Speaker delivers economy-themed keynote address at MLK Day event

  • Tue Jan 17th, 2012 7:24pm

By Katie Murdoch Herald writer

LYNNWOOD — Martin Luther King Jr. fought for racial equality and inclusion during a time when there was a functioning economy. Today’s economy is so dysfunctional, said a former White House adviser, that King himself might have taken a step back and gone, “Whew!”

Van Jones spoke before a half-full room of people during the sixth citywide Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Lynnwood Convention Center.

King’s dream is slipping into a nightmare, Jones said.

“The nightmare scenario is we could be living soon in a country that’s more diverse but less and less prosperous,” he said.

“We already are in some areas,” he added.

Jones said while we can’t cure the economy, we can heal it. The United States will never return to the pre-recession economy when people charged everything to credit cards and covered their problems with material things.

“That’s not the American dream. That’s the American fantasy that turned into a nightmare,” Jones said. “We can rethink and rebuild that.”

Lynnwood resident Julie Gillice said after the speech that Jones’ points were right on target. Gillice attended the event to hear Jones.

“He can connect with everyone and he ties everything together in a community oriented way,” Gillice said.

She became a fan of Jones while he served as an adviser to President Barack Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality.

Jones stepped down from his seat in 2009 following what he described as a “vicious smear campaign” against him after inflammatory comments he made before joining Obama’s council surfaced, according to an msnbc.com article. Jones was associated with suggestions that the government played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks and with disparaging comments about Republicans.

Jones’ specialty on the White House council was on environmentally friendly jobs.

Lynnwood hosted the event through a partnership with Edmonds Community College, the Edmonds School District and the YMCA of Snohomish County. Among other sponsors are Central Washington University, Journal Media Group, Friends of the Lynnwood Library and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Snohomish County Chapter and the Communities of Color Coalition.