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Posted: February 14, 2011 8:44 a.m.

T.K. and Louise Adams talk history

William Brawley/

In 1960, the University of Georgia denied admittance to T.K. Adams, because he was black. Five decades later, his son Timothy K. Adams Jr. is now a music professor with tenure. For T.K., his family's shared history with the school is a pretty good summary of black history.

Adams had applied to Georgia to pursue a master's degree. He instead traveled to Chicago to continue his education. The school was integrated just one year later and in the 1970s Louise Adams, T.K's wife, attended the university and received two degrees. Last year, the school hired the couple's son as a professor of percussion.

T.K. and Louise are one of Covington's most well known couples, and they’ve created a lot of history during their five decades of teaching, tutoring and volunteering. They arrived in Covington in 1959, and Louise taught 4th grade and T.K. taught the high school band at the combined all-black R.L. Cousins elementary and high school.

"When we first came to Covington, before we leave here I said ‘We’re going to be richest people on earth.’ And I feel we are. Not money wise. We can go to any part of the U.S. and we can find someone we were able to touch before we left here," T.K. said.

At President Barack Obama’s inauguration, the couple met one of the president’s financial advisors who had gone through T.K.’s band program. On a trip to Oklahoma the couple met a person they had taught who went on to become an aide for former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"And I can go on and on through this world and find individuals who came through this little place called Covington," T.K. said.

The couple originally planned to stay in Covington only three years, but they fell in love with a unique community that became home. Today, both are retired, but Louise is a frequent tutor at the Washington Street Community Center on School Street and T.K. is in his 19th year of directing the Newton County Community Band.

But Louise will always be a teacher at heart, and when she speaks to youth about Black History she tells them to remember those who have gone before and celebrate those who create new paths every day.

"Not only the people who have come before us, but the people who are in the community now. (We want) to give the children role models to follow. So, we all learn. As old as I am, I’m still learning that you live in a community and you do the best you can and you’re a role model to someone else even from birth to when you get to be an elder like I am. You live your life so that someone will want to follow you, not hurting anybody along the way," she said. "So we’re here to help people, and my husband and I always say we’ve been blessed to be a blessing to other people and we do that every day."

T.K. couldn’t agree more, and he knows just what he wants to leave behind to the next generation.

"I’d like someone to put on my tombstone, say ‘I was born with nothing, I inherited a little, but I left a lot,’ " he said. "That’s how I’d like to be remembered."

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