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Millie Riley’s Daughter. . .


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Millie Riley’s Daughter

THE FIRST LADY OF LITTLE ROCK

DDD—An Essay On The Late Daisy Gaston Bates

 

 

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I had never heard of Daisy Lee Bates, perhaps because I was born a few years after this time or perhaps because it was not part of my formal education, nevertheless, I think that she was amazing. So, she is my feature today, DDD—Dove’s Doll of the Day. Although, I researched this story a few years ago and planned to share this information in some type of written format, however, it upset me so much that I chose to distance myself from it for a while, until I felt emotionally strong enough to absorb it better. I stumbled across this historical piece and decided to do some research and realized that I did hear about many brief accounts of this conflict in the Civil Rights Movement. I remember reports of Black African American (Colored) students being escorted by the Federal government to school in the state of Arkansas when integration became enforced by the government. When I was very young and travelled to Arkansas with my mother and Stepfather, I remember some recounts of this story. And I vaguely remember hearing about a Black (African American) woman of whom had become back in the media when she became older and became some type of news reporter of whom had also moved to South Africa for a while or something like that. So, as I began to look up information about this woman who was supposedly, one of the students who had faced an angry mob of White students, however, I stumbled across Daisy Lee Bates for the first time, and was astounded by her courage. So, therefore, I will share some of the information about her life and some of what interest me.

 

 

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Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was born in 1914 in a small town in Arkansas, called Huttig, so that would mean that she was born around the time of the World War. She was born in what was known as a SHOTGUN HOUSE to her biological mother and father, Hezakiah Gatson and Millie Riley. Her father, Hezakiah worked in a lumber mill as a lumber grader but while Daisy was only a few months old, her mother was murdered, so not much longer after that day, her father eventually gave her to his close friends, a war veteran and his wife and after that, Daisy never saw her father Hezekiah again. Now, Daisy learned at the tender age of eight (8), that her mother Millie Riley, was raped and then murdered by three local white men and then dropped into a millpond. Nothing was ever done about it! The killers were never brought to justice. Her adoptive father told her that the police did not pursue the matter, so Daisy was left to internalize this horror as she matured. Based on the counsel of her adoptive father, however she decided to channel her pain and hatred that she acquired due to such the terrible predicament she was faced with as a result of the racism and death of her mother into a direction that made her feel that she had contributed her life in a positive way. So, Daisy became a Spokes Person for Civil Rights issues and she became a key figure in the federal enforcement of school integration, in that her house became a safe zone, sort of like a headquarters, for the select Arkansas Black students to seek rest, support and encouragement, students that had been selected to begin their school year in an all-White high school in 1957. So, Daisy continued to channel her life in this positive mode for many years and died in the year 1999, at the age of 85, and after achieving many, many awards for her bravery and self-sacrifice. This kind of newfound information inspired me to research more into just what happened to these students and how Daisy dealt with these issues and I was amazed to learn that today, there have been recent films to recapture some stories of the students who have grown up to adulthood. But most of all, for me anyway, deep down inside would be a pang of pain because of the silence given to the fate of Ms. Miley Riley; another Black woman tortured unto death and after already being victimized and marginalized in this world. Why was the death of Daisy’s mother so quietly ignored? I shared my disdain with my husband, and, to my surprise, his response was not what I was prepared to receive.

 

 

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Why did the police not pursue the criminals diligently for the violent death of Miley Riley? And, why has the Black community not pursued justice in this matter either? Was the news of this awful crime not even put in the newspapers? What ever happened to Daisy’s father? If, in fact, Daisy was informed that her mother was raped and killed by ‘three White men’, well then, somebody knew some other details! Surprisingly to me though, was my husbands’ response when I shared my thoughts with him. He said to me, “You need to look closer. Do you see that Daisy is very light-skinned? So, her mother could have been White or part-White, or maybe her father was White.” Uh oh—I never considered that position of Colorism and White Supremacy and the position of the ‘Colored People’ in the deep south in how they were victimized by the evil motivations of White Supremacist. Oh My God! So, even today, many Baby Boomers don’t talk about their lives back in those times. This story reminds me of one of my favorite movies, a 2003 film, Holes, produced and directed by Andrew Davis, starring the late Eartha Kitt, Shia LaBeouf, Dule Hill and Patricia Arquette. But in this movie where the White girl fell in love with the Black man, it was the Black man that was pursued and killed by a racist White mob, which would be a common crime in the south. But then, the very actress, Eartha Kitt’s personal life’s story sort of strikes at another horror of those times when Colorism becomes wickedly explored and exploited amongst ‘the Colored Race’ on many dark levels of abuse that should have been brought to justice! So although, the story of Miley Riley and Daisy Bates causes me to think about all of these issues, however, it also causes to me to think about how many ‘Colored’ women like Eartha Kitt fell in love with White men due to the unthinkable crimes committed against them by way of African Americans. Based on all of the other stories like these, it seems obvious that this government has not been set up affectively, in all of these hundreds of years, to deal with these kinds of crimes against humanity but at least, Daisy Bates was able to do something positive for her life to combat racial injustice, in a way that gave her some kind of recompense for the anguish she endured. 

