LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Here in Arkansas, President's Day also a special holiday of our own. Arkansas celebrates Daisy Gatson Bates Day every third Monday in February. Bates helped mentor and lead the Little Rock Nine through desegregation and helped integrate public schools here in Little Rock in the late 1950s.
Bates and her husband, Lucious Christopher "LC" Bates, were very well known in the state for their dedication to civil rights. The couple established a weekly statewide paper, called the Arkansas State Press, which was devoted to advocating civil rights for African Americans. While she did not regularly write for the paper, she was very active in the operations part of it and was named the city editor.
She was elected president of the Arkansas Conference of Branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1952 and helped set the stage for the desegregation of Central High School in 1957 during the federal court case, Aaron Vs. Cooper, which was filed to enforce the rights of black children to go to school with white children. Earlier, school segregation had been declared unconstitutional in the Brown vs. Board of Education case, but Arkansas students were still being turned away from white schools.
Her home became the headquarters for the battle against segregation at Central High School, and the Little Rock Nine left from her home for their first day of school on Sept. 25, 1957; she continued to offer her guidance and support as the nine faced continued harassment.
Today, tours of her home are not available, but you are able to view the landmark's exterior on West 28th Street.
Bates was awarded as the Woman of the Year in Education in 1957 by the national Associates Press and was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Arkansas in 1984. She was also the only woman to speak at the Lincoln Memorial at the March on Washington in 1963.
Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive (also known as 14th Street) was named in her honor in addition to several buildings in the area. The Drive goes past the north side of Little Rock Central High School and the south side of Philander Smith College.
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture - Daisy Lee Gatson Bates (http://on.kthv.com/1bDvpS3)
Biography.com - Daisy Bates (http://on.kthv.com/1cfcvPb)
NPR - Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine (http://on.kthv.com/1bbEbWR)
UALR - Daisy Bates, Mentor to Little Rock Nine (http://on.kthv.com/1nFEauK)
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture - Little Rock Nine (http://on.kthv.com/1bWPopr)
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture - Desegregation of Central High School (http://on.kthv.com/1gtbapE)
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture - Arkansas State Press (http://on.kthv.com/1gKYU3b)
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture - Aaron vs. Cooper (http://on.kthv.com/1dYJt2L)
Kearney to give talk on Daisy Bates at UA (http://on.kthv.com/1jEjVQB)