This Member of the “Little Rock Nine” Is Fighting School Diversity Quotas

Kenny Xu

When a school system draws racial boundary lines and denies entry to qualified students on the basis of race, it doesn’t matter if it’s done in the name of segregation or so-called diversity—it is still wrong, according to one prominent civil rights advocate.

Terrence Roberts, a member of the original “Little Rock Nine” who entered a segregated Arkansas high school under National Guard protection in 1957, appeared in front of a Connecticut parents union Dec. 5, criticizing the local Connecticut school board for instituting blatant racial quotas in its magnet school programs.  

Roberts, who has served as a professor of psychology at UCLA and a consultant, focused his ire on a Connecticut state law that mandates a minimum of 25% white and Asian students in the Hartford magnet schools.  

“Here in Connecticut, by lumping together whites and Asians, blacks and Hispanics, that’s playing a giant game of ‘Let’s you and him fight,’” he said in an interview with Gwen Samuel, the lead plaintiff in a court case challenging the racial quotas.

Because many Connecticut magnet schools draw primarily black and Hispanic applicants, if too few white and Asian kids enroll, the schools may deny spots in the school for the qualified black and Hispanic students who continue to apply. This creates absurd outcomes in these magnet schools such as empty seats in the school, while qualified black students get stuck on the wait list.  

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