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Remembering Mississippi Civil Rights Pioneer Gladys Noel Bates

Gladys Noel Bates

Gladys Noel Bates.

October 22, 2010 - Gladys Noel Bates, civil rights pioneer and prominent educator who fought against discrimination of African-American teachers, died October 15, 2010, in Denver, Colorado. She was born in 1920 in McComb, Mississippi, and attended Alcorn State University in 1937.

It is hard to overestimate Mrs. Bates’ importance and contribution to the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. The “Gladys Noel Bates Teacher-Equalization Pay Suit” was the first civil rights suit filed in the history of the state of Mississippi. This landmark lawsuit was the forerunner for school desegregation cases of the 1950’s. In January 2010, a Jackson Public School was named after her, Bates Elementary. Mrs. Bates and her family attended the dedication ceremony held in the new Capitol of Jackson, Mississippi.

Mrs. Bates and her husband John M. Bates names are also well-known and well-respected in Colorado, where they moved in 1960 and worked for the Denver Public Schools. The Colorado Education Association gave its first human relations award to the couple, which is named in their honor. Greater Park Hill Community Inc. gave them the Babbs Award for 20 years of service to the North East Park Hill Community Association and the Greater Park Hill Community. This was also in recognition for their work to prevent riots in Park Hill after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Funeral services for Gladys Noel Bates will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, October 25, 2010, at Pipkin Mortuary, 2531 Ogden St., in Denver, Colorado. Pipkin Mortuary can be reached at 303-837-6144.