Daisy Bates

Quick Look At Bates

Daisy Bates was an African American journalist and activist who was a Civil Rights pioneer.

Early Life

Daisy Bates was born Daisy Gatson on November 11, 1914, in Huttig, Arkansas. When she was just 3 years old, her mother was killed by three white men. Her father fled for his own safety before the trial of her mother's murder. She was adopted as a baby. At a young age, mostly as a result of her mother's death, Bates began to confront racial inequalities and injustices. She grew up in the segregated public schools of Huttig, experiencing the racial inequalities in education daily. When Bates was 15 years old, she met her future husband, L.C. Bates.


They married in 1941 and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. Here, they opened a newspaper dedicated to the Civil Rights movement called Arkansas State Press. This was one of the only Black-owned newspapers that focussed specifically on the Civil Rights movement. The newspaper highlighted stories about actions of police brutality toward Black citizens to raise awareness and fight racism. In 1952, Bates was chosen by the NAACP to serve as president of the Arkansas chapter. Her work with her newspaper and the NAACP truly made a difference in ending segregation. In 1954, the Supreme Court deemed segregation in schools unconstitutional, as a result of the work of Daisy Bates and so many other heroes. Despite this ruling, African American students were still being denied entry into white schools. As a result, Bates led and organized the Little Rock Nine, the famous strategy of attacking segregated schools in Arkansas. Starting with just nine children across Little Rock, schools slowly but surely became more integrated. Bates not only drove the students to school each morning and protected them against violent crowds of protesters and rioters, but she joined Central High School's parent organization to support the Little Rock Nine. She received so many threats in the mail each day and was forced to shut down the newspaper she and her husband were running. In 1962, she published The Long Shadow of Little Rock, her memoirs, which later received an American Book Award. She continued her activism and for a time, she worked on an anti-poverty committee for the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. In 1984, Bates reopened the Arkansas State Press for four years before selling it. She passed away on November 4, 1999.

Daisy Bates truly made a difference and was pretty much responsible for the integration of schools in Arkansas. She was a hero and an inspiration.