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Leona H. Cooper was born Leona Helen Furgeson on June 30, 1932 in Nassau, Bahamas. She moved to Miami at age 14, graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1949. She married her high school sweetheart, William A. Cooper, in 1950, and they had five children. She received her certificate in Medical Technology from Doctors Clinical Laboratories, Miami, and began her career as a microbiologist, working at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, and the Miami Veterans Administration Medical Center, where she became Supervisor of Clinical Microbiology. She has also acted as Black Employment Manager and coordinated the Brown Bag Seminars, Martin Luther King Day, and Black History Month activities there.
Cooper is active in the Catholic Church, serving as a Lay Reader and Eucharistic Minister at St. Hugh Catholic Church. She made headlines when she helped pioneer the movement for women Lay Readers in the Catholic Church. She served on the Board of the Archdiocese of Miami's Catholic Community Services and chaired the Catholic Commission on Social Advocacy.
Cooper has also worked to make the Church more open to Black Catholics. In 1986 she founded the St. Martin De Porres Association, an organization of Black lay Catholics in Miami committed to assisting the homeless and to providing scholarships to Black students in Catholic schools. Cooper is also involved in many other civic activities, serving on several association boards in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami and the greater Miami-Dade County. She has won numerous awards for her service, including an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from St. Thomas University in 1993 and a Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice award for Outstanding Service to the Archdiocese and Papacy from Pope John Paul II in 1992.
This collection documents the family, professional, and religious life of Leona H. Cooper. The collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, programs, publicity materials, and other materials documenting her activities and interests, including papers relating to the St. Martin De Porres Association and Black Christians in the Catholic Church; women in the Catholic Church; the Archdiocese of Miami; defending the rights of Haitian immigrants and Haitian nationals; the visit of Pope John Paul II to America in 1987; honors and awards, including her honorary doctorate from St. Thomas University and her Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice awarded by Pope John Paul II; City of Coral Gables and Dade County government and business; and the activities and achievements of her children.
Folder listing available.
Additional Physical Form:
Location of Originals/Duplicates:
Some news clippings and articles are in Spanish.
Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields:
Cooper, Leona H., 1932-
St. Martin de Porres Association.
Women in medicine Florida Women History 20th century Florida Women Social conditions and status Florida Women Societies and clubs Florida Women's rights Florida Women in science Florida. African American women. African Americans Florida. African Americans History 1877-1964. Florida African Americans History 1964- Florida Catholics Florida African American Catholics Florida. African American churches Florida. African American civic leaders Florida. Women microbiologists Florida
Newsletters. aat Clippings. aat Photographs. aat Programs. aat Greeting cards. aat Postcards. aat
Coral Gables (Fla.) Dade County (Fla.)