Awesome Ladies in History: Daisy Bates
Daisy Bates (born 1914) was an African-American woman who truly broke ground in her chosen path. She and her husband journalist L.C. Bates operated the Arkansas State Press, a weekly African-American newspaper, during the civil rights movement. Her leadership there led her to the presidency position in the NAACP.
And, of course, being from Arkansas, Bates played a key role in enforcing the Brown v. Board of Education decision in her state and helping the nine black students now most commonly referred to as the Little Rock Nine go to Central High School, once an all-white school. Daisy’s home soon became the headquarters for the battle to integrate Central High School. It was from her house that, on September 25, 1957, the Little Rock Nine left to go to their first day of school, protected by federal troops sent by President Eisenhower.
Bates, of course, received many threats as an unrelenting activist for civil rights. However, she carried on in her passion, even writing a book, “The Long Shadow of Little Rock,” about the battle for integration in Little Rock’s high school. For several years, she also worked on antipoverty projects for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., under Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.
Daisy Bates eventually returned to Little Rock, the place she helped change for the better, and died there in 1999. During her lifetime she received many awards and even an honorary degree from the University of Arkansas for the work she had contributed to the civil rights movement.