Daisy Gatson Bates Day

It has a familiar sound to it, but just what is Daisy Gatson Bates Day? It is recognized in the State of Arkansas and pays tribute to Daisy Gatson Bates, a civil rights activist who, despite a year-long struggle, led the protest to enhance racial integration in Little Rock schools. It is recognized on the third Monday of every February, the same day as George Washington’s birthday.

Is Daisy Gatson Bates Day A National Holiday?

It is a recognized holiday in the State of Arkansas and sees many businesses, schools, and the general population close to observe it. So, although it is not a national holiday, it does hold importance in the State of Arkansas, among other places.

Some Facts About Daisy Gatson Bates

Born in 1914 in Huttig, Arkansas, Daisy Gatson Bates was a foster child and part of the segregated school system of the time. In 1942, she married L.C. Bates, and they resided in Little Rock, Arkansas. Daisy and L.C. worked towards positive change for the living conditions of African Americans. This included Bates’ leading of the Little Rock school protest, in hopes of quickening the schools’ response to slow action on racial integration.

She played an active role in encouraging African Americans to enroll in Little Rock High School in 1957, under the protection of the National Guard; the integration was enforced.

Daisy Gatson Bates was active in the civil rights world until she passed away from a heart attack on November 4, 1999. She and her husband started a newspaper, realizing a dream of theirs in 1941 with its first publication. Named the Arkansas State Press, it was a weekly edition and available statewide. They used this in part to raise awareness of racial inequality and to make a difference. This saw several sponsors withdrawing their funding. The paper then became a voice for civil rights. Still, this didn’t stop it from shutting down in 1959, due to the lack of advertisers. Later, Daisy Gatson Bates would revive the paper in 1984, which she later sold. Her husband, L.C. Bates, died in 1980.

In 1957, Bates received a telegram from Martin Luther King Jr., encouraging Bates to remain nonviolent in the face of those opposed to their movement.

Facts About Daisy Gatson Bates Day

  • First recognized as a state holiday on February 19, 2001
  • This is the same day as Presidents’ Day
  • Recognized in Arkansas
  • A street parallel to Little Rock Central High School was renamed in her honor

Daisy Gatson Bates The Writer

In 1960, Bates moved to New York. It was here that she wrote her memoir, The Long Shadow of Little Rock. This earned her praise, including a National Book Award in 1988. The book itself was republished in 1986 by the University of Arkansas Press. Her autobiography features an introduction from the former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, which in some way goes to show how much of an impact Daisy Gatson Bates had on civil rights.

Where is it celebrated?
United States (State holiday) - Arkansas
When is it?
This year (2024)
February 19 Monday
Next year (2025)
February 17 Monday
Last year (2023)
February 20 Monday