We’re in this together

October 21, 1986

 The Strength of Friendship
(Dedicated to Dr. Carlane Joyce Hamilton-Dorsey)

1. We were 9th grade, you and I,
  As we were bussed to Eastside High.
  At first you were called "Carolyn",
  And your boldness caused a lot of staring!

2. The mini-skirt was yet on the drawing boards
  But you advertised your knees to intolerant souls!
  Puberty and adolescence had been kind to you;
  Therefore, you wore fitted clothes that stuck like glue.

3. It was a time of change for us all.
  You showed others how to stand tall.
  You spoke your mind steadfastly, yet kind.
  That is such boldness for a person in grade 9.

4. Our Geography class helped to ease the pain
  Of knowing that white people's bigoted game
  Could not destroy the Negro's strength.
  When they built Eastside, we knew what that meant.

5. There were white schools all around ;
  Yet, Negroes were treated like the Baskerville Hounds.
  Instead of Farmerville, Sterlington and Marion schools,
  Negroes rode buses, but we maintained our cool.

6. Mrs. DeJohnette taught our Geography class.
  If we made poor grades, we couldn't pass.
  She was a strong Black woman, intelligent and wise.
  She helped Black students to survive.

7. No matter what white people did,
  Black students' intelligence could not be hid. 
  There were teachers' kids, like Cheryl Kemp,
  And for her, the rules were often bent.

8. The elite PTA president had a daughter, too,
  But the daughter, Tempie Page, was adamant and blue.
  The "Farmer's Daughter" knew how to endure --
  This was Emma Jean Riley, through and through.

9. Aline Roberts was the niece of a teacher.
  Therefore, teachers compromised to reach her.
  I, Gertie Talton, observed the rules, determined and shy,
  Until the day that "Carolyn" Joyce Hamilton stood at my side.

10.There were six of us who challenged "the lie",
  That Black student "dropout" had to be high.
  Somehow, though, a mutiny began,
  And my 5 friends executed an awful sham.

11.Michael Parrish, with eyes of ocean blue,
  Wanted to be near the 6 of us, too.
  There were 5 track records set that day,
  As I watched all of my friends run away.

12.I was shocked, hurt, angry and shy,
  As the Black, Anglo-Saxon male lingered at my side.
  It was a "sting" that was most unfair;
  Yet, I declared, "I "ain't" going "nowhere"!"

13.Michael soon left, embarrassed that I was quiet.
  For my 5 friends, the scene was a riot.
  "All in a day's work!!" some justified.
  Only one (1) person had the guts to return to my side.

14.I was very angry by what went on,
  But one (1) person's apology kept me strong.
  "Carlane Joyce" -- for you alone did show
  That friends can help you to learn and to grow.

15.THAT DAY!! -- You became my true friend.
  We had a bond that nobody could bend.
  It was a friendship of truth and of trust,
  Of sharing the principles that society could not "bust".

16.We wrote poems and "openly" criticized "our" faults.
  Still, we have a friendship that cannot be bought.
  You taught me to be steadfast in my beliefs.
  Therefore, my Math Geometry teacher gave me "only" a "C".

17."The Farmer's Daughter" was always right, in Geometry math.
  Other students shared her answers, in class.
  When I stood alone for the one answer that I gave,
  It was like being on "The Planet of the Apes"!

18.For once I knew that my math Geometry answer was correct,
  Even though "The Farmer's Daughter" caused others to "defect".
  I would not change my answer sheet,
  And I "threshed" math Geometry like Gideon's wheat.

19.Judges 6:1 describes the solemn heart
  Of those who are destined to be alone and set apart.
  The "chosen" 5 refused to acknowledge
  That a dumb, shy, quiet girl like me could make it in college.

20.Math Geometry had already paved the way
  For me to be steadfast when skies are gray.
  But the friendship of just one person
  Can lighten burdens and cure wounds we've been nursing.

21."Carlane Joyce Hamilton" -- How awesome!
  You carried so much strength for us to draw from.
  Some tried to deny your inner strength.
  But you held your head "proud" and did not relent.

22.I was a nobody! But what did you see?
  Even my teachers sometimes did mock me!
  Mr. Owens "walked" out of the Math class,
  While Felix Harris consistently gave me "the ax".

23.Cheryl Kemp became reconciled to Roy,
  But only after she used my letter to destroy
  The heart throb that Roy Maine and I shared.
  I just didn't fit in "nowhere"!

24.Always there was "Carlane" proud and brave.
  You gave me the strength to face another day.
  "The Teenage Goodwrench" was an excellent title  
  For a teenager like you, Carlane, who never was idle.

25.I saw the strength of your honest labors.
  For shy people, you are a strong saviour!
  You did not hesitate to correct my faults.
  So I gained the courage to be firm when I talk.

26.Your most famous words were spoken to me in love:
  "YOU MAKE ME TIRED!" -- That was a saving "rub".
  Now there were those who tried to cheat and lie.
  You called them "CAD" and their hypocrisy died.

27.Remember the bomb threats at Grambling College?
  YOU REFUSED to let me stay in the dorm's death "throttle".
  The college prestige did not separate us.
  It strengthened our understanding and our trust.

28.In May 1968, your graduation gift to me said it all:
  THE TREASURE CHEST, a book of quotations from leadership's hall.
  It encouraged me to persevere against gall.
  Thank you, Carlane, for standing tall.

29.You taught me honesty, candidness and strength.
  I learned what the word "friendship" meant.
  In 1969, I had to adjust,
  And somehow, I neglected your trust.  

30.The letters you wrote to me in Dallas did not last long
  Because I was 22-year old "woe-be-gone".
  Still, I remembered "The Teenage Goodwrench"
  Who helped me to endure such a bigoted stench.

31.The white people discriminated subtlely,
  To destroy the Black race, "utterly"!
  I was faced with lies and hatred and bigotry and gall.
  Dallas, somehow, demanded that I take "a fall".

32.There were 9 years that refused to die.
  From 1960 to 1969, "Carlane" had stood by my side.
  I could not "grin" away the white man's deceit.
  "Uncle Toms" and "Jim Crows" are never discreet.

33.I lost my strength and became disheartened,
  When I heard, too late, that you had lost your father.
  I searched and I searched for my one TRUE friend,
  Only to encounter so many dead ends.

34.Oakdale! Alumni rolls at Grambling and Eastside!
  Yet, there was a set time, in 1985.
  CATHERROY! MILWAUKEE! WASHINGTON'S "OLYMPIA"!
  The telephone wires played a symphony!

35.I will forever remember your strength and your courage,
  For you giving me the patient strength to be sturdy.
  Some call you "C.J."; for me it will always be "Carlane".
  Thank you!! -- for the strength you have helped me to retain.