Naomi Rothschild

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My mother, Naomi Rothschild (nee Bloom), was a human rights activist during her college years (1938-1942). In 1941, she and six other classmates led a petition drive to protest the "gentlemen's agreement", under which northern integrated schools (like NYU) agreed to sideline their black athletes when playing the segregated schools in the south.

The issue came to a head when Leonard Bates, a black NYU football player, was benched for an upcoming game against Missouri. Naomi and her colleagues organized the students under the slogan "No Missouri Compromise! Bates must play!".

The seven leaders of the protest (the "Bates Seven") were suspended at the time, although she was later allowed to graduate. Sixty years later, in May of 2001, NYU honored the Bates Seven at an athletic dinner.
Click here to read the 2001 article about the topic that led to Naomi's picture being once again on the front page of a newspaper - this time the sports section of the New York Times!

An interesting epilogue to this story occurred in 2014, just around the time of Naomi’s 94th birthday. Leonard Bates’ grand niece emailed me while doing research about the episode, in hopes of getting more information in advance of an upcoming family reunion. She didn’t realize initially what my relationship was to these students, but she was very excited to learn that my mother was one of the Bates Seven. I provided her with this material, and she asked me to thank my mother “for me and my family, for all she did to make the gentlemen’s agreement a thing of the past and for standing up for what was right and fair”.

Click on the "play" buttons below to see TV clips from the local ABC, NBC and CBS channels on the Bates 7 story, as well as a longer segment from ABC and a short documentary on the topic.

ABC NewsCBS News

NBC NewsABC long segment

Short Documentary

Click on the play buttons below to view TV news clips from the local ABC and CBS affiliates
on the Bates Seven story from 2001, as well as a short documentary made about the episode.