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Amplifying Black Voices: Daisy Bates

Posted by Suzanne Bernet on

Many of us know of the 1963 March on Washington because of the famous "I Have A Dream" speech delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. What many do not remember is the presence of an amazing woman named Daisy Bates -- the only woman permitted to speak. Daisy Bates was a journalist and was also president of the Arkansas NAACP in the 1950's. Her detractors said of Bates that she was "pushy, ambitious and aggressive," those qualities for which men in leadership are often praised. History tells us that it was those exact qualities that helped her make an impact in the civil rights struggle. She became the spokesperson for the Little Rock Nine -- those nine black students who integrated Central High School in 1957. A few years later, Bates was not allowed to prepare her own speech at the March on Washington; she read a brief statement prepared for her by a male staffer titled, ironically, "Tribute to Women." What would she have said if she were allowed to use her own words? We can't know. But her legacy speaks for itself.   

This week, I invite you to recall a time when you had something to say but could not be heard. Were you able to creatively find other ways to share your message? How can you support others who have something to say?  

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