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Rev. Floyd Flake receives Garvin Award

By Philip Newman

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown celebrated Black History Month by praising the Rev. Floyd Flake of Jamaica as “a respected leader not only in southeast Queens but throughout our country.”

Brown presented the William Tucker Garvin award for public service Feb. 18 in a reception at the district attorney’s conference room in Kew Gardens. The reception was attended by Flake’s family, defense bar members, judges, public officials and members of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral Church congregation, the honoree’s church in Jamaica.

Garvin was the first African American assistant district attorney in Queens.

“Each year we present the Garvin Award to an individual who has distinguished himself or herself through their outstanding public service, someone who has been a pioneering leader and role model for others,” Brown said. “This year we honor a long-time, respected friend, the Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake.”

Flake was a congressman representing southeast Queens for 12 years before giving up the seat in 1997 to oversee the building of the Allen A.M.E. cathedral.

“Rev. Flake has had an extraordinary career and has been a strong and influential leader in Southeast Queens—indeed throughout our country,” Brown said.

Flake was born in Los Angeles and was one of 13 children. He was the first in his family to attend college, graduating from Wilberforce University in Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and receiving a doctor of ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Ohio.

For 39 years, Flake been senior pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Church of New York, which has grown to become one of the largest houses of worship in New York City.

Flake was elected six times to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he obtained federal funds and programs for Queens. His efforts brought more than 2,000 jobs to the area while also upgrading the stability and aesthetics of his district.

He persuaded the Clinton administration to provide money for the nation’s first One Stop Small Business Capital Center, which provides loans to small businesses.

He also came up with legislation to provide for the expansion of John F. Kennedy International Airport and to build the AirTrain.

Flake has been married for 40 years to Margaret Flake, an ordained minister, and they have four children.

William Tucker Garvin, for whom the award is named, was born Nov. 28, 1898 in South Carolina. Upon graduating from Orangeburg State College in South Carolina, he moved to Manhattan, where he worked at a post office while attending law school.

He graduated from St. John’s University Law School in 1931 as one of two African-American graduates. He practiced law in Harlem and Queens. In 1943 he was appointed by the Queens borough president to serve on School Board 50—the first of his race to serve in that position.

Garvin was appointed an assistant district attorney on Jan. 1, 1952 and retired after a distinguished career in 1966, one month before his death. He is buried in Maple Grove cemetery in Kew Gardens.

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