At a time when our society expected women to remain quietly in the background, Mrs. Daisy Bates took center stage in the fight for freedom and equality. In the fall of 1972, when I enrolled in the Little Rock School District, I saw the start of city-wide busing—a change which came about in large part because of the courage of Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine. This experience — among others — shaped my appreciation for the civil rights movement and those like Daisy Bates who fought for liberty for all.
Born in 1914 in Union County, Daisy Bates was raised by family friends after losing her mother to a race-related crime. By the 1940s, Mrs. Bates was married to L.C. Bates, living in Little Rock, and working at the couple’s paper, Arkansas State Press, a leading source for news and information about the civil rights movement. Ten years later, Mrs. Bates was elected President of the Arkansas State Conference of NAACP branches, from where she became the spokesperson and advocate for the Little Rock Nine.
In many ways, I believe that Mrs. Bates lived the words of Micah 6:8, “to do justly, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Her courage and conviction not only influenced me, but the lives of countless others in our state and nation. With Daisy Gatson Bates Day and her 100th birthday this year, I’ve introduced a resolution to honor her leadership and help us remember her legacy as true American heroine.
Thank you, Mrs. Bates.