By James Sebastien for Louisiana Weekly
On August 17, New Orleans’ historic Saenger Theatre was visited by Van Jones’ WE RISE AGAINST HATE TOUR. The Crescent City was just one stop on this 14-city tour powered by Dream Corps’ Love Army (#LoveArmy) and in partnership with Roc Nation.
The tour was first titled “We Rise,” but following the tragic and shameful events in Charlottesville, VA, the tour was renamed We Rise Against Hate. The mayhem in Charlottesville (where white supremacists gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee) is an emblematic symptom of the illness present in Washington. But, for a soul so filled with hate (James Fields) to ram his car into a group of counter-protesters (killing one and injuring at least nineteen others) shows a clear display of the cancerous danger that is growing within our country’s body.
Jones’ Love Army is an alternative to the hate groups and other evils that are currently devouring common decency and belief in humanity. The #LoveArmy movement has been sweeping the country, preaching everyday democracy, bridging the gap between divided sides, exploring our nation’s common purpose, and ultimately the need for all of us to move forward united.
The tour which aims to openly discuss the issues of justice, racism and inequality in America today, will donate 100 percent of net ticket proceeds to Jones’ nonprofit, the Dream Corps. The Dream Corps in turn uses the proceeds to empower local communities across the country through its diverse initiatives and cooperation with outside charities.
Van Jones (Yale graduate, attorney, CNN political commentator and author of two New York Times best-sellers) founded the Dream Corps in 2014, with the goal of impacting the lives of millions throughout the United States. The vehicles that Jones and his Dream Corps are driving to accomplish their mission are the #YesWeCode, #cut50 and Green For All.
While a play on President’s Obama iconic slogan Yes We Can, #YesWeCode is an initiative to increase opportunities in the tech industry, by helping to give our nation’s youth vital resources and job training.
#cut50 seeks to transform the criminal justice system with bipartisan solutions that will cut America’s prison populations by 50 percent. #cut50 is also bringing awareness to the dire financial strain that mass incarnation is weighing on our country.
Dream Corps’ third program, Green For All, is working to create an inclusive green economy. They hope to restructure the economy by taking a trillion dollars from polluters, and using those funds to revitalize communities struggling in poverty.
“The tour was launched to offer 14 major metro areas an opportunity to come together and join us in a public forum to discuss their concerns for their communities and their ideas about how to solve those concerns with community partners and others willing to lend their support,” said Dream Corps CEO Vien Truong when asked about the initial motivating factor behind the We Rise tour.
Truong elaborated, “We hope to provide the public with resources and solutions, opportunities, and inspiration for their efforts today and their goals and hopes for tomorrow. It’s important to us at Dream Corps to let urban, rural and suburban communities across the country know that we are working for and with them to seek justice in many forms, as well as equality. Access to civil liberties such as clean air and water are human rights and should not be viewed as privileges of the wealthy.”
As for what she has discovered from these forums, Truong said, “It has been affirmed for me that there is so much more that we share versus what separates us or makes us different, and that is the definition of community to me – sharing common ground. This tour is about community. Solutions can be common across different types of communities – urban, rural and so on. And the problems that plague communities can be alike as well.”
So, what’s next? What other plans are underway? Well, for Dream Corps’ Green For All initiative, Truong shared that they are, “mobilizing moms from all walks of life, from grassroots activists to the rich and famous, to stand up against Donald Trump and his administration in an open letter to Congress. We are asking moms to sign this letter in an effort to fight against the Trump administration’s proposal for the largest budget cut to clean air, clean water and environmental protections in our country’s modern history.”
She added, “Congress returns to session on September 1 and will vote on this budget then. Our children cannot afford to grow up in polluted communities, and moms cannot afford to watch their kids, families and communities become ill and diseased. Cities like New Orleans have had enough natural disasters due to ongoing climate change that will only worsen if we allow this budget to pass and stop monitoring the changing effects to our environment.”
For those wavering in the winds of this contentious political and social storm, Vien Truong has these words of encouragement, “It is very important to stay focused and positive. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenges we are facing or the compounded nature of all of them happening at once, but it is important to continue to find joy and to have love in your heart as we push back on Trump era policies.”
The full article here.