This piece was featured on Israel Campus Beat on Thursday, April 28, 2011. It was written by Elianna Mintz.
Courtesy: Israel Campus Beat
When members of Columbia University’s pro-Israel and African American student groups accepted an invitation to hear two leaders of the Vanguard Leadership Group (VLG) speak on campus recently, they assumed it would be an interesting program, but they had no idea they would be a part of a groundbreaking event.
As they RSVP’d for the program, they could not have known that the event would herald significant change at Columbia. Once they arrived, however, they realized just how potent the unification of the campus’ African American and Jewish American students could be.
Most were unfamiliar with VLG, an Atlanta-based honor society for high-achieving African American students at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. Established in 2003, VLG is committed to instilling a global mindset within their students and as such has had been engaging the pro-Israel community since 2007.
VLG founder and executive director Jarrod Jordan traced the history of the group’s strong embrace of Israel to the 2008 AIPAC Policy Conference, where members were in the audience when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama stressed the importance of the historic relationship between African Americans and Jewish Americans.
“Obama explained that together African Americans and Jewish Americans are pushing America forward,” Jarrod recalled. “He expressed gratitude to AIPAC for their continuance of that relationship, which inspired us to pursue that relationship as well.