DAISY LEE BATES

Daisy was raised by adoptive parents in Huttig, Arkansas.  She married L.C., a journalist and her father’s friend.  The couple invested in the Arkansas State Press, a newspaper.  When they reported a local case involving the murder of a black soldier on leave by a local policeman, an advertising boycott nearly put the newspaper out of business.  Fortunately, a statewide circulation campaign increased readership and restored its financial viability.

In 1952 Daisy became theArkansasbranch president of the NAACP.  Two years later when the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional, Daisy worked with others to figure out how to integrate the Little Rock schools.  She worked on various plans and in 1957, she settled on a basic tactic.  Out of seventy-five African American studies who registered at Little Rock’sCentralHigh School, nine were chosen to be the first to integrate the school.  They became known as the Little Rock Nine and Daisy was instrumental in supporting them in their action.

In September of 1952, the governor of Arkansastried to ban the nine students from entering the school by calling in the Arkansas National Guard but in response to this action and the protests, President Eisenhower federalized the guard and sent in federal troops.  On the 25th day of September 1952, the nine students entered Central High amid angry protests.

The next month, Daisy and others were arrested for not turning over NAACP records and although she was no longer an officer of the organization, she was fined.  The U.S. Supreme Court eventually overturned her conviction.

Daisy and her husband continued to support the nine students who were personally harassed for their actions.  In 1959, advertising boycotts closed Daisy’s and her husband’s newspaper.  In 1962, Daisy wrote and published her autobiography and her account of the Little Rock Nine and former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote the introduction.  While her husband worked for the NAACP, Daisy worked for the Democratic National Committee until a stroke forced her to stop.  She worked on projects for eight years. In 1984, four years after her husband died, Daisy started the State Press newspaper again.  She retired in 1987.  In 1996, she carried the olympic torch in the Atlanta Olympics.  She died three years later.

Today, we celebrate this woman who wanted change and helped nine students to carry it out.  In spite of the obstacles that stood in her way, Daisy fought for desegregation. 

From without, no wonderful effect is wrought within ourselves, unless some interior, responding wonder meets it.

No man or woman who tries to pursue an ideal in his or her won way is without enemies.

What plays the mischief with the truth is that men will insist upon the universal application of a temporary feeling or opinion.

Daisy Lee Bates

Source:  http://womenshistory.about.com

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