Cover image for Practical virtues : everyday values and devotions for African American families
Practical virtues : everyday values and devotions for African American families
Flake, Floyd H., 1945-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
[New York] : Amistad, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxii, 390 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS153.N5 F52 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS153.N5 F52 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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As pastor of a church of more than fifteen thousand congregants, a former congressman, and president of one of the country's most respected black colleges, the Reverend Floyd Flake is frequently sought after by those in need of guidance. Now, with Practical Virtues, he and his wife, A.M.E. co-pastor Elaine McCollins Flake, have gathered their favorite stories, letters, hymns, narratives, and poems into a single, indispensable collection and paired them with spiritual exercises for the soul.

Beautifully designed, with each of the twelve chapters devoted to a single virtue -- Courage, Diligence, Faith, Forbearance, Forgiveness, Honesty, Love, Loyalty, Prudence, Responsibility, Service, and Trustworthiness -- Practical Virtues is a heartfelt, inspiring gift the Flakes have given to all African American families.

Author Notes

Reverend Floyd H. Flake is the senior pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Jamaica, Queens, and is the president of Wilberforce University in Ohio. He is also the founder of the Allen Christian School, which he established with his wife
The Reverend M. Elaine McCollins Flake is the co-pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral. They live in Old Westbury, New York, with their four children

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a treasure trove of African-American spirituality, Revs. Floyd Flake and Elaine McCollins Flake offer Practical Virtues: Everyday Values and Devotions for African American Families. While the title might suggest another simplistic niche devotional with bite-sized expressions of spiritual wisdom, the book actually offers an incomparably rich selection of historical writings by, for and about African-Americans. Here we find snippets from the memoir of Rosa Parks, the speeches of Sojourner Truth, the poetry of Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks and the socio-political writings of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. (Polar opposites in their approaches a century ago, Washington and DuBois actually seem at home appearing cheek-by-jowl in this collection.) The writings are organized around spiritual virtues such as courage, diligence, faith, honesty, love, loyalty and service. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Husband and wife pastors of a church of 15,000 in Jamaica, Queens (New York City), the Flakes are both heavily involved in the practical challenges of daily living. Their book brings together an array of short narratives, poems, speeches, accounts, hymns, biblical quotes, and stories that relate to African American experiences. Each entry is coupled with thoughtful and applicable questions. This is an everyday book of inspiration and exaltation, broken into chapters each devoted to one of 12 virtues: courage, diligence, faith, forbearance, forgiveness, honesty, love, loyalty, prudence, responsibility, service, and trustworthiness. These virtues are set forth as "a way of life" applicable to everyone. Floyd Flake (Nine Action Steps to Achieving Your Dreams) grew up in poverty but graduated from college and later became a congressman, president of a multimillion-dollar corporation, and president of Wilberforce University. This collection of readings and exercises will inspire others and is particularly recommended for libraries in African American communities.-George Westerlund, formerly with Providence P.L., Palmyra, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Practical Virtues Everyday Values and Devotions for African American Families Chapter One Courage A firmness of spirit and strength of the soul, Courage is the state of mind that enables you to face difficulty or danger with confidence in spite of fear. Every day we live, we exercise courage. From the moment we wake in the morning to the minute we lie down to sleep at night, we must be courageous. Courage is a spirit within that compels us to face dangerous and difficult situations rather than withdrawing into ourselves. It is knowing that we are capable of achieving successes in spite of the odds against us. Courage is not the absence of fear; rather, it is acting or speaking despite our fear. On Sunday mornings, when I stand before my congregation, it can be daunting to