Terrence Roberts, a member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were the first to desegregate an all-white high school in Arkansas in 1957, will speak during assembly Jan. 21 in honor of Black History Month.
After the U.S. Supreme Court declared segregated schools unconstitutional in 1954, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chose Roberts and eight other African-American students to attend Little Rock Central High School.
Roberts faced opposition at the school, and the four public high schools in Little Rock were eventually closed by the governor to end desegregation. Roberts transferred to Los Angeles High School for senior year, attended California State University at Los Angeles and received a master’s degree from the UCLA School of Social Welfare, later getting his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University.
He is CEO of his own consulting company, which helps companies achieve healthy stress management, communication and diversity.
In addition, Roberts is currently a desegregation consultant to the Little Rock School District, promoting equality throughout the district. He was given the Congressional Gold Medal for civilian contributions in 1999.
“If we are willing to acknowledge that the issues we faced in Little Rock are the very same issues we face in 2015, we have a chance to move forward,” Roberts said in an email. “If we choose to embrace the fiction of progress, we are doomed to failure.”