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Chef Jose Andres, Jeff Bezos, Van Jones via Twitter
As reported earlier, Jeff Bezos completed his boyhood dream Tuesday morning as his rocket company’s first flight with people on board flew into space for several weightless minutes, then landed safely back on earth.Upon his return, Bezos, the richest man in America, thanked Amazon workers and then announced that he was gifting $100 million to activist Van Jones and celebrity chef Jose Andres.
“They can give it all to their own charity,” Bezos said at a press conference after his trip to space. “Or they can share the wealth. It is up to them.”
Per CNN, the money is tied to Bezos’ new philanthropic initiative called the Courage and Civility Award. The award aims to honor leaders and influencers who have “demonstrated courage” in a divisive world.
“We need unifiers and not vilifiers,” Bezos said. “We need people who argue hard and act hard for what they believe. But they do that always with civility and never ad hominem attacks. Unfortunately, we live in a world where this is too often not the case. But we do have role models.”
Accepting the award, Jones, a political commentator on CNN said, “sometimes dreams come true.”
“You bet on me and I appreciate it,” Jones told Bezos.
Jones is the founder of Dream Corps, a nonprofit focused on reforming the criminal justice system. He intends to use the funds to “give to others who have a similar spirit.”
Jones also noted that he has not always been courageous, as reported by The Hill.
“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.
Per NPR, Bezos stepped down as Amazon’s CEO on July 5, but he remains the biggest shareholder. The company is now valued at $1.8 trillion.