Oklahoma Christian hosts pioneers of integration

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Oklahoma Christian University (OC) will host two members of the “Little Rock Nine” for a special event that is free and open to the public on Feb. 24.

Carlotta Walls LaNier and Terrence Roberts were two of the nine teenagers who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., on Sept. 25, 1957. They were confronted by a hostile crowd and escorted by the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division on that historic day.

“In the midst of one of the most turbulent times in this country’s history, it’s amazing that we found strength in the unlikeliest of places – in a group of nine kids,” said Gary Jones, OC’s Multicultural and Service Learning Coordinator. “Even in the face of injustice, prejudice and inequality, their story of perseverance will live forever. The Little Rock Nine helped lead the charge of equality in education and opportunity for education in America.”

At age 14 in 1957, LaNier was the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine. She went on to graduate from Central High School in 1960 and earned her bachelor’s degree from Colorado State College, now known as the University of Northern Colorado.

She worked for the YWCA as a program administrator before beginning a successful career as a real estate broker. She continues to operate LaNier and Company, the firm she founded in 1977.

She serves as president of the Little Rock Nine Foundation and speaks across the country about her experiences as a pioneer of school integration. Her memoir, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice of Little Rock Central High School, offers an inside look at this significant civil rights battle.

Roberts was a 15-year-old junior when he entered Little Rock Central High School. He completed his junior year, then moved to California and graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1959.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University at Los Angeles in 1967, a master’s degree in social welfare from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1970, and a doctorate in psychology from Southern Illinois University in 1976.

He now serves as chief executive officer of Terrence J. Roberts & Associates, a management consultant firm. He also maintains a private psychology practice and speaks on a wide variety of topics across the country. His memoir, Lessons from Little Rock, came out in 2009.

Both LaNier and Roberts have been honored with the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal.

History Speaks: Little Rock Nine starts at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 in OC’s Hardeman Auditorium, Though admission is free, pre-registration is required at www.oc.edu/littlerock9.

The event is part of Oklahoma Christian’s McGaw Lecture Series.

Recognized as one of the best universities in the western United States by U.S. News and World Report and The Princeton Review, Oklahoma Christian offers undergraduate programs in more than 60 fields of study, an undergraduate Honors Program, and graduate programs in accountancy, business administration, engineering, Christian ministry, divinity, and theological studies.


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