The Columns

Member of Arkansas’ Little Rock Nine to Speak at W&L

— by on January 31st, 2008

Dr. Terrance J. Roberts gained national prominence as one of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African American students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School, Little Rock, Ark. He will speak at Washington and Lee University on Monday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. in Lee Chapel, as the Black History Month speaker.

The talk and reception which will follow in Evans Dining Hall are open to the public without charge.

Roberts was a 15-year-old eleventh grader when he joined the other students to desegregate Central High School in 1957. The Little Rock Nine endured the opposition of the governor of Arkansas and citizen mobs before President Dwight Eisenhower sent in 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army to escort them to school.

The courage and commitment of these nine young people focused the attention of the nation on the challenge of race relations and desegregation of public schools. Despite daily harassment from some white students, Roberts completed his junior year at Central which was then closed during the next school year to prevent further desegregation. Roberts completed his senior year at Los Angeles High School in Los Angeles.

He received his B.A. degree in sociology in 1967 from California State University, his M.S.W. from the UCLA School of Social Welfare, and his Ph.D. in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

Roberts is currently chair of the master’s program in psychology at Antioch University in Los Angeles and is the founder and CEO of Terrence J. Roberts & Associates, a management consultant firm dedicated to improving human relations in the workplace. He also maintains a private psychology practice and, since 1998, is a desegregation consultant to the Little Rock School District.

Roberts has received numerous awards, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Award, the Martin Luther King Jr. “Drum Major for Justice” Award, and the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in recognition of his contributions to civil rights. In 1999, Roberts and the other members of the Little Rock Nine received the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton.