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Daisy Bates; On the front lines behind the scene

By Dee-Dee Bass Wilbon

Bass Public Affairs is proud to celebrate Women's History Month.  Each week in March, we will salute an unsung women who made a significant contribution to world. 

This week, we salute Daisy Bates a heroine of the Civil Rights movement.  

On September 25, 1957 the world watched as nine African-American teenagers entered Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Cameras and newspapers captured the sound and images from that day.  America rightly remembers and honors the Little Rock Nine. However, the significant role that Daisy Bates had in orchestrating the event is rarely remembered. 

In 1954, in the Brown versus the Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that separate in fact was not equal and put an end to segregation. 

Bates who had been raised in the Jim Crow south knew that the school board of Arkansas would not move to integrate the schools if they were not challenged. Bates and the NAACP challenged the Little Rock school board in court forcing the school board to put together a plan to integrate the schools.

Daisy Bates and her husband LC Bates recruited the nine students who would lead Arkansas and America into integration.  For months, Bates counseled the students and their parents.

Before, during and after that important first day of school, the Bates' home became the central headquarters for the integration plan.  When Ernest Green became the first African-American to graduate from Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attended the ceremony.  Daisy Bates was not able to attend. In Little Rock, she was more famous than Dr. King and it was feared that her presence would create a riot. 

Today movements of social and cultural change are quick to compare their struggle to the Civil Rights Movement.  When we really think about the real danger that heroines like Daisy Bates faced such comparisons ring hollow.   Every day that she involved herself in the Civil Rights Movement, Bates understood that she was risking her life.  During the struggle, white supremacists threw a rock through a window of the Bates home. On the rock was tied a note with five simple words ‚ÄúStone this time. Dynamite Next." 

Bass Public Affairs is proud to salute Daisy Bates for her courage and wisdom in the face of unfathomable danger.