Black History Month – Daisy Bates and Robinson Center

bates daisyToday is the Daisy Bates Holiday in the State of Arkansas.  So it is an appropriate day to pay tribute to Mrs. Bates, who played a leading role in the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates and her husband were important figures in the African American community in the capital city of Little Rock.  Realizing her intense involvement and dedication to education and school integration, Daisy was the chosen agent after nine black students were selected to attend and integrate a Little Rock High School.  Bates guided and advised the nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine, when they enrolled in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School. President Clinton presented the Little Rock Nine with the Congressional Gold Medal and spoke at the 40th anniversary of the desegregation while he was in office.

When Mrs. Bates died, a memorial service was held at Robinson Center on April 27, 2000.  Among the speakers were President Bill Clinton, Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, and Rev. Rufus K. Young, pastor of the Bethel AME Church.  Others in attendance included Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, Mayor Jim Dailey, Presidential diarist Janis Kearney, former senator and governor David Pryor, and five members of the Little Rock Nine:  Carlotta Walls Lanier, Ernest Green, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Jefferson Thomas, and Elizabeth Eckford.

It was during his remarks at the service that President Clinton announced he had asked that Bates’ south-central Little Rock home be designated as a national historic landmark.


1 thought on “Black History Month – Daisy Bates and Robinson Center

  1. It was a shame the historic figure, Mrs Bates was merely wheelchaired out on the temp. stage at Central High School on the day of the gigantic, important 40th Anniv. event. Several Arkansas office holders addressed the audience, Pres. Clinton spoke, even (non-elected-to-any-public-office) at the time Hillary Clinton talked too. However, Mrs. Bates was kept from the mic. and was left at the far end of the row of the 1957 Student group on the dias. (The woman had had a stroke but, she could speak!)

    I’ve often wondered WHY she did not receive a Congressional Medal too. Indeed, the day these honors were presented to the nine students in Washington, D.C. was the day Mrs. Bates died here in Arkansas. The IRONY has not faded with time…

    By the way, in addition to the Memorial Service, Daisy Bate’s actual FUNERAL was hosted at a church in North Little Rock. Her burial site is in the heart of Little Rock at the ‘Haven of Rest Cemetery;’ Her tombstone is easy to spot as you motor past, as it is near the roadway, and the marker is black marble (rare in this cemetery) and has a very modern, swooping design to one corner (at the top) of the stone.

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