President-elect Barack Obama reflected on the life of Ann Nixon Cooper on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, singling her out of millions of voters, he said, because 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.”
Energized by this history-making presidential campaign, Mrs. Cooper now shares her story, her life before the president called her name, in her own voice, with the assistance of bestselling author Karen Grigsby Bates.
Mrs. Cooper is the beloved matriarch of a large and accomplished family who live throughout the country, and a long-celebrated elder in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, where she raised her children and has lived most of her long and extraordinary life. She was born and raised in Bedford County, Tennessee, near Nashville, on January 9, 1902. Her father was a tenant farmer, and her mother worked at home, taking care of the children.
She met her husband, Dr. Albert Berry Cooper II, while he attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville. They settled in his hometown of Atlanta, where he established a successful practice in dentistry.
When president-elect Obama referred to her in his speech, she became a celebrity, sought after by media from all over the world. In Mrs. Cooper’swords, “All of a sudden, everyone wanted to talkto me. . . . It was nice they were interested, I guess,but I wasn’t so thrilled that media and ordinaryfolk were acting as if the only exciting thing I’d everdone was vote for a black man for president. . . .I’d had a life before CNN and the rest ‘discovered’me.” And she is going to tell you about it.
In this remarkable life story, the 107-year-old woman hailed by President Obama in his Election Night speech reflects on the times she lived through on the eve of her heath in December, 2009, with help from NPR news correspondent Bates (author of the Alex Powell mystery series). In Obama's speech, the new president remarked on a life that spanned segregation, the Civil Rights Era, and voting (electronically) for the first African-American president. Though Cooper describes that moment as "plenty exciting," her story is more than that milestone: "I had a life before CNN and the rest 'discovered' me." Though Cooper's story doesn't boast the groundbreaking events or distinctive voice of her most famous forerunners-ie, the Delany Sisters' Having Our Say-this volume will capture readers with tales of Cooper's mother, who had been taught to read by white plantation owners, and stories about her husband, who was a successful Atlanta dentist during the 1930s and '40s. A spry, inspirational figure, active and alert into her second hundred years, Cooper's world is also animated by extensive photographs that complete the feel of a particularly thorough and well-written family scrapbook that's also a testament to life well-lived in difficult times.