The Origins of Bishop Blake

In His Own Words

No one knows your story better than you, and the same applies to our leader, Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. 

This past week, Bishop Blake sat down to reflect on his life, sharing a specific story from his days as a 5-year old boy in Little Rock, Arkansas, one that shaped him as a champion for civil rights today.

Here are a few highlights from Bishop’s story:

Bishop Blake begins with a poignant tale from his childhood, after America had emerged victorious from World War II:

“The city was North Little Rock, Arkansas. My father loaded our little family into the car and we joined thousands of people in a spontaneous parade celebrating our victory. I was 5 years old and my brother was 8. We were in the backseat of the car and my brother was waving a USA flag out the window. A white family pulled up besides us. Their son reached out and snatched my brother’s flag.

“My brother and I protested to our father, ‘Daddy, daddy! That boy took our flag! Get it back for us!’ Our father told us to be quiet. He was justifiably afraid. I learned at the age of 5 that I did not have the same rights as did others. My flag could be snatched away from me, and there was nothing that I could do to fight back.

“And during the dark days of segregation and oppression, black people were forced into unity of our identity, of self-reliance and broad-scale strategic action.”

Bishop continued on in his tale of civil rights, fast-forwarding to his college days, where is experiences as a young man motivated him to cause change:

“In 1965, I was a student in Atlanta, Georgia, working on my master’s degree, which was a key period of the civil rights movement. I happened to be student body president of the Interdenominational Theological Center, and had the exhilaration of being caught up in the enthusiasm for freedom and for justice.

“I began to say, ‘If Martin Luther King can make a difference in my life, if he can die for this, then at least I should be able to live for it.'”

Two specific individuals were familiar with Bishop’s career beginnings, and shared their thoughts on Bishop Blake’s rise to the influential Man of God that he is today:

“His vision was not only to win souls for Christ but to better the community. I can only say that that is exactly what West Angeles has done … If I were to pattern after someone, I would pattern myself after him.” – Deacon James Kirkland

“My first memory of Bishop Blake is when I was almost 17. He preached, preached, preached Heaven down … He’s made me want to be a better person. Sometime we take people for granted. You all have somebody great.” – Deborah Frederick