The late Marcellus Clayton “M.C.” Cooper is Dallas.
On Feb. 12, 1862, Cooper was born to an enslaved person, Sallie Lively, and a white man, also named M.C. Cooper.
He spent his childhood on the Caruth Farm, a massive estate once stretching over 30,000 acres north from downtown and covering where SMU, Highland Park, University Park, and NorthPark Center are now.
After attending school in East Dallas black settlements near White Rock Lake, Cooper got a job at Sanger Brothers Department Store. He worked for 11 years saving money to study dentistry at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.
Cooper returned to Dallas in 1896 and opened a dentist office on Commerce Street.
The formerly enslaved person’s story is one of eight featured in “This is Dallas,” an exhibit running through May 30 in Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park, 1515 S. Harwood St. Visit dallasheritagevillage.org.
The exhibit explores the impact of disenfranchised individuals and groups on “big picture” history. Others highlighted include Anita N. Martinez, Rodd Gray [Patti Le Plae Safe], Maggie Wu, Alexander Sanger, Antonio Maceo Smith, Grace Danforth, and Quahana Parker.