This morning I had a chance to speak with Van Jones (pictured, left), who helped launch the Rebuild the Dream campaign in 2011. I asked Jones why Rebuild the Dream decided to hold an event in Milwaukee, and he noted that a lot of the spirit of 2011, including the various “Occupy” movements across the country, started here in Wisconsin with the occupation of the State Capitol by those who opposed Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on collective bargaining rights for public employees. “One year later, the fight is not finished,” Jones said, adding, “National leaders need to be here to encourage people to fight on, because a defeat here will be a defeat nationally.”
When I asked Jones what prompted him to take a lead role in forming the Rebuild the Dream campaign, Jones said that after the 2008 election he – like so many others – went from hope to heartbreak, and he realized that the best people in our country aren’t being heard from loudly enough when it comes to the most important issues facing our nation. Jones said he decided to create the Rebuild the Dream campaign to lift up the voices of average Americans, and he noted that over 600,000 Americans have joined the Rebuild the Dream campaign to date. Jones added that the Rebuild the Dream campaign is bringing people together on bread and butter kitchen table economic issues like student debt relief and the opportunity for all to have access to a decent education, lower mortgage interest rates for homeowners, and respect for working people.
“People can’t eat protest signs and right-wing ideology,” Jones said, adding that he wanted to help give lower and middle class folks in America the tools they needed to make their lives better. Jones cited his father’s experience having worked his way out of childhood poverty to success as an example of the opportunity he wants all Americans to have.
Responding to criticisms that the Rebuild the Dream movement only serves to deepen class division and promote class warfare, Jones said, “They always call it class warfare when the little people start to fight back,” adding that when the mega rich get bonuses and tax breaks it’s not called class warfare. Jones said this isn’t a fight between the 1% and the 99%; it’s only the worst of the 1% who want everything – all the benefits of wealth without any of the responsibilities – that are the targets of anger and frustration from others. “Those who’ve done well in America need to do well by America,” Jones said, adding that he’s a part of the 99% for the 100%, because everyone needs to step up and work to get the country back on track. Jones also made it clear that people by and large aren’t jealous of financial success, but that while nobody hates and economic winner, they do hate economic cheaters.
Van Jones will join Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore among those who will appear tomorrow at the Rebuild Wisconsin event, along with a number of artists and DJs who are also scheduled to appear.
Visionary Speakers » Van Jones, Rebuild the Dream, Congresswoman Gwen Moore
Major Artists » Indie Soul Songstress Grace Weber, Comedian Lee Camp Emcee and activist Jasiri X—shooting video for his new song dedicated to Scott Walker “You’re Fired” Renowned MKE emcee Prophetic
Milwaukee DJS » Doc B, DJ Willie Shakes, DJ Boob Ah, DJ Why B
- Rebuild the Dream Talent Showcase featuring Joe Wray, Aliesa Nicole, Ray Nitti and other local MKE artists
- Rebuild the Dream Graffiti Art Demonstrations with TRUESkool
- Non-Violent Direct Action Training
- Get Out the Vote Actions
As I wrote earlier, the Rebuild Wisconsin event will be held at the Washington Park Bandshell, which is located at 1859 North 40th Street in Milwaukee, from 2-6 p.m., and you can RSVP for the Rebuild Wisconsin event if you’d like.