Ann Louise Nixon Cooper and Barack Obama

Ann Louise Nixon Cooper, 106

It’s a pity that Barack Obama’s grandmother did not live to see him become the first black president of the United States. But someone else did. Ann Louise Nixon Cooper. Does it ring a bell? President-elect Obama mentioned her several times during his speech yesterday in Chicago – “Yes we can.”

Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old, and is from Atlanta. On November 4th, she left her home early, just so she could vote for Barack Obama. She has seen the history of US from 1902 – World War I, World War II, the cold war, Vietnam… and now she also saw America have its first ever black president.
I ain’t got time to die“, she said to CNN.
She comes from a time when she was barred from voting on two counts – being a woman, and being black. She has seen America, and the world too, through thick and thin – and as Obama puts it, “she knows how America can change“.
Here is where Obama talks about her in his speech:

[…] This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing — Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?[…]

Colin Powell wept at Obama’s victory. So did Rev. Jesse Jackson. I watched the elections for most of the evening yesterday – and more than experiencing the sheer joy of seeing Obama win the election, I was in awe because his persona inspires me to do something worthwhile… and to be a better person.
Update: Thanks to Nina for this video link! The 106 year old voter reacts to how she was an integral part of Obama’s victory speech.

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