Keynote Speaker – Mr. Jeff Johnson
From the Hip-Hop community to mainstream media, Jeff Johnson serves as a trusted voice for information and opinions to a new generation. A social activist, political strategist, inspirational speaker, executive producer and an architect for social change, Johnson is one of today's most gifted leaders in both the political and entertainment arenas. Recently, Johnson was named by Source Magazine as one of the hip hop generation's key political players.
Johnson's roles 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. He was sent by BET on assignment to the Darfur region of Sudan this year. Johnson is also one of only two news correspondents to interview Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir within the past twelve years.
In every aspect of his political leadership, Johnson has been highly instrumental 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, leading Simmons to appoint Johnson as Vice-President for the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. This year, he testified before the Committee on Homeland Security regarding recovery efforts in wake of the devastation caused to the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina.
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. Johnson was the first correspondent BET sent to cover the Democratic and Republican National Conventions for their entertainment programming line-up.
Shortly thereafter, Johnson began producing his own show, the "Jeff Johnson Chronicles."The chronicles addressed issues relevant to young people in urban America. From sex to Hip-Hop to obesity, it provided a fresh venue for engaging youth in current affairs and news issues in a way not seen since BET's highly successful and groundbreaking forum "Teen Summit."
Johnson has taken on additional roles at BET including a correspondent with "Meet The Faith", interviewing such marquee figures as The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. He 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 currently provides columns in leading urban lifestyle magazines, and serves as a contributor and international correspondent for news broadcasts such as XM radio, BET News, The Dr. Phil Show and CNN.
Johnson's 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.
As a voice for social change, Johnson is passionate about his work. "The time is now," he asserts. "The youth of today are the leaders of TODAY. If we fail to sow the seeds of education and real leadership into our young people today, we will be forced to reap the weeds of our ignorance verses the flowers of our love tomorrow."