Anna Julia Cooper: “Womanhood: A Vital Element in the Regeneration and Progress of a Race”

(1886)

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Taken from Anna Julia Cooper’s essay collection A Voice from the South (1892), the speech “Womanhood: A Vital Element in the Regeneration and Progress of a Race” sums up the main arguments of one of the most important black feminists of the late nineteenth century. A former slave, Cooper attained advanced education—eventually earning a doctorate in Paris—and spoke in favor of women’s empowerment in the field of education, the church, and the home. Her book successfully engaged the white...