Little Rock Nine member describes experience

By Hillary Akers
Staff Writer

Photo by Austin Lowry
Dr. Terrence J. Roberts speaks to a large audience of community members, faculty and students in the UC
Annex Jan. 19. Dr. Roberts was a member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of students who volunteered to integrate
an all-white school in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957.

Dr. Terrence J. Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine, described his experiences of being one of the first students who volunteered in 1957 to integrate an allwhite school in Little Rock, Ark. He spoke to a crowd of 150 students, faculty and community member, Jan. 19 in the UC Annex.

"There is nothing I enjoy more than talking with people, sharing ideas, and learning from each other," Dr. Roberts, 68, said. Through his retelling of the events that took place in Little Rock, Dr. Roberts gave the audience many tips on handling situations that they face.

He described his response to those who are less-than-kind. "Smile and walk off, my usual response to idiocy."

Dr. Roberts also emphasized the point that "each of us is unique." When talking about segregation he said, "We as Americans, decided at some point that it was perfectly fine to separate people by race." Dr. Roberts also underlined his belief that "there is no such thing as race."

Dr. Roberts shared his experiences at Little Rock Central High School. About his treatment by other students he said, "They seemed to have a lot of information about my mother," and "They explained to me there were regions of the world I should return to."

Dr. Roberts also described how he was treated by faculty and staff. "I felt bad for them," he said. "They were being ordered by law to bring us in." He also said that in the faculty, as in the whole population of Little Rock, there were those who were against and for them being there.

He said his math teacher was one of those who was supporting of them and referred to that class as a "safe haven."

Dr. Roberts also gave advice to the students about getting as much education as possible. He referred to himself in high school by saying, "I wanted to be baptized in education." He said there is a need for every person to learn, even if they think they know everything.

"The biggest thing we own is a storehouse of ignorance," he said, "but I spend everyday trying to diminish the amount."

Dr. Roberts gave a charge to the audience to "get busy and active on finding out what the truth really is, not always taking what people tell you."

He stressed the importance of helping others and knowing that just one person cannot achieve great things.

"You get enough people together who share the same vision and you can get things accomplished," he said.