James Boyd: Teacher and Community Activist
did not plan to become a teacher.He
wanted to be a photographer.Of course, when he
graduated from high school in Ardmore, Okla., back in the early '40s, there was no doubt in anybody's mind he
was going on to college.According to Boyd
, that's what everybody did in his
family: "No discussion!"
Unfortunately, there was only one college in Oklahoma that African-American students could attend, and it didn't offer courses in photography, but young Boyd
checked out the Philander Smith College catalogue and discovered that photography was listed in it.So, he
bride, Frankie, headed off to Little Rock, Ark., only to find that the college had just dropped that course.He
family and said, "I need to get back home."His
mother sent him a letter containing $2.50 and one three-cent stamp.It was, he
said, "decision time."Then, he
heard Philander Smith was holding band auditions.Luckily, he
trombone with him, so he
tried out -- and was awarded a scholarship in music.Thus began the career of one of Corinth's
most productive and beloved citizens.
Although Mr. Boyd
taught in an Arkansas high school for several years after finishing college, the principal of Easom High School
, E. S. Bishop, persuaded him to come to Corinth
, a decision he
never regretted.Not only was Mr. Boyd a longtime band director and counselor in Corinth high schools, he was also the director of the first Head Start program in the area.He worked for years with the Boy Scouts, and directed a youth community chorus.
Through the American Legion Post, he
helped support Girls State and Boys State, and under his
leadership, the local Ruritan chapter sponsored scholarships for college students.
graduate studies, and he
even managed to do some work in photography, but first place in his
heart has always gone to improving the opportunities available to the young.He
said it pleases him deeply that many of his
former students have returned to tell him what a difference he
made in the direction their lives took.
At the age of 78, he
is as active as ever.He is the president of the Corinth-Alcorn Literacy Council and chairman of the Corinth Housing Authority.