Anna Julia Cooper

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Anna Julia Cooper was born on August 10th, 1858, in North Carolina, to Hannah Stanley Haywood and the white man who owned her.[1] She enrolled in a school for freed slaves and excelled as a student. At the age of ten she taught math part time. She observed that male classmates were encouraged to pursue harder studies than female students.[2]

Anna married her George Cooper, a classmate. They married in 1877 but he died 2 years later. After his death, Anna went to Oberlin College in Ohio and graduated with a bachelors in math and later getting a masters degree in math in 1888. She became a teacher at M Street High School in Washington, D.C., where she taught math, science and Latin. In 1902 she became the principal. She put an emphasis on college prep courses and more students were accepted into Ivy League schools under her principality. The Board of Education refused to rehire her for the 1905-6 school year so she taught at Lincoln University, a historically black college in Missouri. She was rehired at the M Street school in 1910, until 1930, when she was president of Frelinghusen University for working adults until 1941. She also got a doctorate and wrote her dissertation in French, about slavery.

In the 1890s she became a public speaker and advocate for education for people of colour. She spoke to both the National Conference of Colored Women in 1895 and the first Pan-African Conference in 1900.

She also cared for and raised two foster children and five adoptive children. At 105 she died in her sleep.