Interview with Dorothy M. Cooper, September 15, 1986

Project: Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

The descendant of a runaway slave and a free woman of color, Mrs. Cooper graduated from Dunbar High School and West Virginia State College before receiving her master's degree from the University of Kentucky. She remembers wanting to be a social worker but ended up instead with a career in education. She talks about teaching, her assignments at Dunbar as counselor and assistant principal, her career as principal at both George Washington Carver and Russell elementary schools (where she retired at age 70), teaching conditions, salary inequities between white and black teachers, lack of equipment, and having to purchase school supplies with her own money. Mrs. Cooper recalls the integration of teachers into formerly segregated schools, the labelling of African American children as incorrigible by white teachers, the lack of encouragement by teachers and white officials who didn't want African American parents involved in newly integrated schools, her abhorrence of forced busing, and the lack of discipline received at home and subsequent poor attitudes of young African Americans today.
She notes her lack of participation in African American churches, and discusses her concern towards the changes within the religious community. She bemoans the modern day emphasis on pursuit of the dollar, and the subsequent lack of concern for the social welfare of the community. She recalls her religious upbringing, customs and practices, and comments upon life within her family. The family disciplinarian, her father worked for influential whites in the close knit community in which she was raised. She comments upon his reputation and standing within the community and with his employers, and the impact he had upon her life. She reminisces about the odd jobs she held throughout high school and taking piano lessons.
Mrs. Cooper discusses her career, retirement, and her present position as an outreach worker for the Fayette County Urban Government. She remembers the summer school programs which lasted only one year, the Meals on Wheels program, visiting nursing homes on a regular basis, and running errands for the homebound. A conscientious voter, she dislikes politics and states some of the reasons why. She discusses her permanent boycott of white businesses whom she felt treated African Americans badly, comments upon welfare reform, and talks about employment opportunities for African Americans.

Interview Accession

1986oh253_kh380

Interviewee Name

Dorothy M. Cooper

Interviewer Name

Emily Parker

Interview Date

1986-09-15

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Cooper, Dorothy M. Interview by Emily Parker. 15 Sep. 1986. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Cooper, D.M. (1986, September 15). Interview by E. Parker. Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Cooper, Dorothy M., interview by Emily Parker. September 15, 1986, Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





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