Friday, January 11, 2013

Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place. My review and Giveaway of this remarkable lady.

Presidential diarist and author Janis F. Kearney transforms civil rights legend Daisy Gatson Bates’ life from black and white, to living color. The author, who interviewed Bates many times; recreates her conversations and interviews to “fill 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; and her leadership role at a time, and place where women rarely led.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place is Daisy’s “look back” at her life, and…finally, a self-analysis of how, and possibly, why she became the Daisy Gatson Bates for which she is known throughout the world. Author Janis F. Kearney recounts the leader’s many friendships, relationships and associations that helps define who she was in the eyes of the world - from Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton; First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.; Roy Wilson, NAACP President; Thurgood Marshall and Wiley Branton, NAACP attorneys, Maya Angelou and Jackie Robinson… and countless others.
The author met Daisy Bates in the summer of 1969, at the age of16. From that moment, the high school student dreamed of working for the woman her father called one of Arkansas’ greatest leaders – black or white.


Huttig…A Vestige of Lumber and Leaders
What manner of town was this Huttig, to have produced a child such as Daisy Lee Gatson, born some 11 years after the launch of southwest Arkansas’ timber industry? Daisy Gatson was born in into the state’s most thriving timber belt. It spread to an area wide open for growth, and with little obstacles - no environmentalists lamenting the incoming lumber mills that came from neighboring Louisiana, and other northern states; no loud declarations of the industry raping and ravaging the South’s rich woodlands. Instead, it was a progress that most Arkansans invited with open arms, viewing it as a boost to the state’s economic standing in the region. The people of the area and the state’s economic leaders fully endorsed the manufacturing of southwest Arkansas’ woodlands. What would a small, poor area such as Huttig do with all the giant trees, anyway?
This small southwest Arkansas town was the imagination and creation of businessmen who wanted to ensure the success of their lumber mills by ensuring that their workers had a place to live, shop and to send their children to school – all within the town of Huttig. They created a functional, though segregated, small town for their white and black workers and their families.
In short order, Huttig morphed into a vital, thriving town, critical to the growth of the state, and one that drew every kind of man from other parts of the state, and as far away as Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. Some came with the honest desire to find good jobs that allowed them to feed and clothe their families. Others – both black and white - came for far less forthright, as well as freedom to indulge in `open’ activities. Like fast and loose girls said to frequent the area, the new town’s moral reputation traveled fast. The architects of the town’s physical structures were single-focused men, set on constructing a profitable company, and an inhabitable township. Unfortunately, they left the soul of their new town to its inhabitants.

Expert #2

Of Sticks and Stones
It is difficult not to paint a parallel between Daisy’s childhood relationship to whites – that burning, but helpless hatred of whites who, according to all reports from family and friends, had murdered her mother and warped her childhood; and her feelings about Orval Faubus, who she saw as destroying yet more innocent children’s lives.
In many ways, even with its sense of horror and excitement, the 1957 Central High Crisis was the crest, the crescendo of actions and activities that fueled Daisy’s life over the next few years. While there comes a time in the midst of the 57 Crisis that she questions her role, and the sanity of it all, more often, she accepts with fortitude and conviction that this was an opportunity that fate or God, or both presented to her; and she dare not pass it up.
While the `57 Crisis centered on the two-year integration tug of war between the Central High School administrators, the governor and Daisy Bates; for those looking on from the outside, the war had few if any victors. For Daisy Gatson Bates, her role in the Integration Crisis may have been what she was placed on earth to do, in spite of, or because of the conflicted childhood back in Huttig, Arkansas.
Hate was something Daisy Lee Gatson would embrace as a child, and though she believed she had ridded herself of that early hate, to save herself; the `57 Crisis would likely cause its reappearance. Unfortunately, its reappearance would happen as she moved into her middle years – a most inopportune time for a woman’s emotional conflicts, as she dealt with the 24-hour stresses of the life she chose. 
It is most likely that Daisy had repressed, rather than resolved the bitterness that planted its seed the day the Huttig butcher sent her home with fat rather than lean meat, and dared Daisy to question him; the day she learned of her mother’s murder and his father’s disappearance, for fear for his life; of Orval Faubus’ inflammatory segregationist actions, to the adults who taunted and cursed and hit the nine children she’d adopted in her heart; and even the horrific vitriol and damnation expressed in the letters mailed to Daisy’s newspaper and home.

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was an American civil rights activist, publisher, and writer who played a leading role in the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957. Wikipedia

Born: November 11, 1914, Huttig
Died: November 4, 1999, Little Rock
Books: The Long Shadow Of Little Rock: A Memoir, More
Awards: American Book Award

My review will not be complete if I do not add a photo of this remarkable whom the author Janis F. Kearney has written a wonderful tribute too.

My 5 Star Review

Before the reading of this book I have never heard of Daisy Gatson Bates simply because I am not American. But during the read I search the net to learn more about this gutsy woman. A warrior that was not afraid to stand up for what is right. Her pursuit for equality center stage in her mind, thoughts and action. But what the author accomplish best in this book were to introduce us to the woman behind the tuff facade. Her doubts, fears, struggles in her daily life and how she had to adapt to a unfriendly world out to hurt her, just because of the color of her skin.
Never looking pass the strong willed fiery woman who was not afraid to stand and fight. Or the beautiful woman, petite in posture with a soft heart and a love for her people.
You are drawn into the historical account leading up before her birth that shaped this woman to what she had become. It shaped her world on so many levels but yet she did not use it as a excuse to lay down but to stand up and do the right thing.
With a friend, confidant and husband by her side. L.C Bates who was a remarkable man in his own right. Who guided her with a soft touch and wisdom filled words. Giving her the courage to accomplish the task at hand.
I learned many things during this read, in some things I could feel with her, sensing her struggles. The way the author told it, it was heart warming. Shining the light on a subject that still gives problems all over the world.
A book I can recommend for teachers and school children and for those who love to learn more about the history of this Nation, the United States of America.
Thought provoking and a eye opener to many who is hiding behind all the excuses of not doing the right thing.
This fiery woman from the little town of Huttig was born to invoke in each of us the character of determination and will. To accomplish what you have set your mind on and not be afraid.
Thank you Janis F. Kearney for introducing me to this remarkable woman.
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