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James Cooper is the first openly gay member of the Oklahoma City Council and the first African American elected to the OKC council outside of Ward 7.
He formerly served as an Oklahoma City Public Schools teacher and is a published writer who lives in OKC’s historic Paseo neighborhood. An avid middle school college preparation teacher, Councilman Cooper also works as an adjunct Film Studies professor at Oklahoma City University.
He received a bachelor's degree in Film Studies with a minor in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma. He began his teaching career at OSU as a graduate assistant, where the university’s English Department recognized him for Teaching Excellence in Composition. He holds an MA in English at Oklahoma State University and graduated at OCU with his Creative Writing MFA. In 2009, The Society of Professional Journalists awarded James for a column he wrote for OSU’s The Daily O’Collegian on federal hate crimes legislation. Later that year, the O’Collegian promoted him to Opinion Editor. James’ essay on the 2013 tornado that devastated Moore, “An Oklahoma Perspective on Tornado Alley,” appeared in the Huffington Post. The Oklahoma Gazette published Cooper’s 2011 two-part article on the history of Oklahoma City’s LGBTQ community, “From Closet to Community.”