As witnessed in Sharon La Cruise’s PBS documentary, Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock, Bates, formerly unsung outside of Arkansas, can proudly stand beside Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King as one of the American heroes of the early Civil Rights Movement. Among the few courageous and righteously indignant Afro-American leaders — Bates lauded the use of that term — she made it her life’s mission to attack racial prejudice wherever she found it. As she lived in Little Rock, Arkansas, she found it every time she turned around.
When Little Rock’s Central High School refused entry to nine black students, contemptuously mocking the 1954 landmark Supreme Court mandate, Bates, whose strong opinions were declaimed in every issue of her pioneering newspaper, the Arkansas State Press, became the students’ unflinching champion until victory was complete. It was an ugly and brutal time, with mob rule at its most vicious, but her voice for equal justice never wavered, and she continued her impressive career until the very end when, wheelchair-bound at 80, she carried the Olympic torch at the opening of the 1996 Atlanta Games. 7 pm. Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-4882 or visit www.rice.edu. Free.
Wed., Jan. 18, 7 p.m., 2012