February 28, 2009

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from stjeromeschapel.org. I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is February 28th, 2009: the feast of Blessed Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.

There are certain professions that, during the course of their work, change lives in dramatic ways. Physicians, for example, or fire fighters. But there are also professions that quietly change lives, one life at a time, one day at a time. Perhaps the best example of this kind of profession is educator. Lesson by lesson, educators move people toward knowledge and understanding of the world, and therefore knowledge and understanding of the world’s Creator. One of the most important educators of the last 100 years is the woman we remember today, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.

She was born in 1859, the daughter of a slave woman, and a White man, who was probably her mother’s master. Early in her life, she showed academic gifts, and received a good education. One example of her persistence and powerful mind is the story of how she insisted that she be allowed to study Greek alongside male students who were preparing for the priesthood. She impressed her instructor, George Cooper, in every way. Years later, she would marry this man, who had been the second African American man ordained to the priesthood in North Carolina.

She earned a degree in Mathematics from Oberlin College, and eventually the PhD from the Sorbonne in Paris. Throughout her career in education, she emphasized the value of education for African Americans, especially women.

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was a living example of the Scripture we read today, in which a personified Wisdom calls out to the world, “‘You that are simple, turn in here!’ To those without sense she says, ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.’” (Proverbs 9:1-6) When she died in 1964, at the age of 104, she could look back at decades of dedication to education, and see the uncountable lives she changed for the better. And in the 45 years since her death, the lives changed by her life and work continue to extend into the future.

Let us pray: Almighty God, you 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.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on March 13th at stjeromeschapel.org for the feast of Blessed James Theodore Holly. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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