Dr. Anna Julia Cooper

Dr. Anna Julia Cooper
Dr. Anna Julia Cooper

“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.”

— Dr. Anna Julia Cooper

At the NGS Family History Conference on Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend the Wake County luncheon.

The conference includes several opportunities to hear speakers over lunch for a fee. The fee includes the price of the lunch and also serves as a fund raiser for the organization that has put together the event. These are almost always lectures, and while the lectures are more entertaining and light than those offered at the rest of the conference, they are lectures.

The Wake County Genealogical Society (of which I am a not-very-active member) chose to do this differently. Instead of having one speaker, they had a troup of actors performing a play tailored for the occasion. The play was based on the lives of historical personages of Wake County. While there were some rough edges to the performance, with some dropped lines, it was a very powerful performance. Especially of note were the portrayals of Joel Lane, founder of Raleigh and Dr. Anna Julia Cooper. Of these, the presentation of Dr. Cooper was the most affecting.

Dr. Cooper was an educator and writer. She was the fourth African-American woman to receive a doctorate degree, and did so at the age of 65, shattering barriers of race, gender and age. She was born in slavery and lived to the age of 105, dying in 1964. She lived American history from the Civil War to Civil Rights.

To read more about Dr. Cooper, see the Wikipedia article on her life, or read her most famous book, A Voice from the South on the University of North Carolina’s DocSouth website.

Image © University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text. Cooper, Anna J., 1892, A Voice from the South, Xenia, Ohio: The Aldine Printing House, Documenting the American South. University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000, http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/cooper/.