglements who cannot and will not be bought. Jones is a man for the people in an administration where for the corporation is the norm.

The news of Van Jones' resignation hit me hard. I was particularly bothered by this title by Ryan Grim on the Huffington Post, reporting on Jones' resignation: "Glenn Beck Gets First Scalp: Van Jones Resigns." While I understand how Beck's campaign against Jones might lead Ryan to this conclusion, Ryan and I view this differently.

For me, Jones' resignation isn't a testament to the frenetic dry-drunk tirades of a delusional Fox employee. For me, Jones' resignation was due to the Obama administration's failure to rightfully and necessarily defend a valuable member of its team. Much like it did with humanitarian and foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power in March of 2008, the Obama team sacrificed Van Jones, another humanitarian.

Van Jones was The People's best hope in this Obama administration. Unlike Obama's many remnants from the George(s) Bush and Bill Clinton years; unlike Obama's Democratic party and AIPAC insiders like Rahm Emanuel, and unlike Obama's corporate insiders like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Van Jones was Obama's lifelong tireless advocate for the people - the member of the administration who was most immune to corporate enticement. Jones had dedicated his life to defend the poor and disenfranchised, and was NEVER a seeker of fortune or fame.

But fame found Jones, anyway, among the wide population of environmentalists, social justice advocates and general do-gooders, because Van did everything so much better. His brilliance, vibrance, and inescapable charisma captivated thousands of admirers at major events where he spoke jubilantly and worked tirelessly to inspire acts of compassion and dedication to public service. Van Jones is Kennedy-esque much more than Barack Obama.

Sadly, after Jones' resignation, I'm certain many will question his tenaciousness and fortitude. But that would be foolish. Even a cursory glance at Jones' vast accomplishments will tell you he's a man of action who won't be held back. In Jones' resignation statement he said:

"On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide. I have been inundated with calls - from across the political spectrum -- urging me to 'stay and fight.' But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future."

The line that most captures my attention here is: "I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past." On this line, Van and I disagree. I see it as just the opposite. I believe Van's colleagues, knowing what an incredible talent he is, and what a GOOD man he is, SHOULD have fought for him. The entire Obama administration SHOULD have fought for him. But they didn't. Instead they cow-towed to a screeching, frequently weeping, mostly lying, dry-drunk who hallucinates false images on buildings and calls our first Black president a racist.

Witness for yourselves as Keith Olbermann brilliantly exposes how this deranged Fox News emissary sees hidden messages on buildings. What better proof could there be that this person is unfit to appear on the public airwaves:

More on Van Jones and his work:

Who is Van Jones?

Van Jones is a globally recognized, award-winning pioneer in human rights and the clean energy economy. He is a 1993 graduate of the Yale Law School and an attorney.

Van wrote the definitive book on "green jobs": The Green Collar Economy. In 2008 — thanks to a low-cost, viral marketing campaign — his book became an instant New York Times bestseller. It is today being translated into six languages.

As a tireless advocate for disadvantaged people and the environment, Van helped to pass America's first "green job training" legislation: the Green Jobs Act, which George W. Bush signed into law as a part of the 2007 Energy Bill. He is the co-founder of a number of successful non-profit organizations, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Green For All.

Van is the recipient of many awards and honors, including: the Reebok International Human Rights Award; the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leader designation; the prestigious, international Ashoka Fellowship; and many more. Van was included in the Ebony Magazine "Power 150" list of most influential African Americans for 2009. In 2008, Essence magazine named him one of the 25 most inspiring/influential African Americans. TIME Magazine named him an environmental hero in 2008. In 2009, TIME named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

In March 2009, Van went to work as the special advisor for green jobs at the White House Council for Environmental Quality.

Thank you for visiting This is a site intended to provide some basic information to people interested in Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

On Jones's excellent book:

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. As the "ecological crisis nears the boiling point," human rights activist and environmental leader Jones (president of the national organization Green For All) lays out a visionary, meticulous and practical explanation of the two major challenges the U.S. currently faces-massive socioeconomic inequality and imminent ecological catastrophe-and how the current third wave of environmentalism, the "investment" wave, can solve both. If industry players want to take advantage of growing consumer demand for green solutions, they'll have to follow principles of inclusiveness as well as conservation and inventiveness to create "broad opportunity and shared prosperity" for citizens at all levels of society. Rife with statistics, facts and history lessons, Jones introduces a "Green New Deal," a re-imagining of FDR's original New Deal that makes the government "a partner" (as opposed to a "nanny" or "bully") of the people, and sets about defining the principles of a "smart, supportive, reliable" partnership. Jones examines success stories from around the world (included close looks at Chicago and Milwaukee), defines government priorities at national and local levels and offers concrete solutions; one major positive step for any "significant U.S. metropolis" is to "invest massively in constructing buses, light rail cars, and mass-transit projects," creating good jobs while cutting greenhouse gases. With both caution and hope, Jones concludes that "tens of thousands of heroes at every level of human society" will be needed to carry off this third, and perhaps ultimate, green initiative.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

