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Anna Julia Cooper

  • If women were once permitted to read Sophocles and work with logarithms, or to nibble at any side of the apple of knowledge, there would be an end forever to their sewing on buttons and embroidering slippers.

  • Respect for woman, the much lauded chivalry of the Middle Ages, meant what I fear it still means to some men in our own day — respect for the elect few among whom they expect to consort.

  • A stream cannot rise higher than its source.

  • Only the BLACK WOMAN can say 'when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole Negro race enters with me.'

  • For woman's cause is man's: they rise or sink / Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free ...

  • All prejudices, whether of race, sect or sex, class pride and caste distinctions are the belittling inheritance and badge of snobs and prigs.

  • ... '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. ... The world has had to limp along with the wobbling gait and one-sided hesitancy of a man with one eye. Suddenly the bandage is removed from the other eye and the whole body is filled with light. It sees a circle where before it saw a segment. The darkened eye restored, every member rejoices with it.

  • The colored woman of to-day occupies, one may say, a unique position in this country. In a period of itself transitional and unsettled, her status seems one of the least ascertainable and definitive of all the forces which make for our civilization. She is confronted by both a woman question and a race problem ...

  • The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class — it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.

  • No man can prophesy with another's parable.

  • Religion must be life made true; and life is action, growth, development — begun now and ending never. And a life made true cannot confine itself — it must reach out and twine around every pulsing interest within reach of its uplifting tendrils.

  • It is the curse of minorities in this power-worshipping world that either from fear or from an uncertain policy of expedience they distrust their own standards and hesitate to give voice to their deeper convictions, submitting supinely to estimates and characterizations of themselves as handed down by a not unprejudiced dominant majority.

  • The impulse of humanity toward social progress is like the movement in the currents of a great water system, from myriad sources and under myriad circumstances and conditions, beating onward, ever onward toward its eternity, the Ocean.

    • Anna Julia Cooper,
    • in Charles Lemert and Esme Bhan, eds., The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper ()
  • Let our girls feel that we expect something more of them than that they merely look pretty and appear well in society.

    • Anna Julia Cooper,
    • "Higher Education for Women" (1892), in The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper ()
  • ... woman's cause is one and universal ...

    • Anna Julia Cooper,
    • "The Intellectual Progress of the Colored Woman in the United States Since the Emancipation Proclamation" (1893), in The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper ()

Anna Julia Cooper, U.S. educator, writer

(1858 - 1964)

Full name: Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.