Terrence Roberts

Member of Little Rock Nine to speak for annual Donald Blake Center Academic Conference

Terrence Roberts, a member of the Little Rock Nine, will speak on the campus of Walla Walla University on Thursday, April 11, at 7 p.m. in the University Church.

Roberts will present “Lessons from Little Rock” as the keynote address for the 3rd annual Donald Blake Center Academic Conference. Academic papers will be presented as part of the conference on April 12 from 8 a.m. to noon in the WWU Winter Educational Complex, room 209.

Roberts was one of nine high school students who became the first black students to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. On Sept. 23, 1957, a group of approximately 1,000 people surrounded the school as the students attempted to enter. The following day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to accompany the students to school for protection. The troops were stationed at the school for the entirety of the school year.

Roberts and the other members of the group that became known as the Little Rock Nine were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1999. Roberts is also the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. Award.

He is chief executive officer of Terrence Roberts Consulting, a management consultant firm devoted to fair and equitable practices in business and industry. He is also coprincipal of Roberts & Roberts, LLC, a consulting firm that assists groups who wish to engage in substantive conversations about race and the issues related to race in America.

Roberts has a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles, a master of social work degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a doctorate in psychology from Southern Illinois University. His memoir “Lessons from Little Rock,” which shares salient lessons from his experience in 1957, was published in 2009. His second book, “Simple, Not Easy: Reflections on Community, Social Responsibility, and Tolerance” was published in 2010. The essays in this volume seek to guide the reader toward more socially responsible positions in life.

The WWU Donald Blake Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Culture promotes academic research through annual conferences featuring keynote speakers who are leading academics on subject matter related to the study of race, ethnicity, and culture. The center offers pedagogy workshops on curriculum inclusiveness and multiculturalism and encourages student-led involvement in inner-city missions and social justice campaigns. The target groups for these acts of service are community groups, government agencies, businesses, and nonprofit groups that address social problems connected to racism and its devastating effects on contemporary social and cultural life.

To learn more about the conference and the Donald Blake Center, visit wallawalla.edu/DBC.

Posted April 8, 2019

Portrait of Terrence Roberts in a black sweater
Terrence Roberts is CEO of Terrence Roberts Consulting and one of the Little Rock Nine.