NAFEO President & CEO, Attorney Lezli Baskerville, NAFEO officers and board members, and the NAFEO Nation extend condolences and prayers of peace—peace of mind, heart, and soul for Mrs. Diane Shaw Cooper, the Cooper daughters, Reverend Bertram Cooper, brother of Dr. George E. Cooper, Executive Director of Community Seeds and a NAFEO development project volunteer, as well as others in the extended circle of family and friends of Dr. George E. Cooper who mourn his transitioning from this life.
Dr. Cooper left an indelible imprint on the richly diverse mission-based community of 106 colleges and universities known as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the HBCU extended Family and friends and supporters of HBCUs. He enhanced the HBCU Community—NAFEO Nation—in many ways, perhaps none more than his efforts in organizing a national campaign to promote peace on college and university campuses at a time when there were signs that hazing, racial, ethnic, and religious violence and intolerance appeared to be on the rise.
The NAFEO Nation recalls with thanksgiving that at the 2011 Presidential Peer Seminar and Leadership Development Institute, Dr. George Cooper, who was then President of South Carolina State University, volunteered to assume leadership for the action item emanating from that convening, to plan, then lead a national effort to position the HBCU and PBI communities in the forefront of a movement to “Promote Peace, Ecumenism, Tolerance, Anti-Hazing, and Anti-Violence on HBCU Campuses and in HBCU Communities.”
Dr. Cooper zealously undertook this leadership role in partnership with one other HBCU president. He organized hearings, campus forums, national and regional press conferences, and worked closely with the NAFEO team in shaping and advancing a national forum at Washington’s historic Metropolitan AME Cathedral. The forum was hosted by Professor Charles Ogletree, and attended by more than 600 participants. The forum engaged HBCU executives, students and alumni; faith leaders; civil rights, social justice and fraternal leaders; and a range of other stakeholders that yielded concrete actions including the formation by black colleges, faith, civil rights, social justice, Pan-Hellenic, and HBCU/PBI student leaders of a new “coalition of conscience” to end hazing and campus violence, and promote peace, ecumenism and tolerance (the PET Project).¹
We thank God, Mrs. Diane Shaw Cooper, the Cooper daughters and other loved-ones of Dr. George E. Cooper for positioning George to serve us and lead us as he did.
As we celebrate the life and service of Dr. Cooper, NAFEO resolves to work more aggressively and more strategically toward continuing the work in which George led us, moving HBCU and PBI campuses and communities closer toward realizing their full potential as peaceful, tolerant, interconnected, interdependent, respectful, hazing – and sexual assault-free, world-class, thriving learning laboratories.
I call on the Lord to still the sorrows, grief, and fears of his family members and to wash away their tears. I ask that the hearts of the loved ones of George be filled with thanksgiving and joy as we recall the blessings, grace and mercy God afforded George during his years on earth, and the blessing he was to us all.
Shalom, As-salaam Alaikum, Peace.
President & CEO
¹ Immediately recognizable participants in the forum who embraced the PET Project included: Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, a representative for Attorney General Holder; Ms. Jennifer M. Jones, President, National Pan-Hellenic Council; Honorable Darren Sellers, President, National Association of Young Black Elected Officials and the Student Government Association Council for Creative Leadership from 105 HBCUs; Ms. Sharon Lettman Hicks, President, National Black Justice Coalition; Mr. Melvin N. Miles, Past National President & Chairman of the Board, Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity; Mr. Thomas W. Dortch, 100 Black Men of America and National HBCU Alumni Hall of Fame; Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, current President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association; Dr. Elsie Scott, Inaugural Executive Director, Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center, Howard University; Reverend Dr. Jamaal Bryant, Pastor of the Empowerment Temple AME Church, Baltimore, Maryland; and NAFEO President Baskerville.