learning and growing together, she declared, did the race as a whole have a chance to survive. While she did not often publicly decry African-American men who refused to allow that women of color could also be scholars, occasionally, she did speak out. Cooper's major work was the pioneering A Voice from the South, published in 1892. In it, she reports that she was asked why there were no female African-American scholars.
"Oh," I said, "so far as it is true, the men, I suppose, from the life they lead, gain more by contact; and so far as it is only apparent, I think the women are more quiet. They don't feel called to mount a barrel and harangue by the hour every time they imagine they have produced an idea." (74)
Of all her writings, this collection is the only one that is overtly feminist in tone. It is split into two parts: "Soprano Obligato" and "Tutti Ad Libitium." The latter focuses on the problems specific to black women: "Not to make the boys less, but the girls more," the former to the race as a whole (79). As Hazel Carby suggests, Cooper never confined herself to the issue of the Woman Question as such--she was interested instead in the power of the strong over the weak. Rectifying that imbalance of power was her lifelong issue.
The New York Independent called A Voice from the South "a piercing and clinging cry which it is impossible to hear and not to understand." Her writing has been called "ambitious and . . . effectively sarcastic." Nevertheless, most critics have focused not upon her writing but upon her community activism, her commitment to the public school system, and her own personal accomplishments. This has led a few textual scholars to attempt to reclaim Cooper's writing on its own terms. In a review of Slavery and the French Revolutionists ( 1788- 1805), Cooper's own biography became the focus of the evaluation. Bob Corbett finds this "demeaning": "Certainly Cooper achieved extraordinary things, especially given her color and sex in the period she lived. But Slavery and the French Revolutionists ( 1788-1805) stands as a scholarly achievement independent of any biographical data of the author" (Internet, n.p.).
A Voice from the South. Xenia, OH: Aldine Printing House, 1892.
L'Attitude de la France a L'Egard de L'Esclavage Pendant La Revolution. Paris: Imprimerie de la Cour D'Appel, 1925.
Le Pelerinage de Charlemagne: Voyage a Jerusalem et a Constantinople. Paris: A. Lahure, 1925.
Legislative Measures Concerning Slavery in the United States. Paris?: s.n., 1942.
Equality of Races and the Democratic Movement. Washington, D.C.: s.n., 1945.