Anna Julia Haywood Cooper

by the Rev. Charlie Dupree

Today, the church celebrates the life and witness of Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.

Does that name sound familiar? The Anna Julia Cooper School is located at 2100 north 29th street, right here in Richmond. It’s named after this celebrated Episcopalian.

Here’s a little bit about her, taken from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints.

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was born about 1859 in Raleigh, NC, to an enslaved woman and a white man, presumably her mother’s master. Widowed in 1879, Cooper received degrees from Oberlin College, and was made principal of the African American high school in Washington, D.C. Denied reappointment in 1906 because she refused to lower her educational standard, Cooper emphasized the importance of equal education for African Americans. At the age of 65, in 1925, Cooper became the fourth African American woman to complete a doctorate, granted by the Sorbonne in Paris.

Clearly, she was committed to the Christ-like value of learning and teaching. She also understood and dedicated her life to the expansion of freedom and justice. Her spirit lives, even and especially today, in our own city.

Almighty God, who inspired your servant Anna Julia Haywood Cooper with the love of learning and the skill of teaching: Enlighten us more and more through the discipline of learning, and deepen our commitment to the education of all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

See you in church,

Charlie + (he/him)