"Brother Van Jones is a visionary who spells out real solutions in black and white - and, of course, green. Van’s vision of a thriving, green economy doesn’t have throw-away things or throw-away people. It’s the kind of environmentalism everyone can get behind." -- Mario Van Peebles, actor and producer, Mario's Green House

"It’s rare that someone with such a gift for speaking is able to convey the energy and excitement of his message equally well in writing. With The Green Collar Economy, Van Jones surpasses all expectations. The country seriously needs his take on the environment and the economy." -- Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco

"Jones accomplishes the super heroic feat of linking together the solutions for poverty, the energy crisis, and global warming. Van is a visionary of our times, and one of my personal heroes. Every relevant 21st century leader needs to read Van’s book." -- John Hope Bryant, Founder & CEO, Operation Hope

"The Green Collar Economy is a both a rallying call and a road map for how we can save the planet, reduce our dependency on budget-busting fossil fuels, and bring millions of new jobs to America." -- Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund President and New York Times best-selling co-author of "Earth: The Sequel"

"The baton is passed to climate advocate Van Jones who clearly sees that our future must be green and must include everyone. His powerful new book ‘The Green Collar Economy’ shows us how to accomplish it." -- Laurie David

"This book illustrates the link between the struggle to restore the environment and the need to revive the US economy. Van Jones demonstrates conclusively that the best solutions for the survivability of our planet are also the best solutions for everyday Americans." -- Al Gore

"Van Jones has a unique ability to inspire people of all colors, classes and generations to uplift vulnerable people, while protecting our vulnerable planet. His sparkling intelligence, powerful vision and deep empathy are all on full display in The Green-Collar Economy." -- Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives

"Van Jones reminds us that the worst of times can also be the best of times -- that a nation with an abundance of resources it’s wasting -- beginning with its youth -- has an enormous opportunity to stop foolishly bankrupting itself by chasing resources it is running out of -- like oil." -- Carl Pope, Executive Director Sierra Club

"Van Jones’ authentic and passionate arguments trump the status quo. In The Green Collar Economy he holds the welfare of our neediest people front and center as he lays out a viable plan for the remainder of the 21st century." -- Tavis Smiley, Author, Television and Radio Host

"Van’s words echo the sentiments of many indigenous communities, who have endured the effects of coal strip mining, uranium mining and mega dams. The Green Collar Economy outlines industrial society’s path towards a just future." -- Winona LaDuke, Native American and environmental activist --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Van Jones

Anthony Jones
September 20, 1968 (age 40)
Jackson, Tennessee, United States
University of Tennessee at Martin
Yale Law School
Environmental advocate
Civil rights activist
Known for
Former Special Advisor for Green Jobs in the Obama administration
2009 Time magazine 100 Most Influential People
2009 New York Times bestselling author

Anthony "Van" Jones (born September 20, 1968) is an environmental advocate, civil rights activist, attorney and author, who served for several months as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the United States before resigning amidst a political controversy.

Jones founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in 1996, a California non-governmental organization (NGO) working for alternatives to violence. In 2005, Jones co-founded Color of Change, an advocacy group for African Americans.[1] Formerly based in Oakland, California, Jones founded Green For All in 2007, a national NGO dedicated to "building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty."[2] His first book, The Green Collar Economy, was released on October 7, 2008, and reached number 12 on the New York Times Best Seller list.[3] In 2008, Time magazine named Jones one of its "Environmental Heroes".[4] Fast Company called him one of the "12 Most Creative Minds of 2008".[5]

He was appointed by President Barack Obama in March 2009, to the newly-created position on the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where he worked with various "agencies and departments to advance the administration's climate and energy initiatives, with a special focus on improving vulnerable communities."[6] In July 2009 he became "embroiled in controversy"[7] over past political activities, comments and signing a petition for[8] He resigned from the position in early September.[9]

