December 7, 2022
A historical marker installed outside the Caruth Homeplace publicly acknowledges Dr. Cooper’s historical importance
Photo Credit: Kim Leeson Photography
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Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) is striving for a community where everyone has equitable opportunities to thrive – a community where the past is honored and working together to build a better future. In recent years, CFT has worked to celebrate and uplift inspiring Black historical figures. On December 7, 2022, CFT honored Dr. Marcellus Clayton Cooper with the installation of a historical marker outside the Caruth Homeplace in acknowledgement of his historical importance and impact, as he forged a path forward for many in the community across Texas and around the country.
CFT was joined by staff, board members, community leaders, and descendants of Dr. Cooper for a historical marker dedication ceremony. The ceremony acknowledged the former slave born on the Caruth Farm who went on to become Texas’ first licensed Black dentist. Dallas historian and the late founder of Remembering Black Dallas, Dr. George Keaton Jr., played a vital role in preserving the history and culture of race in Dallas, including Dr. Cooper’s achievements as the first licensed Black dentist in the state of Texas.
Dr. Cooper founded Texas’ first Black-owned bank, ran a successful dental practice for 30 years, invested in the community, and supported Black businesses despite the tumultuous racial climate of Dallas at the time.
In March of 2021, Texas A&M School of Dentistry dedicated their Dr. M.C. Cooper Dental Clinic to provide urgent and comprehensive dental care for low income, uninsured individuals in the South Dallas community.
“We have many hidden heroes among us, both now and in our city’s history, especially when it comes to people of color, and we need to honor these heroes,” said Dr. Reo Pruiett, CFT’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. “While Dr. Cooper passed in 1929, it’s important to uplift his legacy in our community to both honor and reconcile with our city’s history and to inspire others to share their stories.”
Lewis Rhone, Cleoletta Spann, Patricia Price Hicks, Paul Anderson, Rose Anderson, and Dave Scullin
The ceremony included remarks from Judith Tankel, district director, on behalf of U.S. Congressman Colin Allred, Patricia Price Hicks from the Dallas County Historical Commission, Alfreda Norman, CFT board chair, Dave Scullin, CFT’s CEO and president, Dr. Pruiett, and Lewis Rhone, a grandson of Dr. Cooper.
As CFT enters its 70th year, efforts like Dr. Cooper’s historical marker are the first step of many steps ahead toward building the community we strive for.