Mokah Jasmine Johnson

State House of Representatives, District 117

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Mokah Jasmine Johnson has lived in Athens, Georgia, for seven years. A social entrepreneur, she channels the connective and transformative powers of the arts to educate and empower.

An immigrant, Mokah moved with her family from Jamaica in the early ‘80s for better opportunities and is a naturalized citizen. Upon arriving in Athens, she founded the Athens Hip-Hop Awards, which showcases the work of local artists. She also founded the Athens Martin Luther King Day Parade and Music Fest, and she currently co-produces the Athens in Harmony Concert, where artists from diverse backgrounds come together to make music. Through the Swadeshi Black Market and Co-op, Mokah promotes local, minority-owned businesses. She is the founder of VIP Girls and the Hip-Hop Director for Girls Rock, two programs that build self-esteem and encourage creativity through mentorship and dance.

Educator, activist, entrepreneur, immigrant, and mother, Mokah and her husband stepped into activism when an Athens bar served a drink with a racial slur in the name. After organizing a protest and march attended by over five hundred people, she founded the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement as a community effort to advocate for civil rights and criminal justice reform. AADM’s End School-to-Prison Pipeline initiative is designed to reduce juvenile incarceration and high school dropout rates. Under Mokah’s leadership, AADM has educated hundreds of her neighbors on local issues and mobilized them to advocate for policy reform.

Mokah is running for office because no matter how much we advocate for progressive policy changes on a local level, our state representatives continue to propose laws that undermine local authority and hinder us from making progress. Despite efforts to address mass incarceration, Georgia has one of the top incarceration rates in the country. This is especially concerning given the discriminatory manner in which the criminal justice system affects poor people and people of color. Mokah led a successful effort to put an end to cash bail for local ordinance violations. She is committed to building on Georgia’s successful bipartisan criminal justice reforms and leading statewide efforts to end cash bail and mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. She knows that when we stop locking people up, we can invest these savings in initiatives to end the school-to-prison pipeline, rehabilitative programs for people struggling with addiction, resources for community policing, and police trainings on implicit bias and mental health interventions.

Mokah launched her campaign with a rally calling on local leaders to #UniteAgainstHate and pass comprehensive, LGBTQ-inclusive hate crime legislation. In 2019, a bipartisan hate crime bill passed the Georgia State House. She was alarmed to see that Representative Houston Gaines (her now-opponent) voted against the bill. Georgia is one of just four states in the country without a hate crime law. 70% of hate crimes in Georgia were motivated by race or ethnicity in 2018. This absence in the law allows prejudice and violence to go unnoticed and unpunished. A hate crime law would include mandatory reporting of hate crimes by local law enforcement. Mokah knows that the law should recognize the unique role that hate crimes play in our society, sending a message to an entire community that they are unwelcome and unsafe.

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