Editor’s Note: At the Monday, August 3 Albuquerque City Council meeting my old friend Allen Cooper will be honored with the official Allen Cooper Day, August 10, 2020. Members of the public will have the ability to view the meeting through GOVTV on Comcast Channel 16, or to stream live on the GOVTV website at https://www.cabq.gov/culturalservices/govtv, or on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uj08uxksj28. I first met Allen back in the 1970s at the University of New Mexico when all hell broke loose over the Vietnam War and Governor David Cargo sent in the National Guard during campus protests. I interviewed Allen in 2014 for a book I was working on in collaboration with photographer Tony Louderbough: New Mexicans in the Eye of the Storm: The 1968 to 1973 Portrait Project. When we asked Allen at the end of the interview how he feels now about his political history and what hopes he has for the world, he answered: “When Amy Goodman asked Angela Davis whether she had any hope, Angela answered, I act like I have hope.” Hope for a more democratic, socialist international community. He said while he would have done many things differently—devised better strategies and tactics—he has no regrets.
Proclamation of the Albuquerque City Council
Whereas, Allen Fairfax Cooper was born on August 10, 1938, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was raised, and has dedicated his life to The Movement for civil rights, and participated in many of the most significant events in U.S. civil rights history; and
Whereas, Allen Cooper served in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s during the Cold War, an experience that spurred him to become a life-long anti-war activist; he supported other veterans by serving on the GI Rights Hotline; and was fired from teaching at Highland High School after 9/11 because he refused to take down artwork drawn by a student refugee from Afghanistan that said “No War”; and
Whereas, Allen Cooper demonstrated his commitment to social justice in the 1960s by marching and committing civil disobedience in the Southern Freedom Movement, as a member of CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality) and SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), and was seriously injured by the KKK while registering African-Americans to vote in Mississippi and Georgia; and
Whereas, Allen Cooper supported the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense by conducting weapons training for BPP members in Oakland, and helped the United Farm Workers expose unfair labor practices by working undercover at a winery in California; and
Whereas, Allen Cooper answered the call for people to support the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee in 1973, acquiring a special nick-name from its leader Russell Means; and has shown up in solidarity with Native American demands for justice and equality from Big Mountain to Standing Rock; and
Whereas, Allen Cooper used his local community media platform for decades as host of Espejos de Aztlán on KUNM and the New Mexico IndyMedia Show on public access TV Channel 27 to inform the community about a broad range of social justice issues including U.S. government-funded injustice in Central America and Palestine; environmental threats such as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and the jet fuel spill at Kirtland Air Force Base; the unsolved murders of the women whose remains were found on the West Mesa, and all peoples oppressed by colonization, U.S. imperialism, and capitalism; and
Whereas, the University of New Mexico’s Center for Southwest Research has created the Allen Cooper Papers archive because of his extensive involvement in civil rights history; and a memoir about his life of activism is forthcoming; and
Whereas, Allen Cooper has stood up and cried out for justice believing that until all of us are free, none are free; and that were it not for recent health challenges, that Allen Cooper would be in the street shoulder-to-shoulder with activists calling out that Black Lives Matter and to defund police and move those funds to community needs; and
Whereas, community members now seek to honor this fearless and courageous Albuquerque resident who has given his heart and soul to the Movement in spite of institutional harassment and surveillance from all levels of government, imprisonment, loss of jobs, and other failed attempts to silence him; therefore,
Be it proclaimed that the Council, the governing body of the City of Albuquerque, hereby recognizes
August 10, 2020
Allen Cooper Day
I met Allen during an antiwar demonstration at the old ball field used by the Navy ROTC east of the UNM SUB and saw him arrested. I had just joined SDS where he was a major player. In 1970 we were in the same jail cell twice. The first time we were among those arrested in the SUB when UNM was invaded by the state police and National Guard. The second time during Nixon’s campaign visit on Halloween.