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

(1886)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

In “Womanhood: A Vital Element in the Regeneration and Progress of a Race,” Anna Julia Cooper argues that black women are the key to the future success of African Americans, both male and female. Invoking the Victorian ideal of “true womanhood,” Cooper stresses that women can exert influence through the home and that the most stable and progressive cultures share common values where women and home life are venerated. Originally delivered to an all-male audience of black clergy, this speech (later the first chapter in Cooper’s book Voice from...