Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influential People: Community Members

BOND: Were there people in the neighborhood – not teachers, not ministers – adults that you said, "Gee, I want to be like Mr. Johnson. I want to be like Mrs. Brown," or something. Were there adult figures who didn't directly interact with you but who had an influence on you?

FLAKE: Yeah, we had a guy named Mr. [Wesley A.] Boyd, I guess, who was the most influential. Mr. Boyd was a teacher, a basketball coach, baseball coach, and owned a funeral home. And everybody gravitated to Mr. Boyd. He just had a natural ability to connect. We looked up to him. When he opened his funeral business, it grew because everybody -- if anything happened to anybody, they would say, "Call Mr. Boyd." And Mr. Boyd just looked out for every kid. He was there for you when you needed him. And I think he was one of the most influential. But it was kind of a neighborhood where neighbors helped to raise everybody's child. And so you knew if something happened on another street even away from your own home that that person was not only going to take the opportunity to chastise you themselves, but they would also report that to my mother.

BOND: So you could be chastised again.

FLAKE: And so you'd be chastised again. And if it was severe enough, you'd have a third chastisement. Because she would also tell your daddy -- tell you, "Wait until Daddy comes home." So, you grow up in that kind of environment, though, you have a real sense of what's right and what's wrong and how to make good choices.