“The State Press opened up the world to me”

From Macy Butler; performed chores for the Bates’

“Always wanting to document our history, I am thrilled that someone is giving Mr. Bates’ history a thorough review.  He was a quiet, tall, prominent man that I don’t believe has received his fair place in Little Rock’s black history folklore. But as someone who also has been present to many historical events growing up and living in Little Rock, I know how easy it is to be overlooked when you too are also an observer in the moments.”

Excerpt from Butler’s article: Knowledge of a Great Person Only Came Later on in Life

I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in March 1953. My parents, Lawrence Clayborn “L.C.” and Fannie Lou Butler, were lifelong residents of Little Rock and we lived in a duplex on 1411 N. St. Ringo St.

During those days 40 years ago, JET magazine was a vital link for national news in the local black communities, but only a few were generally sold infrequently at the local barber and beauty shops.

My distributorship was a weekly door-to-door service. Soon, it got to be that I brought your JET magazine to your house to read while I cut your grass. It was a good business that I did for several years.

One of my customers was Mr. Lucius Christopher Bates. I called him “Mr. L.C.”

I guess he saw something in my hustling nature and get up and go spirit. He hired me to cut their grass once a week and sometimes help out around the house doing minor cleaning household chores for his wife, Mrs. Bates.

“The only time I remember us talking or interacting was when I helped him doing yard work and sometimes moving furniture.  Most of my interactions at their home was with Mrs. Bates, but his occupation as a newsman inspired me on some level to began writing social commentary.  As a youth I was very entrepreneurial and knew many small business people in my neighborhood, so I learned many ways to make money legally, one of which was the Jet magazine distributorship. Reading that magazine weekly, along with the State Press when published, opened the up world to me to other Black people across the nation.

Mr. L. C. was very community active, but I’m not sure if he was an activist or more a recorder of events.  He was also a church leader. I attended Mt. Pleasant MBC and I remember seeing him in churches as a youth.”

Posted in: Inspiration, L. C. Bates

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