Care enough to confront.
That’s the message Terrence Roberts embodied as a member of the Little Rock Nine, and it’s the directive he delivered to Crossroads students during separate visits with Elementary and Upper School students Feb. 12.
A living reminder of the racial injustices that continue to weigh on American society, Roberts shared his experiences as one of the students who integrated a high school in Arkansas despite fierce opposition from students, community members and elected officials.
“I don’t know how we made it—by the end of the year, we were pretty beaten down, physically, psychologically, mentally, emotionally,” he said. “We were wrecks—but determined to keep going.”
Students heard about the hostilities he faced throughout the ordeal, the challenges he overcame and the lessons he learned. They also asked thoughtful questions about race, historical awareness and contemporary debates over immigration policy.
Roberts’ visit elevated students’ understanding of educational integration and exemplified the School’s efforts to promote equity and justice on campus and beyond.
“It was amazing,” said senior Robin Kim, president of the student club People for Ethnic and Cultural Equality (PEACE), who brought up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “Just to have him here is such an honor—to hear him talk about many of the issues that currently face society today and also address issues from the past. We’re trying to bring more of these conversations into focus.”
During both presentations, Roberts implored students to take responsibility for their own education and to be active citizens in their communities.
“When you teach kids the truth about the past, they are much better equipped to deal with the present and the future,” he said. “We have a fundamental problem that has never been faced, questions that have never been asked, and we have that responsibility—all of us.”