Janet Langhart Cohen grew up in a segregated Indianapolis, home of the Ku Klux Klan. Her mother instilled in her the importance of education, racial pride and the desire to make a difference. Langhart Cohen has passionately fought for the equal rights of all people and has used her talents, from television broadcast journalist to author and playwright, to communicate her message.
She and her husband, former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, formed RARIA (Race and Reconciliation in America) as a platform to educate the public about race relations today, and to applaud those who havehad a positive impact on contemporary issues.
As described in her Memoir, From Rage to Reason: My Life in Two Americas, Janet joined her long time friend, civil rights activist, Dick Gregory, and helped secure the passage of "A Senate Apology To The Victims of Lynching and Their Descendants." Janet's words condemning the heinous practice of sanctioned lynchings of African Americans were cited throughout the Senate debate by the chief sponsors of the Resolution, Senators George Allen (R-VA) and Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA).
In an in an interview with ABC News, Janet Langhart Cohen made the following statement:
"America is home of the brave, but I'm afraid there may be a few cowards who have to cover to their very narrow-minded and backward, hateful constituency. They're hiding out, and it's reminiscent of a pattern of hiding out under a hood, in the night, riding past, scaring people.''
Janet also stated:
"It's important to remind the American people about the evil chapters in our history. It is the reason we construct museums in Washington and beyond, to hold up for all to see how capable we are of descending into the heart of darkness. It's important for us to look back into the past so that we can pledge never again to allow racial hatred to consume our ideals or humanity."
Along with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Janet was asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary in support of legislation to expand Hate Crimes Legislation to include sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity.
While “First Lady of the Pentagon", she directed her efforts to assist the military in receiving fair treatment and receiving the respect and benefits to which they are entitled. Her efforts did not gone unnoticed. At his final State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton praised Janet for her enormous contribution to the welfare and morale of our men and women in uniform and their families.
REFERENCES / FULL REPORTS
Anti-Lynching Resolution Statement, Congressional Record, June 13, 2005
Hate Crimes Testimony of Janet Langhart Cohen, June 25, 2009