She was actively involved in the NAACP and was named president of the Arkansas Conference of Branches, the umbrella organization for the NAACP in Arkansas in 1952. Bates became a key player in the Aaron v. Cooper case in which African American children sued the Little Rock School District for not allowing them to attend then all white schools. This case would set the stage for the eventual desegregation of Central High School.
Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was a mentor to the Little Rock Nine, the African-American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock in 1957. She and the Little Rock Nine gained national and international recognition for their courage and persistence during the desegregation of Central High when Governor Orval Faubus ordered members of the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the entry of black students. She and her husband, Lucious Christopher (L. C.) Bates, published the Arkansas State Press, a newspaper dealing primarily with civil rights and other issues in the black community.
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