Daisy Bates is synonymous with the legacy of Arkansas’ Little Rock Nine. One of only three women to later speak at the March on Washington, Bates was the chief advisor and spokesperson for the students who integrated Little Rock’s Central High School. Her city called her the “Lena Horne of Little Rock” because of her star quality. Raised in a poor Huttig, Arkansas home, Bates lost her mother when she was a young chlld. At age eight, her father revealed to her that her mother was murdered by three white men during a rape attempt.
Bates served as president of the Arkansas NAACP, and her husband, L.C. Bates, ran the largest black newspaper in the state. The town racists stalked the family with death threats, burning crosses and vandalizing their home. When Bates heard of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling in 1954, she publicly challenged the Little Rock School District to step up. Bates began taking black children to white schools to enroll and was, of course, denied. She and her husband went house to house looking for candidates.