(Image courtesy BC High)
Imagine trying to go to a school that doesn’t want you. Imagine facing violence every day as you try to get your high school diploma.
Those emotions and stories are what Terrence Roberts, a member of the Little Rock Nine, one of first groups of African-American students to integrate into all-white public schools in the 1950s, tried to convey as he visited students at Boston College High School on Friday.
“We knew that this was not about ourselves,” Roberts told students, according to BC High. “This was about an idea that was bigger than all of us.”
Roberts, who has a doctorate in psychology from Southern Illinois University, spoke with students at the Jesuit school about what it was like to walk into the Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas only to be turned away by National Guard Troops deployed by Governor Orval Faubus.
“We showed up – nine black kids – and the governor decided this wasn’t going to happen,” said Roberts, according to BC High. “So, he sent in the National Guard to keep us out. And they did.”
Roberts also touched on the time he spent at the school and the bigotry the students faced everyday, especially after one of the black students was expelled.
“There were these little cards around the school the next day saying, ‘One down, eight to go.’ But my mother told me that I was only going to be on this planet for a short period of time and that wasting your life force on hate will decrease your quality of life and number of years. You can’t worry about what other people think. You have to focus on being the best you you can be,” Roberts told students, according to BC High.