Monday, Aug. 3.
It was St. Paul evening at Kings Crossing, Community Room. Peoples from every walk of life poured out to say farewell, thank you and hello; expressing love and appreciation, wishing Jackie Cooper, the very best. It was good-bye and hello in the same event.
Trailblazer, Jacquelyn “Jackie” Cooper, was the first African-American to serve (eight years) as executive assistant to a county commissioner in Ramsey County.
The ceremony was kicked off with prayer, African drumming and food. County Commissioner Toni Carter greeted a jam-packed audience with Cooper seated in the “place of honor” at the head of the room.
Mary Boyd, and Pat Lamb embellished the welcoming, establishing the grass-root tone. Official and unofficial outpourings were too “you had to be there” to capture. The mood was sentimental with reflections, laughs, hugs and kisses, memories and tears. Everyone commented on Cooper’s relentless energy, how working with her is filled with fun and laughter, and how much she will be missed.
Additional speakers included Julie Kleinschmidt, Gene Nichols, Marvin Anderson, Willie Cook, Dora Jones and Dennis Presley, Sr.
Cooper was presented with a formal proclamation noting an exhaustive list of accomplishments, and contributions such as graduated with honors, a degree in social work/psychology, Human Rights Commissioner in 1973, St Paul’s Police and Fire Department Affirmative Action Officer, manager for the Metropolitan Transit Commission, director of Office of Equal Opportunity for Minnesota’s Metropolitan Waste Control Commission, and director of the Office of Diversity Development/Community Outreach for Regions Hospital.
In 2007, Cooper became Commissioner Toni Carter’s principal legislative aid for eight years.
Aug. 3 was declared Jacquelyn Cooper Day in Ramsey County.
The recognition stirred a buzz in the room about county seats being the ground zero focal point in which lives are most directly impacted; particularly low income and people of color, even more so than city council or state government (also being the best hidden).
So the farewell/thank you segment rapped up. In came the hello segment. Jeffrey Hassan, the executive director of African American Leadership Forum stepped up to welcome her in her new assignment as his new administrator. Cooper, emotionally moved, graciously acknowledged and thanked each and every well-wisher, assuring us that in her new assignment she will still be with us, doing grassroots community-building, and really not leaving at all.
In closing, Dr. Josie Johnson spoke affectionately. She remembered seeing Cooper’s potential back in her youth, and honored her for the promises fulfilled.
The grand finally; the Rev. Gloria Thomas brought the congregation up front, surrounding Cooper, covering her in prayer, thanking her for all that she has done for so many, and empowering her for her mission in the future … and amen.