The African American Leadership Forum’s Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy (JRJLA) is a year-long hands-on leadership development experience that is supporting the new era of great Black leaders in Minnesota with a focus on providing learning tools and resources that help participants navigate their leadership development journey and strengthen their abilities.

Our July 2020 JRJLA Leadership Excursion with the fellows focused on the history of community and the 2020 cohort used this time to reflect on the history of the communities where they live and work to gain deeper insight into the challenges and triumphs of Black leadership in the Twin Cities. The fellows kicked-off the journey by watching two Twin Cities Public Television documentaries: History of Settlement House for PUC and Jim Crow of the North (a Twin Cities PBS Original Film), and the group engaged in a discussion about both films, including Rondo: Beyond the Pavement.

Jim Crow of the North considers why Minnesota suffers from some of the worst racial disparities in American, especially as it relates to African Americans. The film provides information about the spread of racist, restrictive real estate covenants in the early 20th century and insights our states history of racist policies and practices and their impact on the Black community.


The 2020 Leadership Academy Excursion also included the sharing of food from Soul Bowl and a Q & A with invited guest speaker Daniel Pierce Bergin, a Twin Cities PBS producer.

Bergin is also a writer and director whose work focuses on history, diversity, and community concerns. He is a winner of 15 regional Emmy Awards and his notable productions include Jim Crow of the North, North Star: Minnesota’s Black Pioneers; Homeless Youth: Finding Home, Out North: MNLGBTQ History, and Heroin at Home among others.

About the Leadership Academy

During their time in the program each fellow builds a vocabulary for articulating their purpose and passion in a way that leads to impactful change. The skills developed through this program serve as a launching pad for exercising leadership in our  Collective Impact projects. The overall goal of the academy is to accelerate the leadership development journey of emerging African American leaders and those of African descent. Our participants are aware of the challenges facing our community, proficient in fulfilling specific leadership roles that match their skillset and have a passion for community-engagement work.

Fellows are chosen for the Leadership Academy through a closed application process. Candidates must be nominated by an AALF Board Member or JRJLA alum in order to submit an application.

Click here to learn more about the 2020 fellows!