AfroPlex Media

AfroPlex Media

A Los Angeles based blog that covers the many complexities and multi-faceted, non-monolithic aspects of the Black American community.

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was a writer, teacher, and activist who championed education for African Americans and women. Born into bondage in 1858 in Raleigh, North Carolina, she was the daughter of an enslaved woman, Hannah Stanley, and her owner, George Washington Haywood.

In 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War, Anna began her formal education at Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute, a coeducational facility built for former slaves. There she received the equivalent of a high school education.

Dr-Anna-Julia-Cooper-public-domain
Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.      Public Domain

Anna Haywood married George A.G. Cooper, a teacher of theology at Saint Augustine’s, in 1877.  When her husband died in 1879, Cooper decided to pursue a college degree. She attended Oberlin College in Ohio on a tuition scholarship, earning a BA in 1884 and a Masters in Mathematics in 1887. After graduation Cooper worked at Wilberforce University and Saint Augustine’s before moving to Washington, D.C. to teach at Washington Colored High School. She met another teacher, Mary Church (Terrell), who, along with Cooper, boarded at the home of Alexander Crummell, a prominent clergyman, intellectual, and proponent of African American emigration to Liberia.

Dr. Anna Julia Haywood CooperCooper published her first book, A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, in 1892. In addition to calling for equal education for women, A Voice from the South advanced Cooper’s assertion that educated African American women were necessary for uplifting the entire black race. The book of essays gained national attention, and Cooper began lecturing across the country on topics such as education, civil rights, and the status of black women.

In 1902, Cooper began a controversial stint as principal of M Street High School (formerly Washington Colored High). The white Washington, D.C. school board disagreed with her educational approach for black students, which focused on college preparation, and she resigned in 1906.

In addition to working to advance African American educational opportunities, Cooper also established and co-founded several organizations to promote black civil rights causes. She helped found the Colored Women’s League in 1892, and she joined the executive committee of the first Pan-African Conference in 1900. Since the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) did not accept African American members, she created “colored” branches to provide support for young black migrants moving from the South into Washington, D.C.

Cooper resumed graduate study in 1911 at Columbia University in New York City, New York. After the death of her brother in 1915, however, she postponed pursuing her doctorate in order to raise his five grandchildren. She returned to school in 1924 when she enrolled at the University of Paris in France. In 1925, at the age of 67, Cooper became the fourth African American woman to obtain a Doctorate of Philosophy.

In 1930, Cooper retired from teaching to assume the presidency of Frelinghuysen University, a school for black adults. She served as the school’s registrar after it was reorganized into the Frelinghuysen Group of Schools for Colored People. Cooper remained in that position until the school closed in the 1950s.

Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper

Anna Julia Cooper died in 1964 in Washington, D.C. at the age of 105.

Watch as Emory Associate Professor of African American Studies, Carol Anderson, discusses some of the injustices and prejudices of the Jim Crow South as well as those that fought against it.

On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, an African American teen walking home from a trip to a convenience store, is fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer patrolling the townhouse community of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida.

In 1842 Charles Lenox Remond became one of the first African Americans to give testimony before a state legislature when he addressed a committee of the Massachusetts House of Representatives investigating discrimination in public transportation.

Hiram Rhodes Revels representing Mississippi became the first Black American to be sworn into United States Senate on February 25, 1870.

Katherine Goble Johnson, heralded as the first African American woman in Aerospace Engineering, was born on August 26, 1918, in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, a city where schooling for “colored” people ended with the eighth grade.

Dr. Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman doctor in the United States.  She completed medical school at the New England Female Medical College and received her M.D. in 1864.

Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen Jr., the first black general in the U.S. Marine Corps, was born in 1932 in Topeka, Kansas. He earned his Bachelor of Science in 1967. He received a Master’s in International Affairs in 1973. Both degrees came from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He also attended the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia and the National War College in Washington, D.C.

Frank Petersen joined the Navy as an electronics technician in 1952. Motivated by the story of Jesse Brown, the first African American naval aviator who was shot down and killed over North Korea, Petersen applied for and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Cadet Corps. In 1952 Petersen completed his training with the Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.  He became the first black pilot in the Marine Corps.

Petersen served as a fighter pilot in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In 1953 he flew sixty-four combat missions in Korea and earned six air medals as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1968, while serving in Vietnam, he became the first African American in the Marines or the Navy to command a tactical air squadron. He flew nearly 300 missions during the Vietnam War. In 1968, General Petersen earned the Purple Heart for his actions while flying a mission in North Vietnam.

In 1979 Frank Petersen became the first black general in the Marine Corps. In 1986 he was named the first black commander of Quantico Marine Base in Virginia.

Gen. Petersen served thirty-eight years in the Navy, including thirty-six as a Marine. He retired as a lieutenant general in 1988. At the time of his retirement, Gen. Petersen had earned twenty medals for bravery in combat. He was also the senior ranking pilot in the Marine Corps and Navy from 1985 to 1988. General Petersen worked with several education and research organizations during and after his time in the military. These include the Tuskegee Airmen headquarters and the National Aviation Research and Education Foundation. He was also vice president of Dupont Aviation.

 

 

Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen Jr Memorial
Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen Jr. Memorial

 

 

Washington State politician George Fleming was born February 22, 1937, in Dallas, Texas, to parents A.R. and Lilla N. Fleming.

Robert Smalls was an enslaved African American who became a politician, serving in both the South Carolina legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives.

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