Congregation Emanu El hosts Terrence Roberts in "Lessons From Little Rock," an amazing civil rights story. Roberts was a member of the Little Rock Nine, a group who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock in 1957.
All the seats at a hamburger joint were reserved for white patrons, so 13-year-old Roberts ordered food to go. While waiting, he impulsively sat down at the counter and then realized a hush had fallen over the place. Suddenly, everyone seemed to be looking at him threateningly. He canceled his order and left.
As he walked home, Roberts remembers wondering "what it would take for (him) to be treated like a real human being." Two years later, in 1957, he volunteered to be one of the Little Rock Nine. After the group made several attempts to attend Central High, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered federal troops to the school. A soldier was assigned to protect each African American student, but Roberts recalls he suffered physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis throughout the school year.
Today, Roberts is a civil rights activist, diversity consultant and frequent keynote speaker. A compelling study of institutional racism, his memoir Lessons from Little Rock details his childhood in the segregated South and is a testament to the personal resolve that he and each member of the Little Rock Nine used to survive their first days at Central High. He also the author of Simple, Not Easy: Reflections on Community, Social Responsibility and Tolerance.