Van Jones is a frequent guest, political commentator, and contributor on CNN, he also works as a co-host of a political debate program titled Crossfire. Jones is not just a popular CNN political pundit, but also a staunch environmental advocate. He had also once served as a special advisor to the White House during Obama’s administration.
The non-practicing attorney has further garnered wide popularity as the host of his self-titled show; The Van Jones show. For his work as civil rights and political activist, he has received multiple honors and awards, such as being named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. He also bagged the president’s award from the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), alongside Reebok International Human Rights Award.
Van Jones Began His Career As A Writer/Publisher During His Years At Yale
The son of a middle school principal and a high school teacher, Van Jones who was born alongside his twin sister Angela on the 20th of September, 1968 was a bookish kid and according to his sister, he was also a stereotypical geek who lived a lot in his head
Born in Jackson, Tennessee, Jones attended one of his hometown’s public schools, Jackson Central-Merry High School, and would later bag a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Communication from the University of Tennessee at Martin (UT Martin) and then a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School in Connecticut.
Before graduating from Yale, Van Jones worked as an intern at three different times for three different Presses, including The Shreveport Times and Associated Press. he also led a team of student journalists to publish independent, campus-based papers and magazines which included The Periscope; Vanderbilt University, and the Fourteenth Circle; University of Tennessee. At this same time, he also began publishing some of his own individual works.
He Later Became A Civil Rights And Political Activist
Thanks to his passion for civil rights and social justice, after leaving UT Martin, Van Jones attended the Yale Law School and in 1992, he was selected by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, a law organization he was affiliated to, to serve as one of the student legal observers in the trial of four officers charged with attacking Rodney King. When a verdict was reached by the jury, he joined in a protest against the verdict and was arrested. This incident politically radicalized him and he became a political activist soon after.
Dissatisfied with the racial bias of the police and concerned about the level of the police brutality in his community, he co-founded a socialist collective named, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM) – an organization of which he will later be criticized heavily for. In 1995, Jones initiated one of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights’ project called, Bay Area Police Watch, which was a lawyer referral service for victims of police abuse. The next year, he founded a new NGO called the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and between 1999 and 2000, he led a campaign under this NGO to defeat Proposition 21; a proposition which sought to increase penalties for violent crimes and give jail time to minors.
In 2001, he launched the Book not Bars campaign under the umbrella of this NGO, and by 2005, he had partnered with James Rucker to begin a Web-based grassroots organization called Color of Change which aims to give Black people a voice politically. He left the group two years after its formation.
Van Jones The Environmental Advocate
In 2005, Jones began promoting eco-capitalism and environmental justice, and gradually, he grew to become a staunch environmentalist and by September 2007, he announced his plans to launch Green for All – an NGO that creates green pathways out of poverty in America. It was launched in 2008, the same year Jones published his first book The Green Collar Economy which received favorable critical reviews and earned a #12 debut on New York Times’ bestseller list.
In March 2009, he was appointed Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality by Barrack Obama‘s administration but he soon came under severe fire due to his previous affiliations to STORM and past activism, the most notable one was the allegation that he supported a 9/11 conspiracy theory. Following these attacks, he resigned from his position as a special advisor on September 5, 2009, but still continued to advocate for green jobs.
In June 2011, Van Jones worked with MoveOn.org to launch the Rebuild the Dream campaign, intended to start a progressive American Dream movement across the nation, and by April 2012 his second book was published based on the campaign. This book made a #16 debut on the New York Times Bestseller list.
He Joined CNN In 2013
June 2013 saw Van Jones announced as a co-host of a re-boot of the CNN political debate show Crossfire and after a year, the show was canceled.
He continued working for CNN as a regular contributor on a wide range of topics until 2016 when he launched a new series of his own, The Messy Truth by 2017 the program was christened The Messy Truth with Van Jones. In 2018, Jones launched a third series, The Van Jones Show, which currently runs on CNN.
Jones has continued his activism and legal advocacy through his presence on CNN. In 2020, he advised President Trump’s White House on police reform policy following the police killing of George Floyd which gave rise to worldwide Black Lives Matter rallies, Jones would later commend the president’s executive order on police reform.
Jones Has Been Tight-lipped Regarding His Failed Marriage
In 2005, Van Jones got married to his best friend Jana Carter; Jana Carter was the director of the Search for Common Ground’s USA Racial Healing Program. Her father is the younger brother of Jimmy Carter; the 39th President of the United States. The couple had two sons; Cabral and Mattai Jones and looked so happy together that it came as a shock to many when it was all over the media that his wife Carter had filed for a divorce ending their 13 years of marriage.
She requested spousal support along with joint custody of their children. This development raised questions as to what may have gone wrong. Though Jones has refused to spill details about what ended his marriage, he once spoke about the divorce on his Instagram page, alongside a photo of himself and his ex-wife, Jones wrote: “Divorce is the end of a marriage, not the end of a family.”
He believes that divorce is just a form of family evolution and has reaffirmed his love for his family and ex-wife. He has boldly stated that Carter was his best friend 20 years ago and still is today. Jones always has his guard up whenever his divorce is brought up for discussion, he once told Wendy Williams “You getting personal” after bringing up his divorce issue on air.
After having signed documents that concluded his divorce proceedings, rumors began to swirl around that the famous TV host and political contributor might be gay. But by all indications, there seems to be no concrete evidence to support this.