*Social justice activist Van Jones was recently honored with the Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award, thanks to his ceaseless efforts as an advocate for criminal justice reform and a supporter of the social justice movement.
The invite-only PTTOW! ceremony celebrated leaders of the industry, global icons and agents of change.
Jones has firmly stood on the frontline supporting initiatives pushing for equality, particularly when it touches on the Black community. He is the co-founder of organizations such as “The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights,” “Color of Change,” “Green for All,” “Dream Corps,” and “REFORM Alliance.”
His recent contributions to social justice is also one of his most remarkable achievements, and which was playing a significant part in seeing The First Step Act into legislation. The New York Times termed it “the most significant criminal justice breakthrough in a generation,” according to Vibe.
While accepting the honor during the ceremony, Jones spoke on the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela, after whom the award is named. He praised Mandela for his resilience and ability to see the best in his own people and even in his worst enemies.
“Nelson Mandela changed the world,” Jones said. “But first, he changed himself. That’s what people forget.” He continued, adding, “He didn’t just believe in the beauty of his own people,” said Jones. “He believed in the beauty of his opponents.”
The ceremony was attended by notable figures such as LL Cool J, and Kweku Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s grandson).
Other previous award recipients include actresses Sophia Bush and Sharon Stone, Dr. Martin Luther King’s advisor Clarence Jones, rapper Meek Mill, Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri and Global Citizen CEO/Founder Hugh Evans.