Polymath and Centenarian Anna Julia Cooper of Raleigh

Anna Julia Cooper of RaleighOn February 27, 1964, black feminist activist, scholar and educator Anna Julia Haywood Cooper died at the age of 105.

Born into slavery in 1858 in Raleigh, Cooper graduated from St. Augustine’s Normal School and then earned a B.A. and an M.A. in mathematics from Oberlin College in Ohio. She taught for a few years in Raleigh before moving to Washington, D.C., to teach there.

In 1892, she published A Voice from the South, one of the first comprehensive statements of black feminism. Her analysis of racism, sexism and subjugation of black women would echo into the black feminist movements of the 20th century.

Cooper devoted her life to the advancement of gender and racial equality and higher education of black women, published essays, made speeches and was active in black women’s uplift organizations.

At the age of 66, Cooper became the fourth African American in the nation woman to receive a Ph.D., earning her doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris. Working well into her nineties, she spent her final thirty years at D.C.’s Frelinghuysen University, a school for working-class black adults.

She died in 1964 and is buried in Raleigh.

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