Anna Julia Cooper , née Anna Julia Haywood (born August 10, 1858?, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.—died February 27, 1964, Washington, D.C.), American educator and writer whose book A Voice From the South by a Black Woman of the South (1892) became a classic African American feminist text.
Cooper was the daughter of a slave woman and her white slaveholder (or his brother). In 1868 she enrolled in the newly established Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute (now Saint Augustine’s University), a school for freed slaves. She quickly distinguished herself as an excellent student, and, in addition to her studies, she began teaching mathematics part-time at age 10. While enrolled at Saint Augustine’s, she had a feminist awakening when she realized that her male classmates were encouraged to study a more rigorous curriculum than were the female students. After that early realization, she spent the rest of her life advocating for the education of black women.
In 1877 Anna married her classmate George Cooper, who died two years later. After her husband’s death, Cooper enrolled in Oberlin College in Ohio, graduating in 1884 with a B.S. in mathematics and receiving a master’s degree in mathematics in 1888. In 1887 she became a faculty member at the M Street High School (established in 1870 as the Preparatory High School for Negro Youth) in Washington, D.C. There she taught mathematics, science, and, later, Latin.
During the 1890s Cooper became involved in the black women’s club movement. Women’s club members were generally educated middle-class women who believed that it was their duty to help less-fortunate African Americans. During that time Cooper became a popular public speaker. She addressed a wide variety of groups, including the National Conference of Colored Women in 1895 and the first Pan-African Conference in 1900.
In 1902 Cooper was named principal of the M Street High School. As principal, she enhanced the academic reputation of the school, and under her tenure several M Street graduates were