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May 10, 1994

The Flaming Cherubim
 (My Tribute – To Professor Oakland Boyce Adams, Senior)

1.Like the durable “oak? of Polynesia, you stood so “firm?!  
No “weeping willows? at Eastside, Fall or Spring term!
You “supported? your students with the finesse of the “oak? hard-wood floor,
Determined to keep Eastside High School as a “revolving? door.

2.The “oak? tree family is a part of the enduring “evergreen? –
At Eastside High School, you assembled an infallible team!
For you taught that learning should be a contin-“uous? challenge.
You refused to let us be “just average?.

3.In 1954, “The Topeka Decision? did not affect Farmerville.
For “Doc? Elliot, that was too much of a bitter pill.
So, four years later, “they? build Negroes a “new? school.
Only a true leader could have maintained “his cool?.

4.You smiled softly as you accepted the “baton? of progress.
Because you are quiet, “Jim Crow? thought you would overlook “his? mess!
You considered the inevitable end of open confrontation,
As young trusting faces looked to you for reformation.

5.At one stroke of “Jim’s? pen and you knew that Eastside could be closed – FOREVER!
And it seemed that you had made a pact with the Devil!
But you were the forerunner to 1963’s Martin Luther King --
You were a Louisiana “oak? who made youthful hearts to sing!

6.Four years out of Topeka, Kansas and you already knew
That Union Parish Schools refused to obey the rules.
But that quiet and patient heart inside your breast
Would not let you accept less than the best,

7.As you pacified radical elements among your Eastside staff.
It was not easy to separate the “chaff?.
Young Felix Harris was perhaps your greatest test –
Fresh out of college, full of innovative finesse!

8.“But,? your quiet eyes did warn:
“Students are our uppermost concern!?
So Felix Harris “settled in?, at last!
Mr. Adams, you had an awesome task.

9.Few people saw you on the nights that you walked the floor –
Wondering at the “backlash? if you pushed Negro students inside waiting college doors!
And SHE SAT SILENTLY in that cramped office at Eastside –
To strengthen you and to listen, with a nod of the head and a menacing smile! 

10.It was Mary (Meadors) Adams – She IS!! A phenom!
Who would not surrender her husband to the beat of “graveyard drums?.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it best –
“Be not like dumb driven cattle [during life’s tests]!?

11.“Life is Real and Life is Earnest; and the grave is not its goal!
“Dust thou art till dust return’st, was not spoken of the soul.?
If ever Longfellow were right in his summation,
It was the day the “OAK?-land Boyce Adams became the Negroes’ salvation.

12.Until 1959, only the Farmerville Bilberrys were “allowed? in college.
But a quiet, preaching man opened the doors of knowledge.
Not even Z.J. Johnson was given an athletic scholarship.
George W. Tisdale even got caught in the rift.

13.But a young “OAK?-land Boyce Adams silently watched,
Determined that Negroes would no longer be placed on the auction block.
“ . . . Yielding pacifieth great offences,? says “The Preacher?.
Ecclesiastes 10:4 is a great teacher.

14.Though “the rulers? tried to provoke you continually,
Yet, you stood your ground avidly.
The sacrifice was great, but you made it known
That Negroes would no longer suffer Jim Crow’s scorn.

15.Like “The Flaming Cherubim? and “The Sword?, you protected us.
“The Tree of Life?, shrouded in darkness, gave you impetus.
“The Tree of Knowledge? could not be that far behind;
Therefore, you taught and trained and challenged our minds.

You refused to let us re-enter the Serpent’s strife.
And “steered the Negro from among the “living dead?.

And in our hearts you did sedate
The violence and the hatred that Jim Crow “festered?.
Mr. Adams, may God contin-uously? bless you.

18.In the mount of God, Moses listened to “his Friend?.
Moses truly was a man among men.
Moses himself prevented a racial genocide
Because his meekness made God’s anger to subside.

19.“And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face;?
Moses helped to save the Hebrew race.
“ . . . As a man speaketh unto his friend.?
Exodus 34:11 describes “OAK?-land Boyce Adams, “then?.

20.Had not God “placed? you in our path
Farmerville Negroes would have suffered the brunt of Jim Crow’s wrath.
But you patiently “ bargained? for our souls.
To a young child of 12 years, that was very bold.

21.I became 47 years old on February 10th of this 1994 year.
On May 7th, 1994, for me, God became much more dear,
For God answered my heart’s sincere prayer.
In a Wal-Mart store, GOD SENT YOU!! – “there?.

22.“My heart’s desire? was to see you again.
Because you had helped to erase my scars from bigoted pain
Which others had torn into my life,
Because I MEEKLY endured the bigotry and the strife.

23.When you stood there in that Wal-Mart store,
I understood the love of God so much the more,
For GOD SENT YOU to be a blessing “again.
You did not know that my heart was full of pain.

24.As you talked to me, the pain did not seem as bad.
I REMEMBERED 1959 and the stress that you must have had.
As you called out the names of your children to me,
There was so much strength in the children’s “royalty?.

25.Your son, “O.B., Junior? and your daughter, “Earlie? meant the most to me.
They symbolize such grace and dignity.
Your two daughters, “Alice Rosalyn? and “Sandra?, too, have a place
In helping to strengthen you, GOD’S ANGEL OF GRACE.

26.It seems that these words will never end,
But, they must, as I emulate you, my “mentor? and my friend.
Your meekness and your patience are such great strength.
Thank you, Mr. Adams, for refusing to relent.

27.It is your patience that made me strong.
Have you ever read “The Gospel Truth Magazine? in your home?
In 1978, your patience proved out,
When I was 31 years old and a writer – still shy and so full of doubt.

28.But the people of Africa read, in The Gospel Truth, God’s own words.
Do think that the imprisoned Nelson Mandela, too, heard?
If so, then YOU helped to destroy the Apartheid demon
Because YOU SHOWED ME the value of quiet wisdom.

29.You have strengthened the weary and the tired.
You have been a wise and a patient “guide?.
You have given to Negroes hope in despair.
Thank you, Mr. Adams, for those silent “prayers?

30.That made Nelson Mandela devout and strong!
The “oak? in “OAK?-land is a true song.
“OAK?-land Boyce Adams gave truth a new meaning,
Because on the EVERLASTING ARM you were leaning!

Gertie Mae Talton(Eastside High School: 1959-1964; 1968-1969)