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Born in historic Prince Edward County, Cooper is a 2006 graduate from both Southside Virginia Community College and Prince Edward County High School. He has lived in Virginia his entire life, except to attend college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Long before Taikein could drive, he was canvassing throughout Virginia’s communities as an 11-year-old to help elect his D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) teacher, Travis Harris, as Prince Edward County’s Sheriff.
During his college years, Taikein led various political action committees, served on the prestigious Chancellor’s Search Committee and even led a grassroots effort to Jena, Louisiana, calling for justice for the infamous Jena Six.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010, he returned to his true passion, fighting for the betterment of the people of Virginia. As a counselor in a correctional center in Chesapeake, VA, Taikein saw first-hand how political decisions affect the social welfare of constituents.
Most notably in 2012, Taikein ran in a special election for Prince Edward County Treasurer at 24 years old. Throughout his campaign, his age remained a hot topic, since many young adults are not active in political affairs.
Taikein is the Executive Director of Virginia Excels, an education advocacy organization that focuses on educational equity by amplifying the voices of students and families. He also co-hosts the socio-political podcast, Ain’t No Free Lunch, with Ms. Danielle Greene.