A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South

A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South

A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South

A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South

Synopsis

Published in 1892, A Voice from the South is the only book published by one of the most prominent African American women scholars and educators of her era. Born a slave, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper would go on to become the fourth African American woman to earn a doctoral degree. Cooper became a prominent member of the black community in Washington, D.C., serving as principal at M Street High School, during which time she wrote A Voice from the South. In it, she engages a variety of issues, including women's rights, racial progress, segregation, and the education of black women. Cooper also discusses a number of authors and their representations of African Americans, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Albion Tourgee, George Washington Cable, William Dean Howells, and Maurice Thompson, reaching the conclusion that an accurate depiction had yet to be written.

A DOCSOUTH BOOK. This collaboration between UNC Press and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library brings classic works back into print. DocSouth Books editions are selected from the digital library of Documenting the American South and are unaltered from the original publication. The DocSouth series uses digital technology to offer e-books and print-on-demand publications, providing affordable and accessible editions to a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers.

Excerpt

In the clash and clatter of our American Conflict, it has been said that the South remains Silent. Like the Sphinx she inspires vociferous disputation, but herself takes little part in the noisy controversy. One muffled strain in the Silent South, a jarring chord and a vague and uncomprehended cadenza has been and still is the Negro. and of that muffled chord, the one mute and voiceless note has been the sadly expectant Black Woman,

An infant crying in the night,
An infant crying for the light;
And with no language—but a cry.

The colored man’s inheritance and apportionment is still the sombre crux, the perplexing cul de sac of the nation,—the dumb skeleton in the closet provoking ceaseless harangues, indeed, but little understood and seldom consulted. Attorneys for the plaintiff and attorneys [Page II] for the defendant, with bungling gaucherie have analyzed and dissected, theorized and synthesized with sublime ignorance or pathetic misapprehension of counsel from the black client. One important witness has not yet been heard from. the summing up of the evidence deposed, and the charge to the jury have been made—but no word from the Black Woman.

It is because I believe the American people to be conscientiously committed to a fair trial and ungarbled evidence, and because I feel it essential to a perfect understanding and an equitable verdict that truth from each standpoint be presented at the bar,—that this little Voice, has been added to the already full chorus. the “other side” has not been represented by one who “lives there.” and not many can more sensibly realize and more accurately tell the weight and the fret of the “long dull pain” than the open-eyed but hitherto voiceless Black Woman of America.

The feverish agitation, the perfervid energy, the busy objectivity of the more turbulent life of our men serves, it may be, at once to [Page III] cloud or color their vision somewhat, and as well to relieve the smart and deaden the pain for them. Their voice is in consequence not always temperate . . .

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