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On June 7, 2023, a heartfelt ceremony unfolded as numerous family members, neighbors, and friends assembled to witness the honorary renaming of the 5300 block of Marian Street. This renaming, dedicated to the late Bettie Elizabeth Boyers Cooper, celebrated her pivotal role as a plaintiff during the Civil Rights Movement. Mrs. Boyers Cooper's federal lawsuit notably resulted in the integration of Richmond's City Schools, making her a revered figure in the community. 

Jane Cooper Johnson and family standing under Richmond's newest street sign bearing her mother's name, unveiled June 7, 2023. Photo: Courtesy of Richmond Free Press.

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Sign of a trailblazer

June 8, 2023

By Bonnie Newman Davis

Several family members, neighbors and friends gathered yesterday for an honorary street renaming of the 5300 block of Marian Street in honor of the late Bettie Elizabeth Boyers Cooper.  Mrs. Boyers Cooper was best known for being a plaintiff during the Civil Rights Movement whose federal lawsuit led to the integration of Richmond’s schools.


After Mrs. Boyers Cooper’s legal victory, her daughter, Daisy, was forced to attend Carver Elementary, several miles from her home in Westwood, and not allowed to attend the Westhampton School within walking distance of her home because of segregation policies in the school system.  Mrs. Boyers Cooper sued and after several years won her lawsuit, forcing integration of Richmond’s schools.  Mrs. Boyers Cooper’s granddaughter, Kelly Johnson-Crowder, and daughter Daisy Johnson, and great grandson, Kendall Scott were on hand for the street renaming.


“My grandmother was a very, very humble person and to see this being done in her honor means everything to me,” said Mrs. Johnson-Crowder.  “She was one who always opened her doors to everyone.  She always gave the neighborhood kids a meal, ice cream or whatever she could find.  She opened up her home for people to come and stay and let them stay for years, including me.”


Councilmembers Andreas Addison, 1st District, and Ann-Frances Lambert, 3rd District sponsored the renaming ordinance.


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By Jane C. Johnson

“It is with mixed emotions that I stand before you today. As mentioned, we all were impacted by yesterday's school tragedy. Yet, we're so very thankful for those who survived the unspeakable. My thoughts & prayers are especially with the victims & their families as well as with all the graduates throughout the city.


I am also grateful to stand before you today on this momentous occasion, and I'm proud to be a product of this Westwood Community! It's often said that quiet people have the loudest minds, and humility is often referred to as the quiet virtue. My mother was a quiet and humble person - yet, she exuded a quiet strength. What she aspired to accomplish was not to receive prominence; however, were she alive today, she would have been appreciative of the respect and admiration being shown to preserve our community's history! As you know, optimism is a hopeful, positive outlook on the future, yourself, and the world around you. It's a key part of resilience that helps you get through tough times. Yes, my mother was an optimist!


Now, I love direct quotations because there's always one that expresses my sincere sentiments, such as this by the widely acclaimed Nigerian scientist Kalu, who said, ‘The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.’ Therefore, for those of us then - and for those of us now - let us continue to keep - not only my mother's legacy alive - but others as well. But more importantly - let us remember that all humans are related and that God loves and accepts all of us - regardless of  race or status. Therefore, let us show appreciation - first to God - then to those who've struggled & endured before us - by doing what we can to promote unity & love. Thank you!”

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