The appointment of Van Jones as a White House environmental adviser was announced March 10, 2009. Jones’ official title is Special Advisor on Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Born in rural Tennessee, Jones graduated in 1990 from the University of Tennessee and, in 1993, from Yale Law School. Jones, a civil-rights lawyer, is founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit agency for justice, opportunities, and peace in urban America. Located in Oakland, California, the Center focuses on campaigning to reform California’s abusive and costly youth prison system, creating opportunities in the “green” economy for poor communities and communities of color, supporting victims and survivors of police abuse and their families, and uplifting young people and addressing Bay Area violence with a mix of activism and street culture.
The Ella Baker Center was connected to STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement), a “multi-racial activist collective with Marxist influences” with which Jones was involved.
While never large, STORM was one of the most influential and active radical groups in the Bay Area, controlling numerous front organizations including Bay Area Police Watch, one of several anti police activities, which Jones founded in 1992.
Other STORM fronts included a Marxist training organization, the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and an unemployed rights group, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER)
Speaking to the East Bay Express in 2005, Van Jones said he first became radicalized in the wake of the 1992 Rodney King riots, during which time he was arrested.
“I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th,” he said. “By August, I was a communist.”
“I met all these young radical people of color – I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, ‘This is what I need to be a part of.’ I spent the next 10 years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary,” he said.
Jones has lead many campaigns including Books Not Bars, an advocacy program for parents/grandparents of incarcerated youth in the United States. It has been credited with a 30% drop in the total number of youth incarcerated in California. Additionally Jones sits on numerous governing boards, and following Hurricane Katrina co-founded the largest online activist community addressing Black issues (ColorOfChange.org).
Color of Change has led a campaign prompting major advertisers to withdraw from Glenn Beck’s top-rated Fox News Channel program.
In recent weeks, Beck has done several critical segments about Van Jones, and other members of President Obama’s administration.
Jones was also on the board of the Apollo Alliance, a hard-left environmentalist group that is now running large chunks of the Obama administration. Beck pounded away at the Apollo Alliance and Jones on a recent show.
Immediately following a News Busters report, Colors of Change scrubbed its site of any mention of Jones. The site used to say, “James Rucker and Van Jones came together in the wake of [Hurricane] Katrina to use the organizing power of the Internet to give Black Americans and our allies a renewed and strengthened political voice.”
But now it doesn’t.
After News Busters pointed out the deletion, Colors of Change added Jones back to its site but now claims “Van hasn’t been active in the work of ColorOfChange in recent years.”
“After helping ColorOfChange get started in 2005, Van moved on to other pursuits,” the website now claims. Previously, the site simply listed Jones.
It is difficult to believe that Jones’ connection to Color of Change has nothing to do with their attacks on one of the few outspoken critics of the Obama Administration and the appointment of high-level advisors who are responsible only to the President.
Given his admission of being a Communist and with a felony criminal record, Van Jones would have had trouble being confirmed to a cabinet level postion even with the Congress being in Democratic control.