As it is black history month, I have chosen to focus on someone that I have not heard much about until researching recently, Daisy Bates. Daisy Lee Gatston was born in 1914 in Huttig, Arkansas. Bates had a tragic childhood, at just 3 years old her mother was sexually assaulted and killed by three white men. Her father was not in the picture, so she was sent into foster care at the age of 3. She grew up in foster care for most of her life, until around mid teenage years.
At around the age of 15 she met her soon to be husband, Lucious Christopher Bates, and began to travel with him. They eventually settled in Little Rock Arkansas and began their own newspaper together. Daisy Bates became the editor of the Arkansas State Press, the only African American newspaper dedicated to civil rights. She often contributed her own articles as well.
"[Every McCauley Ward, Rosa Parks and Daisy Bates at the Kennedy Center celebrating Mrs. Parks Birthday. 1990]"
She only continued her fight for civil rights as she entered adulthood. Bates became the president of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Throughout her years in that position she continued to help achieve big steps in the civil rights movement. In 1954, the supreme court ruled school segregation unconstitutional in Brown V. Board of Education. Even after that ruling, there continued to be school segregation nationwide, and Bates saw it in her own home town.
Bates played a strategic role in the organization and personally advocated for the students known as the Little Rock Nine. She selected nine African American students to enter an all white school. She drove each student to school every day and worked to make sure they were protected as much as possible from violent attacks from the public. Rocks were thrown at her home almost daily, she received bullet shells in the mail, and was forced to shut down her family newspaper.
After all of the death threats and physical attacks, she never gave up. Eventually, the project was a success. She continued to fight integration laws at schools all throughout the south. Daisy Bates worked tirelessly for our civil rights. She went on to publish her memoirs, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, which went on to win an American Book Award.
Bates didn't stop there, she moved to Washington where she worked for the Democratic National Committee and under Lyndon B. Johnson's administration on anti-poverty projects. I love to learn about my culture and its history. The works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcom X are not forgotten or to be taken lightly at all. However, more recognition for the not so common names is needed. I didn't hear about Daisy Bates until I was researching for this, and her works are astounding.
I am glad I was able to share the story of Daisy Bates.