Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock is the story of a seven-year journey by filmmaker Sharon La Cruise to unravel the life of a forgotten civil rights activist named Daisy Bates. Beautiful, glamorous and articulate, Bates was fearless in her quest for justice, stepping into the spotlight to bring national attention to issues — and some say herself. Unconventional and egotistical, she became a household name in 1957 when she fought for the right of nine black students to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her public support culminated in a constitutional crisis — pitting a president against a governor and a community against itself. As head of the Arkansas NAACP and protector of the nine students, Bates would achieve instant fame as the drama played out on national television and in newspapers around the world. But that fame would prove fleeting and Bates would pay a hefty price for her attempts to remain relevant. The film travels with Daisy Bates on her long and lonely walk from orphaned child to newspaperwoman to national Civil Rights figure to her last days in Little Rock. Bates’s journey, full of triumphs and defeats, parallels the ongoing struggle of generations of African Americans who have challenged America to live up to what it claims to be for more than 200 years.
Sharon La Cruise has worked in television and film for twenty years, both in the corporate and production aspects of the business. She began her television career with ABC Primetime sales, working closely with the account executives and advertising agencies. She has worked for Blackside Inc., Firelight Media, Roja Productions, The Faith Project, The Coca-Cola Company, the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and CNN. She has worked on “Shut up & Sing”, “Going Up River: The Long War of John Kerry”, “Beyond Brown: Pursing the Promise”, “Citizen King”, “Matters of Race”, “This Far By Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys”, “Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun”, and CNN’s “Through the Lens”, “The Road to the White House” and “The Planetary Police”. She currently works as a manager for the Ford Foundation in the JustFilms unit. She is a member of the International Documentary Association. She holds an M.A. degree in television journalism from New York University, and a B.A. in history from Adelphi University.
Sharon La Cruise