 

  The unaltered Blossom Plan had gerrymandered school districts to guarantee a black majority at Horace Mann High and a white majority at Hall High. [6] This meant that, even though black students lived closer to Central, they would be placed in Horace Mann thus confirming the intention of the school board to limit the impact of desegregation. [6] The altered plan gave white students the choice of not attending Horace Mann, but didn’t give black students the option of attending Hall. This new Blossom Plan did not sit well with the NAACP and after failed negotiations with the school board; the NAACP filed a lawsuit on February 8, 1956.

 

This lawsuit, along with a number of other factors contributed to the Little Rock School Crisis of 1957.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

 

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By 1957, the NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance. [2] Called the [“] Little Rock Nine [”], they were Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas (1942-2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1941), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942), Thelma Mothershed (b. 1940), and Melba Pattillo Beals (b. 1941). Ernest Green was the first African American to graduate from Central High School.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

 

 

I have come to understand that during the Civil Rights Movement, there were sharp differences of opinion on how racism and White Supremacy should be addressed and, I do question the decision and justification to send select young Black people to an all-White school environment during a time when, previously, White people felt they had that human right, to have an all-White institution protected by law. White Supremacy, in this nature would be a conditioning that was fostered for over a long period of time and now, by sending those young Black kids into their all-White environment, may have furthered the feelings of White Supremacy, not only for White people, but for Black people as well. One of the Little Rock Nine students recalled that they were all told they ‘would have to take a lot and were warned not to fight back if anything happened’. And many years later Daisy recounted in an interview that certain Black reporters were actually killed by the mob on the first day the Arkansas Nine attempted to attend school.

 

 

The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

 

When integration began in September 4, 1957, the Arkansas National Guard was called in to [“] preserve the peace [”]. Originally at orders of the governor, they were meant to prevent the black students from entering due to claims that there was [“] imminent danger of tumult, riot and breach of peace [”] at the integration. However, President Eisenhower issued Executive order 10730, which federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered them to support the integration on September 23 of that year, after which they protected the African American students. [3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

 

 

I believe that a government in a civilized system should be responsible for the formal education of its people in a safe environment to thrive and learn. The issues of Integration, Segregation and Desegregation, should not lead Black children to be put in harm’s way. However, at that time, Black people who acted under the NAACP and other organizations accepted this approach of Integration and there were new laws that led up to the eventual selection of a handful of Black students selected to deal with integration. These students in Arkansas and elsewhere were enrolled into an all-White learning institution in order to be educated in a multi-cultural environment because the federal laws had been changed due to a supreme court case upon which it was deemed that segregation was unconstitutional. I am absolutely grateful in the federal government and in the step to ‘right a wrong’ about segregation, however, the process in ‘fixing a wrong’ led to young people being placed in a hostile environment, and so I wonder could this have been avoided? Even though the federal government made a bold step to protect the Little Rock Nine by sending out troops, initially, however, that enforcement did not continue. This step of our federal government was heartfelt by certain White people also, and it gave Daisy Lee Bates a pathway to deal with her past life of oppression and the heart rendering death of her mother of which was ignored by the system. And, Daisy also endured more evil treatment from racist due her courage to be a spokesperson for Civil Rights issues and for offering up her house as a safe haven and her help to support the ‘Little Rock Nine’.

 

Not only was she the next person to come to the microphone after the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the March on Washington, however, an elementary school has been named in her honor in Little Rock, Arkansas, a street has been named after her and she has been given many more honors and awards. Following are some references, quotes and brief videos of this story of Daisy Lee Gatson-Bates and the Little Rock Nine. Furthermore, I found it interesting in one video where the film showed an old newspaper clips to suggest that the death of Millie Riley had been reported. Therefore, I decided to do some research on what I saw, and it became clear to me that was deception. In the video, the newspaper clip reported around the time that Daisy was young, that a ‘Negre woman named Minnie Harris, also known as ‘Pete’ was murdered and her body was thrown into a pond nearby the mill’. So, then I searched for more research and have presented some quotes and accounts of Daisy in her memoirs about the life of Millie Riley and the mystery that surrounds her life’s end.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, on May 17, 1954. Tied to the 14th Amendment, the decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation. [1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

 

 

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[1] Elizabeth Eckford—Little Rock 9

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. Governor Orval Faubus deployed the Arkansas National Guard to support the segregationists on September 4, 1957. The sight of a line of soldiers blocking out the students made national headlines and polarized the nation. Regarding the accompanying crowd, one of the nine students, Elizabeth Eckford, recalled:

 

