In an age when portrayals of women in the media seem to have taken a dramatic leap backwards, films like DAISY BATES: FIRST LADY OF LITTLE ROCK represent a refreshing and much needed change of pace.
It seems there is no shortage of viewing options of girls behaving badly, their anger spewing forth in unmitigated displays of rage or general dysfunction as they wage battle over the heart of bachelor; the big cash prize; where to party; what to wear. More and more such frivolous concerns seem to dominate the airwaves. This burgeoning array of mindless drivel serves as a stark reminder of just how decadent we've become.
As a parent, the reality that fame and fortune blossoms from sex tapes and idiotic behavior while true role models are increasingly denied a forum is unsettling at best.
That's why films such as DAISY BATES are so vital. As citizens, filmmakers and historians we owe it to future generations to keep the stories of those who dedicated their lives to social change alive. And while it's true that our struggles as a society remain too many to enumerate here, as the initial battles for justice and equality recede further into the annals of history we run the risk of taking the sacrifices of those who preceded us for granted. They are the ones who bore the burdens that allow us the privilege of the frivolity we enjoy today.
Daisy Bates was a child of the segregated South, an orphan abandoned by her father in the wake of her mother's rape and murder at the hands of three white men in the small town of Huttig, AK. Though the perpetrators were known, they were never prosecuted.
While a little girl suffered the loss of her mother in such a vile and horrific manner, the guilty parties were allowed to freely live out their lives. This brutal reality left Daisy an angry and embittered child, a mercurial and confrontational spirit who demanded respect from those around her, both black and white.
But rather than let her anger be the key to her own undoing, as a young woman, with the help of husband LC Bates, in many ways her antithesis, she was able to redirect her anger toward the goal of achieving equality for African Americans suffering the oppression of segregation. She found her voice as a key figure at the newspaper her husband had founded, the Arkansas State Press, and eventually became head of the Arkansas NAACP.
But it was when she took up the cause of nine African American students attempting to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock - "The Little Rock Nine," as they eventually became known - that her efforts garnered her a place in the national spotlight.
Her crafty and perhaps somewhat controversial ability to utilize the media to bring international attention to the cause of these nine students forced those in power at the local, state and federal levels to uphold the Constitution while the nation watched. This emboldened a generation of young people who, when it came time for them to answer the call, could confidently propel the cause of justice for all American citizens.
Though certainly not the infallible hero we often make historical figures out to be, Daisy Bates was a tenacious woman who refused to let her circumstances define her. She flagrantly defied the tenets of her day and helped to redefine the role of women in society. Yet due to many factors - among them her health and the changing nature of the Civil Rights movement - her fame proved fleeting and her role in history has often been ignored.
But thanks to producer/director Sharon La Cruise and a talented film production team, Daisy's story has been resurrected and her voice has been restored. DAISY BATES: FIRST LADY OF LITTLE ROCK will be televised on PBS through the Independent Lens series and will be screened in many locations throughout the country courtesy of the ITVS-sponsored Community Cinema.
Those here on the Western Slope of Colorado can view it on RMPBS on February 2nd at 10pm. In addition, DAISY BATES will screen here in the Valley at the following locations at these dates and times:
TUESDAY, JAN. 10TH AT 7PM
Colorado Mesa University, Recital Hall
12th St. and Bunting Ave.
GJ, CO 81501
THURSDAY, JAN. 19TH AT 6PM
119 West Third St.
WEDNESDAY, JAN 25TH AT 6:30PM
201 E. Aspen St.
Fruita, CO 81521
MY EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PRODUCER/DIRECTOR SHARON LA CRUISE will air Tuesday, Jan. 10th from 12:30-1:00 MST!!
Listen live here: http://www.kafmradio.org
MY PODCAST OF THE EXTENDED INTERVIEW WILL BE AVAILABLE ON MY PODCAST PAGE WITHIN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. PLEASE CHECK BACK!
YOUR BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT FILMS NOT COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU...This blog is dedicated to promoting the art of independent filmmaking. The films profiled here are conceived and created outside the studio system and are brought to you, the public, without the aid of a major distributor. Though they might experience a limited theatrical release, they will largely be available to wider audiences through outlets like Netflix, YouTube or by direct purchase.