Jeff Johnson
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Jeff Johnson

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New Voice of Urban Consciousness Jeff Johnson Hosts First of Four Hard-Hitting Topics

New York, NY (BlackNews.com) - As part of its intensified commitment to original programming, BET will conclude Black History Month with the premiere of THE COUSIN JEFF CHRONICLES on Monday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT. Hosted by acclaimed political expert and hot new voice of urban consciousness Jeff Johnson, this new quarterly forum challenges all concepts of reality by exposing social problems and volatile issues plaguing urban America. In its debut episode, Jeff tackles the disconnection between the leaders of the past and present with "The Bridge is Over", a two-part exploration into the divide between the Hip-Hop and Civil Rights generations. By speaking with experts, specialists and - most importantly - real people, Jeff gets to the heart of serious matters with a dialogue designed to enlighten us all.

In the first installment of THE COUSIN JEFF CHRONICLES, Jeff investigates the featured topic by posing a probing question: Have we gone from "let freedom ring" to "bling bling"? By speaking with the likes of Dr. Cornel West; Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia), hip-hop artist COMMON and candid interviews from the streets, barbershops and churches, Jeff defines the areas of concern and sheds light on how knowledge and communication can iron out most differences. Upcoming topics for dissection on THE COUSIN JEFF CHRONICLES include "It's a BIG Deal - Black Youth and Obesity"; "Locked Out - I'm Out of Jail, But Still Behind Bars"; and "Silent Millionaires - The Story of Self-Made Millionaires Under Age 30".

Dubbed as the voice for a new generation, Jeff raises social and political awareness in young people by touching on subjects relevant to their culture and environment. Whether sharing his political expertise on BET or elsewhere, Jeff captivates audiences with his distinctive ability to fuel dialogue and examine various points of view. Jeff or "Cousin Jeff" was first introduced to BET viewers as a guest on the popular program RAP CITY. But Jeff is no stranger to political forums. He is the Vice President of Russell Simmons' Hip Hop Summit Action Network and the former National Director of the NAACP Youth and College Division. Jeff has been seen on BET TONIGHT, MTV and C-SPAN; and been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today and New York Times. He has lectured at colleges and universities around the country and continues to conduct leadership training sessions for young people and adults.
- Black News. Com


Hip-hop may not be thought of as socially or politically conscious.
Rarely in the news are there positive stories about hip-hop. Last year the comments Kanye West made about George W. Bush made national headlines and were repeated time and time again.

Hip-hop can, however, have positive influences in the political world.

Jeff Johnson, or "Cousin Jeff" as he is known on BET, spoke Tuesday night at the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center on his "Ring The Alarm! Get Out the Vote Tour."

Johnson, a native of Cleveland, is touring six Ohio colleges this week stressing the importance of the black vote.

Kyle Williams, president of the Black Law Student Association and a third-year law student said he hopes Johnson's popularity will get more students to vote.

"Jeff is a large figure in the community. He has the voice and he can influence students more than the average person," he said.

Williams' organization is one of many responsible for bringing Johnson to campus.

At the event, participants had the chance to register to vote. Tuesday was the last day to register to vote in the November elections.

Chris Tibbs, a senior in communications, is responsible for getting the voter registration cards in by the deadline and is a member of the Townhall Forum that will happen at the African-American Heritage Festival.

"Its important to have a say once you turn 18," he said. Tibbs said he feels that blacks aren't voting because they aren't represented in politics.

Lyndsey Smith, a senior in psychology, made the deadline to change her address before the election. She said she hopes her peers have registered because it is "one of the most important responsibilities you will ever have." Smith also said filling out the registration form is quick and easy.

Gabrielle St. Leger, coordinator for African-American Student Services, emphasized the importance of blacks voting.

"Historically, blacks don't vote. Its the educated who votes and history repeats itself," she said. St. Leger also said she hopes first-time voters do their research and make an informed vote.

Johnson is the host of "The Cousin Jeff Chronicles" and co-host of "The Chop Up" on BET.

OSU is the third campus Johnson visited Tuesday. He said each school has a different personality, but all the students have the same wants.

"Students are hungry to be told the truth," he said.

Johnson wants students to critically analyze the issues and the candidates before making decisions. He said he hopes students educate themselves and use his platform to raise awareness.

Johnson’s biggest concern about the current state of black voting isn't the lack of it.

"My concern is ignorance. An ignorant voter is more of a liability than someone who stays at home," Johnson said. - The Lantern –The Ohio State University, Gerrick Lewis


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Within the hip-hop community and abroad, Jeff Johnson is a force and voice for a generation. An architect for social change, Johnson is one of today’s most gifted leaders in both the political and entertainment arenas.

Johnson’s role as a political activist have spanned from work as Senior Advisor for Media and Youth Outreach for People for the American Way, to operating as the National Youth Director for the NAACP, and Vice President for Russell Simmons' Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.

In every role of his political leadership, Johnson has been critical in representing and articulating the views of young people and galvanizing voters to the polls. Johnson’s powerful reputation as a political organizer caused hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons to take notice, inspiring Simmons to appoint Johnson as Vice-President for the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.

In 2004- upon recognizing his socio-political influence and media adeptness- network executives at BET offered Johnson a unique opportunity to present his views to the hip-hop generation nationally through a consistent media vehicle. Thus Rap City’s Cousin Jeff was born.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson began producing his own show, the Cousin Jeff Chronicles. The chronicles is a show addressing issues relevant to young people in urban America. It provides a newer venue for engaging youth in current affairs and issues in a way not seen since BET’s highly successful and groundbreaking forum Teen Summit.

Recently, Johnson became an International Correspondent for BET and was the only American reporter to receive an exclusive interview with the continent of Africa’s first female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Liberia.

Johnson has successfully brought together a lifetime of grassroots activism to international media vehicles. His commitment to fostering broad-based communication about issues related to race, politics, popular culture and socio-economics on a national and international level have led to hundreds of speaking requests as he travels the nation addressing large crowds speaking truth to power.

Of special interest to Johnson is reconnecting civil rights leaders and the hip-hop generation for intergenerational dialogue, the subject of his first book, Bastard Child or Prodigal Son, which is due out in early 2007.

As a voice for social change, Johnson is passionate about his work. “The time is now!” he says. “Once individuals are armed with the political information needed to foster change within their communities, it will allow them to foster change within.”

Johnson can regularly be seen during his weekly segment on BET's Rap City and as an international correspondent for the network.

Speech Topics:
>Unclaimed Legacy: Who Will Lead The Next Social Movement?
>BECOME Activists: Building Effective Campus Organizations & Maintaining Excellence
>Pulling Back the Sheets: Hip Hop and Sexuality
>Empty Prayers – The rise and fall of Church leadership
>CREAM: Communities Rule Everything Around Me
>Building positive brand image through community relationships
>Hip-Hop & Civil Rights: An Intergenerational Dialogue for Intergenerational Understanding