Daisy Bates Statue Replaces Unpopular Arkansas Figure At U.S. Capitol

Arkansas is commemorating civil rights icon Daisy Gatson Bates this week by installing her statue, replacing an existing one of a lesser-known historical figure in the state.

Bates, a prominent Arkansas figure who led the state NAACP and mentored the Little Rock Nine during the integration of Central High School in 1957, is being honored with a nearly 8-foot bronze statue. According to NBC News, the sculpture depicts Bates, who co-published the Arkansas State Press with her husband, walking with a folded newspaper in one hand, holding a notebook and pen in the other, and donning an NAACP pin and rose on her lapel.

Artist Benjamin Victor was commissioned for the project. “I hope it really first and foremost inspires them to study Daisy Bates’ life and legacy,” Victor said, sharing that his extensive research process included studying the civil rights leader, reading her 1962 autobiography, and visiting Central High and her Little Rock home. “A big part of it is to capture that spirit of hers and inspire others to do the same and stand up for what’s right,” said the sculptor, whom the public was invited to see work on the sculpture at the Windgate Center for Art+Design in 2022.

Bates’ legacy is already celebrated in Little Rock, with a street named in her honor and Daisy Bates Day observed on Presidents Day annually.

Joining Bates’ statue later this year is one of musician Johnny Cash. The two sculptures will replace those of 18th-century governor and U.S. senator James P. Clarke and 19th-century attorney Uriah Rose. Clarke’s statue drew scrutiny over his racist remarks urging the Democratic Party to preserve “white standards.” There was little opposition to removing the existing sculptures when Arkansas lawmakers proposed replacing the statues. Republican Sen. Bart Hester signed the 2019 legislation to install the new statues. Sen. David Wallace, who sponsored the legislation, said Bates and Cash represent the common people of Arkansas.

A press release from the Arkansas Secretary of State announced Bates will become the 13th woman to be represented in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol. The statue will be unveiled in Washington, D.C., on May 8, 2024.

A free local viewing is open to the public at Second Baptist Church, 1709 John Barrow Road, starting at 1:00 pm CST. Local leaders will reflect on Bates’ remarkable legacy, immediately followed by a live viewing of her statue. The ceremony will air on C-SPAN and the Speaker of the House’s website for those unable to join in person.

Read more

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.