NAACP Image Award to be given to former White House 'green czar' - CNN.com Washington (CNN) -- While Van Jones may have left the White House under a cloud, the NAACP says that's not his whole story. The group considers him a pioneering hero for the environment and civil rights -- so much so that it is awarding him one of its highest honors Friday: an NAACP Image Award. It's a move that is just becoming public now, which is sure to stoke the fire from Jones critics. Jones resigned in September 2009 from his position on the Council on Environmental Quality, under a firestorm of criticism over a petition he had signed and his comments about Republicans. The Obama administration's "green czar" helped coordinate government agencies focused on delivering millions of green jobs to the ailing U.S. economy. Jones said he was the victim of a "vicious smear campaign" based on "lies and distortions." Benjamin Jealous, NAACP president and CEO, said he's not concerned about criticism the NAACP might face over honoring the controversial Jones. "We care about getting the best ideas, the best minds and Van is one of them," Jealous said. "What should be controversial is we pushed one of the greatest minds to the side in this country when we needed him most." In an opinion piece on CNN.com, Jealous calls Jones "an American treasure," and says he might be "the most misunderstood man in America." "The real Van Jones story is about how a young leader became the father of the green jobs movement. In response to a longstanding jobs crisis in Oakland, California, he initiated the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, one of the nation's first job training programs targeting low-income people for work in the solar and green industries. This program has become a renowned model for numerous initiatives that are now up and running across America," Jealous...

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