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Arkansas State press. [volume] : (Little Rock, Ark.) 1941-1959
Alternative Titles:
  • State press
Place of publication:
Little Rock, Ark.
Geographic coverage:
  • Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
[L. Christopher Bates]
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 10, no. 49 (May 9, 1941)-v. 19, no. 25 (Oct. 30, 1959).
  • English
  • African Americans--Arkansas--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • Arkansas--Little Rock.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01206922
  • Arkansas.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204809
  • Little Rock (Ark.)--Newspapers.
  • "Arkansas" appears within masthead ornament, <Aug. 8, 1941>-Oct. 30, 1959.
  • This title was later revived as: Arkansas State press (Little Rock, Ark. : 1984), a newspaper dedicated to the memory of L. Christopher Bates.
sn 84025840
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Arkansas State press. [volume] May 9, 1941 , Image 1


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Arkansas State Press

In the 1950s, Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, became the center of national attention during a desegregation crisis at Central High School. The events were covered extensively by the Arkansas State Press, a local newspaper started in 1941 by a Black civil rights activist couple, Lucius Christopher Bates and Daisy Lee Gatson Bates.

In 1941, the Bateses purchased the newspaper plant from the Twin City Press (193?-1940), a paper in Little Rock that had served the Black community in that city, Pulaski County, and Pine Bluff in Jefferson County. The Bateses renamed the paper the Arkansas State Press. Lucius Bates was the editor and manager, Daisy Bates worked as co-publisher, and Earl Davy served as photographer. The Press was an 8-page paper published every week on Thursday. It circulated in Little Rock and other Arkansas towns with significant Black populations, including Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, Helena, Forrest City, Jonesboro, and Texarkana. It was the largest Black newspaper in Arkansas during its run. The Press was unique, even among Black newspapers, in its strong campaign for civil rights. The paper endorsed political policies and candidates who worked toward equality in Arkansas. It also highlighted the achievements of Black Arkansans, along with social, religious, political, and sports news relevant to the Black community.

One of the major racially motivated events covered by the Press was the murder of a Black soldier by a white soldier in 1942 on the same street as the Press's newspaper office. This incident, which was underreported elsewhere, boosted distribution of the Press and earned it a reputation as the source for Black civil rights news and a voice for change. Another major cause during the paper's run was the desegregation of public schools, and the Press was the only paper in Arkansas to push for integration. For years the Bateses, who served as leaders in the Little Rock branch of the NAACP, pushed for racial integration in public schools despite pushback from white Arkansans and many Black Arkansans. In 1954, the Press celebrated the decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas to end segregation in schools. To put the law into action, Daisy mentored the Little Rock Nine, the first Black students to integrate into a white Arkansas school in 1957 at Central High School.

The backlash from protestors of desegregation ended the Press's 8-year run. Though the paper had support from many in the Black community, its progressive views had long upset white advertisers, who stopped running ads in the Press. Although the newspaper reached a subscriber base of 20,000 and received supplemental support from the NAACP, it struggled to remain operational. The intimidation of Black news carriers during the desegregation protests, combined with the advertisers' boycott, forced the Press to close in 1959.

Daisy Bates revived the Arkansas State Press in 1984—it ran through 1998—and dedicated the paper to the memory of her late husband, Lucius.

Provided by: Arkansas State Archives