Daisy Lee Gatson Bates (November 11, 1914 – November 4, 1999) was an American civil rights activist, publisher, journalist, and lecturer who played a leading role in the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.
Her father left the family shortly after her mother’s death and left her in the care of his closest friend. Lucious Christopher Bates, an insurance salesman who had also worked on newspapers in the South and West. Daisy was 15 when she started dating L. C. Daisy and her future husband moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1941. They dated for several months before they married on March 4, 1942.
In 1952, Daisy Bates was elected president of the Arkansas Conference of NAACP branches.
After their move to Little Rock, the Bates decided to act on a dream of theirs, the ownership of a newspaper. They leased a printing plant that belonged to a church publication and inaugurated the Arkansas State Press, a weekly statewide newspaper. The eight-page paper was published on Thursdays, carrying a Friday dateline. The first issue appeared on May 9, 1941
The Arkansas State Press was primarily concerned with advocacy journalism and was modeled off other African-American publications of the era, such as the Chicago Defender and The Crisis. Stories about civil rights often ran on the front page with the rest of the paper mainly filled with other stories that spotlighted achievements of black Arkansans. Pictures were also in abundance throughout the paper.
The Bateses’ involvement in the Little Rock Crisis resulted in the loss of much advertising revenue to their newspaper, and it was forced to close in 1959. In 1960, Daisy Bates moved to New York City and wrote her memoir, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, which won a 1988 National Book Award.
- 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
- Arkansas has established the third Monday in February as “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day“, an official state holiday.
- 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.
- Honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority