THIS is the 106-year-old woman who provided Barack Obama with inspiration for his acceptance speech. Ann Nixon Cooper was born just a generation past slavery. But when Obama took to the stage as president in Chicago, he mentioned the centenarian who had once been barred from voting because of the colour of her skin. He said: "This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. "She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old. "She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. 'Yes we can' "And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can." Ann, who has outlived three of her four children, reportedly said: "I ain't got time to die. "Even if he (Obama) didn't win, I was happy for him just to be nominated. "The first black president isn't that something, at 106 years old?" Ann went to vote in a wheelchair and was helped by two caretakers. She was born in Shelbyville, Tennessee, in 1902 and grew up in Nashville with uncles and an aunt who worked as a domestic servant for wealthy whites. In 1922, she married Albert Cooper and the couple moved to Atlanta. Her one surviving daughter is 83. She has 14 grandchildren living and many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. When asked about the secret to her longevity, she said, "I don't know how it happened, but being cheerful had a lot to do with it."