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Simple Not Easy: Reflections on community social responsibility and tolerance (Our National Conversation) (Hardcover)
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HE MADE HISTORY. HE TELLS THE TRUTHS HE KNOWS.
LEAD TITLE/Our National Conversation Series
----Margot Stern Strom, Executive Director, Facing History and Ourselves, Inc.
"Terrence Roberts challenges all of us to make the world more inclusive by adjusting our 'mental maps.' He reminds us that we will not achieve that long-sought beloved community until we recognize the value of each individual-until we affirm each other. Simple, NotEasy is one trailblazer's mingling of history and contemporary mattersto engage a new conversations on community, social responsibility and tolerance. A powerful book by a civil rights legend."
--- Lawrence J. Pijeaux, Jr., Ed.D.,
About the Author
Terrence J. Roberts is one of the "Little Rock Nine" who integrated Little Rock Central High School when President Eisenhower called out the 81st Airborne Division of the US Army to protect him and eight other black students as they exercised their constitutional right to attend the smae public high school as white students. Roberts later earned a Ph.D. in Psychology (Southern IL University), and taught in California universities until he became a dean at California State University. He has also maintained a clinical practice in psychology for many years. Now he heads a management consulting firm that counsels institutions and corporations on race relations and other matters. Dr. Roberts is a much sought-after public speaker, making fifty or more public addresses each year to audiences nationwide.
Terrence Roberts Parkhurst Brothers
It’s perhaps too easy, in this day and age of omnipresent brain candy, to pass by a title like this one; it looks like work. The cover reminds that its author, Terrence Roberts, is one of the Little Rock Nine, nine courageous African-American students who volunteered to be the first to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957 under the limited (in the sense that Army personnel did not enter the gym or the classroom) protection of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, and who endured a year of daily hostility and abuse. Roberts went on to become a psychologist, educator, and speaker.
The title, like Roberts’ essays, states things directly. Its seriousness notwithstanding, Roberts’ writing is the kind of writing that goes down easy; which introduces a curious, confident, and compassionate intelligence; and which enlivens the mind and spirit with the possibility of courage and clear sight.
In this collection of twenty- nine short essays and speeches, Roberts covers a variety of topics: racism and other divisions; the importance of building community and relationships; cross-cultural issues; public figures, including letters to Senator and President-elect Barack Obama ; the history of his experience at Central High School; and above all, the value of education and keeping one’s mind open to learning and possibility. The topics themselves are interconnected, but they are further tied together here by Roberts’ voice and world view.
Roberts sets a conversational tone—indeed, he chafes a bit in the preface at the limitations that a book’s format imposes on his true goal: building a thinking relationship with the reader—and his voice is clear, composed, and in his words, “dripping sweet reason” into the various social wounds and misapprehensions from which we suffer. He is not afraid to bust open a myth or two—the social constructs of race and race prejudice and our national mythological narrative of meritocracy chief among them—and he does so in a way that invites reading and reflection.
Inviting reading and reflection on beliefs which are strongly held, or for which one has suffered, is one of the most difficult tasks for a writer or an advocate; it is all too easy to slip into stridency or a faintly superior tone. But Roberts seems to have developed a near miraculous talent for truth-telling in an accessible voice. This is not, however, a writer who hesitates to say what he thinks, either in print or in person. In one passage, he
describes speaking with a group of bored eighth- graders who would rather be somewhere else. When they admit this to Roberts, whose appetite for and commitment to learning is paramount, he tells them, to their astonishment, “You are all cowards.”
This kind of confrontation is made tolerable by the fact that it is rooted in a wish to strengthen community, and the knowledge that Roberts himself has risked much, and continues to risk, in order to learn. His early experience of testing the nation’s commitment to Brown vs. the Board of Education is part of a lifelong pattern of testing limits and commitment, and his survival of the experience left him both with some sobering lessons (“…people do what they wish to do when they have the power to do so”) and a real belief in the underlying power of love in our lives, even in harrowing situations. The Little Rock Nine were urged, by Dr. Martin Luther King, to adopt a non- violent approach to their experience at Central High School. In his formative years, on a daily basis, Roberts was challenging history, not only in the form of its
— Teresa Scollon
Simple, Not Easy: Reflections on Community, Social Responsibility, and Tolerance. Roberts, Terrence (Author) Jan 2010.
Roberts was one of the Little Rock Nine, the group of African American teenagers who were the first to integrate Central High School in the Arkansas capital in 1957. Kept from entering the school by Arkansas National Guard, the students were finally escorted into the building by U.S. Army soldiers deployed by President Eisenhower. Since that traumatic experience, Roberts went on to successful careers in education, as a professor of psychology, and business, as the CEO of a management-consulting firm. This volume brings together his collected speeches, many of which were given as commencement addresses or as part of Martin Luther King Day celebrations. The commencement-address style is typically fraught with high seriousness and a stentorian tone; fortunately, Roberts avoids both, discoursing on predictable topics—education, ethics, racism, community, and family—but doing so with humor and grace. Along the way, too, there is plenty of autobiography, not only about Little Rock but also about his life both before and after those history-changing days in 1957. The volume concludes, appropriately, with reflections on President Obama. Thought provoking and inspiring commentary.
— Ilene Cooper
Psychologist and management consultant Roberts (Lessons from Little Rock), one of the original Little Rock Nine, here presents speeches he has given over the last 20 years that “represent [his] core values and [his] concerns for our society.” From integration, affirmative action, and issues of race and racism to community building, truth telling, and ethical decision making, Roberts tackles tough subjects in a text that doesn’t provide all the answers but instead poses challenges to the reader. In seeking to build a relationship with us on the other side of the page, Roberts invites readers to enter into a dialog with him, whether or not we agree with his points, tone, or other aspects of his thinking. These addresses—which give us glimpses into Roberts’s remarkable life—are written with an understanding and sensitivity to the idea that thinking beyond the ordinary and working for real change is simple, while things that are truly worth doing are rarely, if ever, easy. VERDICT This book is not exactly self-help, and though it has some insights into the author’s life and experiences, it’s not fully a memoir either. Yet it will surely be both useful and enjoyable to readers of either genre.—Eboni A. Francis, Oberlin Coll. Lib., OH
— Eboni A. Francis, Oberlin Coll. Lib., OH
In his new collection of essays and speeches, psychologist and civil rights activist Roberts provides cultural perspective propelled by hope, strength, loss, and redemption. Roberts found fame at a young age, as one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African American students who were the first to be integrated into a "whites only" school, an experience Roberts returns to often; the physical and mental harassment he endured, not only from peers, but from certain Little Rock adults, contains relevant lessons continually in need of unpacking. Including addresses at libraries, graduations, and Civil Rights conventions, Roberts' collection emphases personal responsibility-for one's highest values, as well as one's less noble biases-and connects with fatherly charm, a common-sense approach to justice and community, and a contagious belief in mankind's better nature. Vivid accounts from the days of segregation immerse readers in a divided world, but Roberts's charismatic voice and keen eye for topical developments keep his work fresh, focused, and inspirational.
— Publishers Weekly Online