Bates, Daisy Lee Gatson

Bates, Daisy Lee Gatson
▪ 2000

      American civil rights leader (b. Nov. 10, 1914, Huttig, Ark.—d. Nov. 4, 1999, Little Rock, Ark.), was instrumental in bringing about one of the first major victories in the struggle for civil rights when she pushed for the integration of schools in Arkansas and aided the first African-American students who in 1957 entered Central High School in Little Rock. Bates and her husband, L.C. Bates, worked together on their weekly newspaper, the Arkansas State Press, and relentlessly campaigned against segregation and racially motivated inequities in treatment by the police and the criminal justice system. In 1952 she became Arkansas president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In that position, following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court decision that segregated schools were unconstitutional, Bates increased her school desegregation efforts, and when officials attempted to put off implementation of an integration plan, the NAACP sued. Eventually nine students were chosen to be the first to enroll, but Gov. Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to turn them away, and crowds formed to harass and threaten them. The Bateses were also threatened and their home vandalized. Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower sent federal troops to escort the students, however, and Bates counseled and advised them in order to boost their courage and help them cope with the hostile treatment they faced. Because of the Bateses' desegregation efforts, though, their newspaper lost advertising revenue and was forced to close in 1959. Bates thereafter worked as a community organizer and in various other civil rights activities. In 1962 she published a book about her experiences, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, which had a foreword by Eleanor Roosevelt. A reprint edition was issued in 1986, and in 1988 it was honoured with the American Book Award, a first for a reprint.

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Universalium. 2010.

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