Daisy Bates

Lived:November 11, 1914—November 4, 1999 (aged 84)

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was a civil rights activist and newspaper publisher who played a leading role in the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.

Bates was born on November 11, 1914, in Huttig, Arkansas.

She and her husband, Lucious Christopher (L. C.) Bates, started the weekly newspaper, the Arkansas State Press, in 1941, one of the only African American newspapers solely dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement. Bates was elected president of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1952. After the 1954 Supreme Court ruling against segregated schools, Bates began working to get African American students enrolled at all-white schools, eventually organizing the group known as the Little Rock Nine, the nine students chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock in 1957.

After The Arkansas Weekly was forced to close in 1959 due to loss of advertising revenue stemming from the Bates' civil rights activism, Bates moved to New York City and then to Washington, D.C. She worked for the Democratic National Committee and on antipoverty projects for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. At the March on Washington in 1963, Bates was one of only a few women invited to sit on the stage during the program and the only woman allowed to speak. In 1965, Bates returned to Arkansas and was active in community programs until the death of her husband in 1980. She restarted the Arkansas State Press in 1984 but sold it in 1988.

Bates died on November 4, 1999. She was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1999.

“Daisy Bates (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, August 17, 2018. https://www.nps.gov/people/dbates.htm.