The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation reviewed in Nashville City Paper by Todd Dills. Click here to see review.
Posts Tagged ‘Ann Nixon Cooper’
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Issue Statement on Passing of Mrs. Ann Nixon CooperSunday, January 31st, 2010
“Michelle and I wish to express our deepest condolences on the passing of Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper. From her beginnings in Shelbyville and Nashville, Tennessee to her many years as a pillar of the Atlanta community, Ann lived a life of service. Whether it was helping to found the Girls Club for African American Youth, serving on the board of directors for the Gate City Nursery, working as a tutor at Ebenezer Baptist Church or registering voters, Ann had a broad and lasting impact on her community. I also understand that as a wife, mother and grandmother, Ann was a source of strength for her entire family, and that she always put them first.
Over the course of her extraordinary 107 years, Ann saw both the brightest lights of our nation’s history and some of its darkest hours as well. It is especially meaningful for me that she lived to cast a vote on Election Day 2008, and it was a deep honor for me to mark her life in the speech I delivered that night. It was a life that captured the spirit of community and change and progress that is at the heart of the American experience; a life that inspired – and will continue to inspire – me in the years to come. During this time of sadness, Michelle and I offer our deepest condolences to all who loved Ann Nixon Cooper. But even as we mourn her loss, we will also be rejoicing in all that she meant for her family, her community, and so many Americans.”
I was deeply saddened upon learning that my dear friend Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper had passed away at her home on Monday evening.
I first became acquainted with Mrs. Cooper in 1996, when she was 94 years young through my genealogical research on Wessyngton Plantation, which she also had family ties to.
Mrs. Cooper was a very beautiful person and I treasured our friendship over the years. She was always very loving and kind when I visited her and also very helpful in providing me with information.
Mrs. Cooper lived a very long, productive and interesting life. I loved to listen to stories about her childhood in Tennessee and her adult life in Atlanta. She was so sharp it was hard to believe that she was more than 100 years old.
Mrs. Cooper became known worldwide last year when CNN television news chronicled her voting early for then Senator Barack Obama.
Although Mrs. Cooper became well known for voting for President Obama, she led a very interesting life before then which is told in her forthcoming book A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name.
I will truly miss my dear friend.
On Tuesday November 4, 2008, President Barack Obama reflected on the life of Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper: “she’s seen throughout her century in America─the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told we can’t; and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes, we can.”
Empowered and energized by this history-making presidential campaign, Mrs. Cooper told her story in her own voice. A Century and Some Change is the portrait of an American who lived a rewarding and culturally rich life.
Mrs. Cooper was raised in Nashville in the home of her aunt-in-law Joyce Washington Nixon, who was born a slave at Wessyngton Plantation during the last days of the Civil War. I had the honor of interviewing Mrs. Cooper and recording her memories in my book The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation, which she mentioned in her book.
A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name will be released on January 5, 2010 by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. Mrs. Cooper passed away on December 21st at her home, nineteen days short of her 108th birthday.
While in Atlanta for a presentation and book signing at Auburn Research Library for the National Black Arts Festival in February I had the honor of presenting Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper a copy of my book; The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom. I also had Mrs. Cooper to sign a copy of the book for me on the page she was pictured on. Mrs. Cooper is now 107 years old.
On March 31st I was honored to have Tuwanda Coleman interview me for the Plus Side of Nashville about the release of my book The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom. I really enjoyed being on the show. Mrs. Coleman asked how my research started more than thirty years ago, how I got a book deal with Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster and my future plans.
Personal connections between the descendants of the Washington family and Ann Nixon Cooper have been renewed thanks to President Barack Obama’s speech on the night of his historic election. You may read the complete story:
The book tour in Atlanta went very well. On the first day of my trip I visited the home of Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper and presented her with an autographed copy of The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation. I was very honored to have Mrs. Cooper sign a copy of the book for me.
The second day of my tour I was interviewed about the book by Dr. Collette Hopkins, director of the National Black Arts Festival, who graciously accompained me to the book signing at Waldenbooks.
On the third day of the tour Dr. Opal Moore interviewed me at the Auburn Research Library. I later gave a presentation followed by a book signing.
The event was well attended and I met two new Washington cousins Jonathan and Jordan Terry who live in Atlanta. They were excited to find their names on the Washington family tree among more than 600 names.
My good friends Beverly Shelley and her daughter Kimberly attended the event. Their ancestors also came from Wessyngton.
Ever since the victory of Barack Obama, people ask me what the Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation would have thought about this historic event. More than 30 years ago when I started researching the lives of the 274 African Americans enslaved on the plantation, I never imagined such a question. When I interviewed more than 25 descendants of Wessyngton slaves, I never thought to ask them that question. When I spent hours talking with Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper, the 107-year-old lady from Atlanta whom then President-elect Obama spoke about so eloquently in his acceptance speech, she and I never spoke about that possibility in her lifetime. Yet here it is. My great great grandparents, Emanuel and Henny Washington, were born on the plantation and remained there until their deaths in the 20th century. Other families remained on the plantation or the general area. Many of their descendants still reside here. They understood the power of prayer, family and community to overcome whatever obstacles they faced. They saw their secret prayers answered when they were emancipated in 1865 after generations of slavery. This no doubt seemed impossible, yet they kept the faith and ensured their children that one day God would deliver them from slavery. I think the former slaves may not have been as surprised as some of us today that we would have an African American president and a first lady whose ancestors were once enslaved.