Jewell Jones has already accomplished more at 22 than many people do in a lifetime. The lifelong Michigan resident made history last November as the youngest member to ever be elected to the Michigan State of Representatives, when he was 21, after he beat his opponent, Republican Robert Pope, with 66 percent of the vote. Before that, he’d already generated buzz in the world of politics when he was sworn in to the Inkster City Council while he was still a 20-year-old student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
“My parents planted the seed of civic engagement a long time ago,” Representative Jones said. “They made sure I was out canvassing and invested my time in the community and organizations that we support.”
Jones has long felt the urge to be a leader, fostered during his time growing up in his family church as a member of the ecclesiastical organization Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army, but he credits attending the Congressional Black Caucus Conference in the fall of 2014 with inspiring him to take the leap into a more active role.
“I was in a breakout session where they were telling us that we need to get off the sidelines in our community and make change happen,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I met a lot of young people who were doing great things in their respective communities, and it energized me to come back and do the same.”
A little less than two years later, Jones is realizing his potential through his efforts to increase “capacity and engagement across Michigan, the nation and the world.” Social media has played a big role in these efforts to connect with his community, with his Instagram handle, “Neighborhood Hope Dealer,” an accurate summation of how he views his efforts in the political sphere.
“Social media can be, and is, a necessary tool, and I use mine to connect with people from across the world,” Jones says. “I also use it because I’m a 22-year-old who, of course, has to stay up on all the latest memes.”
If his young age and relative inexperience has been seen as a detriment by some, Jones chooses to instead focus on what he can bring to the table. While he admits he’s dealt with a fair share of naysayers, he doesn’t see the purpose in feeding into negativity.
“We use our youth to our advantage, we soak up all the knowledge and wisdom our more seasoned colleagues and mentors can share with us,” he says. “We have direct access to the younger crowd who feels their voices aren’t being heard and we want to get their messages across.”
Currently halfway through his first year in office, Jones has only become more focused on his goal of creating a better tomorrow for his Michigan community – and hopefully the country.
“The United States needs to become more unified. We have fallen on hard times, and we have political leaders who have seemingly lost touch with the community,” Jones says. “My fellow brothers and sisters are tired of political injustice, corporate injustice, judicial injustice. We have to do better.”