Lessons from Little Rock by Terrence Roberts, A Brief Chapter Analysis
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I Really enjoyed reading this book and following the interesting and inspiring life of its author, Terrence Roberts. The lessons that Roberts presents are for the most part organized chronologically in the book, starting with the Crystal Burger incident and ending with events from his experience a professor at UCLA. Each chapter contains one or more lessons, drawn from his life experiences and commentary, with invaluable information in each.
In chapter 14, “Lessons from the Barbershop and Lawn-Mowing Clients”, Roberts discusses how his childhood business, when he was enrolled at Dunbar, was negatively impacted when it became known that Terrence was a member of the Little Rock Nine. Nearly all of Terrence’s clients were white and he noticed that “as long as [he] presented [himself] as one who would work hard and stay within the bounds of socially prescribed behavior” that he would be able to work as much as he wanted (133). However, as it emerged that Terrence was a member of the Little Rock Nine, and therefore a rebel, he found out that many of his clients, including “one woman in particular, Mrs. Montgomery…could not, in good conscience, hire a black person who harbored thoughts of being equal to her” (134). Then, Roberts provides an intriguing counterexample by speaking about his “Uncle Leady, returning from a stint in the Korean War” (134). When visiting the same white woman, Mrs. Montgomery, “he insisted that he be allowed to enter through the front door,” which was typically reserved for whites only, yet “she had agreed” (134).
I think that the reason Roberts presents this event is to teach us two main lessons about people and about change. I believe the first lesson he teaches has a lot to do with the way he describe...
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...s” and that this is personally a motivating factor for him.
The lesson that Roberts asserts can again be divided into two parts. The first is, in fact, not about racial discrimination, but rather about perseverance. By telling the audience how he was able to succeed in a classroom that was literally similar to a war zone, with soldiers and belligerents, he achieves an excellent report card. By doing so, he teaches us that hard work, determination, and focus are what ultimately will lead you to success. Lastly, Roberts teaches us that we must discuss our shortcomings in any field in order to overcome them. Furthermore, he implies that liberal attitudes can very much be contagious and that dialogue and acknowledgement of the past is necessary in order to achieve goals either individually or collectively.