The boy who once required military intervention to attend a high school in Arkansas will be a warmly received guest at a high school in Huntington Beach.
That's the symbolic truth as Terrence Roberts — one of the black students known as the "Little Rock Nine," who broke the color barrier at Little Rock Central High School in 1957 — prepares to visit Surf City as part of the seventh annual HB Reads program.
With with death of Trayvon Martin, the controversial comments by Paula Deen, and the movie "12 Years a Slave" and other stories dominating the news, race has been a hot topic in America of late — well, not that it's ever been that cold — but a browse through "Lessons from Little Rock," Roberts' memoir of his perilous teen years, serves as a reminder of how attitudes have changed in half a century.
Thursday evening, HB Reads will kick off with a panel discussion at Barnes & Noble at Bella Terra. The two-month series of citywide events will end with a speech by Roberts at Huntington Beach High School on March 20. (The author will not be present at Thursday's discussion.) Every year, HB Reads spotlights a book about diversity and human rights, and previous entries have focused on Mexican migrants, autism, African refugees and more.