think that thousands of men, women, and children are listening to what I have to say. I know the power of words and I know that it is my responsibility to speak with integrity and conviction, so I must maintain confidence and composure when I deliver my sermons. It is not always easy to take controversial or nontraditional positions with sermon content, but I cannot allow fear to rule me. To the contrary, I must rule fear. Our history as African Americans is marked by the necessity and determination to maintain courage in the midst of abuse and mistreatment, oppression and persecution. The words of Claude McKay echo in our souls: "If we must die, let it not be like hogs / Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot." Countless black men and women have demonstrated remarkable courage in the face of considerable obstacles. From Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King, Jr., our ancestors have stood in the face of injustice and boldly challenged the world to acknowledge its inadequacies and remedy its wrongs. We will never forget the courage of our past, for it is what shapes the prosperity of our present and offers hope for the future. Of course, there is much more yet to be done, and there are many more obstacles to overcome. As a people, we have come far, but we have much farther to go. Courage is the legacy of our history. It is not a remnant of our past but a heritage that has been handed down to us. The bravery of our ancestors must inspire us to live courageously. Although we cannot all be Harriet Tubmans or Martin Luther Kings in terms of notoriety or public acclaim, we can appropriate their dauntless spirits. The desire to make a difference in this world and to have a positive impact on the lives of others should motivate us to dream big dreams. And our faith in God should give us the courage to turn our dreams into realities, for often our own fear is the only thing preventing us from attaining greatness and success. In times of fear or vacillation, I often recall the words God spoke to Joshua, commanding him to deliver the Israelites from the wilderness: "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest" (Joshua 1:9). Like the Israelites, we live beneath God's watchful protection. We need never fear when we know that God is with us. Our faith gives us courage. As we are guided by God, we are further bolstered by the love of our friends and family members. We must not be ashamed to embrace the support of others. Finally, we must release the power within us -- the power that fuels courage. Courage is a strength of the heart. As African Americans, we know too well that things are not always fair or just, but we cannot forever blame the world for our misfortunes. Success is not granted but earned; it is gained through taking positive action and not waiting for someone else to do for us what we can do for ourselves. We all have the ability to find happiness, but we must start the search with courage. Frances E.W.Harper The Book of Esther relates incidents in the lives of two queens, Esther and Vashti, both of whom are courageous in the face of oppression, but in strikingly different ways. While Esther's story is reported in more detail in the scriptures, I am especially drawn to the story of the Persian queen, Vashti, the lesser-sung heroine in the Book of Esther. As interpreted by Frances E. W. Harper in "Vashti," a poem published in 1857 in Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects, the queen is a model of both moral integrity and courage. Vashti She leaned her head upon her hand And heard the King's decree- "My lords are feasting in my halls; Bid Vashti come to me. "I've shown the treasures of my house, My costly jewels rare, But with the glory of her eyes No rubies can compare. "Adorn'd and crown'd I'd have her come, With all her queenly grace, And, 'mid my lords and mighty men, Unveil her lovely face. "Each gem that sparkles in my crown, Or glitters on my throne, Grows poor and pale when she appears, My beautiful, my own!" All waiting stood the chamberlains To hear the Queen's reply. They saw her cheek grow deathly pale, But light flash'd to her eye: "Go, tell the King," she proudly said, "That I am Persia's Queen, And by his crowds of merry men I never will be seen. "I'll take the crown from off my head And tread it 'neath my feet, Before their rude and careless gaze My shrinking eyes shall meet. "A queen unveil'd before the crowd!- Upon each lip my name!- Why, Persia's women all would blush And weep for Vashti's shame! "Go back!" she cried, and waved her hand, And grief was in her eye: "Go, tell the King," she sadly said, "That I would rather die." Practical Virtues Everyday Values and Devotions for African American Families . Copyright © by Floyd Flake. