By Olajide Meseko
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has awarded CNN political commentator Van Jones $100 million (N50bn) as part of a new initiative.
After successfully completing his mission to space, Bezos and the other passengers held a press conference to discuss the experience. Following questions, Bezos announced a new initiative titled the Courage and Civility Award to honor “leaders who aim high, pursue solutions with courage, and always do so with civility.”
“We live in a world where sometimes instead of disagreeing with someone’s ideas, we question their character or their motives,” Bezos said. “What we should always be doing is questioning ideas, not the person. We need unifiers and not vilifiers.”
The Courage and Civility Award is a $100 million award for a person to give to charities and nonprofit organizations of their choice or keep it for their organization. “It’s easy to be courageous but also mean. Try being courageous and civil. Try being courageous and a unifier. That’s harder and way better and makes the world better,” said Bezos.
Jones was present at the event in Van Horn, Texas to accept the award. He thanked Bezos, calling him his “brother,” and said dreams can come true. “Sometimes dreams come true and the headline around the world should be anything is possible if you believe,” Jones said.
Jones, the founder of Dream Corps, spoke about the importance of dismantling oppressive systems and giving everyone access to opportunities like the one Bezos experienced in space. “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 have 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.”
Dream Corps is an organization that strives to close prisons and open doors of opportunity by bringing people together across racial, social and partisan lines. Its programs focusing on criminal justice reform, building a green economy and creating equity in the technology industry.
“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 gonna do it,” Jones said.