This quote lies within the pages of the new U.S. passport but few know about Anna Julia Cooper, the woman behind the words. Today we celebrate Cooper, who was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on August 10, 1858 to Hannah Stanley Haywood, enslaved to the family of George Washington Haywood, her father. At 10 years old, she received a scholarship to attend St. Augustine’s College, a school for former slaves and families and studied liberal arts, sciences and even subjects that were reserved for men, such as Greek. Cooper earned her bachelors degree in mathematics in 1884 from Oberlin College. In 1887, she received her master’s degree and after went on to teaching math, science, Latin and Greek. Cooper was one of two women to speak at the 1890 Pan-African Conference in London and one of the few African American women to speak at the World Congress of Representative Women at the World’s Fair in 1893. Her most popular written work is a collection of speeches and essays about women’s rights and racial progression from 1892, “A Voice from the South.”
At 64 years old, motivated to go back to school and while raising five children she adopted after her brother passed away, Cooper became the fourth black woman in America to receive a Doctorate of Philosophy degree.