An initiative of The Philos Project


The goal of the African American Leadership (AAL) initiative is to provide African American leaders in ministry, journalism, advocacy with the tools to understand the Near East, the historical bond blacks have with the Jewish community, and to initiate positive change and spark action. Find out more about our AAL programs below.  

SPOTLIGHT: Philos trip to Minneapolis. 

“Change begins with conversation.” 

This was the motto for our summit in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, bringing white and black evangelical leaders together for 3 days of listening and conversation focused on topics of race, religion and policy.

After engaging with Minnesota community leaders and pastors our cohort took away these key truths to help move our community forward:  

The problem is spiritual; Christianity offers the best way forward; the solution requires key focus on the black church; what is needed is more productive dialogue between white and black evangelicals. 

Kristina King is the African American Affairs Director at The Philos Project. Originally from the San Francisco bay area in Northern California, she currently lives in Chicago. She pioneered the African American Outreach programs for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and the International Fellowhip of Christians and Jews (IFCJ). She studied at Duke University. Kristina is passionate about drawing connections between the cooperation of the Jewish and African American communities particularly during the civil rights movement and how this can inspire further cooperation today.



A graduate of Morehouse College in psychology with emphasis in neuroscience, Michael Smith Jr. traveled to Israel with Passages in the Summer of 2018 as a part of a delegation of leaders from the Church of God In Christ.   A thoughtful and well-rounded man, dedicated to creating opportunities for others, Michael returned to Morehouse and brought together the institutional leadership necessary to fully engage Morehouse Men in the opportunities afforded through Passages and Philos.   In a meeting with Dr. David Wall Rice, Director of the Institute for Social Justice Inquiry and Praxis at Morehouse College’s Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership, and Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., Michael assembled a powerhouse team to work directly with Philos African American Affairs Director Kristina King to get things moving.  This meeting was the impetus for 5 students to travel to Israel during the winter 2018 and forty Morehouse students to travel to Israel this summer on the first HBCU bus entirely from one institution.  It also opened the door for the Philos African American Leadership Weekend to be hosted at Morehouse in Atlanta, Georgia April 26 – 28, 2019, with the participation of renown political commentator and Georgetown Professor Michael Eric Dyson giving keynote remarks at both the Philos Leadership Weekend, and as the keynote speaker for the Senior Day for the 2019 graduating class.  

As the Associate Director for Academic Affairs at Morehouse College, Michael has cultivated educational experiences for students to develop and implement solutions to social justice inequalities, particularly to people who are too often marginalized. Specifically, Michael has been instrumental in engaging and introducing students abroad to the geopolitical issues in the Middle East.  Throughout his academic tenure and work within the Institute for Social Justice Inquiry and Praxis at Morehouse College, he has traveled to over eight (8) cities in Africa, nine (9) cities in Israel and Palestinian territories, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Dominican Republic and Egypt.

“This is exactly the kind of leader that we are looking for,” says AAL Director Kristina King, “someone who fully embraces their experience in Israel, and works creatively to bring that experience back home to share with others.  Michael did this at the highest level and everyone benefitted from his efforts.”

After returning from PLI this summer, Michael has resumed his studies at Penn State College of Medicine studying Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Global Health. His research interest includes examining the neurobiological mechanisms of stress and how environmental factors contribute towards brain development and cardiovascular events (viz., stroke and heart diseases).  Fortunately, he will continue to provide leadership to the Philos partnership with Morehouse College as we prepare for new students for our summer trips and leadership weekends.


Deborah holds a BA in Business Administration and a minor in Dance from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is a published author and motivational speaker. She is the founder of the "Use Your Words The Movement" - an initiative aimed at restoring the art of communication among millennials. She is a 2019 Graduate of Emerge America, a training program for women who want to run for public office.

Deborah's involvement with the Philos Project began after her trip to Israel with Passages in 2017. Since then, she has become an active participant with the African American Leadership Initiative where she delivered a speech on the importance of women in political power at Hebrew Union College during the inaugural African American Leadership Weekend in Cincinnati last November. Most recently, Deborah was selected as 1 of 5 African American leaders to be a part of the 2019 Philos Leadership Institute. 

Outside of her involvement with Philos, Deborah extends her work to advocate for the voices of the unseen and unheard. She uses her writings to inspire and hopes to expand her reach in the political arena in the future. Deborah has made it her personal and professional mission to create environments and opportunities that foster the holistic healing of communities across a range of intersectional demographics. Her efforts were recently recognized as she was nominated as Philanthropist of the Year by the Black Alumni Foundation at her Alma Mater.


Adedeji Olajide is a double graduate from Azusa Pacific University where he earned a BA in Christian Ministries ('16) and recently earned his Masters of Divinity in spring 2019. He was born in Los Angeles but is a native to Corona, CA. Adedeji has spent over 6 years serving in higher education ministry settings, sports ministry, and the local church.

