On January 31, Dr. Terrence Roberts, one of the “Little Rock Nine” — the nine African-American students who volunteered to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in 1957 – spoke at Pepperdine University’s Payson Library, before a capacity audience of students, faculty, and community members. He recounted the days in 1957 when the world watched as nine high school students braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed integration of the formerly all-white high school.
Dean of Libraries Mark Roosa welcomed Dr. Roberts and saluted his courage as a young high school student. Roosa cited Roberts as “…a hero of civil rights and an articulate and profound thinker about justice in America and in each of our lives.”
Remembering the scene after Arkansas governor Orval Faubus called out the National Guard to block them from entering the building, Dr. Roberts recalled, “Naively, I thought they were there to protect us. I walked up to them and then I discovered the truth.” Eventually, President Eisenhower ordered the United States Army to escort the nine black students safely into the school. They were threatened, taunted and physically attacked. But they persisted and finished the school year.
The Little Rock Nine were pivotal figures in America’s civil rights fight and in 1999, President Bill Clinton presented them with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal. But if Terrence Roberts is a giant in the history of the civil right movement, what he insisted to an audience of students, faculty and community members was that, “We are all making history. No one else will walk on this earth the way you have.”
Filmed excerpts of Dr. Roberts presentation will be available as part of Pepperdine University Libraries Wavelengths series at: http://library.pepperdine.edu/wavelengths/.
Pepperdine University Libraries serves the students, faculty and community of Pepperdine with six libraries in the Los Angeles area. Payson Library, on Malibu’s undergraduate Seaver Campus, sits at the center of Mullin Town Square, and has become a cultural hub of campus life, offering a center for group study, Special Collections, (including a Malibu History Collection), intellectual investigation and emotional growth. Coupled with the availability of high-tech support and high-touch personalized services, Payson Library offers unparalleled scholarly support. In addition to providing information literacy to over 3,000 students a year, through WorldCat Local, students have access to more than 200 million titles and 1.7 billion holdings in 72,000 libraries around the world. The lecture series, “Beyond the Horizon: The Global Century” brings in over 30 speakers and events each year. Many of the presentations are filmed and presented as webisodes on Wavelengths on the library’s website.