Ms. Bebe Ross Coker
May 23, 2013
Ms. Bebe Ross Coker was born on November 16, 1935 in Jacksonville, Florida where she was educated in the segregated schools of Jacksonville. Ms. Coker graduated from Stanton High School where the famous “Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing” was written. She attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland and after graduation worked in the Division of Social Services in Los Angeles, California. In 1960, she moved to Wilmington, Delaware where she worked with the state’s Social Services Division, raised her daughters, and volunteered with community service groups. In Wilmington, Ms. Coker fought to change the segregated housing and public accommodations laws.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Mrs. Coker worked for peaceful desegregation of schools. She was a member of the organization, “The Committee to Improve Education” and is still passionate about equal access to quality education. She served as President of the New Castle County Vo-Tech School Board and was instrumental in informing the community about the benefits of vocational education. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1984 to implement the Jobs for America's Graduates program (JAG); she was one of the pioneers for the project in Delaware. In 2002, she returned to Wilmington where she continues to serve the community in many capacities.
Ms. Coker writes and produces musicals and plays that teach Black History. She worked with the Wilmington Black Theater Ensemble to present her play “Mo’ Tea Miss Ann” at the DuPont Theater. Her musical “Wake Up World,” based on the thoughts of Delaware Youth, was performed at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. Several of her shows were also performed in New York City.
Mrs. Coker is most proud of her three daughters all of whom graduated from public schools in Wilmington. One daughter is a nurse and Captain in the U.S. Navy, another daughter is a doctor and surgeon, and her third daughter is Vice President of Sales, Conventions and Tourism for the City of Philadelphia. Ms. Coker's mantra is: “Don’t let your talents and skills take you where your character can’t keep you.”
In spring 2013, Ms. Coker served as a civil rights "Legend" to students at Eastside Charter School in Wilmington as part of Street Law's Closing the Gap initiative.
Want to get involved? Volunteers needed in fall 2013 for Street Law's Closing the Gap initiative.
(Reproduced with permission)