Saturday’s memorial program at Stephens Elementary School for late community educator and leader Rev. Alfred Cooper included revealing plans for a plaque in his honor.
Tallapoosa County Commission Chairman T.C. Coley unveiled a cardboard replica for the bronze plaque, which will hang at the Cooper Community Center.
“We have to look to the great ones in our community to give us inspiration to do better, to strive better, to be better than we might be on our own,” Coley said. “And sometimes to do that we have to put the story out there and not every story is going to go on Facebook. Not every story is going to go on Instagram or Snapchat.”
Cooper, 90, died March 25.
People often wonder why buildings are named after others and don’t know the full story. But in the case of Cooper, Coley is hoping people will know his story.
“Some of our great stories aren’t going to be in a book, but in this case we are taking the stories of our great community leader of Rev. Alfred Cooper and we’re going to put his story permanently on the walls of the Cooper Community Center,” Coley said.
Cooper helped integrate Laurel and Benjamin Russell high schools in 1971.
Cooper was the assistant principal and football coach at Laurel.
Laurel’s building is now Stephens Elementary School and part of the old high school is now the Cooper Community Center.
“You don’t find good people every day, people who will treat you fair like Mr. Cooper did,” keynote speaker Grady Robinson said.
Cooper convinced Robinson to return to school after he dropped out before his senior year at Laurel.
“When you see the blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me, Dr. Cooper is in it also,” Robinson said. “I would have kept going in the direction I was on if he had not convinced me to come back to Laurel High.”
Robinson said Cooper let God direct his life.
“He was faithful in the little things of life and God made him rule over men,” Robinson said. “If you want to continue the life of Dr. Cooper live like he lived. Treat people right.”
The program featured singing from Denise Kelly, Ruth Black & The Harmonettes and Vantrice Heard.
Members of Laurel classes from 1961-70 lit candles in Cooper’s honor.
Deacon Rome Freeman recited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Prophetess Lisa Norris gave the welcome to the program and said although Cooper is dead, he is “still here in our hearts.”
“He was a wonderful person and everyone loved Rev. Cooper,” Freeman said.