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A letter from Daisy Bates to Roy Wilkins, 1957

Postwar United States, Reform, 1600-1763 Postwar United States, Reform

Daisy Bates was born in Arkansas in 1914. She and her husband, L.C. Bates, were editors and publishers of the Arkansas State Press, a Little Rock weekly newspaper that campaigned for civil rights for blacks. Through her involvement with the desegration of Central High School, Daisy became an advisor to the "Little Rock Nine" - the first African American students to attend the school. This letter was written to Roy Wilkins, an NAACP official, on December 17, 1957, and is an example of one of her many efforts in the civil rights movement. Daisy Bates continued her fight for equal rights for blacks throughout her life and received many awards for her work.
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December 17, 1957

Dear Mr. Wilkins,

Conditions are yet pretty rough in the school for the children. Last week, Minnie Jean's mother, Mrs. W.B. Brown, asked me to go over to the school with her for a conference with the principal, and the two assistant principals. Subject of the conference: "Firmer disciplinary measures, and the withdrawal of Minnie Jean from the glee club's Christmas program." The principal had informed Minnie Jean in withdrawing her from the program that, "When it is definitely decided that Negroes will go to school here with the whites, and the troops are removed, then you will be able to participate in all activities." We strongly challenged this statement, which he denied making in that fashion.

We also pointed out that the treatment of the children had been getting steadily worse for the last two weeks in the form of kicking, spitting, and general abuse. As a result of our visit, stronger measures are being taken against the white students who are guilty of committing these offenses. For instance, a boy who had been suspended for two weeks, flunked both six-weeks tests, and on his return to school, the first day he knocked Gloria Ray into her locker. As a result of our visit, he was given an indefinite suspension.

Read the rest of her letter and view a photograph of Daisy Bates with the "Little Rock Nine."