Happy Birthday Daisy, Arkansas’ Size-Five Giant!!

It’s November 11, 2012. I have been working very hard for the last six months to complete a book on my mentor and friend Daisy Gatson Bates.  Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, is a book that celebrates Daisy’s life, and educates those in the world who
know little about her.

Unfortunately, I have been so intent on completing this book that I almost let her birthday pass without acknowledgement. Daisy would not be amused. She would be 98 years old.  She passed into the otherworld on November 4, 1999. She was 84, just days from turning 85.

Daisy told my father once that her very favorite dessert was caramel cake. That, after my father told her that caramel cake was what he loved to cook more than any other.  If she were alive today, I would bake a caramel cake and place one candle on top, and sing “Happy Birthday” as I placed it before her. All, to see Daisy’s eyes twinkle with glee, and the million-dollar smile that dazzled so many for 84 years.

The Huttig, Arkansas orphan surely never dreamed her life would take the turn it did, or that she would one day be dubbed a world-renowned leader, thanks to her heroic role in
the 1957 Central High Crisis.  What a heavy burden for the tiny woman with the electric smile, and an aura that lit up any room she graced.  Both sophisticated and naïve, Daisy Bates was more astute than intellectual… an astute life observer, a woman with cat-like instincts. Growing up motherless in the lumber mill town of Huttig, her instincts would have surely served her well.

A child orphan raised in a boarding house surely never imagined her star would rise so high, or that the lime lights would for a time enshroud her. What is for certain is that once Daisy found herself inside that bubble…she knew how to make the most of it.   Her excellent timing would also serve her well throughout life.

On this November 11, 2012, I am reminded that knowing Daisy is one of the
blessings of a lifetime – this woman who had a special place in her heart for
the children of the world; this woman, who dared to change the world, and
succeeded in helping change the landscape of civil rights in America.  Happy Birthday my friend;` my mentor. Thank you for daring.
Former journalist, and author Janis F. Kearney’s new book debuts January 2013. Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place transforms civil rights legend Daisy Gatson Bates’ life from black and white, to living color.  The author “fills in” places left un-filled, and colors incidents and experiences, to bring Daisy Bates to life. Kearney plums the mysterious murder of Bates’ mother, and the orphan’s childhood; the young woman’s prophetic decision to share a traveling salesman’s life; her non-traditional role as co-publisher of an award winning newspaper; her leadership role at a time, and place where women rarely led, and her most prominent role as the face and voice of the 1957 Central High School Integration Crisis.  


Janis F. Kearney