History of the Cooper Road

Part One

SHREVEPORT-- - Established in 1928, the Cooper Road was an African American town designed for the African American family.

"The cooper road is categorized as the one of the largest African American communities in the United States," says Willie Bradford, Shreveport City Councilman.

"Everything up here was property owned by blacks, wasn't no white up here," says Flem Morris Jr., Cooper Road Resident.

"It was a thriving business sector where most of the businesses were owned and operated by African Americans. We had grocery stores, restaurants, cleaners, everything that would encompass the community, it was here," says Bradford.

The city of Shreveport offered to annex the community in 1977.

"They had the choice to annex or incorporate as a town. They chose to annex and the city pledged to bring them up to city standards. It was a rural community, most of the streets were dirt streets, they had very little infrastructure as it relates to water and sewage, they pledged to bring housing development up," says Bradford.

But that didn't happen.

"You'll be surprised how many people have lost their property. One reason was when the sewage came up here, we just didn't have the money to pay for it, and a lot of people lost their property behind that sewage," says Morris.

Many believe the annexation was the Cooper Road's downfall.

"After integration, and after they had access to north market, a lot of the African American businesses were left and overtaken by other ethnic groups. After no jobs were here came a negative ailment," says Bradford.

Gangs, crime, and drugs infected the Cooper Road in the 80's and 90's.

"It got so bad that in the late 90's because of the constant crime, violence, and shootings, the city, the sheriff and the state police came together and instituted an operation called Operation Thor to eradicate a lot of the gang violence and the crime that was happening," says Bradford.

Leaving a negative stigma to the Cooper Road community.

"Most of our negativity and things is about the loitering and people standing around not doing a lot, because they don't have jobs," says Charles Rambo, Cooper Road Resident.

"That has hovered over the Cooper Road for  the last 25 years that the Cooper Road is not a safe place to be," says Bradford.

Tune in Wednesday for the final part of the Cooper Road series.

We will have more on where the Cooper Road is now and where elected officials envision it to be.

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