Ann Nixon Cooper died at age 107 in Atlanta in December 2009, just before her book A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name was published. The positive view of her death is that she finished the book in time before she departed, and that she had had enough of the fame that being mentioned for voting for presidential candidate Barack Obama had brought her. She had already lived a full life. She did not die too soon. Hers was a life to celebrate for its goodness.
In some ways, Cooper's life was fairly ordinary and not really bookworthy unless we are all bookworthy as representatives of our time. What singled her out was vitality at an advanced age and living an affluent life (though never conspicuous) in the black community of Atlanta through the days of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. She served as a witness to the great talents and work ethic of blacks when white culture was denying that blacks were equal. Filled with photos as well as Cooper's memories, contemporary readers see and hear in A Century and Some Change how the families of black professionals could have nice houses, send their children to good schools, know powerful people, and yet still be expected to step to the side of a sidewalk to let whites pass or sit in the back of the bus.
A Century and Some Change celebrates the good more than regrets the bad. It is a thoughtful book that may be quickly read. I recommend it for older readers wanting to remember the past and younger readers needing to know about segregation and forgiveness.
Cooper, Ann Nixon. A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name. Atria Books, 2010. ISBN 9781439158876.