Early life

Jones and his twin sister Angela were born in 1968 in Jackson, Tennessee. Their mother was a teacher at a high school and their father was a principal at a junior high school. Jones's sister says that as a child he was "the stereotypical geek—he just kind of lived up in his head a lot."[10] He has described his own childhood behavior as "bookish and bizarre."[10] His grandfather was a leader of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and Jones sometimes accompanied his grandfather to religious conferences, where he would sit all day listening to the adults "in these hot, sweaty black churches".[10] Jones was a young fan of John and Bobby Kennedy, and would pin photographs of them to a bulletin board in his room in the specially delineated "Kennedy Section". He used to imagine his Star Wars action figures were politicians: Luke Skywalker was John, Han Solo was Bobby, and Lando Calrissian was Martin Luther King, Jr..[11] He graduated from Jackson Central-Merry High School in 1986. Jones earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee at Martin (UT Martin). Before entering law school, Jones worked as an intern at the Jackson Sun (Tennessee), the Shreveport Times (Louisiana) and the Associated Press (Nashville bureau). He also helped to launch and spearhead a number of independent, campus-based publishing efforts. These publications included the Fourteenth Circle (University of Tennessee), the Periscope (Vanderbilt University), the New Alliance Project (state-wide in Tennessee), and the Third Eye (Nashville's African American community).[12] Jones credits UT Martin for preparing him for life on a global stage:[13]

I left UT Martin confident that I could take on any challenge and do well at it if I studied hard and worked hard and kept my nose clean. I really do think you can get absolutely anywhere from UT Martin . . . because of the quality of caring and individual attention.
After graduating from UT Martin, Jones left his home state to attend Yale Law School. In 1993, Jones earned his Juris Doctor and moved to San Francisco, California.

Social and environmental activism

Early activism

In 1992, while still a law student at Yale, Jones participated as a volunteer legal monitor for a protest of the Rodney King verdict in San Francisco. He and many other participants in the protest were arrested. 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."[14] Jones said he was "a rowdy nationalist"[11] before the King verdict was announced. By August of that year, he said, "I was a communist."[11] Jones's activism was also spurred on by witnessing racial inequality in New Haven, Connecticut: "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.”[10]

When he graduated law school, Jones gave up plans to take a job in Washington, D.C., and moved to San Francisco instead.[11] He got involved with Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), a group explicitly committed to revolutionary Marxist politics[15] whose points of unity were revolutionary democracy, revolutionary feminism, revolutionary internationalism, the central role of the working class, urban Marxism, and Third World Communism.[16] While associated with STORM, Jones actively began protesting police brutality.[11]

Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

In 1995, Jones started Bay Area PoliceWatch, the region's only bar-certified hotline and lawyer-referral service for alleged victims claiming police abuse. The hotline started receiving fifteen calls a day.[10] PoliceWatch began as a project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. "We designed a computer database, the first of its kind in the country, that allows us to track problem officers, problem precincts, problem practices, so at the click of a mouse we can now identify trouble spots and troublemakers," says Jones "This has given us a tremendous advantage in trying to understand the scope and scale of the problem. 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.".[17] By 1996, Jones founded a new umbrella NGO, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which "consisted of a closet-like office and a computer that Jones had brought from his apartment."[11]
From 1996-1997, Jones and PoliceWatch led a campaign which was successful in getting officer Marc Andaya fired from the San Francisco Police Department. Andaya was the lead officer accused of the in-custody death of Aaron Williams, an unarmed black man. In 1999 and 2000, Jones was a leader in the failed campaign to defeat Proposition 21, which sparked a student movement that made national headlines.[18][19] In 2001, Jones and the Ella Baker Center launched the Books Not Bars campaign. From 2001-2003, Jones and Books Not Bars led a campaign to block the construction of a proposed "Super-Jail for Youth" in Oakland's Alameda County. Books Not Bars later went on to launch a statewide campaign to transform California's juvenile justice system.[20]

Color of Change

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Jones and James Rucker co-founded a Web-based grassroots organization to address Black issues called Color of Change. Color of Change's mission as described on its web site is as follows: " exists to strengthen Black America's political voice. 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."[1] Within two years of co-founding the organization, Jones moved on to other pursuits, but remains listed on the Color of Change website as "Former Staff".[1][21]

Shift to environmentalism and Green for All

By 2005, Jones had begun promoting eco-capitalism.[22] In 2005 the Ella Baker Center expanded its vision beyond the immediate concerns of policing, declaring that "If we really wanted to help our communities escape the cycle of incarceration, we had to start focusing on job, wealth and health creation."[20] In 2005, Jones and the Ella Baker Center produced the "Social Equity Track" for the United Nations' World Environment Day celebration, held that year in San Francisco.[23] It was the official beginning of what would eventually become Ella Baker Center's Green-Collar Jobs Campaign.

