Encyclopedia of Arkansas
Daisy Bates

A statue of civil rights leader and journalist Daisy Bates, who served as a mentor to the Little Rock Nine during the 1957 desegregation of Central High School, will make its debut at the U.S. Capitol in May. Crafted by Boise-based artist Benjamin Victor, the sculpture will reside in the National Statuary Hall Collection, where each state is allotted space for statues of two significant individuals. 

According to National Statuary Hall Steering Committee Chairman Shane Broadway, there will be a slew of politicians giving remarks at the 3 p.m. (Eastern time) unveiling ceremony on May 8, including Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sen. Tom Cotton, Rep. Bruce Westerman, Rep. French Hill, House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. There will also be a choral performance by alumni of Philander Smith University and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.


The only speaker with an explicit connection to Bates will be Charles King, president of the Daisy Bates House Museum Foundation Board. Broadway said this is a typical speaker lineup for these unveiling ceremonies, which usually include top political office holders from the state.

While the politicians are toasting Bates in D.C., another celebration will be happening at Second Baptist Church, 1709 John Barrow Rd. in Little Rock. The event starts at 1 p.m. local time, and will conclude with a livestream of the unveiling. 


Previously, Arkansas’s two statues at the Capitol were of lawyer Uriah Rose and James P. Clarke, a former governor and senator. The legacies of Arkansas’s previous honorees are marred by their pro-Confederacy and white supremacist beliefs respectively.  

In 2019, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into a law a bill that would replace the Rose and Clarke likenesses — which individually joined the collection in 1917 and 1921 and were both removed in early April — with statues of Bates and Kingsland native Johnny Cash. Hutchinson’s stated rationale for the change was “to update the statues with representatives of our more recent history.”


The unveiling ceremony for Cash’s statue, designed by Little Rock artist Kevin Kresse, has yet to be set in stone, but it’s expected to take place in September. We profiled Kresse about his process in our March 2022 issue.