Photo by A.R. Shaw for Steed Media

America remains a divided nation. The evidence of this deep divide became apparent to the world on the night of the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump’s polarizing message, often backed by White supremacy ethos, proved that our nation continues to struggle with racism and acceptance for all.

To bring a sense of healing to the country, Van Jones teamed up with Roc Nation to embark on the 14-city, “We Rise Tour.” Each city will feature guests speakers such as Russell Simmons, Cory Booker, Meek Mill, and T.I. to name a few.

During a recent stop in Atlanta, Jones sat down with rolling out to share his thoughts on the “We Rise Tour,” race in America, and Blacks in technology.

What can audiences expect from the “We Rise Tour”?

The “We Rise Tour” is powered by The Love Army and we are in partnership with Roc Nation. The idea is for us to go and give some help, some healing, and some love to a very divided and very depressed America. The tour has been unreal so far. We have had legends such as T.I., Russell Simmons, and Nick Cannon on this stage. And as we go forward, we’re going to be in New York on Aug. 5. We’re going to have Al Sharpton, the women who created the Women’s March, and we’re going to have Cory Booker. Demi Lovato is going to be on stage in Nashville, [Tennessee]. And we got Swae Lee, who’s going to be on stage in Miami. And the list just keeps growing and growing as we go from city to city spreading this message of community, and love, and hope.

The NAACP just issued a travel advisory for Blacks who plan to visit Missouri. What are your thoughts on the racial climate that is so bad that a travel advisory is needed? 

Whenever you have the NAACP, which is the oldest and most prestigious civil rights organization in the world issuing a travel advisory, they’re saying that it’s a state so hostile toward African Americans that, “you should not travel there.” That’s a tragedy. And it needs to be taken very seriously. And the people who have power and authority in Missouri should be ashamed of themselves and should do something about it.

You have been influential in the tech industry for years. Why is it important for Black youth to continue to be inspired to be active when it comes to creating new technology? 

I think it’s really important that we use these devices [pointing to a smart phone]. These things are supposed to be used as tools and not just as toys. Some people use technology to solve problems and to build things. I want to start seeing our young people not just downloading other people’s apps. I want to see our youth uploading their own apps that they have created. That’s why working with Prince, I helped to start something called YesWeCode.org to help our young people use the tools, and the training, and the technology of the future to build a future that works for them.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.