The northeast corner of West 166th Street and Broadway will be co-named Carlos Cooks Way.
Carlos A. Cooks was born in the Dominican Republic on June 23, 1913 to James Henry Cooks and Alice Cooks, who were originally from the neighboring island of St. Martin. His education took place mostly in Santo Domingo until moving to New York in 1929 where he went on to higher learning. Cooks was known for his love of sports and his expertise in boxing. His intellect was recognized from an early age and he attended the leadership school in the Voodoo Sacré Society.
Cooks was introduced to Marcus Garvey‘s Black Nationalist fraternal organizations, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and African Communities League, by his uncle and father, who were among the many St. Martiners who were Garvey followers. At age nineteen, Cooks was officially recognized by Garvey and became a vital member of the movement.
Cooks was a key link in the history of Black American Nationalism between Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, whom he influenced. Carlos Cooks administered the Advance Division of the UNIA after Marcus Garvey was deported. He founded the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement.
Cooks launched the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement (ANPM) in 1941. His goal was to make it “an educational, inspirational, instructive, constructive and expansive society… composed of people desirous of bringing about a progressive, dignified, cultural, fraternal and racial confraternity among the African peoples of the world.”
Cooks founded the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement based on three main objectives:
First, he wanted to combine all the material resources of the Black race in all areas of the world to help secure the welfare and well being of Black people everywhere.
Secondly, he urged the activation of African-Community Leagues in all communities where people of the African ethnic group were in the majority. He argued for marshaling the economy of all African communities and channeling it in a progressive direction, so that the commerce, business life, and body politics of the community be in control of the resident majority.
And lastly, Cooks wanted to unite the various nationalist and pan-African organizations with one goal: the complete freedom of Africa for the benefit of the African people of the world. According to Cooks, the only way to secure a free future for Black people was through Black Nationalism. Cooks coined the phrase “Buy Black” many years before it was popularized by others and was who first initiated the concept of natural hair as an issue of racial pride through his ANPM’s Miss Natural Standard of Beauty Contest.
Carlos Cooks died in Harlem, on May 5, 1966.