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Arkansas civil rights icon Daisy Bates honored with statue at U.S. Capitol

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Monday, May 13, 2024   

A new statue at the U.S. Capitol honors Arkansas civil rights activist Daisy Gatson Bates.

The eight foot bronze statue is in the National Statuary Hall.

Bates has a newspaper in her arm, is holding a notebook and a pen, and is wearing a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People stick pin.

She and her husband owned and operated the Arkansas Weekly newspaper - that was devoted solely to telling the stories of the Civil Rights Movement.

Current president of the Arkansas NAACP Barry Jefferson said Bates is best known for her work with the Little Rock Nine - the students who integrated Arkansas public schools in 1957.

"When they was desegregating Little Rock Central High school," said Jefferson, "she stood and fought for that and stood with them and walked them in every single day."

After working with the Little Rock Nine Bates continued to fight for Civil Rights and was a speaker at the March on Washington in 1963.

She was president of the Arkansas NAACP from 1952 to 1961.

Each state can place two sculptures in the Statuary Hall. The Bates statue replaces one of a little-known 19th century Arkansas resident.

The decision to honor Bates had bipartisan support. Jefferson said the move is a sign that Arkansas is evolving.

"It's saying that we're trying to move in the right direction, and rewrite the wrongs that have happened for the state of Arkansas for Black people," said Jefferson, "by presenting her statue at the National Capitol to show that - hey, Arkansas is trying to grow, Arkansas is trying to move forward."

The third Monday in February is Daisy Gatson Bates day in Arkansas. She died in 1999 and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom.





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