L.H.D., Mobile College, 1975.
M.A., The University of Alabama, 1951. Educational Administration and Secondary Education.
B.S.E., Jacksonville State University, 1947. Business Education and English.
A.B., Jacksonville State University, 1947. English. Minor in French.
Dr. Marcus L. Roberts, Jr. grew up in rural Etowah County on a small farm with parents who valued education highly. When he graduated from Altoona High School as valedictorian in 1944, he was told that Jacksonville State Teacher’s College was offering a scholarship to any valedictorian. He wanted to be a teacher since second grade so he accepted the full scholarship of $25 per term.
Because he distinguished himself at JSU, he had three job offers upon graduation. His supervisor encouraged him to take the job at Tuscaloosa High School. In 1947, M.L. began his teaching career and touched many lives serving as the chair of the Business Education Department and teaching business and typing until 1954.
One morning while teaching, an office runner interrupted his class with a phone call from John McLure, Dean of the College of Education, who offered M.L. a job. In 1954, Dr. Roberts was appointed Registrar and Instructor in the College. As Registrar, Dr. Roberts registered the first African American student, Autherine Lucy, while an angry mob gathered outside Graves Hall in an attempt to prevent her from attending class. He served as Acting Head of Curriculum and Instruction (1972-1973, 1983) and as Acting Dean (1981 -1982). Dr. Roberts worked closely with the State Department of Education to enhance and strengthen teacher education. He served as Assistant Dean for Student Services and Teacher Certification Officer until his retirement in 1987.
The honors bestowed on Dr. Roberts during his career included the Kappa Delta Pi Faculty Appreciation Award, Phi Delta Kappa Professional Educator of the Year Award, Alabama Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Service Award, Penny Allen Award (UA), Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award (UA), the College of Education Society Outstanding Contribution to Education Award, the Alabama Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Community Service Award, and the National Retired Teachers Association of AARP National Retired Educator Award for the State of Alabama.
Dr. Roberts was a charter member of Trinity United Methodist Church (UMC) where he and his wife, Edith, served in multiple ways. He also served the Tuscaloosa district as a district lay leader, and served on the District Board of Trustees, District Superintendency Committee, and Wesley Foundation Board of Directors. He also served the UMC North Alabama Conference. He was honored this year at the UMC North Alabama Annual Conference with the Louise Branscomb Barrier Breaker award recognizing his contributions and leadership in the UMC community as well as his demonstrated vision, courage, and willingness to stand for the rights of women and ethnic minorities.
He was a member of the Tuscaloosa Exchange Club (President, 1974-1975), the UA Retirees Association, and the Volunteer Steering Committee of the West Alabama Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center, the Alabama Retired Teachers Association, the Tuscaloosa Retired Teachers Association, and the College of Education Board of Advisors.