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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Daisy Bates, October 11, 1976. Interview G-0009. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

White officials try to avoid desegregation

Bates remembers how one Little Rock official misrepresented the <cite>Brown</cite> decision, telling different things to white and black audiences. Bates took it upon herself to attend his speeches and keep him honest.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Daisy Bates, October 11, 1976. Interview G-0009. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Well, you know, some people have suggested that the national NAACP chose Little Rock as a battleground. Is that true?
DAISY BATES:
That is not true.When the decision came down, unknown Mr. Blossom said, "I'm sure that we would obey the law." unknown We've always done so. We'll open the schools on an integrated basis." So we took it for granted.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Yeah. Okay. So you just started getting . . .
DAISY BATES:
And then Mr. Blossom proceeded to make speeches all over town, with the plans. He made a speech at the YWCA; I was there. He made a speech in Pleasant Valley; I was there. And this (laughs) burned him up.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
I bet.
DAISY BATES:
And it tickled me to death. (Laughs)
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
(Laughs) If he knew you were keeping an eye on him. . . .
DAISY BATES:
He knew I was there unknown , see, unknown because he had been saying one thing to whites . . .
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Oh, had he?
DAISY BATES:
. . . and one to Negroes.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
You were going to keep him honest. (Laughs)
DAISY BATES:
I was keeping him honest. So if he'd walk in, I'd be sitting there. He'd look. "Oh," he'd turn to me, "D-d-d-d. . ."; all the speech would go out of him.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
(Laughs)
DAISY BATES:
And I would sit there laughing. And I'd ask him, "But Mr. Blossom, last time you spoke, didn't you say this?" You know.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Oh, golly.
DAISY BATES:
"Oh, (makes blustering noise) ." And then the question-and-answer period, and I'd say, "When you spoke for the group at the YWCA," or wherever it was—he spoke all over town—I said, "Did you say that this was this way," whatever he said. "I didn't say that."
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Well, when you were going to hear all these speeches and everything, and kind of being a watchdog on Virgil Blossom, were you keeping in touch with Thurgood Marshall and . . .
DAISY BATES:
Not necessarily.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
. . . and kind of letting him know what was happening around here?
DAISY BATES:
Not necessarily. When I found out that he was, you know, saying one thing one place and one another, I didn't quite trust him after that. So I told Thurgood, I said, "I don't quite trust Mr. Blossom."
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
But up until that point, it had looked like he was going to follow right along.
DAISY BATES:
Yes, yes, it did. So he said, "Why don't you?" Then I told him about these speeches, and I said, "The school board is going to court. He said, "We'll be there." So when the school board went to court, Thurgood was there. And when we were done we filed lawsuits, filed lawsuits. (Laughs) I really couldn't keep track of it, because I was too busy keeping up with the children; and they wanted them to do something, anything wrong.