November 23, 2009
SOC 480-D1/ Sociological Seminar
Fayetteville State University
Anna Julia Haywood Cooper (1859-1964) was one of the most influential African-American educators of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As an activist, author, and scholar, she dedicated her entire life to the education and empowerment of African-American youth and adults. Her commitment and passionate belief in the power of education as a vehicle to social, economic, and political freedom was a driving force in her life. As an author and feminist, Cooper wrote A Voice from the South in 1892. This book consists of a collection of essays that reflects a Black feminist analysis on racism and sexism. It focuses on the race problem in 19th century America as well as educational concerns for African-Americans and higher education for women. This paper will examine Anna Julia Cooper's role as an educational leader as well as her philosophical views on education.
Anna Julia Cooper's legacy is that of an accomplished educator who was an advocate for equitable educational opportunities for African-Americans, females, and low-income adults. For Cooper, education was a liberating force. Unhappy with the existing societal thinking that limited the lives of Blacks and women, Cooper found the strength and resiliency to actively seek solutions to the problems experienced by these groups. She was truly dedicated to helping her students build better lives and realize their dreams and possibilities despite the institutional barriers that blocked them.
She was born Annie Julia Haywood in Raleigh, North Carolina around 1858. Anna was the only daughter of three children; a slave woman named Hannah Stanley Haywood and her father was thought to be her mother’s master. During the years of 1858 and after, Anna endured slavery trades, plus even living/witnessing the Civil War of 1861. Annie Haywood's early years were spent during a time of tremendous upheaval in the South. Two years after her birth, the Civil War started. During the war years, Annie's state of North Carolina was ravaged by the numerous military conflicts fought on its soil. Finally, in 1863, freedom came to Annie when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Two years later, the Civil War came to an end. Annie was six-years-old when the war ended. Several crucial events in Haywood's early life contributed to her philosophical ideals about education and her development as an educator. Annie Haywood's academic preparation included the classical course of study, in which she did extremely well. Cooper was a remarkable woman even at the tender age of seven and her abilities had not gone unnoticed. Anna was teaching other children how to read. When she was close to ten-years-old, Annie enrolled in the Saint Augustine Normal School and Collegiate Institute. The school had a great impact on her intellectual development and influenced her philosophical views about education with regards to Blacks and females. Due to her family not having a strong education background, Anna motivated and excelled in the achievements involving school. Her contributions of learning earned her scholarships to various schools and even filing complaints that followed lashing out against sexism in the classroom set the standards for black women. It was at that school she met her husband, George Christopher Cooper, a theology student and Greek instructor. In 1877, the two were married. Unfortunately, George Cooper passed away in 1879 and she never remarried. “It wasn’t until after the untimely death of her husband, George Cooper, that Anna threw herself into higher education and achievements” (Hutchinson, 1981). Education
By the age of eight, Cooper showed such academic proficiency that she was made a pupil-teacher. At the age of nine, she received...