Anna J. Cooper

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper (Raleigh, August 10, 1858 – February 27, 1964) was an American author, educator, speaker and one of the most prominent African-American scholars in United States history. Upon receiving her PhD in history from the University of Paris-Sorbonne in 1924, Cooper became the fourth African-American woman to earn a doctoral degree. She was also a prominent member of Washington, D.C.’s African-American community.

Perhaps her most well-known volume of writing, A Voice from the South is widely viewed as one of the first articulations of Black feminism. The book advanced a vision of self-determination through education and social uplift for African-American women. Cooper was not only an author and educator, but she was a speaker as well. Some notable speeches were delivered at the World’s Congress of Representative Women in Chicago in 1893 (in which she was one of three black women invited to speak) and the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900 (when she delivered a paper entitled “The Negro Problem in America”).

On February 27, 1964, Cooper died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 105.

Pages 26 and 27 of the United States passport contain the following quotation: “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.” – Anna Julia Cooper

In 2009, the United States Postal Service released a commemorative stamp in Cooper’s honor.

Also in 2009, a tuition-free private middle school was opened and named in her honor, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School on historic Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia.

Cooper is honored with Elizabeth Evelyn Wright with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on February 28.

Anna J. Cooper