The Green-Collar Jobs Campaign was Jones' first concerted effort to meld his desire to improve racial and economic equality with his newer desire to mitigate environmental concerns. It soon took as its mission the establishment of the nation's first "Green Jobs Corps" in Oakland. On October 20, 2008, the City of Oakland formally launched the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, a public-private partnership that will "provide local Oakland residents with job training, support, and work experience so that they can independently pursue careers in the new energy economy."[24]

In September 2007, Jones attended the Clinton Global Initiative and announced his plans to launch Green For All, a new national NGO dedicated to creating green pathways out of poverty in America. The plan grew out of the work previously done at local level at the Ella Baker Center. Green For All would take the Green-Collar Jobs Campaign mission — creating green pathways out of poverty — national.

Green For All formally opened its doors on January 1, 2008. In its first year, Green For All organized "The Dream Reborn," the first national green conference where the majority of attendees were people of color. It co-hosted, with 1Sky and the We Campaign, a national day of action for the new economy called "Green Jobs Now." 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 600,000 'green-collar' jobs while retrofitting and upgrading more than 15 million American buildings.[25]

In reflecting on Green For All's first year, Jones wrote, "One year later, Green For All is real – and we have helped put green collar jobs on the map... We have a long way to go. But today we have a strong organization to help get us there."[25]


Jones has served on the boards of numerous environmental and nonprofit organizations, including 1Sky, the National Apollo Alliance, Social Venture Network, Rainforest Action Network, Bioneers, Julia Butterfly Hill’s "Circle of Life" organization and Free Press. He was also a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress and a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He was a keynote speaker at the youth conference Power Shift 2009 in Washington, D.C.[1]

During the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election, Jones served as Arianna Huffington's statewide grassroots director.[26]

The Green Collar Economy

On October 7, 2008, HarperOne released Jones's first book, The Green Collar Economy. The book outlines Jones's "substantive and viable plan for solving the biggest issues facing the country--the failing economy and our devastated environment."[27] The book has received favorable reviews from Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Laurie David, Paul Hawken, Winona LaDuke and Ben Jealous.[28]

In the book, Jones contended that invention and investment will take us out of a pollution-based grey economy and into a healthy new green economy.[29] Jones wrote:
[W]e 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. 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. 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.[30] The marketing campaign's grassroots nature has led to Jones calling it a victory not for him but for the entire green-collar jobs movement. The Green Collar Economy is the first environmental book authored by an African-American to make the New York Times bestseller list.[25]

White House Council on Environmental Quality

On March 10, 2009, it was announced that Jones would serve as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.[7] Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley praised Jones's appointment:[7]
Van Jones has been a strong voice for green jobs and we look forward to having him work with departments and agencies to advance the President’s agenda of creating 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources. Jones will also help to shape and advance the Administration’s energy and climate initiatives with a specific interest in improvements and opportunities for vulnerable communities.
Jones, while an ardent supporter of President Barack Obama, originally did not intend to work for the White House, later explaining:[31]
Not only did I say I had no intention of going, 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. I began to see that there was an important role at the table, inside the process, to do make sure all the great things the president wants to do can get done well. But the real miracle was Phaedra [Ellis-Lamkins, who replaced Jones as head of Green for All]. Having done such an extraordinary job in San Jose and California, Phaedra was ready to graduate to a national role, wanted to stay in the Bay Area. ... Once you begin to see that you're not indispensable—in fact somebody can probably do your job better than you—then your mind kind of opens up to other possibilities. I couldn't be prouder to be laying my sword on the table along with everybody else in the Obama Love Army, and I'm excited about it.
His previous position with the Obama Administration had been described by columnist Chadwick Matlin 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."[32] Jones's responsibility is to work with various government agencies to make sure the $30 billion from the stimulus earmarked for green-jobs funding attached to it gets "doled out appropriately."[32] Jones described his position as "the green-jobs handyman. I'm there to serve. 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.'"[33]

Resignation from administration

In August 2009, a controversy arose as some past statements and activities of Jones came to light.

