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Charles R.
Democrat NY 13

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  • A Day in Honor of Janet Langhart Cohen

    by Representative Charles B. Rangel

    Posted on 2015-12-18

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    RANGEL of new york in the house of representatives Friday, December 18, 2015 Mr. RANGEL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of Emmy nominated journalist, author and playwright Janet Langhart Cohen's one-act play, ``Anne & Emmett.'' On October 23, 2015, at the MIST Harlem Cultural Center, I joined with the New Heritage Theatre Group, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and MIST Harlem to welcome playwright Janet Langhart Cohen to the Village of Harlem, where she presented the one- act play ``Anne & Emmett,'' directed by Thomas W. Jones II. The play, ``Anne and Emmett,'' focuses on an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, who were victims of religious intolerance and racial hatred. That evening, ``Anne and Emmett'' was filmed by The New Heritage Group under the supervision of celebrated director/producer and former Chair of Columbia University's Graduate Film Program, Professor Jamal Joseph.

    The presentation of ``Anne and Emmett'' was made possible by RARIA (Race and Reconciliation in America), a not for profit organization co- founded by Janet Langhart Cohen, New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and the New York City Police Academy. First premiered in 2009 at the United States Holocaust Museum, ``Anne & Emmett,'' was conceived by Janet Langhart Cohen. The plays two main characters were Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy whose brutal murder in Mississippi sixty years ago which sparked the modern civil rights movement; and the young Holocaust victim Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who had to go into hiding during World War Two to avoid the Nazis and after almost two years in hiding she was discovered and deported to Bergen- Belsen Concentration Camp where she died. The play has received rave reviews during performances in Washington, DC, Indianapolis and Chicago.

    Mrs. Cohen is passionate about ensuring Emmett Till's story is never forgotten; which she does daringly throughout the play. It has been presented to dignitaries, students, Supreme Court justices, and now, the NYPD and its recent classes of recruits. Her commitment and understanding of how vital Emmett Till's story is to our nation was heralded by the Till family last spring when they honored Mrs. Cohen with the ``Women of Courage'' award established to honor the memory of Emmett's mother, Mamie Till Mobley. Additionally, in 2014 Mrs. Cohen led the way to have a tree planted in memory of Emmett Till, at the United States Capitol.

    To understand why she produced the play, one needs to learn where she came from. Janet Langhart Cohen grew up in segregated housing in Indianapolis, where the Indiana Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence in the early 1920s. Janet went on to attend Crispus Attucks High School and later moved to New York City, where she began her career in television. Her television career included stints at NBC, America Alive with Bruce Jenner, AM New York on ABC, WPIX-TV Channel 11, 9 Broadcast Plaza on WOR-TV and Entertainment Tonight. Mrs. Cohen has had the privilege of interviewing such luminaries as President Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Rosa Parks, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Denzel Washington, Dan Rather, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters and Larry King, as well as David Duke former head of the Ku Klux Klan.

    Janet married William S. Cohen, who at the time served as Secretary of Defense, under President William Jefferson Clinton, and became known as ``First Lady of the Pentagon'' due to her active and visible public role at the Defense Department. Mrs. Cohen spurred several initiatives aimed at morale and well-being of military and civilian employees at the Pentagon; which included the Military Family Forum, the Pentagon Pops concert series, the Secretary of Defense Annual Holiday Tour, and her own series of interviews on Pentagon TV, Special Assignment. She was given a volunteer position as ``First Lady of the USO'' and helped recruit celebrities and civilians to work with the United Service Organizations. Her many awards and honors include Hadassah Woman of the Year and The Zachary and Elizabeth Award for Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Service for her work on behalf of members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. In President Bill Clinton's last State of the Union Address, he praised Mrs. Cohen for her enormous contribution to the welfare and morale of our men and women in uniform and their families.

    Mr. Speaker, I joined with the New Heritage Theatre Group, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, MIST Harlem and the Village of Harlem to dedicate Friday, October 23, 2015 in honor of Janet Langhart Cohen for her life-long commitment to ending racial and religious intolerance and hatred in our Nation. I ask you and my colleagues to join me in recognition of this great unheralded American, Janet Langhart Cohen.

    [[Page E1841]] ____________________

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