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Having not seen a statue of Frederick Douglass during a visit to a museum with his father, Hathaway, only nine years of age at the time, was to have proclaimed: " I am going to model busts of Negroes and put them where people can see them." Expressing a similar sentiment, a mature William Arthur Cooper was to write in his Portrayal of Negro Life (1936): 

Unless we have a record of the Negro that is neither burlesqued with blackface nor idealized with sentimentality, the younger generation of Negroes will be deprived of the just inspiration from their own race - and the white people may fail to understand the need for a spirit of interracial cooperation. 

Both men were devoted to using art to promote racial pride. Hathaway studied for four years in the Art Department of the New England Conservatory of Music, the New York College of Ceramics at Alfred and the Cincinnati Art Academy. He brought to his sculpture and ceramics a vast amount of technical knowledge about clays and casting techniques. Most of the major Black leaders - from Bishop Richard Allen to Martin Luther King, Jr. - were the subject of sculptures by Hathaway. His experiments in ceramic technology were centered on Alabama clays, which are known for their transluscence. In only two years and at the age of 18, Cooper completed requirements for the Bachelor of Theology degree from the National Religious Training School at Durham in 1914. Cooper became a principal and teacher at a high school, passed the state bar examination, and was admitted to the North Carolina Bar Association in 1922. While recuperating from an illness, Cooper