Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leadership: Contributions

BOND: Can you name your greatest contribution as a leadership figure? What is the greatest contribution you've made so far?

FLAKE: I think probably if I were to define what might be the greatest contribution, it is in understanding the institution that connects black and white. And that is the church. And building models where whites and blacks from all over America come to New York with one question in mind, whether they're church people, whether they're banking groups, Fannie Mae or any of those institutions that are doing funding in minority communities, they want to know, "Is this possible? Can it be done? Not just in New York. And can we use what is now called the faith-based model to begin to transform, restore and renew communities?" And I think my greatest contribution is to be positioned well so that whether it is the president or the governor or mayors or corporate heads or bankers are coming to an environment and saying, "If you've done this, how can we do the same thing in other communities?" Because ultimately, the strength of America will be determined by its ability to restore and to rebuild these communities. Because the center cities are still going to be considered the places that will define what happens in any metropolitan complex.