Longtime Activist Allen Cooper Dies at Age 83

Editor’s Note: Many of us who were active in Albuquerque politics (and beyond to el norte) back in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s knew Allen Cooper well as we joined in many of the causes for which he advocated with hard work and much enthusiasm. He continued his activism into the 2000s and in 2020, the Albuquerque City Council declared August 10 Allen Cooper Day. Following is the Albuquerque Journal obituary for Allen, who died on August 7. There will be a Celebration Of Life on September 24, 2022 from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. RIP, Allen.


Allen Cooper
August 10, 1938 – August 7, 2022

Allen Fairfax Cooper, born August 10, 1938, in Albuquerque, New Mexico passed away at the age of 83 on August 7, 2022, at the New Mexico State Veterans’ Home in Truth or Consequences, after a long battle with Lewy body dementia. He is survived by his son Malcolm Jamal Cooper, daughter in law Agatha, two grandsons, Daraeon and Jamari Cooper, brother Terry Fox, and former wives Jane Ruge and Allison Frank, who loved and supported him through the end.

On Allen’s 82nd birthday the City of Albuquerque issued a Proclamation honoring Allen as a “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.”

Throughout Allen’s life, he took a stand for freedom, liberation and social justice, challenging war as the answer to peace after serving in the US Navy in the 1950s during the Cold War, and actively supporting oppressed, disenfranchised, exploited, brutalized peoples across the country, and in international struggles in Cuba, Central America, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Southeast Asia, and Africa. He spoke with revolutionary zeal for social change but at heart Allen was an ally in the struggle for justice and peace who walked his talk.

In the 1960s he joined the historical 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom demanding an end to institutional racism, buoyed by Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream.” He walked from Washington, DC to Key West, Florida, calling for peaceful US – Cuba relations. Moved by the racism he observed in the military and the 1955 brutal murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi, he followed the call of the Southern Freedom Movement for civil disobedience, and worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Black communities in rural Georgia and Mississippi as a medic, literacy teacher and organizer, registering voters and educating farmworkers how to unionize, at peril to his life from the brutality of legal authorities and the Ku Klux Klan.

Immersed in the activism of the day, he collaborated with the Black Panther Party and United Farm Workers in California to address social and economic inequality, marched with Reyes Lopez Tijerina in support of La Raza and the land grant movement in Northern New Mexico, and carried his protest of the Vietnam War not only to demonstrations and teach-ins as far as Mexico City but offering draft counseling to young men seeking conscientious objector status. During the Iraq War in the 2000s he again came forward in protest, while volunteering for the GI Rights Hotline.

In 1973, with a small group of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Allen joined the occupation of Wounded Knee with the American Indian Movement to liberate the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota from the oppressive tribal government terrorizing the traditional Lakota people. For his support, he faced federal charges with over 100 years’ imprisonment. He remembered Wounded Knee and the Southern Freedom Movement, especially Mississippi, as transformative, real life-and-death communities of resistance whose courageous people became his lifetime teachers for struggles to come.

And there were many struggles where Allen was a visible and vocal ally, joining demands for social, economic and legal justice, environmental protection from energy development and nuclear waste disposal, recognition of indigenous treaty rights and international human rights. He remained active through 2016 when he participated in the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

In New Mexico, Allen was active for decades in the Peace and Justice Center in Albuquerque and used local community media platforms, as a volunteer host of Espejos de Atzlan on KUNM and the New Mexico IndyMedia Show on public access TV Channel 27, to inform the community about a broad range of cultural and social justice issues, while realizing his lifetime vision of building solidarity and valuing diversity. As the City of Albuquerque Proclamation recognized, Allen Cooper, throughout his life, “stood up and cried out for justice believing that until all of us are free, none are free.”

Allen was a public school teacher who loved teaching and loved his students. Enthusiasm, humor, compassion, and respect were his gifts. When asked what he taught, he would reply “I teach students to think for themselves.”

An avid swimmer and voracious reader, Allen also enjoyed traveling, fishing, hiking, listening to music, watching documentaries and independent films, and feeding and watching birds. Most of all, Allen was a revolutionary motivated by great love. He worked ceaselessly to raise consciousness. He said he would never quit until he died and “probably won’t even quit then.” He was most at peace at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico.

The family would like to thank the NM Veterans’ Home nurses, doctors, and staff for the kindness, care, respect, and dignity they showed Allen. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to NM State Veterans’ Home Resident Fund, 992 Broadway St., Truth or Consequences, NM, 87901, in support of resident veterans in need.

A celebration of Allen’s life will take place at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice on September 24 from 4-8 pm. Bring your memories and a dish to share.



  1. This obit covers a lot. I remember Allen’s activism with Big Mountain – Peabody Coal Mine in NE Arizona on joint Hopi and Diné lands in the late 70s, early 80s. I think a lot these days about my friends Allen and Jane.

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