Jan. 30, 2012 at 8:31pmDaisy Bates

First Lady of Little Rock

On Thursday of this week I was attracted to the story of “Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock.” KSPS is airing it at 10p.m. I did a bit of research on her and now I know I'll be watching Thursday evening.

Daisy Bates was a black woman and a feminist before the word existed. This documentary is the story of her life and public support of nine black students who attended the all-white Central High School in Little Arkansas, forcing a constitutional crisis and pitting the President and Governor of Arkansas against each other and the community.

Bates was right square in the middle of the civil rights movement and the fight against segregation in the 1950s and ‘60s. She, together with her husband, owned and operated the Arkansas State Press, a weekly African-American newspaper.

An activist as well as newspaper publisher, the Bates’ home became the central meeting place in the battle to integrate Central High School in 1957. On the first go round the nine African American students, who became known as the Little Rock Nine, tried to enter the school on September 4 directly from the Bates' home. They were met by an angry group of white people who prevented them from entering the school. It took President Eisenhower sending in federal troops, in opposition of the governor who opposed school integration, to uphold the law and protect the Little Rock Nine.

Bates of course received many threats but it didn’t stop her from her work. The newspaper she published had to close in 1959 because of scarce advertising revenue but she published a book three years later called “The Long Shadow of Little Rock.” She worked for a few years for the Democratic National Committee and spent many years working on social activism and programs to help her community.

Thursday evening on KSPS in Spokane at 10p.m.






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