One of first black students to desegregate Little Rock High School to speak at Lycoming College

One of first black students to desegregate Little Rock High School to speak at Lycoming College

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Terrence Roberts, Ph.D., will discuss the lessons learned from the desegregation of schools at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 in Clarke Chapel at Lycoming College. Roberts was among the first African-American students to enroll at schools for whites in the south during the 1950s. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Roberts was one of the group of nine African-American students, later referred to as the Little Rock Nine, who were the first black students to enter classes at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The desegregation of the school gained national attention when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered his state's National Guard to prevent the students from entering. A month later, President Eisenhower sent U.S. troops to allow the students to enter the school, despite the angry mobs, and protect them while there. In 1999, Roberts and the other Little Rock Nine were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton.

As a result of the subsequent closing of Little Rock’s high schools during the 1958-1959 school year, Roberts completed his senior year in Los Angeles, California. He continued his education at California State University, Los Angeles and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology. He received his master’s degree in social welfare from the UCLA School of Social Welfare, and his Ph.D. in psychology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Over his career, Roberts has taught at a number of colleges in California, including Antioch University Los Angeles. He also served as the director of mental health at St. Helena Hospital and Health Center for eight years. He is currently principal of the management-consulting firm, Terrence Roberts Consulting. Along with the Congressional Gold Medal, he has earned a number of awards including the Robert S. Abbott Memorial Award, for extending the frontiers of democracy, and the Outstanding Teacher of the Year, from Southern Illinois University.

The presentation is sponsored by the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development to kick off Black History Month by discussing the social and racial climate of America during the Civil Rights Movement and today.