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HU Professor Authors Biography on Activist Andrew W. Cooper


Wayne Dawkins

Wayne Dawkins, assistant professor of Journalism at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, has authored the first biography of an unforgettable African-American journalist and activist, Andrew W. Cooper. The biography, titled “City Son: Andrew W. Cooper’s Impact on Modern-Day Brooklyn,” possesses sound facts and tantalizing tid-bits. University Press of Mississippi published City Son on July 1.

A dialogue with Dawkins and book signing will take place in the William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library Atrium Meeting Room, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.

In 1966, a year after the Voting Rights Act began liberating millions of Southern African Americans, New Yorkers challenged a political system that weakened their voting power. Cooper, a beer company employee, sued state officials in a case called Cooper vs. Power. In 1968, the courts agreed that predominantly black citizens were denied the right to elect an authentic representative of their community. As a result of Cooper’s lawsuit, New York’s 12th Congressional District was redrawn and Shirley Chisholm, a member of Cooper’s political club, became the first black women elected to congress.

Cooper went on to become a journalist, a political columnist and then founder of Trans Urban News Service and the City Sun – a feisty Brooklyn-based weekly that published from 1984-1996.

Dawkins, having worked with Cooper at Trans-Urban News Service from 1977-79, gained instrumental insight into his world and fight. Dawkins’ relationship with the Cooper family and accomplished repertoire, prompted Mrs. Jocelyn E. Cooper to approach him about penning their story. A request Dawkins could not turn down.

The 340-page, peer-reviewed book features photographs that are rare period-piece illustrations from the 1960s and 1970s including images of political figures like mayors Lindsay and Koch, U.S. Sen. Jacob Javits, entertainers and scenes that define the voting rights struggle in New York.

“This is an important book for many reasons,” said Earl Caldwell, host of The Caldwell Chronicle on WBAI and former journalist for The New York Times, New York Daily News, The New York Amsterdam News and SHSJC adjunct professor. “It is chock full of significant and compelling stories not told. This book brings some balance into the story of New York politics, and a part of what it reflects is the way that the contributions, ideas, and struggles of black New Yorkers are not just ignored but treated as though they never were.”

Other books authored by Dawkins include, “Black Journalists: The NABJ Story,” “Rugged Waters: Black Journalists Swim the Mainstream” and “Black Voices in Commentary: The Trotter Group.”

“City Son: Andrew W. Cooper’s Impact on Modern-Day Brooklyn” is now available at amazon.com.