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Photo by Zach  Gross

CNN’s Van Jones eager to spread the word about book

By Kurt Anthony Krug
Legal News

No matter your political affiliation, race, creed or color, CNN political correspondent Van Jones hopes there’s something in his latest book that encourages and challenges everyone.

“It’s not a left-wing diatribe against (President Donald) Trump. It’s tough love for every part of American society in the hope that we might start listening to each other a little bit better,” said Jones, 49, author of “Beyond the Messy Truth: How Came Apart*How We Come Together” (Random House $27).

Jones signed copies of his book this week at “Nicola’s Books Presents: CNN’s Van Jones in Conversation with WUOM’s Zoe Clark” ain the Rogel Ballroom at the University of Michigan Union in Ann Arbor.

“The election was won and lost in the industrial heartland. Michigan matters a lot,” he said. “After the election, I spent a lot of time in Michigan and learned a great deal about why African-Americans didn’t vote in the numbers we did in the last two elections. I got some insight into why the working class has jumped the fence to the other party.”

Returning to the state at this time “with a book that directly reflects what I learned there is pretty gratifying,” Jones explained.

“Folks should come out and here me talk,” he said. “I got a lot to say. The good thing about the event is people can also say stuff back and ask questions, so we can have real discussions face-to-face that I can’t do on television and in the book. I really want to talk to folks and hear from folks.”

Born Anthony Jones in Jackson, Tenn., Jones had strong African-American role models growing up.

Both his parents were educators.

His grandfather was Bishop Chester Arthur Kirkendoll, a leader in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church who also served as president of Jackson-based Lane College, a historically black college.

As a child, Jones often attended religious events with him.

“Role models matter. My grandfather was very tall, very distinguished,” said Jones. “By the time I came around, he was a legend in our lives … He was a very smart guy with a lot of integrity. He worked really hard. He’d always say, ‘Anthony, things don’t happen; you must make them happen.’ I felt I had strong African-American males (on both sides of the family) who were in charge of things and did a great job – there’s no substitute for that.”

He also has great admiration for Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated several months before Jones and his twin sister Angela were born in 1968.

“(RFK) was tough, had a good heart, and he grew in the public eye. He started off as a hard-headed, arrogant, anti-communist McCarthy-ite and ended up as a champion of the poor,” said Jones. “Those kinds of transformations are rare in public life. I liked him when I was a kid because he was the runt of the family. I was a little skinny runt myself, so I could relate to that.”

Jones earned his undergraduate degree in communications and political science at the University of Tennessee at Martin and his juris doctor from Yale Law School.

 

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