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Little Rock Nine member speaks at TAMU-CC

Dr. Terrence Roberts spoke with a group of students at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi to discuss his efforts to desegregate schools.


One of the nine students who bravely registered at a Little Rock, Ark. High School in 1957 visited Corpus Christi Thursday.

Dr. Terrence Roberts spoke with a group of students at Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi to discuss his efforts to desegregate schools. After the passing of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Roberts was a part of the Little Rock Nine that enrolled at Central High School--a formerly all-white school. He faced discrimination frequently, but said he was determined to get his education. 

"I had lived to that point for 15 years," Roberts said. "But already in those 15 years I had picked up that this is my responsibility. I need to model for others what’s possible."

One of the students at the luncheon, junior Samantha Ramirez, said she was excited to meet a historical figure in-person.

“I like called my mom on the way over here," Ramirez said. "I was like, ‘Mom, guess what I’m doing? I’m going to go meet one of the original Little Rock Nine.’ And I was so excited, I was like this is going to be a great opportunity.”

Roberts moved to California after the governor of Arkansas closed all public schools in Little Rock in opposition to desegregation. He eventually finished high school in California and pursued multiple college degrees, including a Ph.D. Despite progress, he said it is an issue many still face in the country today.

"What we do hear is that the founding principles are freedom, justice, equality for all," Roberts said. "We hear that over and over, we don’t mean that. We say that, but that’s the cover story. The real story—the accepted national narrative—is that we maintain the separation."

Ramirez said she wants to be an NFL athletic trainer or college football coach when she graduates. As a Hispanic woman, she credits Roberts with inspiring her to go into a field with people who don't look like her.

"As you know it’s not really common for women to be coaches or to be in the level up to that position," Ramirez said. "And me being Hispanic is also probably a really good factor. And I just want to be one of those people that was able to have that position and to be able to keep it and move forward with my career like he has done."

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