Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dr. Paul Cooke (June 29, 1917 - July 4, 2010)

History Makers

Paul Cooke Biography

Dr. Paul Phillips Cooke was born on June 29, 1917 in New York City. His parents were the late Mamie Phillips Cooke and Louis Phillips Cooke. Cooke attended Garrison Elementary School and Garnet-Patterson Junior High School, both in Washington, D.C. He earned a diploma from Dunbar High School where he played on the baseball team and was a member of the Cadet Corps, serving as Captain of Company F. During his senior year in 1933, his company was asked to perform at a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

From 1933 to 1937, Cooke attended Miner Teachers College (M.T.C.) in Washington, D.C. [which later became the District of Columbia's Teachers College after combining with Wilson Teacher's College. It subsequently became the University of the District of Columbia (U.D.C.).] where he earned his B.S. degree. He continued his studies at New York University where he earned his M.A. degree in education. In 1943, Cooke earned another M.A. degree in English language and literature from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and completed his studies with an Ed.D. degree from Columbia University in 1947.

While attending graduate school, Cooke worked as a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service. Before receiving his graduate degrees, Cooke served in the U.S. Army between 1945 and 1946. He was honorably discharged with the rank of corporal. In 1948, Cooke, along with several colleagues from M.T.C., protested against Washington D.C.'s National Theatre for its discriminatory treatment against blacks. In 1951, Cooke worked to assist Washington D.C.-area African American deaf children who were being sent out of the city for their education while white deaf students from the city were being taught at what is now Galludet University. From 1954 to 1966, Cooke worked as a professor at District of Columbia Teacher's College. In 1966, he was appointed president of District of Columbia Teacher's College and served in that post until 1974. In 1978, Cooke worked as a consultant for the World Peace Through Law Center. From 1984 to 1986, he worked as a professor at Beacon College in Washington, D.C.

Cooke is a member of the World Veterans Federation and the American's Veterans Committee and serves as an officer for the Catholic Interracial Council of Washington, D.C. In 1983, Paul Phillips Cooke Day was declared in Washington, D.C. by former Mayor Marion Barry. One year later, Cooke was awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope John Paul II. In 1986, the University of the District of Columbia awarded him with an honorary doctor of laws degree and also gave him the U.D.C. Legacy Award in 2004. The university also established the Paul Phillips Cooke Lecture Series and the Paul Phillips Cooke Scholarship Program. Two scholarships were awarded in 2006. Cooke is also active in his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc., which awarded him the Laurel Wreath in 1995. He is also a lifelong member of the NAACP.

After sixty-three years of marriage and four children, his wife, Rose Clifford Cooke, died.

Cooke was interviewed by The History Makers on March 1, 2004.