Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Black Women in History: DAISY BATES

Daisy Bates was raised in Huttig, Arkansas, by adoptive parents. In 1941, she married L. C. Bates, a friend of her father. L. C. was a journalist, though he worked selling insurance during the 1930s

L. C. and Daisy Bates invested in a newspaper, the Arkansas State Press. In 1942, the paper reported on a local case where a black soldier, on leave from Camp Robinson, was shot by a local policeman. An advertising boycott nearly broke the paper, but a statewide circulation campaign increased the readership, and restored its financial viability.

School Desegregation in Little Rock:
In 1952, Daisy Bates became the Arkansas branch president of the NAACP. In 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional, Daisy Bates and others worked to figure out how to integrate the Little Rock Schools. Expecting more cooperation from the administration in integrating the schools than they found, the NAACP and Daisy Bates began working on various plans, and finally, in 1957, had settled on a basic tactic.

Seventy-five African American students registered at Little Rock's Central High School. Of these, nine were chosen to actually be the first to integrate the school; they became known as the Little Rock Nine. Daisy Bates was instrumental in supporting these nine students in their action.

In September of 1952, Arkansas' governor Faubus arranged for the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the African American students from entering Central High School. In response to the action, and to protests of the action, President Eisenhower federalized the guard and sent in federal troops. On September 25, 1952, the nine students entered Central High amid angry protests.

The next month, Daisy Bates and others were arrested for not turning over NAACP records. Though Daisy Bates was no longer an officer of the NAACP, she was fined; her conviction was eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.