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Ann Nixon Cooper Dies
December 22, 2009 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Ann Nixon Cooper has died at the age of 107. She came to great recognition after being highlighted at the age of 106 after casting her vote in Atlanta for Barack Obama and then being mentioned in President Obama's victory speech regarding the changes she had seen in her lifetime. Here she is remembered by Karen Grisby Bates, who helped write Cooper's memoir, A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name, which will be released in January.
posted by questionsandanchors (16 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Halloween Jack at 12:09 PM on December 22, 2009


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Less than a month before her 108th birthday, too. She outlived Waldo McBurney, who was born the same year, and died this past October. :(
posted by zarq at 12:33 PM on December 22, 2009


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Obama's death panels will get us all in the end.
posted by kcds at 12:36 PM on December 22, 2009


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posted by brundlefly at 12:42 PM on December 22, 2009


It's always sad when someone good dies, but there's no scale on which this wouldn't be considered a life well lived.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:45 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by iamkimiam at 1:02 PM on December 22, 2009


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posted by Rory Marinich at 1:14 PM on December 22, 2009


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May we all live as well and as long.

I know the phrase "living history" can seem a cliché but, mostly while waiting in interminable holiday shopping lines this afternoon, I started reflecting on the specifically rhetorical role that Ms. Cooper's life story played in the President's victory speech. On its surface, it was precisely what the then President-elect said it was: a powerful reminder of how much progress we've made over the course of a single (admittedly extraordinary) woman's lifetime, with explicit nods to advances in (well, towards) racial and gender equality. But, in a more subtle way, holding up the life-story of Ms. Cooper allowed Obama to make a symbolic point about liberalism and progressivism as philosophies of governance. I'm struggling to express the point so I'll leave the thread alone for its intended purpose, but if I could, I would say something more articulate about how hard it is to swallow the largely conservative myth of an idealized past with its attendant nostalgia for the "good old days" when you have a living witness to what "really went down," as it were. I mean that for good and for ill. The progressive narrative as I understand it is largely about getting to a "golden age" whereas the conservative narrative centers on a return to a "golden age." Maybe Obama used Ms. Cooper's story to, per usual, remind us that the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle: that the core principles of American government are solid and noble and worth fighting for, but that we have to continue fighting for them. That we haven't reached that end of history, as it were, and likely never will (Niehbur, et al.) but the fighting for it is worthwhile all the same. Something about loving the principles behind your country's founding, "warts and all," enough to strive to realize them more perfectly so far as is possible. I dunno. The refusal to accept one off-the-shelf ideological narrative out of ideological bent or intellectual laziness, I dunno. As a progressive I could just get teary-eyed, just as I could imagine a conservative dismissing the invocation of her story as mere grandstanding or victim worship or whatever, whereas again the truth is somewhere in the middle. I'm off to GMOFB.

May she rest in peace.

posted by joe lisboa at 1:15 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Her advice to young people: "Keep smiling. No matter what, you get out and vote. Vote your choice."

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posted by jonp72 at 1:15 PM on December 22, 2009


Knew immediately who this was though I only learned of her last year. An icon passes. I'm glad she saw Obama elected.

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posted by bearwife at 1:54 PM on December 22, 2009


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posted by kylej at 2:00 PM on December 22, 2009


Her life is extraordinarily symbolic of what we feel is good about America. And we revere he so because we fear nobody else will witness similar levels of moral progress here, despite the world changing faster otherwise. .
posted by jeffburdges at 2:24 PM on December 22, 2009


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posted by honest knave at 2:31 PM on December 22, 2009


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posted by heyho at 2:32 PM on December 22, 2009


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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:34 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 5:01 AM on December 23, 2009


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