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Wed, 12.03.1941

Terrence Roberts, member of the Little Rock Nine

Terrence Roberts

*Terrence Roberts was born on this date in 1941. He is a Black Psychologist, sociologist, author and activist.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas to William and Margaret Roberts, Terrence James Roberts is the eldest of seven children, His father was a World War II naval veteran who worked at the Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital in North Little Rock and his mother ran a catering service from home. Roberts was a sophomore at Horace Mann High School when he volunteered to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957.  Despite daily harassment from some white students, Roberts completed his junior year at Central. The following year, the city’s high schools were closed to prevent further desegregation. As a result, he moved to Los Angeles, California, and graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1959. Roberts was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1958.

Following high school, Roberts attended California State University at Los Angeles and earned a BA in sociology in 1967. He attended graduate school at the University of California at Los Angeles and received an MS in social welfare in 1970.  In 1976, Roberts earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He served as co-chair of the department of Master of Arts in Psychology Program at Antioch College in Los Angeles, California, and also taught several graduate courses there. In addition to serving as CEO of Terrence J. Roberts and Associates Management Consulting Firm, he maintains a private psychology practice and is a desegregation consultant to the Little Rock School District.

In 1979, Roberts was able to meet former Arkansas governor Orval Faubus face to face on ABC’s Good Morning, America. He said, “I really feel it was a violation of public trust to practice your own personal policies of racism in that position. You endangered not only my life, but the lives of hundreds of other people, both black and white.” In 1999, President Bill Clinton presented the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the members of the Little Rock Nine. In 2009, he published a memoir, Lessons from Little Rock. The following year, he published Simple Not Easy: Reflections on Community Social Responsibility and Tolerance.

Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1986.
Beals, Melba Pattillo. Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School. New York: Washington Square Books, 1994.
Jacoway, Elizabeth, and C. Fred Williams, eds. Understanding the Little Rock Crisis: An Exercise in Remembrance and Reconciliation. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1999.
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitor Center. Little Rock, Arkansas. (accessed April 18, 2006). Roberts, Terrence. Lessons from Little Rock. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2009.

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