Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Black Centenarian Votes for Obama

Talk about living through change. Born over a century ago, when Blacks didn't have the right to vote and women were treated as chattel, Ann Nixon Cooper has lived through remarkable changes in her life. Left out of electoral process when the suffragettes got the vote for women 88 years ago, because she was Black. Ms. Cooper wouldn't be able to cast a vote for the candidate of her choice until the mid-60's (when she was over 60 years of age).

She's lived through numerous wars, diseases that ravaged the countryside, and blatant, overt racism. She was treated as a second class citizen for a majority of her life. Her husband and sons were only one snide remark, one wayward look from being dragged off to get lynched or killed. She has spent a majority of her life "so far inferior that [she] had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." (Reference. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney)

Well, a few days ago, 106-year-old Ann Cooper went into downtown Atlanta, Georgia and voted for a Black man to become the President of the United States.

Read excerpts of the CNN.com article:

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Ann Nixon Cooper, 106 years old, has seen presidents come and go in her lifetime and has outlived most of them. On a sunny fall morning, she left her weathered but well-kept Tudor home in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote early -- this time for Barack Obama.

The African-American centenarian remembers a time not long ago when she was barred from voting because of her race. Now she hopes to see the day that Obama is elected as the nation's first black president.

"I ain't got time to die," Cooper said with a smile.

"Even if he didn't win, I was happy for him just to be nominated," said the former socialite. "The first black president -- isn't that something, at 106 years old?"

At the Fulton County government center, Cooper was greeted by Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.

"I thought that I would accompany her today to support her, but also to say to all people that this is a choice we have," Franklin said.

Cooper, in a wheelchair and helped by two caretakers, bypassed the long lines of early voters and headed right to the voting machine. Her 106-year-old hands reached out to the 21st-century touch screen to cast her vote for Obama.

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Back at her home, surrounded by the elegance of a bygone era, Cooper clutched the photo albums laid out on her dining room table. The longtime socialite and community leader has called Atlanta home since the 1920s.

She and her late husband, prominent dentist Dr. Albert Cooper, raised four children in this house.

"Our days and nights were just social affairs," she said. The home was a center of Atlanta's black society and the scene of many parties. Celebrities, including the late singer Nat King Cole, dropped in to visit.

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Cooper was born in Shelbyville, Tennessee, in 1902. She grew up in Nashville with uncles and an aunt who worked as a domestic for wealthy whites.

She married Albert Cooper in Nashville in 1922, and the couple moved to Atlanta. Three of Cooper's four children have died; her surviving daughter is 83. She has 14 grandchildren living and many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Read the CNN.com article about 106-year-old Ann Nixon Cooper here.

plez sez: my grandfather lived to the ripe old age of 103! he lived with my family in virginia until he passed away in 1988. my grandfather was born in 1884 - one of sixteen children most of whom would succumb to a typhoid epidemic - on the same dusty and god-for-saken place in north carolina where his parents had been slaves! the last name, mitchell, was given to them by the man who owned them.

i can still remember looking into his eyes and swearing that i could see the pain and hardship of growing up in a racist society. like ann cooper, he lived most of his life as a second class citizen, for most of his life he could not vote, for most of his life he could not look a white person in the eye for fear of reprisal, for most of his life the path of his life was dictated to him and not determined by him.

but for some reason, his life experience didn't leave him bitter or cold. my granddaddy was the warmest, most gentle, and genteel person you would ever meet... he only raised his voice if you said a curse word in his house (that wasn't allowed)! my grandfather had two wives and eleven children (my mother was the youngest). he owned an impressive parcel of land along a dirt road just outside ahoskie, north carolina where he grew tobacco and cotton, and raised chickens and hogs for slaughter. i remember him telling me the story of how Black people weren't even allowed to add up the cost of the grain and feed that they bought in the general store, but he was so good with arithmetic that he would add the cost of everything in his head so he could tell if the store owner tried to cheat him.

he couldn't go to the movie theater with white people, so he made his own music... i remember to this day watching his wrinkled hands playing his old accordion. my mother and her sisters learned how to play the piano and sing.

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i could feel my granddaddy - WALTER MITCHELL - in ms. ann cooper in the CNN piece... and i can see him in heaven on november 4th, sitting in his rocking chair smoking his pipe watching the election returns on CBS television as they announce Barack Obama the 44th president of the united states. and granddaddy would continue to rock in his chair and with a twinkle in his eyes, he would give the slightest hint of his gentle smile.

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OBAMA UPDATE: as of this writing, it appears that Sen. Barack Obama will be leaving the campaign trail to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii. Read more...


12kyle said...

*comin thru for the 1st time*

Good post!

Stories like this make you feel good. It shows how far we've come. It also shows how far we have to go.

Not to mention...she don't look 106 does she??

Hathor said...

I get so tired of people who talk of having their liberty taken away if Obama becomes president. It irritates me that they do not take into account millions who never had liberty in this country and those who lived part of their lives without liberty, who live now.

plez... said...

thanks for coming thru... look to see you again. ...and NO, she doesn't look like she's over 100 years. very lucid and conversational... i'd love to sit down and talk with her.

i'm with you 100%! people like ann cooper lived MOST of their lives without the rights & liberties that we take for granted.

i was really touched by this story!