9/11 Truth petition

In 2004, Jones was one of "100 notable Americans" who signed a "911 Truth Statement" from The statement among other things called (referring to the George W. Bush administration) "for immediate public attention to unanswered questions that suggest that people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war."[34] On September 3, 2009, after widespread criticism, Jones issued a statement, "I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever."[35]

Berkeley Green Energy Conference statement

Jones was criticized for comments he made about Republicans during a question and answer session following a speech given at Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative's 2nd Annual Lecture on February 11, 2009, one month prior to his White House appointment. [36] Responding to a question on why Democrats are having trouble moving their initiatives through Congress while Republicans seemed to be more successful when they were in control, Jones replied,
The answer to that is: They're assholes. That's a technical political science term. And Barack Obama's not an asshole. I will say this, I can be an asshole. And some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama are gonna have to start getting a little bit uppity.[37][38]


Controversy over the disparagement of Republicans and Jones's signing of the "911 Truth Statement" led to calls for his resignation or firing, first by Glenn Beck of Fox News Channel[39], who had been under fire from the Color of Change organization, leading to an advertiser boycott. Other conservative commentators soon joined in [40] along with legislators. Representative Mike Pence (R-Indiana), the chairman of the Republican Conference in the United States House of Representatives, said of Jones, "His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate."[41] Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri) urged Congress to investigate Jones' "fitness" for the position, writing in an open letter, "Can the American people trust a senior White House official that is so cavalier in his association with such radical and repugnant sentiments?" Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, chimed in via Twitter saying, "Van Jones has to go."[42]

Jones responded to the criticisms by issuing a statement saying, "In recent days some in the news media have reported on past statements I made before I joined the [Obama] administration – some of which were made years ago. If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize."[43] Regarding his comments about Republicans, Jones said those comments "were clearly inappropriate" and that "they do not reflect the experience I have had since I joined the [Obama] administration."[37]


Following weeks of controversy Jones resigned shortly after midnight (ET) on September 6, 2009, Labor Day weekend. His resignation letter contained the following:[44]

"On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide. I have been inundated with calls -- from across the political spectrum -- urging me to 'stay and fight.' But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future."

White House Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley did not argue with Jones' resignation, saying only he had been a strong voice for renewable energy jobs and wished him well in the future.[45]

Awards and honors

Jones's awards and honors include:[46]

1997-1999 - Rockefeller Foundation "Next Generation Leadership" Fellowship
1998 - Reebok International Human Rights Award
2000 - International Ashoka Fellowship
2008 - Best Dressed Environmental List (#1 of 30); Sustainable Style Foundation[47]
2008 - Time Magazine Environmental Hero
2008 - Elle Magazine Green Award
2008 - One of the George Lucas Foundation's "Daring Dozen"
2008 - Hunt Prime Mover Award
2008 - Campaign for America's Future "Paul Wellstone Award"
2008 - Global Green USA "Community Environmental Leadership" Award
2008 - San Francisco Foundation Community Leadership Award
2008 - Puffin/Nation prize for "Creative Citizenship"
2008 - World Economic Forum "Young Global Leader"
2009 - Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award[48]
2009 - Eco-Entrepreneur Award, Institute for Entrepreneurship, Leadership & Innovation; Howard University
2009 - Individual Thought Leadership, Energy & Environment Awards; Aspen Institute[49]


Van Jones with Ariane Conrad. (2008). The Green Collar Economy. New York: HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-165075-8.

