Anna Julia Cooper

Powerful Essays
Anna Julia Cooper

"Only the BLACK WOMAN can say 'when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed

dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage,

then and there the whole . . . race enters with me'"

The life of Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964) affords rich opportunities for studying the developments in African-American and Ameri can life during the century following emancipation. Like W.E.B. DuBois, Cooper's life is framed by especially momentous years in U.S. history: the final years of slavery and the climactic years of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. Cooper's eclect ic and influential career mirrored the times. Although her life was privileged in relation to those of the majority of African-Americans, Cooper shared in the experiences of wrenching change, elevating promise, and heart-breaking disappointment. She was accordingly able to be an organic and committed intellectual whose eloquent speech was ensnarled in her concern for the future of African-Americans.

Anna Julia Haywood was born into slavery to Hannah Stanley Haywood and her master, George Washington Haywood, in 1858.1 At the age of nine, she enrolled in St. Augustine's Normal School and Collegiate Institute for free Blacks. Cooper married St. Augustine graduate George Cooper, in 1877. His death in 1879 "ironically allowed her to pursue a ca reer as a teacher, whereas no married woman—black or white—could continue to teach."2 Cooper received a Bachelor's and a Master's degree from Oberlin College, and was first recruited to teach in 1887. She taught at M Street High School, Washingto n's only black high school, for many years, and was the subject of public controversy because of her educational philosophy.

In 191...

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...mpact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. By Paula Giddings. New York: W. Morrow, 1984.

Washington, Mary Helen. Introduction. A Voice From the South. By Anna Julia Cooper. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. xxvii-liv.

Other Sources

The Learning Center. Black Women, World War I, and Washington, D.C. Internet: Acce ssed 11/22/98.


1 Washington xxxi.

2 Ibid. xxxii.

3 Ibid. xxxix.

4 Ibid. li.

5 Ibid. xxviii.

6 Ibid. xxxii.

7 Cooper, A Voice, 181.

8 Washington xiv.

9 Alexander 68-69.

10 Cooper, A Voice, 79.

11 Washington xl.

12 Ibid. xlii.

13 Ibi d. xxvii.

14 Alexander 69.

15 Washington xxvii.

16 Washington l.

17 The Learning Center

18 Washington xxx.

19 Alexander 66.

20 Washington xxxiii-iv.

21 Ibid. xxxiv-v.

22 Ibid. xxxiv.

23 Ibid. xxxv-vi.

24 Ibid. xxxix.
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