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Daisy Gaston Bates

Daisy Gaston Bates (November 11, 1914-November 4, 1999)

Activist/Journalist/Publisher/Guardian

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Daisy Gaston Bates.

Daisy Gaston BatesDaisy Lee Gaston Bates born on November 11, 1914 in Huttig, AR, a small sawmill town in Union County raised by friends of the family. Mrs. Bates was President of the Arkansas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP: the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization), working in partnership with L.C. Bates (her husband) who was the NAACP’s regional director. Mrs. Bates was also a star reporter and co-owner of the largest black newspaper in the state, the Arkansas State Press. Together the couple led efforts to end segregation in Arkansas — on buses, in libraries and in the public schools.

In 1957, she helped nine African-American students (the Little Rock Nine) 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, the students were undeterred from their mission to attend the school.  The Bates’ home became the headquarters for the battle to integrate Central High School and Mrs. Bates served as a personal advocate and supporter to the students.

The Arkansas State Press Newspaper closed in 1959 because of low advertising revenue. Three years later (1962), Mrs. Bates’ account of the school integration battle was published as The Long Shadow of Little Rock. Mrs. Bates returned to Little Rock in the mid-1960s and spent much of her time on community programs. After the death of her husband in 1980, Mrs. Bates also resuscitated their newspaper [1984 to 1988].

Mrs. Bates died on November 4, 1999, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Sources:
Photo: University of Arkansas Little Rock http://ualr.edu/race-ethnicity/files/2011/09/daisy-bates-large.jpg http://ualr.edu/race-ethnicity/files/2011/09/daisy-bates-large.jpg
http://www.biography.com/people/daisy-bates-206524?page=2  (Accessed 12/26/13)
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14563865 (Accessed 12/26/13)

Compiled by Beverly Moore

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