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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 >>

Retaliation for activism

Bates's activism, and that of her husband, attracted violent retaliation: their friends stopped visiting their house for fear of being involved in an attack. Nevertheless, they had substantial support in the black community, which demonstrated remarkable stoicism in the face of violence.

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

DAISY BATES:
unknown Of course, all of my friends stopped coming, because they were afraid.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
All your friends stopped coming over here?
DAISY BATES:
They were afraid.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Sure. Heck, yeah it sounded like your house was an armed fortress.
DAISY BATES:
(Laughs) In fact, when that glass had been broken, they had to tape it up. We had holes that big from the unknown rocks; they taped it.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Oh, heavens.
DAISY BATES:
And we taped it. And I had the glass put in, and they broke it out that night. Then we had those guards, window guards, made; they were a hundred dollars apiece. unknown But I was determined. unknown Well, at one time I talked to my husband. We were determined that they were not unknown going to chase us out of town. This was the big thing they wanted to do. Had they chased us out of town, unknown the movement would have died.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Well, that's what I wondered. If they had chased you all out of town . . .
DAISY BATES:
The movement would have died.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Well, was it because there was not black support?
DAISY BATES:
Not necessarily. We had quite a bit of black support, but not having the knowhow to do all these things. I guess because we were unknown in the newspaper business, and we were accustomed to fast action and meeting deadlines and this kind of thing, unknown fighting police brutality was our first fight. And working with a lot of people had prepared me, too, some. And I would cover all the stories out the courts. And many, many, many days I was the only black in the whole courtroom.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
So you had probably had more contact with the white community than most black people in Little Rock.
DAISY BATES:
Right, right. So therefore . . .
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Well, did you feel like. . . . I just am really curious to know about how the black people in Little Rock responded to all this. I mean, I'm sure they were frightened, as the white people were, but did you feel like they were supporting you? Did you feel like they thought you were pushing too hard or going too fast, or can you generalize about that?
DAISY BATES:
I can't remember. . . . I think really they supported us. There was not much they could do, because they didn't know how. But anytime I would call a meeting, they would come; they would be there. They'd have larger numbers.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
And the parents of the Nine were completely behind you.
DAISY BATES:
Oh, they were completely behind us, because then I told them that we were taking a great chance, and the kids knew they were taking a great chance, because white people had gotten to where they were killing negroes, you see. This was something entirely new. And they had said they'd kill negroes; a child meant nothing. So I told them that one unknown of us might die in this fight. And I said to them, "If they kill me, unknown you would have to go on. If I die, don't you stop. If Jeff6 died. . . ." unknown He said, "I ain't going to die (laughs) ." n6
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
(Laughs)
DAISY BATES:
And can you imagine, I took Jeff downtown shopping one afternoon. And I said to Jeff, "I'm tired. unknown Can't you find some shoes? Don't you like any of those shoes?" unknown He said, "Do you know what would happen to you if you started running down that hall and slipped and fell?"
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
(Laughs)
DAISY BATES:
He probably wouldn't get up. He was looking for shoes . . .
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Running shoes.
DAISY BATES:
. . . with non-skid soles, that he wouldn't slip when he started running.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Boy, that put things in a different place, didn't it?
DAISY BATES:
unknown And he was wearing his unknown collar like this—sort of tight.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
So they couldn't catch him.
DAISY BATES:
Yeah. So they couldn't put cigarettes unknown down. "You roll your collar open," he said; they come up, they'll drop cigarettes in." unknown And I mean, they learned those things, how to protect themselves.