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 four 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 unprecedented contribution to the care, 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. She was a mentee of Dr. King and was active during the Ciivl Rights Movement and worked with Dr. King and others to keep her friend Muhammad Ali from going to prison for refusing to be drafted to serve in the military during the Viet Nam War. In 2004, she wrote her memoir, "From Rage to Reason: My Life in Two Americas," a book that candidly describes her own experiences with racism in America. In 2007, she and her husband co-wrote "Love in Black and White, a Memoir About Race, Religion, and Romance," describing the bonds they share. They edited a book entitled "Race & Reconciliation in America," based on a nationally televised conference they hosted at the National press Club in Washington, D.C. that examined the racial divisions in America.