The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Terrence Roberts

Share on Social Media

Information about Terrence Roberts

Profile image of Terrence Roberts

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Community Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Pay Attention.

Birthplace

Born:
12/3/1941
Birth Location:
Little Rock, Arkansas

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Community Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Pay Attention.

Birthplace

Born:
12/3/1941
Birth Location:
Little Rock
See how Terrence Roberts is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Management executive, psychology professor and "Little Rock Nine" member Dr. Terrence James Roberts was born on December 3, 1941 to William L. and Margaret G. Roberts. His father worked for the Veteran’s Administration and his mother ran a catering service in Little Rock, Arkansas. Roberts attended Dunbar Junior High School in the early 1950s, and was only thirteen when the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Brown v. Board of Education decision to integrate schools.

Roberts had begun attending Horace Mann High School when, in 1955, Little Rock School System Superintendent Virgil Blossom submitted a plan to begin gradually integrating the public schools, a proposal the school board approved unanimously. Two years later, after an intensive selection process, the Little Rock Nine, with Roberts among them, entered Central High School. After the white community rallied in support of segregation, Little Rock mayor Woodrow Mann asked President Eisenhower to send federal troops to enforce integration, and one day later, the President sent the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock. Roberts endured conflicts and struggles throughout the 1957-1958 school year at Central High School. The following year, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus and the state legislature closed the school as an attempt to oppose integration. As a result, Roberts moved to Los Angeles, California to live with his relatives, where he completed high school in 1959. In 1967, he received his B.S. degree in sociology, and then received his M.A. degree in social welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1970. In 1976, he received his Ph.D. degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. Roberts confronted Governor Faubus on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America television program in 1979, where he argued that Faubus had violated the public trust in 1955 in Little Rock by pushing his segregationist policies. Roberts became the department chair of Antioch University Los Angeles’ psychology program in 1994. In 1994, he again made an appearance on television when seven members of the Little Rock Nine appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, coming face to face with several Caucasian students who had tormented them.

In 1998, the Little Rock School District hired Roberts as their official desegregation consultant; to this day, Roberts provides similar services throughout the United States. The following year, President Clinton awarded Roberts the Congressional Gold Medal, the country’s highest award for civilian contributions to society. Roberts is currently the chief executive officer of Terrence J. Roberts & Associates, a management consulting firm that focuses on equitable practices in both industry and business. He is married to Rita Roberts, Ph.D., and they have two daughters and two grandsons.

Terrence Roberts was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 9, 2007.

See how Terrence Roberts is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Terrence Roberts' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Terrence Roberts lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Terrence Roberts describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Terrence Roberts describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Terrence Roberts describes his maternal great-grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Terrence Roberts talks about his paternal relatives
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Terrence Roberts describes his siblings and his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Terrence Roberts remembers his community in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Terrence Roberts describes the sights and sounds of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Terrence Roberts recalls his childhood pastimes
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Terrence Roberts describes his experiences of religion
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Terrence Roberts remembers Gibbs Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Terrence Roberts remembers his academic success
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Terrence Roberts recalls Dunbar Junior High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Terrence Roberts describes his health education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Terrence Roberts remembers Horace Mann High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Terrence Roberts recalls his early understanding of racial discrimination
  • Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Terrence Roberts describes his experiences at Horace Mann High School
  • Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Terrence Roberts talks about school segregation in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Terrence Roberts recalls the plan to desegregate the schools of Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Terrence Roberts recalls his decision to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Terrence Roberts remembers preparing for his first day at Central High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Terrence Roberts lists the members of the Little Rock Nine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Terrence Roberts recalls Governor Orval Faubus' response to the Little Rock Nine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Terrence Roberts describes his expectations about Central High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Terrence Roberts remembers the school board's screening process
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Terrence Roberts recalls the black community's response to the Little Rock Nine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Terrence Roberts recalls his first attempt to enter Central High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Terrence Roberts recalls President Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower's inaction
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Terrence Roberts recalls his first day at Central High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Terrence Roberts remembers being protected by the 101st Airborne Division
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Terrence Roberts recalls his reception at Central High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Terrence Roberts recalls being harassed by his white peers at Central High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Terrence Roberts describes the Little Rock Nine's commitment to nonviolence
  • Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Terrence Roberts remembers the academics at Central High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Terrence Roberts remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's advice
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Terrence Roberts remembers his family's support
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Terrence Roberts remembers the closure of Arkansas' public schools
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Terrence Roberts recalls Los Angeles High School in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Terrence Roberts remembers his academic aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Terrence Roberts remembers University of California, Los Angeles
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Terrence Roberts recalls his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Terrence Roberts remembers his parents' move to Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Terrence Roberts recalls transferring to the Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Terrence Roberts remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Terrence Roberts remembers working in child welfare
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Terrence Roberts recalls teaching at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Terrence Roberts remembers operating a mental health program
  • Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Terrence Roberts remembers appearing on 'Good Morning America'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Terrence Roberts remembers his white classmate's apology
  • Tape: 3 Story: 16 - Terrence Roberts recalls working at St. Helena Hospital and Health Center in Deer Park, California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Terrence Roberts remembers joining the faculty of Antioch University Los Angeles
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Terrence Roberts remembers appearing on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Terrence Roberts recalls working for the Little Rock School District
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Terrence Roberts remembers his Congressional Gold Medal
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Terrence Roberts describes his book, 'Lessons from Little Rock'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Terrence Roberts reflects upon the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Terrence Roberts describes his hopes for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Terrence Roberts describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Terrence Roberts shares a message to future generations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Terrence Roberts talks about his education in segregated schools
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Terrence Roberts talk about his spirituality
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Terrence Roberts talks about the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Terrence Roberts reflects upon the racial discrimination in the United States
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Terrence Roberts narrates his photographs