Daisy Bates was a journalist, civil rights activist, and social reformer known for her work to help desegregate Central High School in Arkansas.
She was raised in Huttig, Arkansas by adoptive parents and married L.C. Bates, a journalist and friend of her father, in 1941. Bates and her husband invested in a newspaper called the Arkansas State Press. The paper worked to make sure that the public was informed about civil rights issues affecting the black community. In fact it was a story about a black soldier who was shot by local police and an advertised boycott that strengthened circulation and revived the paper’s financial viability.
Bates would play a major role in civil rights during her time. In 1952, she became Arkansas branch president of the NAACP. The Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional and that led Bates on a mission to figure out how the Little Rock Schools could be integrated. The schools were very resistant to the idea, however with the help of Bates and others a solution was found. Although 75 African-American students chose to register at Little Rock’s Central High School, only nine were chosen to integrate the school and they became known as “Little Rock Nine”. Bates served as a primary advisor to this group. Amidst angry protests and military troops, the National Guard, the nine students were admitted to the school on September 25, 1952.
In 1984, her biography was re-published and the University of Arkansas awarded Bates with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. She carried the Olympic torch in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics before she passed in 1999.