Anna J. Cooper

Joellen El Bashir

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     Anna Julia Cooper {1858-1964}, educator and writer, was born a slave in Raleigh, NC. She began her education in 1867 at St. Augustine’s Normal and Collegiate Institute in Raleigh. In 1881 she entered Oberlin College in Ohio, where she earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 1925, she earned the Ph.D. degree from the Sorbonne in Paris, France.


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     Dr. Cooper taught on the college level for several years before coming to Washington, D.C. as principal of M Street High School (now Dunbar High School) from 1902 to 1906. Much of her career, however, centered around Frelinghuysen University in Washington, D.C., an adult education night school that offered courses in academic, religious and trade programs. Dr. Cooper, president of Frelinghuysen University from 1930 to 1940, was a staunch proponent of education for females. She believed strongly that education was the key to social equality for women and that access to higher education was critical to women becoming a distinct political and social force. She was also a relentless advocate for women’s suffrage.


For further reading on the life and career of Dr. Anna J. Cooper,
consult the following books:

Baker-Fletcher, Karen.  A Singing Something: Womanist Reflections
     on Anna Julia Cooper, Crossroads Publishing Co., 1994.

Gable, Leona C.  From Slavery to the Sorbonne and Beyond: The Life
     and Writings of Anna J. Cooper, Smith College Press, 1982.

Johnson, Karen Ann.  Uplifting the Women and the Race: The Lives,
     Educational Philosophies, and Social Activism of Anna Julia
     Cooper and Nannie Helen Burroughs, Garland, 2000.

Lemert, Charles and Esme Bhan, eds.  The Voice of Anna Julia
     Cooper: Including a Voice from the South and Other Important
     Essays, Papers, and Letters,  Rowman and Littlefield, 1998.


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May 2000