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Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Hunt for Black History

How much African American history do you know? We all know the stories, events, and people who have contributed to African American history. 
  • Slavery
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Malcolm X
  • Jim Crow Laws
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Right to Vote
  • Rosa Parks 
  • Sit-Ins
  • Michael Jackson
  • Freedom Riders
  • Oprah Winfrey 
  • First Black President of the United States of America
  • Barack Hussein Obama
…and the list goes on.

However, there are many events, and people who are not so obvious. Several years back, I went to the post office and bought a postage stamps and there she was, Anna Julia Cooper. Who is she? I had no idea until I did my research.

Cooper was born August 10, 1858 in Raleigh, N.C. Her mother was a slave and her father was her mother's master, George Washington Haywood. 

Cooper had the opportunity to take part in a teacher's training program at St. Augustine's Normal School and Collegiate Institute. When she graduated and became a teacher she married George C Cooper in 1877. Because of strict rules Cooper was not allowed to be married and teach. So she ended up leaving her teaching post. Her husband died two years later.

Cooper was known as the first African American feminist. Her first book, A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, earned her that title. 

Other works by Cooper include:

  • Slavery and the French and Haitian Revolutionists: L'Attitude de la France a l'Egard de l'Esclavage pendant la Revolution, and;
  • Le Pelerinage de Charlemagne: Voyage a Jerusalem et a Constantinople

The teacher, author, and activist contributed to African American history through social change. She pushed through the glass ceiling of sexism and racism during one of the biggest turning points in American history.

Cooper lived through slavery, the Civil War and through the Civil Rights Movement. A heart attack claimed her life on February 27, 1964. She was 105.

So here's a little task I plan to do, and I hope you'll join in on the fun. I'm going to take a deeper look in my everyday life around me to find a prominent person who contributed to Black American history. I want to go beyond what we already know about Black American history. 

For example, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in 1863. But do you know where the Emancipation Proclamation was first read? It was in Port Royal, S.C.

This is something I learned by a professor when he took the class on a walk through the town of Beaufort, S.C. He showed us the houses that were used for the Underground Rail Roads and the trees of where Blacks were lynched that still had the marking of the noose that was used. 

The local library looks like a good place to start. You should also talk to an elderly resident who grew up in the town, or city where they lived most of their lives. Ask them what the vibe was in the1950s and 1960s. Remember to go a little deeper than Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X. 

Hope this gives you something to think about. 

I already found a couple of interesting stories on social media, which will appear right here on Arts of Cultures... make sure you tune in or sign up for the e-letter, Art + Cultures Recap where you'll receive a rundown of what you missed for the week every Sunday.  

Share your Black History knowledge in the comment box below or send your findings to

- @TCsViews

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