Presidents Day may have started out to honor George Washington but since then it has been known to celebrate many more Presidents including Abraham Lincoln's and basically any past or present POTUS. But did you know that in Arkansas it is also a day to celebrate a woman?
In 1987 Arkansas paid tribute to Daisy Bates by naming the third Monday in February Daisy Gatson Bates Day.
Daisy Bates was instrumental in the civil rights movement particularly in the desegregation of schools in her home state of Arkansas.
The Brown v. Board of Education case in which the Supreme Court had ruled it unconstitutional to segregate schools had been decided in 1954 yet may states, including AR took several years before desegregation actually began to take place.
Daisy Bates was among many were fed up with the lack of help integrating education for all. As president of the AR chapter of the NAACP she worked day and night making plans and coordinating efforts to ensure that the Little Rock Nine (the 9 black students chosen to enroll in the Little Rock High School) were accepted into the school.
After the students first attempt was thwarted by the local Governor who order the National Guard to come and block the new students entry. Bates organized a new plan for the next day which included an armed escort and 2 sets of ministers surrounding the students. For the first time in history black students where admitted into the school.
That is not to say there weren't many set backs. The school principal had to cancel school that day shortly after because of the angry mobs that had disrupted the school and brought violence. And although the students were permitted that year into the school there were many hurdles they had to face.
But Daisy was determined to make a change for the future generation and her community. Despite opposition, threats to her life and her family she persisted in making a vital change for good.
Bates was a brilliant writer and used those skills to be a much needed voice in very uncertain time. She was a leader and catalyst for major historical change. Her fearless leadership and bravery are just a couple of the qualities we must resolve to teach our daughters and encourage them to have courage to speak up for those who may need a voice.
So for this upcoming holiday, perhaps you could celebrate it by teaching your children about the other influential person who shares it with George Washington, teach them about Daisy Gatson Bates