Daisy Bates, mentor to the Little Rock Nine, who desegregated Little Rock's Central High School in 1957 amid the opposition of an angry mob would have been 100 years old Tuesday.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine, will give a speech at the Clinton School of Public Service for an event commemorating Bates.
Bates, who died in 1999, was born in Huttig, Ark. on November 11, 1914. She also served as president of the state chapter of the NAACP and was a speaker at the march on Washington in 1963.
"She was willing to put her creature comforts on the line. She and her husband at the end of the day sacrificed their business because they were boycotted. A lot of physical intimidation, her house was bombed, crosses were burned out in front of the yard. And yet, all Arkansans are better off today because of Daisy Gaston Bates," said Green.
Quantia Fletcher is the assistant director of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock. She says Bates is a member of the center's Arkansas black hall of fame because of her impact on the Civil Rights movement.
"Daisy Bates is one of those people, when you think about Arkansas, when you think about all of the amazing leaders, when you think about the women who have played an important role and important part of the progressive moving forward of our state, you think about Daisy Bates," said Fletcher.
Bates’s was also a journalist and publisher. Her memoir, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, tells the desegregation story as she remembered it, along with the history of the Arkansas State Press, the publication she ran with her husband L.C. Bates. The Arkansas Press folded as a result of her work for desegregation.
"Daisy Bates is what I would consider at the forefront of the civil rights movement not only in Arkansas, but in our country. She stood shoulder to shoulder with the giants of the civil rights movement," said Fletcher.
According to Green, Bates' legacy as an advocate for change can serve as a model for all Arkansans.
“Well I think little Rock has to be willing to encourage strong people, who may disagree with whatever the current thought is. People who are willing to challenge the norm and get us to think outside of our boxes and our restrictions," he said.