Civil rights activist, writer, publisher. Born Daisy Lee Gatson on November 11, 1914, in Huttig, Arkansas. Bates’s childhood was marked by tragedy. Her mother was sexually assaulted and murdered by three white men and her father left her. She was raised by friends of the family. As a teenager, Bates met Lucious Christopher “L.C.” Bates, an insurance agent, and an experienced journalist. The couple married in the early 1940s and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. Together they operated the Arkansas State Press, a weekly African-American newspaper. The paper championed civil rights, and Bates joined in the civil rights movement. She became the president of Arkansas chapter of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1952. As the head of the NAACP’s Arkansas branch, Bates played a crucial role in the fight against segregation. In 1954, the United States Supreme Court declared that school segregation was unconstitutional in the landmark case known as Brown v. Board of Education. Even after that ruling, African American students who tried to enroll in white schools were turned away in Arkansas. Bates and her husband chronicled this battle in their newspaper. In 1957, she helped nine African American students to become the first to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, who became known as the Little Rock Nine. The group first tried to go to the school on September 4. A group of angry whites jeered at them as they arrived. The governor, Orval Faubus, opposed school integration and sent members of the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the students from entering the school. Despite the enormous amount of animosity they faced from white residents of the city, the students were undeterred from their mission to attend the school. Bates’ home became the headquarters for the battle to integrate Central High School and she served as a personal advocate and supporter to the students. Daisy represents strong black women during this time and how much they had to endure. She deserves the most praise, but she still remains an unsung hero.
Daisy Bates: Civil Rights Crusader from Arkansas by Grif Stockley is a great biography of Daisy’s journey and how she makes history with her strong voice.
“No man or woman who tries to pursue an ideal in his or her won way is without enemies.” – Daisy Bates
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Thanks for reading, Curls!