Boston University School of Law

March 13, 2007


William S. Cohen (‘65) Publishes Love in Black and White: A Memoir of Race, Religion, and Romance

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and his wife Janet Langhart Cohen recently published a memoir entitled Love in Black and White: A Memoir of Race, Religion, and Romance. The book describes how the couple's 11-year marriage has endured racial, religious and political differences.

From the Publisher

Most Americans regard the World War II period as belonging to the "greatest generation," but it was also a time when religious intolerance and racial violence flourished. Shamefully, it was commonplace to see signs that read "Whites Only" or "Jews Not Allowed." It is within this world that this compelling memoir is set. William Cohen, born in Bangor, Maine, was the eldest son of a Jewish father and a Protestant Irish mother. Janet Langhart, an African-American, was raised in Indianapolis, Indiana by her single parent mother, a Southern Baptist. The book draws fascinating parallels between the histories of two people from different regions, races, and religions, as both are witnesses to and targets of the social tensions of the day.

Throughout Love in Black and White, readers accompany Bill and Janet in their struggle to overcome to the barriers of ethnic and racial bigotry and hatred. The stories are rich and profound. At times they are amusing. Other times, harrowing. Against impossible odds, Bill would be elected to serve his country as a U.S. Congressman and Senator, and Janet would become a prominent television personality, activist, and highly respected businesswoman and author. Opposites in so many ways--in color, faith and culture--seemingly a bundle of contradictions, they meet in 1974, become friends, and eventually fall in love. They decide to marry on Valentine's Day 1996 in the very place that once harbored some of the nation's most prominent racists-the U.S. Capitol.

They receive the surprise of a lifetime when Bill is asked by President Bill Clinton to serve as the nation's 20th Secretary of Defense. It is a calling that proves to be life transforming for both him and Janet, as they lead, inspire and bring comfort to the men and women who defend our nation. It is at the Pentagon where they witness just how powerful our nation can be when we judge people not on color, but character; not privilege, but merit. As the author eloquently writes, "It remains a testament to the promise of America that justice may be delayed, but cannot be denied; that rank prejudice cannot flourish in the sunlight; and that anything is possible when the heart is released from the chains of ignorance."

This powerful book is one of inspiration, hope, and ultimately the redemption of America's soul.

About the Author
William S. Cohen is a former Secretary of Defense (1997-2001), U.S. Senator (1979-1997), and U.S. Congressman (1973-1979). He is currently the Chairman and CEO of The Cohen Group. He is the author of ten previous books-four nonfiction, four novels, and two books of poetry.
Janet Langhart Cohen is a former model and television journalist. She is currently the CEO of Langhart Communications and President of The Citizen's Patriot Organization. She is the author of From Rage To Reason: My Life In Two Americas (2004).