It’s not often that a person can say he’s a living part of national history, but Pasadena’s Terrence Roberts can. Growing up in Little Rock, Ark., during the 1950s, he found himself thrust into the world spotlight as one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students attempting to enter and desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School.

The incident sparked debate worldwide, and National Guard troops were called in to escort the students into the high school.

Roberts went on to become an accomplished academic and will be bringing his dramatic story of those days to the Huntington Library for a free lecture, “Lessons from Little Rock,” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“It’s about the episode that occurred in 1957. We look at that and try to figure out what can an American citizen learn from something like that.” said Roberts in a phone interview.

Roberts and his family left Little Rock for Los Angeles in 1958, just one year after he battled to enter Central High.  He graduated from Cal State LA before earning his master’s in Social Work at UCLA and a PhD in psychology from Southern Illinois University.

Roberts believes that as a society, the efforts to end racism and de facto segregation have a long way to go.

“I don’t think anybody can be pleased. How can you be?” said Roberts. “The problem is getting people to develop an awareness of what’s going on. That seems to be the primary issue.”

The Huntington Library is located at 1151 Oxford Road in San Marino. Call (626) 405-2100.