A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name
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A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name

by Ann Nixon Cooper
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439158876
Publisher:
Atria Books
Publication date:
01/05/2010
Pages:
213
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

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A Century and Some Change

My Life Before the President Called My Name
By Ann N Cooper

Atria

Copyright © 2010 Ann N Cooper
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781439158876

CHAPTER ONE
Out and About


MY FAMILY STILL TEASES me that when the newly elected president of the United States called, I was on an outing with friends. Well, who knew? I go out all the time, even if I am over one hundred years old. I have many friends and social obligations, and I enjoy them all.


If someone had phoned ahead of time to tell me that Barack Obama was going to call, I would have stayed home. Probably. Sometimes, though, there are commitments you can?t get out of; you don?t want to disappoint people. But as it was, the call was a complete surprise. My friend James Davis and I arrived back after a couple of hours out, and there was this lovely message on my machine from the presidential candidate?a long one, too! He said he had seen the story about me voting for him on CNN, and he wanted to thank me. That was nice. You could have knocked me over, I was so tickled.


As I said, I didn?t think all that much of all the fuss about me going out to vote. Of course, my grandchildren and friends urged me to vote by mail, ahead of time. But I wasn?t interested in that. Oh no! After all we?d been through as a people, if there was a black man who was a good candidate and he needed my vote, I was going to be there. I have been a registered voter since 1940, but this time?sixty-eight year later?I wanted to walk into that little booth and pull the curtain around me and vote. In person. For Barack Obama.


So that?s exactly what I did. I put on my coral pink suit and my good-luck gold charm bracelet?the charms include numbers of my age from ninety-nine on up, and some lovely ones that mark my grandchildren?s births. Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, who has been a friend for several years, came to meet me at the Fulton County Government Center, where the early voting was being held. She?d offered to meet me there to show her support that someone as old as me was determined to do her civic duty. I thought it was lovely of her to take the time to do that. There was also a handsome young newsman, an anchor person for CNN named Don Lemon, who guided my wheelchair into the polling site. (I like being escorted by handsome young men?always have.) I was surprised to see reporters and television crews from around Atlanta waiting with their cameras and recorders poised, all of them there just to watch me vote.


The voting process was ?high tech,? as my great grandchildren like to say. You just put your finger on a computer screen and touch the name of the candidate you want to elect. Casting my vote took only a minute, but it was an important one for me, my people, and my country.


After the story came out about Senator Obama calling and leaving me a message (I still have it), a few more reporters called and asked for an interview. I stayed quite busy for several weeks before election night.


On the evening of November 4, 2008, I watched with my family and friends as the nation elected its first black president. Around ten o?clock on election night the phone rang. It was someone from the president-elect?s office. Mr. Obama had asked him to call me and let me know that Mr. Obama was going to use my name in his speech in an hour or so and ask if it was okay


with me. My answer was ?Yes, of course!? I had the gentleman speak with Katrinka, my caregiver, and with my friend Sally, and we began passing the word around to as many friends and family we could reach on such short notice. And when President-elect Obama came onstage with his beautiful wife and their two pretty little girls to address all those people gathered in Grant Park, in Chicago, I was so proud. And then he made the speech:



This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that?s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. 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 one hundred six years old.


WELL, WE ALL WERE so tickled we opened a bottle of champagne to toast the new president. I think we were laughing and crying at the same time, because none of us thought this would happen in our lifetimes. So the fact that it had happened?that there seemed to be such joy in so much of the nation that we were starting fresh again?was a big part of our happiness. I went to bed a little while after and thought, Well, that?s that. Now we?re on our way.


Little did I know what the president-elect had started for me! My phone began to ring off the hook; it started while I was still in bed, continued all day and sometimes into the night, after I?d gone up to bed. The answering machine stayed so busy, I thought we might have to buy a new one! All of a sudden, everyone wanted to talk to me?Ann Louise Nixon Cooper. It was nice that they were interested, I guess. But I wasn?t so thrilled that media and ordinary folk were acting as if the only exciting thing I?d ever done was vote for a black man for president.


Don?t get me wrong, now. That was plenty exciting. But I?d had a life before CNN and the rest ?discovered? me.


? 2010 Ann Nixon Cooper



Continues...

Excerpted from A Century and Some Change by Ann N Cooper Copyright © 2010 by Ann N Cooper. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Ann Nixon Cooper lives in Atlanta. At age 107, this is her first book.

Karen Grigsby Bates is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News, the author of the Alex Powell mystery series, and co-author, wih Karen Elyse Hudson, of the best-selling etiquette book Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times. She and her husband, photographer Bruce W. Talamon, are the parents of a college-aged son.

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