Anna Julia Cooper: Educator and equality advocate

Anna Julia Cooper portrait
Anna Julia Cooper


“It is not the intelligent woman vs. the ignorant woman; nor the white woman vs. the black, the brown, and the red,–it is not even the cause of woman vs. man. Nay, ’tis woman’s strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice. It would be subversive of every human interest that the cry of one-half the human family be stifled. Woman in stepping from the pedestal of statue-like inactivity in the domestic shrine, and daring to think and move and speak,–to undertake to help shape, mold, and direct the thought of her age, is merely completing the circle of the world’s vision.” – Anna Julia Cooper

Anna Julia Cooper was an example for all and a teacher to many.

Born enslaved in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1858, she started school at the age of nine. Nearly sixty years later, Anna received her Ph.D. in history at the age of sixty-six in 1924.

Throughout the years in between and many after her Ph.D., Anna dedicated herself to helping others thrive. She taught in schools, worked as a principal, and after her Ph.D. as a university president.

Anna was also a staunch advocate for civil rights and women’s rights, writing and giving speeches. In one speech, Anna said, “A nation’s greatness is not dependent upon the things it make and uses. Things without thots [sic] are mere vulgarities. America can boast her expanse of territory, her gilded domes, her paving stones of silver dollars; but the question of deepest moment in this nation today is its span of the circle of brotherhood, the moral stature of its men and its women, the elevation at which it receives its ‘vision’ into the firmament of eternal truth.”

Anna passed away at the age of 105 in 1964.

“Anna Julia Cooper: Educator and equality advocate” sources:

Portrait taken circa 1902 – C.M. Bell, photographer. Mrs. A.J. Cooper. [between February and December 1903] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>. / Giles, Mark S. “Special Focus: Dr. Anna Julia Cooper, 1858-1964: Teacher, Scholar, and Timeless Womanist.” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 75, no. 4, Journal of Negro Education, 2006, pp. 621–34, / The Ethics of the Negro Question Speech by Anna Julia Cooper September 5, 1902 / Wikipedia / “A Voice from the South.” By A Black Woman of the South. Published by The Aldine Printing House in 1892, Ohio. / Anna Julia Coper – University of New Mexico