Daisy Lee Gatson Bates (1914-1999) was an American civil rights leader, journalist, publisher, and author.
Daisy Bates was born on November 11, 1914 in Huttig, Union County, Arkansas. Bates mother was killed while resisting the sexual advances of three local white men. Her father left the family shortly after her mother's death and she was raised by friends of the family.
In 1952 Daisy Bates was elected president of the Arkansas State Conference of NAACP branches.
Bates and her husband L.C. Bates were important figures in the Little Rock Integration Crisis in 1957. The Bates published a local black newspaper, the Arkansas State Press, which publicized violations of the US Supreme Court desegregation rulings.
Bates guided and advised the nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine, when they attempted to enroll at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The students attempts to enroll provoked a confrontation with Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus who called out the National Guard to prevent the students from enrolling.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower intervened by federalizing the Arkansas National Guard and dispatching the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to ensure that the court orders were enforced.
Their involvement in the Little Rock Crisis resulted in the loss of much advertising revenue to their newspaper and it was forced to close in 1959. In 1960 Daisy Bates moved to New York City and wrote her memoir, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, which won a 1988 National Book Award.
Bates moved to Washington, D.C. and worked for the Democratic National Committee. She also served in the administration of President Lyndon Baines Johnson on anti-poverty programs. In 1965 she suffered a stroke and returned to Little Rock.
In 1968 she moved to the rural black community of Mitchellville, Desha County, Arkansas. She concentrated on improving the lives of her neighbors by establishing a self-help program which was responsible for new sewer systems, paved streets, a water system, and community center.
Bates revived the Arkansas State Press in the 1980s.
Daisy Bates died in Little Rock, Arkansas on 4 November 1999. The 3rd Monday in February has been established as an official state holiday in her honor. The street that runs in front of Little Rock Central High School has been renamed for her.
Arkansas General Assembly Commendation
Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, University of Arkansas