Van Jones at People’s Summit: Progressives must engage Trump voters
Audience at Van Jones speech, People's Summit 2017. National Nurses United

CHICAGO — In remarks to thousands at the People’s Summit here June 10, Van Jones said “Progressives are too often absent where some of the worse pain is present.”

Van Jones

The popular leader of the Dream Corp, now a TV personality, talked about his recent experiences backing coal miners who have been cheated out of their pensions and healthcare benefits. Most of those miners had voted for Trump.

“They descended daily, miles down into these deep black holes where they knew their bodies would break but they did it because in exchange they are getting a modest paycheck to feed their families, and they expected that in their sick old age they would at least be able to afford some reasonable health care,” Jones explained.

He described how the same coal companies that poison the environment then reneged on their promises to these miners — taking away their pensions and healthcare.

“So I took the opportunity to go to coal country to demonstrate in support of these miners, thinking that as a life long demonstrator and marcher I’d have something to offer,” Jones said. “I’ve done a lot of chanting and singing in my life,” he added.

He described how he tried to start a chant: “There ain’t no power like the power of the people cause the power of the people don’t stop!” He tried three times, no one picked it up, and then the wife of a miner tapped him on the elbow.

“Don’t feel bad Mr. Jones, it isn’t you. They are glad you are here. It’s them. They can’t chant, they can’t sing, they can hardly talk or breathe sometimes. They have black lung disease.”

“We have to be there for Black Lives Matter and we have to be there for Latinos in Florida when attempts to block their right to vote are underway. But we also have to be there for those miners in West Virginia. When we fought alongside of them we won back some of the healthcare and pension benefits for 20,000 of them.

“I may not like how you voted but you are my brother and I don’t want you to die. By sticking together all of us will win.”

The hall rose to its feet in continuous and sustained applause.

John Wojcik will be speaking aboue his takeaways from The People’s Summit, the continuing disasters in the Trump administration, and the state of the resistance tonight (June 12) at 8:00pm Eastern/7:00pm Central. Click here to register and participate.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.