Campus commemorates Black History Month

Students Ian Danquah, left, and Roger Isom enjoy talking with Dr. Terrence Roberts, one of the nine teenagers who were first to integrate Little Rock (Ark.) High School in 1957.
March 12, 2013

From the moment they saw the words “Little Rock Nine” on a poster promoting a talk by Dr. Terrence Roberts, students Roger Isom and Ian Danquah knew they couldn’t miss this opportunity to meet and hear living history.

“I knew that it was a rare opportunity to learn about Little Rock Nine, a monumental event in our history, from one of nine students who lived it,” says Isom, a freshman from Annapolis, Md. “When I read the words ‘Little Rock Nine’ on a flyer I immediately recalled learning about the event in my U.S. History class. I remembered a photo, in my history book, of one of the students bombarded by a mob of angry people as she tried to get into the school.”

As part of the college’s Black History Month celebration, Terrence J. Roberts was on campus speaking about lessons from the Little Rock experience. Roberts was one of the nine African-American students who were the first to integrate classes in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., for which he and the others were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

He went on to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and was a college professor and clinical psychologist for 30 years. Today, he is the principal consultant with T. Roberts & Associates, a consulting firm focusing on resolving people problems in the workplace.

McDaniel’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs helped bring Roberts to campus, as well as sponsored a Spike Lee movie series as part of Black History Month, including “Miracle at St. Anna” with a discussion led by English professor Reanna Ursin, “Malcolm X” with a discussion by Social Work lecturer Michelle Young, and “Jungle Fever” with a discussion led by Political Science and International Studies professor Debora Johnson-Ross. With entertainment by the college’s Gospel Choir, students also enjoyed a Black History celebration dinner in the dining hall complete with trivia games and prizes.

For Isom and Danquah, the highlight of activities was Roberts’ talk.

“It fascinated me that someone who changed education through integration during the Civil Rights Era was here on campus nearly 60 years later to tell their story,” says Danquah, a sophomore from Morristown, N.J., who is majoring in Communication.

Roberts attitude about learning – taking executive responsibility for your own learning – resonated with Isom.

“Throughout the talk he emphasized the importance of education and learning all that we can,” says Isom, who is majoring in Exercise Science and Spanish toward a goal of being a strength-and-conditioning coach specializing in prevention of obesity in youth. “His deep appreciation for learning demonstrated to me that education is too valuable to not take seriously. I am a hardworking student and to hear him speak about education really motivated me to work even harder.”