Review: Anna J. Cooper’s A Voice From The South, By A Woman of The South

I got this book from Gutenberg project, initially, but found a cleaner pdf, and then epub versions on The Internet Archive.
(What is it with the WP editor killing my paragraph spacing?!!)
Interesting ending, on belief. I held off on rating this for a while, and then rated it a 4 star -everyone should read this book, book, but maybe not use it as a current reference book.

Doctor Anna J. Cooper anna_j._cooper_1892  starts off by building a case that if the United States is based on Christianity, then it has certain obligations, including not allowing a set of institutions based on bullying and hypocrisy to rule the country. From there she points out that these hypocritical and bullying, or ‘might makes right’, institutions, have taken advantage of Black labor, and kept Black people in poverty. She points out that it is a tremendous waste of potential, and also that history and context really do matter. Toward the end chapters, she is calling for the Black community to build institutions for what would later be called Negro uplift, and I love that question that she poses “who will care for our souls”. I wonder if that’s where W. E. B. Du Bois took the title for his book ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ from, as I’ve read somewhere that it was a response to this book by Dr Cooper. She is, of course, an extremely strong advocate for education, for understanding history, for context, and says near the end of the book that we should be using our trigonometry and physics to help our neighbors measure our fields and build up housing and businesses, banking institutions within the Black community given that that’s denied to us by the dominant society. The statistics that she cites are unfortunately not very different by percentage from those cited 50 years later by Dr. King and haven’t changed much to this day. She calls for the essentials of food, clothing, and shelter, and Universal education to be provided to the Black community because we have paid our debt in work, in inventiveness, and in blood in the cotton fields and on the battlefield.

Please also see the reading updates. She started off by building a case based on accepted ideas of the time, many of which are outdated, but were necessary to get her audience to listen, back then.

Leaves me saddened and angry that so little progress has been made in the century since she wrote this. As she wished for, more Black writers are finally being published, but context is still sorely lacking.

The United States can do better.

Reading Progress

August 10, 2022 – Shelved as: to-read
August 10, 2022 – Shelved
August 11, 2022 – Started Reading
August 11, 2022 – Shelved as: bookgroup
August 11, 2022 – Shelved as: racisme
August 11, 2022 – Shelved as: policy
August 11, 2022 – Shelved as: dcpl
August 11, 2022 –

page 11

2.99%“By pg 11 I had to take strong issue with her treatment of Islam both in the Arab countries and in Turkey especially. I have lived in Turkey, and still have many Muslim friends who will strongly object to her characterization of Muslim women as empty headed. Even during the time she was writing, 100 years ago, the women of the Harem were not so, and for a hundred years after Suleiman, they were powerful.”

August 11, 2022 –

page 12

3.26% “Exactly:

“… our satisfaction in American institutions rests not on the fruition we now enjoy, but springs rather from the possibilities and promise that are inherent in the system, though as yet, perhaps, far in the future.”

Even to this day. This is why I took the oath of office twice.”

August 12, 2022 –

page 13

3.53%“Cites a lady well before Viktor Frankl on happiness as feeling able to make progress on important work for others.”

August 12, 2022 –

page 14

3.8% “Mais, non. Europe got Chivalry from Arab poets via the Crusades. La chivalrie ne vient pas de l’église ni du feudalisme, elle a eu du “nos ancêtres les Gaulois.”. De la Sorbonne , sans doute c’est aussi pour ça que j’ai laissé la France.
No, chivalry did not come from feudalism and certainly not in the church. She must have gotten this while at the Sorbonne from the old French “our ancestors the Gauls” thing.”

August 12, 2022 –

page 15

4.08%“Like my grandma at Mt Zion UMC, she probably believes this, but, whether she believed this or not, politically speaking, she really had no choice but to praise and lift up the church and Europe in order to assure the white folks of our loyalty to the United States.”

August 12, 2022 –

page 19

5.16% “This was written only 21 years after the emancipation.

” Just at the age of ruddy manhood.”

