Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Wake Wedndesay - Anna Julia Cooper

Anna "Annie" Julia Cooper nee Haywood was born enslaved in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1858. From such humble beginnings she rose to accomplished heights too numerous to account for in a simple blog post. Here are the highlights of her career.


In 1868, when Cooper was nine years old, she received a scholarship and began her education at the newly opened Saint Augustine's Normal School and Collegiate Institute in Raleigh eschewing the educational track reserved for women, Cooper fought for her right to take courses reserved for men, by demonstrating her scholastic ability.

Upon graduation, she became an instructor at Saint Augustine in 1883. She went on to attend the college level program (male student track again) and graduate from in 1884 Oberlin College in Ohio. Cooper taught there before moving to Washington DC to teach latin and later become principle of the M Street High School.

Cooper advocated for the classical education model for blacks as championed by WEB Du Bois rather than the vocational program promoted by Booker T Washington. 

She is the author of  A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South, a well known and respected speaker. This and more of her writings  are featured in a recent book titled, The Portable Anna Julia Cooper. Read a review about this book here

Cooper had a long and illustrious career as an educator, author, public speaker and  early black feminist. She though she died in 1964 in Washington, her memorial was held at Saint Augustine's chapel and she is buried nearby at Raleigh City Cemetery. A historical marker honors her and marks the way at the at the intersection of North East Street and East Edenton Street.


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