Fredrick Douglas said that it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. However for Black people in America today’s society, we don’t have that luxury. We have to discover ways to empower both now.
-U.S. Senator Cory Booker, 2018
The John Mercer Langston Institute for African American Political Leadership is a development program suited for collegiate scholars as well as current and emerging African American Virginians who are interested in becoming more active in public service. Community leaders, local elected officials, state officials, non-profit leaders, and any African American interested in expanding political power for African Americans in Virginia are also invited to participate. Comprised of annual cohorts, the JMLI is based on the campus of the historically black college/university, Virginia State University (VSU). VSU is home to the first African American Congressman from Virginia, John Mercer Langston, who served as the institution's first President.
The John Mercer Langston Institute for African American Political Leadership (JMLI) at Virginia State University was created to assess, develop, and empowerment of African American political leadership in the Commonwealth of Virginia through innovative training, policy collection and assistance, programming and research, and networking.
Being an African American Elected Official and/or leader is unique to say the least. In the opinion of some, it is one of the most challenging tasks that one will ever do. The John Mercer Langston Institute is committed to preparing leaders with a path to sustainability as well as growth while in leadership positions. Participants will learn the “do’s and don’ts” of campaigning, getting elected, and sustaining themselves while in office.
Participants will engage in presentations and discussions of a variety of public policy issues facing state governments. As an African American Elected Official, it is often stated that we are held to a different standard. How we govern, our policy initiatives and the way in which we move and operate is viewed on a different scale than our counterparts. Being able to balance representing your constituency while still doing what you believe is best for underserved communities is a skill that few have mastered. The institute will point our measures that have been pushed forth by African American legislatures and will go into detail describing how their items were passed and adopted.
Power and Capital
Raising money and leveraging resources is challenging for all people, and in some cases, even more challenging for African Americans. The John Mercer Langston Institute will describe different techniques for African American leaders to leverage their influence, generate resources of support, and collectively develop and harness their political power.
Alignment with University values and mission
- Student-Centered – Promoting the intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development of students in all facets of University life.
- Engagement – Developing civically engaged citizens who value all persons and demonstrate the desire to positively impact their immediate surroundings, nation, and world.
- Scholarly Research – Conducting scholarly activity is at the forefront of our disciplines and applying translational discoveries and intellectual pursuits to benefit the community.
- Teaching – Providing learning environments and activities consistent with best educational practices to create a framework where scholarship is intentional, transformational, and deepens understanding in the preparation of future leaders.
The application process is open to Virginia residents who are African American with an interest in improving the political landscape for African Americans within the commonwealth. A commitment to fully participate in both of the programs is required.
Applications for the 2023-2024 John Mercer Langston Institute for African American Political Program are due by midnight December 31, 2023.
- Completed Application
- Mission Statement
- Essay (See possible essay topics)
- One-page resume
- Two reference letters - Reference Form provided
- Fee of $500.00
The Political Science and Public Administration supports the John Mercer Langston Institute for African American Leadership
1 Hayden Drive, Petersburg, VA 23806