Emotional Van Jones thanks Bezos for betting on him

Van Jones delivered impassioned remarks after being rewarded Jeff Bezos’s new $100 million philanthropic award on Tuesday, thanking the Amazon and Blue Origin founder for betting on him.

“Lauren and Jeff don’t do nothing small, man, they don’t do anything small, they just don’t do it. They dream big, they love big, and they bet big. And you bet on me, and I appreciate it,” Jones said at a news conference on Tuesday where the award was announced.

It also took place hours after Bezos successfully completed a trip into space.

The new philanthropic initiative is dubbed the “Courage and Civility Award.” Bezos said it “recognized leaders who aim high, and who pursue solutions with courage and who always do so with civility.”

The award gives $100 million to recipients who can then put the money toward any charities or nonprofits of their choice.

Bezos announced that Jones, a political commentator on CNN and the founder of Dream Corps, a nonprofit focused on bipartisan solutions for criminal justice reform, and celebrity chef José Andrés are the first two recipients of the award.

Jones said he has not always been courageous, before highlighting people advocating for change in their communities.

“The only thing I worry about when you say courage, I haven’t always been courageous. But I know the people who are, and they get up every day on the front lines of grassroots communities, they don’t have much but they’re good people, they fight hard and they don’t have enough support,” Jones said.

“Can you imagine grassroots folks from Appalachia, from the hood, Native American reservations, having enough money to be able to connect with the geniuses that disrupted the space industry, disrupted taxis and hotels and bookstores, to start disrupting poverty. To start disrupting pollution. To start disrupting the $90 billion prison industry together,” he continued.

If you take people on front lines and their wisdom and their genius and their creativity and you give them a shot, they’re not just gonna turn around neighbors, they’re gonna turn around this nation,” Jones added.

Jones wrapped up his remarks by thanking Bezos for “lifting the ceiling off of people’s dreams.”

“You have lifted the ceilings off of the dreams of humanity today. And that’s an important thing. Don’t be mad about it. When you see somebody reaching for the heavens, be glad, because a lot more heaven is up there to reach for. And we can do that together,” Jones said.

“If this small group of people can make miracles happen in outer space, a bigger group of people can make miracles happen down here, and we’re going to do it,” he added.

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