Written by Lisa Wilmore, Guest Writer for Chief Technology Mommy
The 5th annual AT&T 28 Days Speaker Series for Black History Month program was nothing short of amazing for a variety of reasons. The 28-day tour event made its final stop in the City of Detroit. Several hundred students, young adults, parents, media and other attendees gathered to hear powerful and thought-provoking words of historic relevance from award-winning journalist, social activist, political commentator and author Jeff Johnson. The audience demographic primarily included 18-34 year olds. To sum it up, Jeff Johnson delivered such a magnificent message that he left the audience spellbound. Jeff exudes passion. It was apparent in his delivery. Jeff left the audience full, hopeful, proud, and inspired to act and progress. His extensive knowledge of black history left the audience stirred and thirsty for more. The delivery was not so much about the everyday black leaders who make the repeat list of yearly homage. Johnson morphed into a modern time change-agent. Oh yes, Jeff Johnson went “there.” He challenged the audience to read more, then read more black history (starting with what you like first), incorporate critical thinking, to strive for excellence and to be your authentic self. His many messages were impactful throughout his speech, one more significant and poignant that the next, from not being politically ignorant to encouraging us to each help one other person out, to knowing the rich history from which we come before slavery to gain true perspective.
There were too many countless “amen brothers” to mention, but provide a glimpse of some of his many points made that should make most, if not all of us think deep beyond the surface such as:
- Appreciating the collaborative and intellectual methods in which slaves used Christianity to plan a widespread escape
- Questioning how a comparison can exist between the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barack Obama without having the efforts of Shirley Chisholm mentioned and in the same vein
- Pondering on how deceased businessman Reginald Lewis’ billion dollar contributions amassed and to date unmatched, before his untimely death does not reach the level of attention deserved
- The importance in knowing the scholastic achievements and accomplishments of our people prior to slavery
And so much more…
Rickey Smiley, who served as host, praised Johnson for his superior knowledge and delivery skills and was nearly moved to tears from listening to Jeff Johnson speak to the audience; and, promised to help continue this type of knowledge in the future. The evening was topped off by a rousing performance by the talented singer, songwriter Elle Varner who played some of her popular music selections as well as showcasing her talents by playing the guitar to the audience.
Jennifer Jones, VP of Diverse Markets for AT&T expressed the purpose of this event each year is for the audience to “hear a message.” Additionally as technology expands, their company works to also communicate important initiatives not only for Black History but beyond such as internet safety such as being safe on the internet and no texting while driving.
In essence, this event was a priceless gift that will be treasured and was well worth more than can be described. Jeff Johnson delivered. He packed a powerful punch and left an imprint on the souls of many in that room, including mine. With the use of technology, some of his messages can further resonate with interested audiences and the public so that his intent and purpose for speaking can live on through others.
For more information about the AT&T 28 Days Speaker Series, log on to att.com/28days.__________________________ About Jeff Johnson Jeff Johnson is an award-winning journalist, social activist and political commentator, and author. From his celebrated conversations with marquee world figures in the political, business and entertainment arenas to his grass-roots trench work to inspire the next generation of leaders; investigative journalist, political correspondent, and activist, Jeff Johnson continues to be a trailblazing social entrepreneur and authentic voice for change. Currently, Jeff is a weekly commentator on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show tackling issues on politics, entertainment and social policy issues, sharing the microphone with Harvard Law lecturer, Stephanie Robinson. Johnson is also currently the Chairman and CEO of the Jeff Johnson Institute for Urban Development, a solutions-based institution currently leading a 5 year project to recruit and develop 80,000 black male teachers. To learn more about Jeff Johnson, please visit. Jeff’s Nation. About Rickey Smiley Funnyman Rickey Smiley is known for making millions laugh for more than 20 years. As a much-loved comedian, television host and top-rated nationally syndicated radio personality, Smiley has earned a reputation for delivering to audiences onstage and offstage. In 2007, Smiley became the host of the “Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” one of the funniest and most compelling morning shows in the country. Based in Atlanta, in more than 50 markets and growing, the “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” is a blend of laughter, community outreach, social political awareness and celebrity news. Smiley and the “Morning Show” crew are featured in the daily entertainment news television show Dish Nation, which airs weeknights on FOX affiliates. The “Morning Show” is paired with other nationally syndicated radio personalities and join together to give a comedic twist to the news that’s on everyone’s minds. For more information about Rickey Smiley, please visit Rickey Smiley.
About Elle Varner For some, living a dream is a privilege…a blessing, if you will. For others, it’s more of a calling. There’s no doubt that Elle Varner’s creative journey should be filed in the latter category, but even as her destiny unfolds before her, she can barely believe her eyes. With the release of her debut album, Perfectly Imperfect (MBK Entertainment/RCA Records), which she wrote and co-produced, it’s evident that her early experiences have served her well. Crafting the album also proved to be a full-circle moment for the 22-year-old singer/songwriter as she enlisted the help of her parents – Jimmy Varner and Mikelyn Roderick – both of whom contributed their production and vocal arrangement talents and pushed their child toward, and beyond, the bounds of her creativity. Most recently Elle has wrapped a national tour with Trey Songz and Miguel and performed a sold out show at Radio City Music Hall with Nas on New Years Eve. Elle has now won a Soul Train Music Award and is nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a highly coveted Grammy award. Her future definitely looks promising. For more information, visit: Elle Varner.
About Lisa Wilmore Lisa M. Wilmore, President & CEO of The Wilmore Agency, LLC has a diverse client base from various industries such as: film, music, professional sports, B2B and nonprofit. The ability to accommodate such a diverse client base coupled with savvy public relations strategies and tactics with a personal touch separates this company from its competition. Form more information, visit: The Wilmore Agency.