Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The passing of a remarkable woman: Ann Louise Nixon Cooper

When President-elect Obama addressed the nation on Election Night, he talked about a woman named Ann Louise Nixon Cooper.
He said, “She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing—Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old. She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons: because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.”

Ann Louise Nixon Cooper died last week. She was 107 years old.

Karen Bigsby Bates met Mrs. Cooper this summer to help her write her life story.  On the website The Root, the journalist tells us that Mrs. Cooper  “was born outside Nashville when there weren’t many cars on the road, when the memory of the Civil War was still fresh, when a black local official was unthinkable, let alone a black president. She came to Atlanta as the young bride of a freshly minted dentist from Meharry Medical College, and together they built a life of community service and social involvement.”

And engage in service she did.  One of her many projects was to start a Boy Scouts Troop for African American boys in the 1930’s.  She saw that none existed, so she  created one.

“We just did those things back then,” Mrs. Cooper explained. “We didn’t wait around for anyone to tell us whether or not we could. We did it because it was needed.”

James Withers, a contributing editor to the  blog 365gay, makes an important point about the LGBT rights movement and Mrs. Cooper’s attitude: “a decent movement can handle severe criticism; however, in all of the gloom and doom we forget the community, such as it is, has people and organizations who are not waiting around and doing good work because it is needed.”

We need more Ann Louise Nixon Coopers in this world.

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