Independent Lens - Daisy Bates: First Lady Of Little Rock


Updated Thu, Jan 23, 2014 2:08 pm

Sunday, February 9 • 10 p.m.

Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock is the story of a seven-year journey by filmmaker Sharon La Cruise to discover the life of a forgotten civil rights activist named Daisy Bates. Beautiful, glamorous, and articulate, Bates was fearless in her quest for justice, stepping into the spotlight to bring national attention to civil rights issues, and, some say, to herself.

Unconventional and egotistical, she became a household name in 1957 when she fought for the right of nine black students to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her public support culminated in a constitutional crisis — pitting a president against a governor and a community against itself. As head of the Arkansas NAACP and protector of the nine students, Bates would achieve instant fame as the drama played out on national television and in newspapers around the world. But that fame would prove fleeting and Bates would pay a hefty price for her attempts to remain relevant.

The film travels with Daisy Bates on her long and lonely walk from orphaned child to newspaperwoman to national Civil Rights figure to her last days in Little Rock. Bates’s journey, full of triumphs and defeats, parallels the ongoing struggle of generations of African Americans who have challenged America to live up to what it has claimed to be for more than 200 years.