Love. Hate. Embracing. Fighting. These are some of the recent themes of the American current events landscape. Thanks to Van Jones, political activist and commentator on CNN, there is an outlet for support. The We Rise Tour, with support from #LoveArmy, is a chance for Americans across the country who are concerned with the divisions of the current political administration and worried for the future of this country to come together and learn how to support each other.
The Tennessee stop was on the grounds of Vanderbilt University in the heart of Nashville. An appropriate stop for the tour, not only since Van Jones is a native Tennessean but since Nashville is growing by approximately 100 people a day with out of state transplants. It is becoming a big melting pot and a center for change.
The evening began with Tem Blessed of the #LoveArmy talking about being an army of love against all the hate. He had a few clever raps that helped get the crown pumped up for the evening ahead.
Van Jones took the stage talking about the guests to join the stage and a recap of the night to come. He spoke out about President Trump and he anger he has created in our country.
The focus of the evening surrounded the Unite the Right riots in Charlottesville, Virginia. As we all know, marches have been sporting Nazi and KuKluxKlan banners asking for a stop of the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee. Violence has erupted and Van Jones is not for it! Taking the stage was Constance, or “Connie” as she is called, a victim of the terrible vehicle ramming where Heather Heyer lost her life. Constance, who preferred to only be known by her first name for security reasons, talked about here family’s long history of the fight against racism. Jones asked for her to paint a picture of what was really going on. Constance takes about the lack of law enforcement support, the media painting a calmer picture than what actually was taking place, and the fear everyone shared. She recalled congregating in a park with a group of people when a group of white protestors marched by and one of the guys looked at her and said “I wish I could lynch you” and blew her a kiss. The fear was real and continued even after the car accident. Constance was in a group of people that were rammed by car, which killed Heather Heyer. The car struck Constance and knocked her down, injuring her knee. As the car began to back up, she ran to safety. Unfortunately safety was not to be found in Charlottesville. She mentioned how law enforcement would watch from afar, but did not intervene when tensions rose. No medical support entered the town to rescue Constance, and she was forced to hobble to safety with the help of some of her new friends. Van Jones asked her to respond to the President in light of the events she participated in and she asked Trump to reach out the Heather’s family and offer condolences. Constance is a brave individual who stood up for what is right. You can see all the trauma she has been subject to because while she spoke her hands were shaking. She can barely walk due to injuries she sustained due to the car accident. But she said she will continue to fight for what is right.
Demi Lovato was the second guest that Van Jones brought to the stage. She spoke out about her fight against depression and body shaming due to online bullying. She spoke out against how she wished she would have been physically bullied rather than the bullies hiding online. Her music has been away to connect with people dealing with similar issues. Lovato prays before every concert she performs at that her music will reach at least one fan and make a difference in their life. Lovato wishes that more artists would stand up for issues like this and what they believe in, like opposing the Charlottesville protests, instead of focusing how many fans they might loose if they post a certain tweet.
Van Jones really put together a great evening for Nashville. Such a positive human being with a lot to bring to the table. Here are a few ways to get involved and stay involved with Van Jones’ Dream Corp and the #LoveArmy initiatives:
• #LoveArmy: The #LoveArmy is working for an America where everyone counts. We are a home for changemakers who seek to build community and deepen solidarity. Through education, connection and action, the #LoveArmy builds “Love + Power.”
• #cut50: #cut50 makes communities safer while reducing the number of people in our prisons and jails. Using evidence-based solutions and unlikely alliances, we can keep communities safe, families together, and the economy strong for all Americans.
• #YesWeCode: #YesWeCode is building a diverse pipeline of ‘homegrown’ tech talent to meet demand for workers in the tech sector and boost local economies. Be a part of our movement to increase opportunities in the tech sector.
• Green For All: Green For All fights pollution with solutions. We work to get solar panels, healthy food and good jobs into communities that have little money or power. We want to build an inclusive, green economy that is strong enough to lift people out of poverty.