A Portrait of Helen Cromer Cooper

Shorefront Journal

By Shawna Cooper-Gibson —

Helen Cromer Cooper was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1906, home to Northwestern University, one of the most highly ranked U.S. educational institutions, and, during her lifetime, to a burgeoning African American population as well. Ms. Cooper, a pioneering Black female Northwestern student (class of 1931), lived a long life in and outside of Evanston and died in her hometown in the year 2000.

Helen Cromer Cooper’s mother, Mrs. Helen Cornell Cromer, known to her friends as “Jinky,” was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and later lived in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada. Her father came to Evanston in 1897 with a White family and was biracial. Though Mr. Cromer’s familial roots are a mystery, she believed that “whoever it was who brought him [north], spirited him away, and I suppose for a better life”.

Ms. Cooper was baptized in 1919 at St. Andrews Church in Evanston…

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