Alumni In Action
Janet Langhart Cohen
Courtesy of janetlanghartcohen.com
Author! Author! is the latest acclaim for award-winning journalist and social activist Janet Langhart Cohen. Her highly praised one-act play “Anne & Emmett” offers an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank, the heroic and tragic victim of Nazi genocide and Emmett Till, the black youth murdered in the segregated 1950s Jim Crow South, an act so heinous it ignited the modern-day Civil Rights movement. Langhart Cohen’s play is an extension of her life’s work to raise awareness around issues of race and reconciliation and to spur thoughtful conversation that can lead to a new national dialogue about race and equality in America.
Janet Langhart Cohen is a native of Indianapolis, where she grew up in a segregated housing project. She entered the public eye in the 1960s as a model for the Ebony Fashion Fair and credits publishing industry icon, John H. Johnson, for much of her early success. And while she was turning heads on the runway, the travel and international exposure prepared her for a much brighter spotlight. Within a few years she was breaking racial and gender barriers becoming the first Black woman in America to host a nationally syndicated show, “Good Morning.” Her broadcasting credits include work for both ABC and NBC network television, Entertainment Tonight, BET, the Armed Forces Network, as well as print journalism for the Boston Herald. She served as a spokeswoman for US News & World Report and Avon Cosmetics, and has been featured in Vogue, Bazaar, Encore, Jet, Glamour, Tan, W, Ebony, Boston and Washingtonian magazines. In addition, she has served as a judge for the White House Fellows Program and judged the Miss America Pageant, an unprecedented three times.
Her thought provoking and often hard-hitting interviews earned her the respect of
her media peers as well as the celebrities and world leaders she interviewed. Over
the course of her 25 years in broadcast journalism, she has interviewed some of the most influential newsmakers in the world including President Bill Clinton,
President Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Rosa Parks, General Benjamin O. Davis,
Senator Ted Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and Barbara Walters to name
just a few.
Langhart Cohen is the wife of the former Defense Secretary William Cohen and feels that some of her most meaningful accomplishments happened during his tenure. She took an active role in her husband’s career using her media influence and skills to support Secretary Cohen’s mission. She established the Citizen Patriot Award, The First Military Families Forum, and created and produced an annual musical salute to our military called, “The Pentagon Pops.” Dubbed the “First Lady of the Pentagon”, President Bill Clinton in his last State of the Union Address praised her for her efforts in maintaining the morale and well being of our men and women in uniform and their families.
Langhart Cohen has never been one to shy away from difficult subjects. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson proudly influenced her earlier years and Civil Rights activism. In 2004, she wrote her memoir, From Rage to Reason: My Life in Two Americas a book that candidly describes her own experiences with race in America. In 2007, she and her husband co-wrote Love in Black and White, a memoir about race, religion, romance and the bonds they share followed by a second book that they edited, Race & Reconciliation in America.
Langhart Cohen is continuing to explore her creativity as a means to continue the national dialogue on race and reconciliation and is working on three new plays.
She is also the president and CEO of Langhart Communications, where she provides expert media and public speaking training to people who find themselves in the