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Practical Virtues: Everyday Values and Devotions for African American Families by Floyd H. Flake, M. Elaine McCollins Flake All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Frances E. W. HarperArthur AsheEllen Craft and William CraftEloise GreenfieldMelba Patillo BealsRosa ParksClaude McKaySojourner TruthFelicia R. LeeBooker T. WashingtonPaul Laurence DunbarLangston HughesConstance Garcia-BarrioPatrice GainesArna BontempsW. E. B. Du BoisGeorgia Douglas JohnsonOseola McCartyMary Church TerrellDr. Benjamin S. CarsonCornelia Walker Bailey and Christena BledsoeJulius LesterSusan L. TaylorNella LarsenC.A. TindleyCarolyn M. RodgersMaya AngelouLinda BrentSterling A. BrownAnne MoodyPaul Laurence DunbarOlaudah EquianoAlice WineJohn NewtonCharles W. ChesnuttItabari NjeriSterling A. BrownBooker T. WashingtonDorothy WestShirley CaesarChester HimesBuchi OffodileJames BaldwinWilliam J. FaulknerPhilippe WambaJoseph Seamon Cotter, Jr.James Weldon JohnsonBishop Richard AllenRuby DeeRobert HaydenFrankie Quimby and Doug QuimbyColin L. PowellAndrea LeeMary McLeod BethuneErnest J. GainesBooker T. WashingtonAnn PetryPhillis WheatleyGwendolyn BrooksAnita HillAsha BandeleJ. California CooperRosemary L. BrayPrivate Bert B. BaberoLorene CaryRobert HaydenHank AaronDebra DickersonJames WhitfieldSarah Louise Delany and Annie Elizabeth DelanyAlice Moore Dunbar-NelsonElla BakerAlma B. AndrozzoRoger D. AbrahamsMarian Wright EdelmanFrances E. W. HarperOseola McCartyE. A. MarkhamAlice ChildressTherese Folkes PlairNella LarsenFanny Jackson
Introductionp. xi
Couragep. 1
"Vashti"p. 3
from Days of Gracep. 8
from Biography of an American Bondman, by His Daughter, Josephine Brownp. 13
"Harriet Tubman"p. 17
from Warriors Don't Cryp. 19
from Rosa Parks: My Storyp. 26
"If We Must Die"p. 29
"Ar'n't I a Woman?"p. 31
"Coping: A Letter to a Child in a Difficult Time"p. 33
Diligencep. 37
from Up from Slaveryp. 40
"The Seedling"p. 42
"Mother to Son"p. 44
"The Ant Story"p. 46
from Laughing in the Darkp. 47
"A Black Man Talks of Reaping"p. 50
from What the Negro Wantsp. 52
"The Black Runner"p. 58
from An Oral History with Miss Oseola McCartyp. 59
from A Colored Woman in a White Worldp. 63
Faithp. 65
from Gifted Handsp. 67
from God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Manp. 76
"Guide My Feet"p. 79
"People Who Could Fly"p. 81
from In the Spiritp. 85
"There Is a Balm in Gilead"p. 88
"The Woman with an Issue of Blood"p. 89
from Quicksandp. 91
"Stand by Me"p. 98
"how i got ovah II/It Is Deep II"p. 100
Forbearancep. 103
from I Know Why the Caged Bird Singsp. 105
from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girlp. 110
"Strong Men"p. 115
from Coming of Age in Mississippip. 119
"Jesus Before the High Priest"p. 125
"Sympathy"p. 127
"Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho"p. 129
from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written by Himselfp. 130
"Keep Your Eyes on the Prize"p. 138
Forgivenessp. 141
"Amazing Grace"p. 143
"The Partners"p. 146
from Every Good-Bye Ain't Gonep. 157
"After the Storm"p. 164
"The Unforgiving Slave"p. 166
Honestyp. 169
from Up from Slaveryp. 170
"Jack in the Pot"p. 173
from The Lady, the Melody, and the Wordp. 190
"Mama's Missionary Money"p. 193
"The River Demon"p. 201
Lovep. 207
"My Dungeon Shook"p. 209
"How the Slaves Helped Each Other"p. 214
from Kinshipp. 218
"Black Baby"p. 223
I Corinthians 13p. 225
from Along This Wayp. 228
from The Life Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allenp. 233
"Aunt Zurletha"p. 235
"Those Winter Sundays"p. 242
Loyaltyp. 245
"The Ibo Landing Story," as told to Marian Barnesp. 247
from My American Journeyp. 249
from Sarah Phillippsp. 255
Ruth and Naomip. 260
from The Lesson of Tolerancep. 263
from A Lesson Before Dyingp. 268
"Jubilee Thanksgiving Address"p. 276
Prudencep. 281
from The Streetp. 283
"An Hymn to the Evening"p. 288
"We Real Cool"p. 290
from Speaking Truth to Powerp. 292
from The Prisoner's Wifep. 295
from In Search of Satisfactionp. 298
from Unafraid of the Darkp. 300
from Taps for a Jim Crow Armyp. 302
Responsibilityp. 305
from Black Icep. 307
"Frederick Douglass"p. 311
from If I Had a Hammerp. 313
from An American Storyp. 319
"Parable of the Talents"p. 321
"Self-Reliance"p. 323
Servicep. 329
from Having Our Sayp. 332
"I Sit and Sew"p. 336
from Black Women in White Americap. 338
"If I Can Help Somebody as I Pass Along"p. 343
"Salt, Sauce, and Spice, Onion Leaves, Pepper, and Drippings"p. 344
from The Measure of Our Successp. 348
"Go Work in My Vineyard"p. 350
from An Oral History with Miss Oseola McCartyp. 353
Trustworthinessp. 357
"Mammie's Form at the Post Office"p. 359
"The Pocketbook Game"p. 364
"The Clay Pots"p. 367
"Sanctuary"p. 369
Jonathan and Davidp. 376
"Letter to Frederick Douglass"p. 380
Acknowledgments and Sourcesp. 383