They moved closer and closer. [[…]] Somebody started yelling. [[…]] I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd—someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me. [7]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

 

 

Woodrow Wilson Mann, the mayor of Little Rock, asked President Eisenhower to send federal troops to enforce integration and protect the nine students. On September 24, the President ordered the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army—without its black soldiers, who rejoined the division a month later—to Little Rock and federalized the entire 10,000-member Arkansas National Guard, taking it out of Faubus’s control. [9]

 

… By the end of September 1957, the nine were admitted to Little Rock Central High under the protection of the 101st Airborne Division (and later the Arkansas National Guard), but they were still subjected to a year of physical and verbal abuse by many of the white students. Melba Pattillo had acid thrown into her eyes [10] and also recalled in her book, Warriors Don’t Cry, an incident in which a group of white girls trapped her in a stall in the girls’ washroom and attempted to burn her by dropping pieces of flaming paper on her from above. Another one of the students, Minnijean Brown, was verbally confronted and abused.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

 

[2] Jefferson Thomas- Little Rock 9

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His parents named him after Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States. Thomas first attended Horace Mann High School, a segregated all-black school, where he was a track athlete. In 1957, he volunteered to be among the first group of black students to integrate all-white Little Rock Central High School …

 

Thomas narrated the United States Information Agency’s 1964 file Nine from Little Rock. … The goal of this government film, in the context of the Cold War, was to show, to countries concerned about American racism, that progress the United States had made with respect to civil rights. It achieved this goal at least in part as the film received wide acclaim (including an Academy Award) and was distributed to 97 countries. [2]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Thomas

 

 

… Claiming that Little Rock had to assert their rights and freedom against the federal decision, in September 1958, Faubus signed acts that enabled him and the Little Rock School District to close all public schools. [16]

 

The black community became a target for hate crimes since people blamed them for the closing of the schools. [19] Daisy Bates, head of the NAACP chapter in Little Rock, was a primary victim to these crimes, in addition to the black students enrolled at Little Rock Central High School and their families. [20]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

 

[3] Minnijean Brown-Trickey –Little Rock 9

 

 

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In her late 20s, she married Roy Trickey, a white social activist she met while attending South Illinois University. (The interracial marriage, which ended in divorce, was "not a political statement at the time," she says with a laugh, when asked. "Life just happens.") Together, they moved to Canada, so he could avoid the draft during the Vietnam War. In the northern farming community of Kenebeek, Ont., she raised a brood of six children, five of whom she gave birth to at home.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/a-courage-unequalled/article997104/

 

[4] Charlayne Hunter-Gault—Little Rock 9

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Although the Lost Year had come to a close, the black students who returned to the high schools were not welcomed by the other students. Rather, the black students had a difficult time getting past mobs to enter the school, and, once inside, they were often subject to physical and emotional abuse. [24] The students were back at school and everything would resume normal function, but the Lost Year would be a pretext for new hatred toward the black students in the public high school.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Rock_Nine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daisy Bates: Civil Rights Crusader from Arkansas

(Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies)

By Grif Stockley

Copyright © 2005 by University Press of Mississippi, Jackson

  

            The difficulty with this story is that the Huttig News contains no account of the violent death of a black woman named Riley between the years 1913 and 1920. [17] The paper does briefly mention a story in 1917 about the murder of a young black woman named Minnie Harris whose body was “thrown in the large storage pond” near the mill. [18] A neighbor was arrested, but the story was apparently not followed up. Yet the story that Bate’s mother was raped and killed by white men is often repeated. … page 17

 

On the subject of Bates’s birth father, Clifford Broughton volunteered, “I think her daddy may have been white.” …

 

For her part, Bates writes in her memoir she was told by her cousin “Early B.” that her “daddy was a light as a lot of white people.” 22 Broughton confirmed Bates’s account of her friendship with “Early B. Broughton,” who was his father’s first cousin. …

 

            … her cousin Early B. told her that she looked like her mother, who was, “very pretty, dark brown, with long black hair.” Page 20.

https://books.google.com/books?id=v1JEVWpapWkC&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=Minnie+Harris,+Huttiq,+Arkansas,+murdered&source=bl&ots=IoQ75Bve3a&sig=ACfU3U1KXteTjKafkVqbnwNwhLh_GZiNWQ&hl=en&ppis=_e&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwix4LK1uqvnAhW1l3IEHWnaDSIQ6AEwCnoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Minnie Harris%2C Huttiq%2C Arkansas%2C murdered&f=false

 

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[5] Carlotta Walls-LaNier—Little Rock 9

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[6] Ernest Green—Little Rock 9

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[7] Gloria Ray Karlmark—Little Rock 0

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[8] Thelma Mothershed—Little Rock 9

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[9] Melba Pattilo Beals—Little Rock 9

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*My Note: Some of my pictures did not post.

There is so much that can be presented about each and everyone of the

Little Rock Nine, and I hope that more can be presented soon.

 

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