Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was an American civil rights activist, publisher, journalist, and lecturer who played a leading role in the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.
Interesting facts about Daisy Lee Gatson Bates: Named Woman of the Year in 1957 by the National Council of Negro Women; Joint recipient, along with the Little Rock Nine of the 1958 Spingarn Medal; 1988 American Book Award; Arkansas General Assembly Commendation; Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, University of Arkansas, 1984; Diamond Cross of Malta from the Philadelphia Cotillion Society; Honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority; The street that runs to the north of Little Rock Central High School, formerly 14th Street, has been renamed for her; The Daisy Bates Elementary School in Little Rock is named in her honor; The Daisy Bates Holiday Committee is headed by African-American State Representative Charles Blake of Little Rock; Congressional Gold Medal posthumously awarded by President Bill Clinton along with other members of The Little Rock Nine in November 1999.
Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was born on November 11, 1914 (d. November 4, 1999). She grew up in southern Arkansas in the small sawmill town of Huttig. Bates was raised by her fathers friend. In "The Death of my Mother", Bates recounted learning as a child that her birth mother had been murdered by three local white men. Learning of her mother’s death and knowing that nothing was ever done about it fueled her anger. Her biological father left the family shortly after her mother’s death and left her in the care of his closest friend. Lucious Christopher Bates.
Daisy’s adoptive father Orlee Smith gave her some advice while on his death bed: "You’re filled with hatred. Hate can destroy you, Daisy. Don’t hate white people just because they’re white. If you hate, make it count for something. Hate the humiliations we are living under in the South. Hate the discrimination that eats away at the South. Hate the discrimination that eats away at the soul of every black man and woman. Hate the insults hurled at us by white scum — and then try to do something about it, or your hate won’t spell a thing."
Bates said she had never forgotten that and it is from this memory that Bates claimed her strength for leadership came.
Arkansas has established the third Monday in February as "George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day", an official state holiday.
Source: arkansas.gov | wikipedia.org
In 2020 Daisy Gatson Bates Day in Arkansas in USA falls on February 17.