A time for introspection indeed. Wow.”

August 12, 2022 –

page 22

5.98%“”We need men who can be a father a brother a friend to every week, struggling, unshielded girl.””

August 12, 2022 –

page 26

7.07%“Is she essentially calling for an Episcopalian talented 10th?”

August 12, 2022 –

page 33

8.97% “Beautiful:. “a people whose civilization was hoary headed before the parent elements that begot his race had advanced beyond nebulosity.”

Sorry, Gus, but this beats your “my people were writing poetry while your people were swinging through the trees !” (Gus to the white guy in My Big Fat Greek Wedding)”

August 12, 2022 –

page 34

9.24% “And the interesting thing is that ” this incarnation of power ” is still with us , unfortunately.

It’s what western civilization is built on.”

August 12, 2022 –

page 37

10.05% “Thank you: “… you will not find jurisprudence formulating as an axiom the absurdity that man and wife are one, and that one the man – that the married woman may not hold or bequeath her own property…”

Thank you, thank you, Dr. Cooper !!”

August 12, 2022 –

page 50

13.59% “”… deliberately fold their arms and turn round when Black Woman’s turn came to alight”


August 12, 2022 –

30.0% “” teaching GOOD MANNERS.”

Yup, things haven’t changed. Unfortunately.”

August 13, 2022 –

35.0% “”…and all the strong will have learned at last to deal justly , to love mercy, and to walk humbly; and our Fair land will happen taught the secret of universal courtesy…”

Exactly what Project Do Better is working for. Thank you for this encouragement, Dr. Cooper, of blessed memory.”

August 13, 2022 –

38.0%“Man or woman who has writhed silently under a mighty wrng. The pleading of the American woman for the right and the opportunity to employ the American method of influencing the disposal… is based on principles as broad as the human race and as old as human society. Her wrongs are thus indissolubly linked with all undefended woe, all helpless suffering, and the plenitude of her rights will mean the final triumph of”

August 13, 2022 –

39.0% “”…lofty purpose of Spain’s pure-minded Queen”

Seriously ?
Dr. Cooper didn’t read some of the original letters back and forth between Columbus and Isabel about those ‘cannibalistic barbarians’ that it was okay to force into slavery despite the church’s position against it.”

August 13, 2022 –

47.0%“”The community that closes its gates against foreign talent can never hope to advance beyond a certain point. Resolve to keep out foreigners and you keep out progress.””

August 13, 2022 –

48.0%“”-in 1619.””

August 13, 2022 –

49.0%“But in fact, the laboring man has nearly been ground to powder here.”

August 14, 2022 –

52.0%“Ouch! But, in my experience, also true…”

August 14, 2022 –

57.0% “Even today: “… we know that our present poverty is due to the fact that the toil of the last quarter Century enriched these coffers, but left us the heirs of crippled, deformed, frostbitten, horny-handed and empty-handed mothers and fathers.”

Still, today!!”

August 14, 2022 –

60.0% “”A man who’s acquaintanceship is so slight that he cannot even discern diversities of individuality, has no right or authority to hawk “the only true and authentic ” pictures of a race of human beings.”

Thank you, Dr. Cooper.”

August 14, 2022 –

66.0% “”… the South presents a solid phalanx of iron resistance to the Negro’s advancement…”

And she still does, even today, which is why I left.”

August 14, 2022 –

67.0%“” give him a fair wage and an honest reckoning and a kindly God-speed””

August 14, 2022 –

76.0% “”In cities, lower priced houses on streets are almost uniformly kept for the white poor.”

Alley dwellings and black infant mortality.”

   Comment: to be fair to Dr. Cooper wrt Spain’s Catholic Queen, the letters between Isabel and Colo. were only recently accessed, afaik, as shown in San Diego, CA, The Museum of Man’s “Cannibals” exhibit abt 2019, so they were not likely accessible to the Francophone or Anglophone world at her time.
   We really can Do Better, can’t we?



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