See also

Social justice
Green job
Green collar worker


^ a b c d "What Is". Color of Change. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ "About Us". Green For All. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ "Best Sellers". 18 October, 2008. Retrieved 04 September, 2009.
^ Elliot, Michael (2008). "Van Jones: Heroes of the Environment 2008". Time. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
^ "The 12 Most Creative Minds Of 2008". Fast Company. December 23, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ Judkis, Maura (10 March, 2009). "Obama Drafts Van Jones as Green Jobs Adviser". U.S.News & World Report. Retrieved 04 September, 2009.
^ a b c Lee, Jesse (March 10th, 2009). "Van Jones to CEQ". The Blog. The White House.
^ "Embattled Environmental Aide Resigns". Washington Post. 2009-09-06. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
^ "Jones Leaves Obama Adviser Job Amid Controversy". 06 September, 2009. Retrieved 06 September, 2009.
^ a b c d e Kolbert, Elizabeth (2009-01-12). "Greening the Ghetto". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
^ a b c d e f Strickland, Eliza (November 2, 2005). "The New Face of Environmentalism". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ "Luminary: Van Jones". Institute of Noetic Sciences. Shift in Action. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
^ Mitchell, Rita (2009-05-25). "Van Jones and the Promise of a Green Future". Tennessee Alumnus. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
^ Jones, Van (May 13, 2007). "15 Years Ago: Rodney King Uprising Left LA in Flames -- And Me in Jail!". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ "Reclaiming Revolution: History, Summation, and Lessons from the Work of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM)" (PDF). Spring 2004. p. 21. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ "Reclaiming Revolution: History, Summation, and Lessons from the Work of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM)" (PDF). Spring 2004. p. 24. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ Kennedy, Kerry (2004). "Van Jones". in Richardson, Nan. Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who are Changing Our World (2nd ed.). New York: Umbrage Editions. p. 70. ISBN 1-884167-33-0.
^ Templeton, Robin (February 23, 2000). "California Youth Take Initiative". The Nation. Retrieved 2009-09-02.
^ Hsiao, Andrew (July 18th 2000). "Color Blind". Retrieved 2009-09-02.
^ a b Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Ella Baker Center: A Brief History, accessed 17 August 2009
^ "Former Staff". Retrieved 03 September, 2009.
^ Jones, Van (July/August 2007). "The New Environmentalists". Time. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
^ "Van Jones, esq". Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
^ "Oakland Green Jobs Corps". Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
^ a b c "A New Movement for a New Century: 2008 Annual Report". Green For All. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
^ Coile, Zachary (September 30, 2003). "Huffington considering leaving governor's race". San Francisco Chronicle: p. A1.
^ "About The Book: The Green Collar Economy". HarperCollins. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
^[dead link]
^ Jones, Van (2008). The Green Collar Economy. New York: HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-165075-8.
^ Sabloff, Nicholas (2008-10-20). "How Environmental Activist Van Jones' Book 'The Green Collar Economy' Reached The NYT Best Sellers List". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ Pibel, Doug (March 10, 2009). "Van Jones: Why I’m Going to Washington". Yes Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ a b Matlin, Chadwick (April 19, 2009). "Van Jones: The Face of Green Jobs". The Big Money (Slate). Retrieved 2009-08-25.
^ Burnham, Michael (March 10, 2009). "Obama's 'green jobs handyman' ready to serve". Greenwire. The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
^ "911 Truth Statement". October 26, 2004. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
^ Garofoli, Joe (2009-09-05). "Obama adviser on green jobs under attack". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
^ "BERC 2nd Annual Lecture: Van Jones and the Green Collar Economy". Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
^ a b "White House Green Jobs Adviser Apologizes for Calling Republicans 'Assholes'". September 02, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
^ "Obama's Green Jobs Czar Van Jones: Republicans Are "A**holes"". Real Clear Politics. September 02, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
^ Sarah Wheaton (2009-09-06). "White House Adviser on ‘Green Jobs’ Resigns". New York Times.
^ Cooper, Charles (September 3, 2009). "For Van Jones, A Week Already Feels Like A Year". Coop's Corner (CBS News). Retrieved 2009-09-05.
^ Franke-Ruta, Garance (Sep 4, 2009). "Leading Republican Demands That White House Fire 'Green Collar' Adviser". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
^ Franke-Ruta, Garance (05 September, 2009). "White House Says Little About Embattled Jones". Retrieved 05 September, 2009.
^ Garofoli, Joe (2009-09-05). "Obama adviser on green jobs under attack". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
^ Kornblut, Anne E. (06 September, 2009). "White House Adviser Van Jones Resigns Amid Controversy Over Past Activism". Retrieved 06 September, 2009.
^ "Obama's green jobs czar Van Jones quits under fire". 05 September, 2009, 10:10 PM PST. Retrieved 06 September, 2009.
^ HarperCollins, About the Author, Van Jones (2008)
^ "Best Dressed Environmental List". Sustainable Style Foundation. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
^ "Van Jones: 2009 Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award Honoree". Retrieved September 5, 2009.
^ "Aspen Institute Energy and Environment Awards". Aspen Institute. Retrieved August 18, 2009.

External links

Van Jones' personal website
Biography of Van Jones
'Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in California', The Nathan Cummings Foundation (2004) Retrieved January 28, 2007.
Van Jones' blogs at The Huffington Post
'Van Jones: Speak Truth to Power Defender' (2007 interview) Retrieved February 6, 2007.
'Miracles', Jones' biographical keynote at the Craigslist Foundation's 'Nonprofit Boot Camp' Retrieved September 4, 2009.