Barbara Cooper District 86 - Part of Shelby County
Career: Retired Teacher, Community Relations Specialist, Parent Coordinator
Barbara Lee Ward Cooper was born in Memphis Tennessee in North Memphis, (New Chicago). She grew up in "Bearwater" the Bickford community during the depression, segregation and discrimination. She survives two sisters. Barbara married the late Former Captain John D. Cooper, who was one of the first Black Fireman with the City of Memphis Fire Department. In their union three children were born: Carl L. Cooper, Las Vegas, Nevada, Pastor Joan A. Burnett, New Haven, Connecticut and Tanya L. Cooper, Memphis Tennessee; three grand children and two great grandchildren.
Barbara graduated from Manassas High School and was awarded a four year band scholarship to Tennessee State University (A&I State Land Grant College), majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in Sociology.
During her forty-two years of teaching experience, she served thirty-five years and four months with Memphis City Schools and six years with the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, St. Augustine School. She also earned a Masters Degree in Education, TSU, Forty Five Hours Post Graduate work in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Tennessee, University of Memphis Campus and later completed her doctorial in Religious Philosophy and Christian Psychology, Jacksonville Theological Seminary. Inspired by her parents and TSU College professors, Barbara spent her summer months working with her aunt in the home of E.H. Crump a well-known influential business and political leader in Memphis.
With her natural ability to teach Barbara soon became the Administrative Assistant to the Area Assistant Superintendent as a Community Relation Specialist and Parent Coordinator. She received her community education training as a Mott Fellow and became the first Black President of the Tennessee Community Education Association. She volunteered and was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Social Action Program and Jessie L. Jackson for President Campaign. Other community involvement includes Committee Co-Chair for the One and One Half Cent Funding for Education sponsored by the NAACP/Memphis Education Association. A major accomplishment was city project election of Co-Convener to the African American People's Organization that elected the first African American Mayor of Memphis through a grassroots community consensus process.
Additionally, Barbara taught part-time at Southwest Tennessee Community College, Study Skills; GED Adult Education and Literacy programs for Memphis City Schools. She is an active member of St. Augustine Church and serves on the Social Action Committee.
After five attempts and through self-determination, perseverance and tenacity, in 1996 Barbara was victorious in a field of nine candidates to win her first elected office as State Representative. She represents District 86 in the House of State Representatives. Her district includes the western part of North, South and Downtown Memphis. Barbara also represents in her legislative district; the National Civil Rights Museum, Peabody Place, Beale Street, W.C. Handy Park, Robert E. Church Park, site for Africa in April Awareness Festival, Memphis in May, T.O. Fuller State Park, South, Meeman Shelby Forest State Park, North and Dr. Martin Luther King Park, West; Boundary to North Covington, Tennessee, West Memphis, Arkansas and South Tunica, Mississippi.
Other detailed accomplishments outlined below:
Catholic: Ph.D., Religious Philosophy and Christian Psychology, Jacksonville, Theological Seminary; M.Ed., Tennessee State University; 45 Post-Graduate Hours, Curriculum and Instruction, University of Tennessee; B.S., Tennessee State University; Graduate, Manassas High School Memphis, Tennessee; Tennessee State University Alumni; Shelby County Democratic Women; WiLL Pacesetters, Social Action (St. Augustine Church); NAACP; Women In Government; Les Belle Charmant; National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL); Past President, Tennessee Community Education Association; Former Member, Shelby County Democratic Executive Committee; District 86 Advisory Council; Southwest Community Education Advisory Committee; Cooper/Jones Initiative; Citizens for Better Service; Outstanding Service, St. Augustine School; Tennessee Dispensing Opticians Association; Tennessee Tourism Roundtable; KDO (Kennedy Democratic Organization); Magnolia Families; Secretary, House Government Operations Committee, 102nd and 103rd General Assemblies; Member, House Children and Family Affairs Committee; Member, House Family Justice Subcommittee; Member, House Education Committee; Member, House Higher Education Subcommittee; Vice Chair, Government Operations Committee.
Awards Received: WiLL Pacesetters (2001); Shelby Forest Community forest Drive Civic Club (2003); The Spirit of Kwanzaa Award (2007 - 2008);
Save-A-Student Leadership and Training Conference (2008); AKA, Extra Special Politician 07,08: Leadership Award, Tennessee, 2005;
CIO Labor Council,; TSU Alumni, 2007
Member: 100th General Assembly - To Present
County Represented: Shelby - 86th State Representative District
District Address 99 North Main Street, #2312 Memphis, TN 38103