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Black Activist - Daisy Bates

Updated on February 19, 2012

Daisy Bates was born November 11, 1914 in Huttig, Arkansas and died November 4, 1999 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bates is best known as a writer, publisher and activist. Bates came through the tragedy of losing her mother to murder to fight for equality for all African Americans. Bates was the head of the Arkansas NAACP and worked with her husband as a publisher of an African American newspaper. Bates’ greatest contribution to the civil rights movement was helping the Little Rock Nine go through the struggle of enrolling into high school.

Early Years

Daisy Bates was raised by family friends, Orle and Susie Smith. Bates was raised by family friends because her mother was sexually assaulted and murdered by three white men and after the murder her father left Bates in the Smith’s care. As a teenager Bates met her husband who was an experienced journalist. Together Bates and her husband operated the Arkansas State Press which was a weekly African American newspaper. During this time Bates started to get involved in the civil rights movement.


Daisy Bates was heavily involved in the civil rights movement she was the head of the local NAACP chapter and a publisher. Bates with her husband published an African American newspaper which publicized violations of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Rulings for desegregation and other civil rights struggles. The Arkansas State Press was a voice for civil rights and was truly ahead of its time. After the paper shut down due to loss of advertising after her involvement with the Little Rock Nine Daisy Bates wrote her memoirs about her involvement with the Little Rock Nine, The Long Shadow of Little Rock.


Daisy Bates was the president of theArkansaschapter of the NAACP and because of her position played a crucial role in the fight against segregation. In the case of Brown v. Board of Education the United States Supreme Court declared that school segregation was unconstitutional. Although segregation was ruled unconstitutional African American students were still not able to enroll in white schools inArkansas. There were nine African American students who attempted to enroll at Little Rock Central High School which was an all white school. The Governor of Arkansas as well as a mob of whites did not want the Little Rock Nine attending the school. Bates acted as an advisor and advocate for the Little Rock Nine during this time. The Little Rock Nine made their first attempt to enter the school but were met by the National Guard who was called by the Governor and an angry mob of whites threatening them. They were turned away from the school but this did not deter the Little Rock Nine. The second attempt was much more successful with the help of Bates and President Dwight D Eisenhower. The Little Rock Nine met at Bates’ house and were escorted from her house to the school by Federal Troops where they were able to enter the school and continue their education.

Later Years

In her later years, after her husband’s death Bates resuscitated their newspaper, the Arkansas State Press which was in publication for several more years. Daisy Bates received numerous awards and accolades from multiple sources for her social activism. Little Rock, Arkansas paid tribute to Daisy Bates by opening the Daisy Bates Elementary School and by making the third Monday in February Daisy Gatson Bates Day an official state holiday. Daisy Bates continued to fight for civil rights in a myriad of ways until her death. Bates never ceased to fight for the rights of African Americans.

Daisy Bates was a true humanitarian fighting for the rights of African Americans. Bates was an activist until the day she died. Bates used her skills as a publicist and as the head of the local chapter of the NAACP to fight for civil rights. Bates helped the Little Rock Nine to get the education that they deserved regardless of the controversy it caused to her business and in her personal life. Bates never wavered when it came to what she believed in and what she knew was right.


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    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 4 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you. I think its very important to get these stories out.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 4 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I never before knew of Daisy Bates. So many who were willing to pay a price to secure the rights of all Americans never have their stories told today. Thanks for telling Daisy's.