Honoring Black History Month – StoryCorps
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“Our Father Taught Us To Love Ourself”: Remembering The Man Who Brought Juneteenth To San Diego

Long before Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday in the U.S., Sidney Cooper had been celebrating the hallowed day for decades.

Sidney grew up in a predominantly Black town just outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Juneteenth celebrations were a common part of his upbringing.

In the early 1950s, Sidney settled down in Southern California, and he became an early Black business owner in a predominantly white area.

Sidney Cooper (center) with his daughter, Lana (left), and his wife, Thelma (right), in front of the Cooper family barbershop and produce stand on Imperial Avenue. Courtesy of Lana Cooper-Jones.

Sidney taught his children many lessons on family and community, but he also taught them the importance of celebrating Juneteenth — even when no one else in his community was acknowledging the holiday.

Marla Cooper celebrating at the family’s annual Juneteenth celebration in San Diego. Courtesy of Lana Cooper-Jones.

A banner honoring the memory of Sidney Cooper at the family’s annual Juneteenth celebration.
Courtesy of Lana Cooper-Jones.

His daughters, Marla and Lana, came to StoryCorps to remember their dad and the legacy he left in his community.

Top Photo: Lana Cooper-Jones and Marla Cooper at their StoryCorps interview in San Diego, CA on May 11, 2022 for StoryCorps.

Originally aired Friday, June 17, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Star Bound

An uncle and his nephew with stars in their eyes. 

Joey Jefferson & Jerry Morrison

“You’re my favorite person to talk about space to.”

Six-year-old Jerry Morrison is obsessed with outer space — so of course, his favorite person to talk to is his uncle Joey Jefferson, a Mission Operations Engineer at NASA. They talk all about favorite planets, how much more there is to learn, and Joey’s hopes for Jerry’s future. 

Listen to Joey and Jerry’s original StoryCorps interview.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.

A Mother on Growing Up in the 1960s in a Large Black Suburb

More than half a million Americans have recorded StoryCorps interviews across the country. Often, participants use the opportunity to pass vital wisdom and stories from one generation to the next. That was the case in this StoryCorps recording from Norfolk, Virginia.

Charisse Spencer came to StoryCorps with her teenage son Myles to tell him what it was like growing up in the 1960s in Cavalier Manor, Virginia — at the time, one of the largest black suburbs in the country.


Bottom Photo: Charisse Spencer (right) with her sister Carol in 1967. Courtesy of Charisse Spencer.

Originally aired April 27, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Silvia’s Legacy

“At night she would tell her stories.”

Ellaraino & Baki Annur

Ellaraino experienced a common teenage reaction when she learned she’d have to leave Los Angeles to spend the summer in Louisiana with her great-grandmother, Silvia. Less common was Ellaraino’s realization that Silvia had lived through the Civil War, and had a lot to teach her great-granddaughter about the true meaning of freedom.

Ellaraino’s summer with Silvia took place in the 1950s. Many years later, she came to StoryCorps with her friend Baki AnNur to remember the stories she heard in that Louisiana log cabin.

The short “Silvia’s Legacy” brings to life the original conversation between the two women, available here.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.