The topic of Israel and the Jewish people became a passion point for him in 2013 when he traveled on a two-week leadership trip with his former supervisor and National Director David Walker of Christians United for Israel. This trip showed him the beauty of the Middle East and the rich history of the Jewish community. As an academic scholar, Mr.Olajide studied abroad in Israel on 4 separate occasions throughout his collegiate career studying courses such as the geographical settings of the bible, biblical Hebrew and inter-cultural studies researching Israel's diversity.

Adedeji is an alumnus of the Passages fellowship program (‘19) and has led groups as a senior fellow this December. He also has participated in the Philos Young Leaders Conference in Houston, Nexus 2.0 and the 2019 Philos African American Leadership Weekend at the historic Morehouse college as well as the November AAL Weekend at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.

In addition to his ministry, and educational endeavors, he is currently the office manager at Pacific Chiropractic Healthcare Inc, where he and his father, Dr. G. Olajide serve clients from all across the greater Southern California area. Mr. Olajide is a member of Victory Bible Church Pasadena where he volunteers for community-based development programs and is the chaplian for the La Salle High School Football team. 

African American Leadership Weekends

AAL Leadership Weekends take place in April and November in order to provide our trip participants the opportunity to further explore their study abroad travels, and share their experiences with their friends, family and community.  Further, it is the goal of the AAL Weekends to assist in identifying and helping to raise up ethical, world leaders prepared to tackle the challenges of the future.

SURVEY: African American Attitudes Towards Israel 

As the Philos Project seeks to cultivate fruitful dialogue between western Christians and eastern Christians, it has become apparent that the voices of the African American community have not been heard or requested by established major players in the national conversation on Israel. To that end, the Philos Project commissioned Lifeway Research to conduct a comprehensive survey on African American views toward Israel.


The Philos Project’s African American Affairs Initiative is a leader in the fight against antisemitism and racism by educating and equipping leaders to combat hate with tolerance and understanding through meaningful relationships with people we are otherwise unfamiliar.


In Minneapolis, Residents See a "Spiritual War"

Jeffery Walton | Juicy Ecumenism

For more than a decade I have worked in the area of Black-Jewish relations, specifically as they relate to Israel, so the recent shooting in Jersey City along with the horrific Bronx stabbing are both particularly disheartening for me. That two African American gunmen stormed a kosher supermarket and gunned down innocent members of the Jewish community is shameful, especially because it was rooted in anti-Semitism.

Who are the Black Hebrews, the group linked to the Jersey City shooter?

Ron Kampeas | The Times of Israel

Police have identified one of the dead suspects in a shootout at a kosher market in Jersey City as David Anderson, who reportedly was once a member of the Black Hebrew Israelites.

Here are some things to know about the movement.


A Call to Black Leaders to Condemn Antisemitism

Dr. Clarence B. Jones | Michigan Chronical 

Recently, while watching the news, I was saddened, like many Americans to hear of the Jersey City shooting, an incident of blatant antisemitism against the orthodox Jewish community, in which two armed assailants stormed a kosher market killing four innocent people and losing their own lives. With the rise of hate crimes in America, I was saddened, but not surprised.

Why are African Americans silent amid anti-Semitism?

Kristina King | Christian Post

For more than a decade I have worked in the area of Black-Jewish relations, specifically as they relate to Israel, so the recent shooting in Jersey City along with the horrific Bronx stabbing are both particularly disheartening for me. That two African American gunmen stormed a kosher supermarket and gunned down innocent members of the Jewish community is shameful, especially because it was rooted in anti-Semitism.

Knocking on My Jewish Neighbor's Door

Rasool Berry | Christianity Today

The recent prolonged firefight in Jersey City left six people dead and raised again the ugly specter of anti-Semitism in America. One of the two assailants who attacked a kosher supermarket was said to have written anti-Semitic posts and has been part of an organization known as the Black Hebrew Israelites that spreads anti-Semitic teachings.


Statement from our founder on the protests on police brutality 

Philos condemns discrimination, racism, and violence in the United States the same way we condemn it in the Near East – without qualification. The bigotry that killed George Floyd and innocent black men like him will destroy this country, as it has destroyed so many others, if not addressed in a systemic way. Public statements are not enough. The response we seek is substantive, relational, and incarnational. Read the full statement from founder Robert Nicholson.

GPZ Universal Love and the Upbuilding of the Beloved Community by Dr. Gary P. Zola

Dr. Gary P. Zola discusses the historical bond between the African American and Jewish communities. 

"Knocking On My Jewish Neighbor's Door" by Rasool Berry

In late 2019, a series of violent attacks on Jewish communities left many Americans stunned and angry. Among the outpour of responses from various communities, groups and individuals, Rasool Berry's rang out because of the importance and urgency of the dialogue he was highlighting. Listen as Rasool goes through what he covers in the article and how he was influenced to speak out about this important topic.

Get in touch.


african american affairs director


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