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Rev. Floyd Flake, Charismatic Preacher And Political Leader, To Speak At U.Va. For African-American Heritage Month

January 22, 2002-- Floyd Flake, the charismatic black minister who leads an11,000-member congregation in New York, will bring his pulpit to Charlottesville next month.

Flake, has served as pastor of the Allen A.M.E. Church of Jamaica, Queens, since the age of 31. Now 56, he has built his church on the self-help philosophy of A.M.E. founder Richard Allen and led the congregation to address inner-city problems by creating a safety net of social services and business enterprises. His church has created 11affiliated corporations to fight urban blight by renovating neighborhood houses and stores, founding a private school and building housing for seniors.

He will speak Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. in the University of Virginia's Clark Hall, room 147, on "Shifting Paradigms, Changing Perceptions and New Perspectives."

Flake's talk is part of the Explorations in Black Leadership series co-sponsored by U.Va.'s Institute for Public History and the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. It is one of many events planned for African-American Heritage Month at U.Va.

The son of a Houston janitor and one of 13 children, Flake was the first in his family to attend college, earning a degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. He began preaching while working in sales for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and later in marketing for Xerox. He served as an associate dean at Lincoln University, and as acting chaplain and director of the Martin Luther King Afro-American Center at Boston University.

Given his success in addressing inner-city problems, Flake won a seat in the House of

Representatives in 1986 and began commuting between Washington and New York. While his voting record is primarily that of a liberal Democrat, he often surprised some of his constituents by endorsing the candidacies of several conservative Republican New Yorkers, in particular, Rudolph Giuliani for mayor of New York City, George Pataki for governor, and Alfonse D'Amato for U.S. Senate.

In Congress, he supported former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's conservative social program, "Contract with America," and endorsed the idea of school vouchers. Flake joined with conservative politicians when their policies promised to benefit his community programs.

After juggling two demanding jobs for nearly a decade, Flake stepped down from his seat in Congress mid-term in 1997 to devote more time to his church. He has been quoted many times as saying that black ministers need to take their place as the new black leaders, believing that a generation of black politicians have failed to fulfill their responsibilities to their communities.

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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