Jeff Johnson to deliver keynote address for Black History Month

Quiche Matchen

An award-winning journalist, author and motivational speaker will deliver the keynote address for Black History Month this year.

Jeff Johnson, also known as “Cousin Jeff” from BET’s Rap City, will speak in the Downing University Center auditorium Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.


His book, “Everything I’m Not Made Me Everything I Am,” was released in 2009 and will be available to purchase before and after the keynote.

The Campus Activities Board and the WKU Black History Celebration and Cultural Preservation Committee sponsored this event.

Kamilah Champion, CAB’s Lecture Committee Chair, said committees and different departments came together in October to decide who the keynote speaker for Black History Month would be.

Champion said she thinks Johnson seems like he really wants to be amongst students.

“I think that played a big role in it; he’s current, he has a book and there’s tons of stuff he’s doing, so I thought it was perfect to have him,” she said. “He’s relatable and I feel like he really cares about our generation.”

Champion said pricing and availability also came into play in the decision.

Students can expect a good message from Johnson, Champion said.

“I think he’s put a lot of work into and really made it his own,” she said. “Hopefully, they take away a good sense of history and the future of where our generation is going.”

Champion said there is always a good turnout for the annual keynote address.

“So I just hope there’s another good turnout and another good message,” Champion said. “I hope students enjoy what he has to say.”

Lynne Holland, African American Studies professor and Career Services director, said she hopes the outcome of Johnson’s address is a sense of social conscience.

“If we’re going to affect change in the world, it has to begin with us,” she said. “Each student is significantly more powerful than they are aware.”

Holland said she thinks he’ll tell students to wake up politically, economically and socially.

“I think one of the things Jeff Johnson will speak on is the commitment that we should have towards leadership,” she said. Holland also said she’s excited about Johnson’s keynote address.

“I’m excited about him coming and his message on being socially and politically conscience because it’s timely,” she said.

Another person excited about Johnson’s address is Andrea Garr-Barnes, Office of Diversity Programs director, and she thanked the committees that brought Johnson to campus.

“My hope and my belief after hearing him speak on other occasions is that Jeff will be bring a freshness in terms of diversity and social justice issues,” Garr-Barnes said. “And how it affects everyone and why we all need to be involved.” Garr-Barnes said Johnson has a very raw, real, direct and in-your-face way of speaking and it will really speak to many students.