Civil Rights Hero Terrence Roberts to speak to SRVUSD Community

DANVILLE – American civil rights hero Dr. Terrence Roberts will speak to thousands of San Ramon Valley Unified students and staff members on March 2 and 3 about his experience as a high school student who stood up against discrimination.

Roberts was one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African American students who, in 1957, were the first black students to attend classes at then all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“Dr. Roberts has an incredible message for acceptance and understanding that transcends generations,” said SRVUSD Superintendent Rick Schmitt. “History matters. It is through understanding the road we have travelled that we can accept different viewpoints and each other. I am so grateful that Dr. Roberts is willing to share his message of being an upstander to discrimination with our community. His message can only shift one’s perspective as we better understand what it means to fight for equality.”

Roberts’ visit is part of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District’s focus on creating opportunities for open and honest conversations about discrimination and the impact of words and actions. Prior to this year, the District has addressed these topics through initiatives such as Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning and Inclusion, and through the work of its Climate Committee and focus on “Words Matter.” This academic year, SRVUSD increased its focus with the formation of an Equity Task Force, a partnership with the Anti-Defamation League on the “No Place for Hate” program, and staff training.

Dr. Roberts will speak at three occasions March 2 and 3, bringing his message of tolerance and the importance of dialog to the San Ramon Valley community. Dr. Roberts was a teen himself on September 4, 1957, when he joined eight other African American students to enroll in the segregated Little Rock Central High School. The students’ action followed the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, which declared state laws segregating public schools were unconstitutional.

The nine students were initially prevented entry by the Arkansas National Guard on orders by Governor Orval Faubus. They were able to attend school after President Dwight Eisenhower intervened with U.S. Army troops, who accompanied the students to campus. The troops were stationed at the school for the entirety of the school year, although they were unable to prevent incidents of violence inside. As a result of the subsequent closing of Little Rock’s high schools during the 1958-1959 school year, Dr. Roberts completed his senior year in Los Angeles.

In 1999, Dr. Roberts and his fellow Little Rock Nine were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton.

Media is invited to attend the following events:

Students

Administrators

Staff

March 2

9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Monte Vista High School

3131 Stone Valley Rd, Danville   

March 2

3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Monte Vista High School

3131 Stone Valley Rd, Danville   

March 3

8:15 a.m. – 9 a.m.

Monte Vista High School

3131 Stone Valley Rd, Danville

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