Inaccurately called "[a] quiet woman who preferred a 'lesser limelight'" (quoted in Perkins2), Anna Julia Cooper was rather a woman who never stopped speaking out. Born a slave on August 10, 1858, in Raleigh, North Carolina, Cooper was the daughter of a slave woman, Hannah Stanley Haywood, and George Washington Haywood, her white master. When the Episcopal Church opened St. Augustine's Normal School and Collegiate Institute for newly emancipated slaves, Anna Julia was one of the first students recruited. Exceptionally bright, she became a student teacher there at the age of nine and would remain an educator the rest of her long life. St. Augustine's also formed her earliest feminist sensibilities, for she later noted that while the boys who declared an interest in theology were given every encouragement, the girls were actively discouraged from enrolling in advanced academic courses.
A boy, no matter how meager his equipment and shallow his pretensions, had only to declare a floating intention to study theology and he could get all the support, encouragement, and stimulus he needed, be absolved from work and invested beforehand with all the dignity of his far away office. While a self-supporting girl had to struggle on by teaching in the summer and working after school hours to keep up with board bills, and actually fight her way against positive discouragements to the higher education. ( Voice 77)
In 1877, at the age of nineteen, she married the Reverend A. C. Cooper, one of those pampered theological students, who died after only two years of marriage. In 1881, Cooper continued her own education, one of very few women and even fewer African-American women to do so. She earned her Bachelor of