State Senator to Speak at Black Applause Banquet

COLUMBUS, GA. - A national media personality and the entrepreneur who recently reopened Columbus' Chevrolet dealership are featured speakers for Black History Month programs at Columbus State University.

Meanwhile, 5 p.m. Friday is the deadline to nominate a local individual or group for the Dr. John Townsend Achievement Award. The award, honoring the first African-American student to enroll at CSU, will be presented during CSU's Feb. 27 Black Applause Banquet. Nominations can be made online at or by calling Bernard McCrary at 706-568-2273.

On Tuesday, Feb. 10, award-winning journalist Jeff Johnson will give a talk themed '365 DAYS: Black History Beyond February' at 12:30 p.m. in the University Hall auditorium. Prior to the speech, which is free and open to the public, students will have an opportunity to meet and greet Johnson, managing editor and chief correspondent for BET's The Truth with Jeff Johnson, from 11-11:45 a.m. in the foyer of University Hall.

Closing the month, CSU will host state Sen. Emanuel Jones, president of Legacy Chevrolet in Columbus, who will give the keynote speech for the 26th annual Black Applause Banquet on Friday, Feb. 27 in the Cunningham Center's Blanchard Hall. A 6:30 p.m. reception will be followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets, $30 per person, are available by calling 706-568-2273.

CSU will kick off its black history celebration with an African-American Read-In at noon, Tuesday, Feb. 3 in the Schwob Library. The Read-In, presented in part by CSU Libraries as part of the National Council of Teachers of English 2009 National African-American Read-In, will feature faculty, staff and students reading passages from their favorite works by African-American authors. This program is free and open to the public. Call 706-365-3684 for more information.

Johnson, whose first book, Everything I'm Not Made Me Everything I Am: Discovering Your Personal B.E.S.T, is scheduled for release in May, also provides weekly commentary on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. In addition to his BET show, he has contributed frequently to MSNBC's Dayside and Hardball with Chris Matthews, CNN, FOX News Channel, Huffington Post and other media outlets and Internet sites, including his own:

He earned a 2008 Salute to Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists for BET's Life & Death in Darfur: Jeff Johnson Reports series and is one of 30 young leaders selected for the British Council's Transatlantic 2020 team of Europeans and Americans for a new cross-border dialogue to reinvigorate traditional alliances and mend transatlantic rifts.

Jones made local headlines in December when he purchased Columbus' former Bill Heard Chevrolet, Cadillac and Saab stores. He also owns auto dealerships in metro Atlanta and North Carolina while representing portions of DeKalb and Henry counties in the Georgia Senate.

He has drawn recognition for community and business leadership through honors such as the Metro Atlanta YMCA Volunteer of the Year, Ford Motor Minority Dealer Executive Director's Award and the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Service Firm of the Year.

In addition to Jones' presentation, the Black Applause Banquet will feature recognition of outstanding local high school and CSU students and the presentation of the Townsend award.

Black History Month programs at CSU are presented by the university's Office of Diversity Programs and Services. For more information, call 706-568-2273.