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L. C. Bates
*L.C. Bates was born on this date in 1904. He was a Black newspaper publisher and civil rights activist.
Lucious Christopher Bates was born in Liberty, Mississippi, to Laura and Rev. Morris Bates, a farmer, carpenter, and minister. The Bates family was some of the few Blacks in the area. Due to the position Rev. Morris Bates held in the community and the respect the residents had for him, Bates was allowed to attend but not enroll in the local white school. The family would later move to Indianola, Mississippi, where Bates was enrolled in a Black public school.
After high school, Bates studied journalism at Alcorn A&M College in Mississippi and Wilberforce University in Ohio for a year before dropping out. Bates worked several newspaper jobs as a traveling salesman, selling insurance and novelty advertising. Bates moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where he would meet his first wife, Kassandra Crawford. They married in 1924 and then relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. They had one daughter together, Loretta Ann Bates Carter. By the time they had split in 1930, Bates had already met his second wife, Daisy Lee Gatson. Gatson was fifteen at the time of their meeting. They would reunite a few years later when she was 17 and begin dating. Bates and Gatson married on March 4, 1942, in Fordyce, Arkansas, moving to Little Rock.
After moving to Little Rock, Bates retained a love for journalism. If he worked in a journalistic job, he would not have had the freedom to fight political and socioeconomic injustices. He reasoned, "If I owned the paper, I wouldn't lose my job." He and his wife started the Arkansas State Press. Besides producing the paper, Bates was active in the Little Rock branch of the NAACP. As head of the Legal Redress Committee in 1950, Bates played a large role in the successful fight to achieve the right of Blacks to vote in the Arkansas Democratic Party. Members of the executive committee of the Little Rock branch, the Bates', were considered “militants” in the matter of school integration. They were both involved in the internal politics to determine who would be head of the Arkansas Conference of Branches, the umbrella organization for the state NAACP. His wife was elected president in 1952.
In 1956, he was one of the plaintiffs in Aaron v. Cooper, filed by the NAACP to enforce the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision in the Little Rock school district. Although his wife became the spokesperson for the Little Rock Nine and the NAACP during the 1957 desegregation of Central High School, Bates was vitally involved in the events school year events. In addition to acting as one of the several advisors to his wife, Bates guarded their home during the night against attacks and worked at the State Press during the day. In the fall of 1959, the State Press closed because of financial reasons, the victim of a boycott by advertisers opposed to the stand taken by the Bates’s. Between 1960 and 1971, Bates worked in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee as an NAACP field secretary organizing local branches. He and his wife divorced in February 1963 but remarried in July that year. In declining health, Lucious Bates suffered a heart attack and died in Little Rock on August 22, 1980. As he had requested, his body was donated to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).