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 She started off by building a case based on accepted ideas of the time, many of which are outdated, but were necessary to get her audience to listen, back then.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