By Michael Baadke
Anna Julia Cooper was born Aug. 10, 1858, in Raleigh, N.C. The noted educator was honored June 11, 2009, on a 44¢ stamp in the United States Postal Service’s Black Heritage commemorative series (Scott 4408).
On the back of the release paper for each self-adhesive stamp is printed: “Anna Julia Cooper (c. 1858-1964) was an educator, author, and activist who challenged biased notions of racial and gender inferiority. Cooper fought for social justice and civil rights for African-American women, young people, and the poor through her scholarship, community outreach, and innovative educational leadership.”
Cooper was born into slavery, but in 1887 she earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Oberlin College following the 1879 death of George Cooper, her husband of two years.
Many years later, she would complete her university studies by earning a doctorate at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, in 1925. Her thesis, on the subject of slavery, was written in French.
In 1892 she published a collection of essays, A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South. After teaching for several years, Cooper became a public speaker and essayist, and spoke on “The Negro Problem in America” at the 1900 First Pan-African Conference in London.
During the 1930s she served as president of Frelinghuysen University in Washington, D.C.
Anna Julia Cooper died at age 105 on Feb. 27, 1964.