Congressman Hank Johnson discusses his role in the nation’s progress

Hank Johnson is a substantive, influential lawmaker and a leading national progressive voice
Congressman Hank Johnson discusses his role in the nation's progress
Photo courtesy of Hank Johnson

When Congressman Hank Johnson took his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, he embarked on a journey to enhance citizens’ civil liberties. Serving his eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s 4th Congressional District, his efforts to empower constituents continues to climb up the political hierarchy and improve the quality of life for everyday Americans. 

What do you suggest future leaders consider in crafting policy and laws for this country?

We live in a global economy now, and we need to lift our gaze upward and outward and extend it to those infinite possibilities that exist globally. We’ve got to do the work necessary to achieve equity in this country and the world. Who better to lead globally in terms of Black people in the world than Black people in democracy in America? The most prosperous country in the world. 

Can you share your part in helping advance equity for HBCUs and black-owned businesses?

Rolling out has had a part in making this happen. For us to bring equity into U.S. government spending with Black-owned businesses, even in media. Millions of dollars are spent per year by various agencies by subcontracting out this media work with large media firms that are supposed to, in good faith, parcel out work to everyone. But instead, throughout history, we’ve found that the spreading of those dollars never ends up in the hands of the few Black media outlets that have ever existed in this country. I appreciate having the opportunity to work with you all to bring awareness that the money has yet to be forthcoming, and we are still mistreated even after paying taxes. Those dollars should be used to enhance the viability of our businesses, and we are still waiting to see this across the board.

Why should our youth demand equity from this society?

We’ve got to acknowledge and come to grips with the fact that racism is endemic in this country. Systemic racism permeates the soil [and] until we understand that we’re not going to make progress. So, folks don’t want to part with the privilege and the money from that privilege. I mean, greed among people is just a condition of living. It’s hard to escape from. Those trying to establish an equitable position are met with hostility and resistance. So, we always have to be doing battle in every industry and enterprise. It’s unfair that we provide value to society, business, and government. But yet, we don’t enjoy our proportional share of the wealth.

Show me the money, and our folks need always to be looking at that. We must always be preparing ourselves educationally to serve in positions of power.

What do we need to educate ourselves on to combat the health disparities we experience as a minority group?

It starts with the fact that there were vast deserts of inequality in many areas of the black community throughout the country. I’m thinking about supermarkets with fresh vegetables, banks, and financial institutions that choose to locate elsewhere outside our communities. I think about transportation and the amount of smog we consume because all of the highways are cutting through the areas where we used to have neighborhoods, and now we are dissected. Hospitals are closing in areas of greatest need. We have to fight harder to accumulate and acquire wealth and start opening businesses in our neighborhoods. We need to get educated so we can get healthcare jobs that are enormous now. We need to leverage our power, come together in unity, and start doing things for ourselves.
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