Daisy Bates with the Little Rock Nine

  • courtesy of NAACP
  • Daisy Bates with the Little Rock Nine

Last night the University of Arkansas Little Rock hosted the world premiere of Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock, a documentary made by New York native Sharon La Cruise. La Cruise discovered Daisy Bates in 1997, when she was struck by her image in a photo tribute to great black women. She considered herself well-versed in civil rights rhetoric, so La Cruise was bothered by the fact that she’d never heard of Bates. She quickly became obsessed with the woman from Huttig, Arkansas, who became the president of NAACP and the figurehead of the Little Rock Nine. She wrote to the 83-year-old Bates and, following her leads, began a meticulous research process that took La Cruise all over Arkansas. She dug up film footage and photographs and included on-camera interviews with Bates’ friends from Huttig and beyond, relatives of Civil Rights journalist L.C. Bates (who ultimately became Bates’s husband), four of the Little Rock Nine and a sprinkling of academic talking heads.