Past Exhibit - Crusader for Civil Rights: An Exhibit Celebrating the Life of Daisy Bates
(Walton Reading Room Display Case, Mullins Library
This exhibit showcases materials from the Daisy Bates Collection (MC 582) and associated collections housed in University Libraries Special Collections in order to celebrate the life and work of Arkansas Civil Rights leader, Daisy Bates. The exhibit’s opening coincided with the pre-screening of Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock, a new film by writer and director Sharon LaCruise that incorporated materials from Special Collections. The documentary airs February 2, 2012, on PBS.
Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was born in the small southern Arkansas community of Huttig, in Union County, November 11, 1914. She and her husband, L.C. Bates, established the weekly Arkansas State Press in 1941, and it became the largest and most influential black paper in the state and a leading voice in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1952, Daisy was elected president of the Arkansas State Conference of NAACP branches. As president, she became the advisor to the Little Rock Nine during Little Rock Central High School integration crisis of 1957. Her memoirs of the Central High crisis, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, was published in 1962 with an introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Bates next worked for the Democratic National Committee and for the Johnson Administration's anti-poverty programs before suffering a stroke in 1965 and returning to Little Rock.
In 1968, Mrs. Bates moved to Mitchellville, Desha County, Arkansas, where she was a community organizer for the Mitchellville Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) Self-Help Project for six years. After the death of L.C. in 1980, she revived the Arkansas State Press. Following her retirement, the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas passed a resolution commending her for her outstanding service to the state. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in May, 1984. A reprint edition of The Long Shadow of Little Rock received the American Book Award in 1988. Daisy Bates died on November 4, 1999. In 2001, the state legislature designated the third Monday of February as “Daisy Gatson Bates Day.”
Through photographs, news clippings, and personal and professional correspondence, the exhibit highlights four areas documented by the Daisy Bates Collection: the pioneering work of Daisy and L.C. Bates as journalists through the Arkansas State Press and their involvement with the NAACP; Mrs. Bates’ work as advisor and strategist during the 1957 Little Rock integration crisis; her later work as a community organizer in the impoverished African American community of Mitchellville, Arkansas; and the numerous accolades and honors bestowed on Mrs. Bates during her lifetime. Special thanks to Krista Jones and Cat Wallack for their work in creating the exhibit.
For more information about the Daisy Bates Papers or any of the other thousands of resources preserving the history of Arkansas available through the University of Arkansas Libraries, contact Special Collections, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the department in Mullins Library.