Black History Month Spotlight – L.C. and Daisy Bates House

Bates HouseThe new Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour was launched in November 2015. Produced by the City of Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock allows the many places and stories of the City’s Civil Rights history to come to life an interactive tour.  This month, during Black History Month, the Culture Vulture looks at some of the stops on this tour which focus on African American history.

L.C. and Daisy Bates were civil rights activists and co-owners and publishers of the Arkansas State Press newspaper. During the 1957 school desegregation crisis of Central High School, their home functioned as headquarters for the “Little Rock Nine,” the first black students to attend the school. The Bateses’ home provided a safe-haven for “the Nine.” It was a refuge, a place to study and receive counseling to contend with frequent harassment by white students and other staunch segregationists who demonstrated outside the school.

“The Nine” also visited with the NAACP legal team of Thurgood Marshall and Wiley Branton, who worked on the school desegregation case of Aaron v. Cooper. Daisy Bates, a mentor to the Nine, was president of the Arkansas State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP.) For taking a stand against segregated schools, L.C. and Daisy Bates had numerous missiles hurled at their home during the school crisis and had several fiery crosses—an emblem of the white terror organization the Ku Klux Klan— burned on their lawn. Segregationists mounted a boycott of the Arkansas State Press newspaper, putting it out of business in 1959.

In 2001, it was declared a National Historic Landmark.  The house is now being restored and turned into a museum.

The app, funded by a generous grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, was a collaboration among UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, with assistance from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.