Dr. Terrence Roberts

Dr. Terrence Roberts

 Pasadena, California, USA
BandComedyWorld

As one of the 'Little Rock 9' who desegregated Central High School, in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, Dr. Terrence Roberts experienced one of the pivotal moments of the civil rights movement.

Biography

Dr. Terrence Roberts
Lessons from Little Rock
Dr. Terrence Roberts photo

All the seats at the hamburger joint were reserved for white patrons, so 13 year old Terrence Roberts ordered food to go. While waiting, he impulsively sat down at the counter and then realized a hush had fallen over the place. Suddenly everyone seemed to be looking at him threateningly. He canceled his order and left. As he walked home, Roberts remembers wondering "what it would take for (him) to be treated like a real human being."

Two years later, in 1957, he volunteered to be one of the 'Little Rock Nine' who desegregated Central High School, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

After the group made several attempts to attend Central High in the fall of 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered federal troops to the school. A soldier was assigned to protect each African American student, but Roberts recalls he suffered physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis throughout the school year.

Today, Dr. Roberts is a civil rights activist, diversity consultant, and frequent keynote speaker. A compelling study of institutional racism, his memoir Lessons from Little Rock (2009) details his childhood in the segregated South and is a testament to the personal resolve that he and each member of the Little Rock Nine used to survive their first days at Central High. He also the author of Simple, Not Easy: Reflections on Community, Social Responsibility, and Tolerance (February 2010).

Lessons From Little Rock

2010 is very different from 1957, but the echoes of Little Rock still inform our decisions today. Public schools are being re-segregated and private, uniracial schools are cluttering the horizon. This lecture serves to open and continue the conversation about race, one of the most salient and confusing topics of our culture. As we move deeper into this new century, with an African-American President and a landscape shifting in other unexpected ways, we must learn ways to accept and embrace difference, rid ourselves of the disabling prejudices that keep us at arm's length from each other, and work toward establishing a just and truly democratic society.

Dr. Roberts and his fellow students received the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1958, and the Congressional Gold Medal, the United States' highest civilian honor, in 1999. Dr. Roberts is a frequent speaker on civil rights and diversity and is a regular speaker a the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Dr. Roberts is CEO of Terrence J. Roberts & Associates, a management consultant firm devoted to fair and equitable practices. A graduate of California State University at Los Angeles (BA) and UCLA (MSW), Dr. Roberts obtained his Ph.D. In psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. He has appeared on The Newshour, Tavis Smiley and the BBC, among others.

About Dr. Terrence Roberts

"At Norco College, Dr. Terrence Roberts brought in the largest audience ever to the campus, over 500 in attendance. The audience drew from faculty, staff, administration, local high schools and the community. His talk gave insight to a significant event and time in history and everyone who attended continues to give thanks and gratitude for the experience. Dr. Terrence is a legend and carries a message that can only be fully experienced in person. Norco was grateful for his visit and his inspiring words. He touched the lives of everyone but especially our students, many of whom studied the events of Little Rock prior to Dr. Roberts' visit. The students not only read history but were given the chance to experience it."

Annebelle Nery
Associate Dean of Student Success
RCCD Norco College

"There are moments as an educator that you look at your students and think, 'This experience has touched them.' It is a moment that is filled with hope. Dr. Roberts was the reason this moment occurred at Nightingale School. He brought history to life, and more importantly, he inspired courage and strength. It was a personal honor to meet him, but it was even more of an honor to witness my students changing for the better before my eyes."

Dawn Iles
Assistant Principal
Nightingale School, Chicago, Il

"This event was a huge success, we had over 160 people attend. There was a mix of faculty, staff, students, and Lasell Village residents (our assisted living retirement housing on campus). Dr. Roberts's speech was very memorable and he seemed to really connect with each person in the room by shaking their hands and using the floor instead of the stage. He took a generous amount of time answering the audience's questions as well as taking time afterwards to take pictures and sign autographs. I think that every person in the room was taken by his story that has made him into the person he is today. The members of CAB (Campus Activities Board) who were able to have dinner with Dr. Roberts got to know another side of him that was quite funny. I mus