Terrence Roberts

(1941-) Social justice and civil rights advocate, author and consultant.

Interview Summary 

Interviewer: Joseph A. Nunn, PhD, Professor Emeritus.

Date: 08/30/16.

An interview with Dr. Terrence Roberts, as he discusses his experiences as a part of the Little Rock Nine, his varied career, and his thoughts on the state of racism in the United States. Length of interview: 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Interview Topics/ Tagging

(00:29)- Introduction (01:35)- Early life experiences and foundational views on race relations. (04:28)- Brown vs. Board of Education Case and partial Little Rock School Board desegregation. (06:37)- Decision to integrate into a multiracial school. (09:11)- Opposition from the school board and learning how to survive. (10:26)- Discussion of segregated bathrooms. (11:04)- Getting assaulted by students with rocks. (12:13)- The changing behavior of the National Guard for protection. (14:09)- Fear of death and almost being killed in PE class. (17:19)- Difficulty of sympathetic school faculty to help. (18:22)- How the issues of Little Rock then apply to now. (19:28)- Meeting Martin Luther King Jr. (20:52)- The strength and opposition to non-violence protesting. (21:34)- Discussion of Governor Faubus’ role in segregation closing school for a year.(24:19)- Moving to LA, adjusting from Arkansas, and first impression.(26:14)- Attending and enjoying LA High School and the path to UCLA SSW in 1966. (28:17)- Graduate School Admissions Interviews. (29:12)- Alliance with Latino students and optimistic protests at UCLA. (31:20)- Pushing for changes in the tenure track at UCLA. (32:58)- The universal presence of racial hierarchies. (34:33)- How slavery and the origins of the country have had continued effects on racism. (36:52)- Concluding thoughts on Grad school. (38:07)- Deciding to earn a PhD in Psychology while lecturing in Social Work. (40:02)- Writing a dissertation on helping students with mental illness; research that supported the dissertation. (42:36)- Brief discussion of jobs taken after doing the PhD. (44:05)- Returning to UCLA as the Assistant Dean of Students. (45:08)- Trying to help minorities keep pursuing their education. (46:32)- The need to maintain the pressure to decrease racism. (47:27)- Seeing racial divisions while trying to buy his home in LA. (50:04)- How race equality laws can get ignored. (51:07)- Advising non-minority students how to deal with different race relations. (53:48)- Leaving UCLA for Antioch University. (54:09)- Dealing with institutional racism at Antioch University; Examples of people realizing their racist tendencies at Antioch. (58:27)- Instincts of detecting racism. (59:38)- Moving away from Antioch into partnering with his wife to do consulting on race problems. (01:00:26)- Self-reflection is crucial. (01:04:32)- Coaching other people through being comfortable with their surroundings. (01:05:35)- Going back to Little Rock as a consultant. (01:07:40)- Consulting for the Tournament of Roses. (01:10:08)- Consulting for an Episcopal church. (01:11:04)- Meeting President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. (01:12:45)- How early experiences shaped his overall career. (01:13:57)- Valuing social work training most. (01:15:26)- Humility while working with people is essential. (01:16:55)- How hope can save people. (01:18:39)- Book being chosen for Huntington Beach’s Book of the Year. (01:19:35)- Conclusion.

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