Favorite

Read! 

The simple truth is I don't remember when it was that I knew I could read; it seems as if reading was one of the apps included in my newborn starter kit. A stretch to be sure, but this habit of reading has been with me for a long time. The memory of me leaning against the cherry tree in our back yard with a book propped on my knees competes with another memory of me scrunched down under the dining room table with a glass of milk, a peanut butter sandwich and, you guessed it, a book! Books filled with majesty and wonder, the excitement of dramatic encounters, history, biography, autobiography, travel adventures; anything I could get my hands on qualified as acceptable reading.

And then, I went to school.  Here another dimension of reading was opened for my discovery. I learned that books could lead you to the headwaters of almost any flowing stream of information. If you wanted to know how and when about this or that, it was most likely to be found in a book. One of the more eye-opening discoveries came in high school, where Negro history was a required course. Now my reading became a more well-sculpted process. I learned about the man for whom our elementary school had been named; he was Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, who was, in the late 19th century, city judge for Little Rock. And about Paul Laurence Dunbar, the famous poet for whom our high school was named. Their stories were more than inspirational; their ability to navigate a terrain designed to crush them told me that I too could succeed.

You see, I grew up in a time when racial discrimination was ordained by law. This meant that I was not able to gain access to all of the potential reading material available in Little Rock. The main library was deemed to be a "whites only" institution. The "Ivy Branch" library, located in an area where many black people lived, was the city's concession to its black citizens. I became a regular patron at the Ivy Branch; I read just about every book they put on their shelves. OK, another stretch, but you get the picture! 

My friend Cleo, who now lives in Atlanta, told me last year that he would often rush to the library to check out a book before I got there but was more often than not chagrined to find my name already stamped on the sign-out card.

Even if you are not as addicted as I have become, there is something about this notion of reading that bears close scrutiny. What is the one thing that truly serves to separate people into groups? It is most certainly not race, you can be sure about that, and it not about how much money you have. It is instead the amount of knowledge you have gained; what you have learned during your sojourn on Earth. 

And one of the more fascinating ways to learn is to read. Read about the options available to you as you seek to choose the best possible selections from life's menu. Read about the lives of other people who look like you, see for yourself what strategies they employed to solve the mysteries of life. Read as if your life depended upon it; and in some cases that is very true indeed!

If you are a person of color reading these lines, I urge you to consider yet another vital reason to develop a voracious appetite for reading. There are pernicious narratives embedded in the national psyche, mythological tales designed to convince you and all others in your universe that you and your kind are not worthy to be included in the mainstream of human endeavor. Through reading you will find counter-narratives; you will discover voices that speak a truth you need to hear. Immersed as we are in a society splashing about in the stale waters of racist ideology, we need to use every tool at our disposal to avoid being infected by the viral organisms of racial hatred and notions of white superiority.

My assignment to groups of students I speak to around the country is for them to read one book per week, for life. Try it for yourself. See what a difference it can make in your ability to see through the fog of misinformation and obfuscation. Model for the universe the power of reading in your life; set the standard for those who will receive the baton from you as you finish your race.

Please join me and other amazing writers as we share our stories and books at the upcoming National Black Children's Book Fair Tour kickoff events Friday, Nov. 7, at the Central High National Historic Site and the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and continuing Saturday, Nov. 8, at Rockefeller Elementary, 700 W. 17th St. For more details and inquiries call 501-952-6169, email info@speakloudly.com or visit speakloudly.com.

Dr. Terrence Roberts is a retired clinical psychologist who is most publically known as a member of the Little Rock Nine. Currently CEO of his consulting firm, Terrence Roberts is the author of two books: "Lessons from Little Rock" and "Simple Not Easy: Reflections on community social responsibility and tolerance (Our National Conversation)." He will be the keynote speaker Saturday at Rockefeller Elementary; the event runs 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Why a change of leadership at the LRSD now?

    Johnny Key's abrupt, unilateral decision to not renew Baker Kurrus' contract as superintendent strikes us as shortsighted, misguided and detrimental to the education of our children and the health of our community.
    • Apr 21, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated itsĀ 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • War reporter

    Ray Moseley: Native Texan. Naturalized Arkansan. Reporter, world traveler, confidant of Queen Elizabeth II.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • Vote no on school tax

    I have never voted against a school tax in my life, but I will be voting against the debt service millage extension for the Little Rock School District.
    • May 4, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • Vanessa said it best "Baseball at its best suspends time." A good childhood memory I…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • I have trouble watching baseball on TV. I fall asleep but that's not the fault…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • Great column, and terrific response from Vanessa. Everyone has baseball memories. Here's mine, from a…

    • on July 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation