A couple of weeks ago, my BFF invited me to join her at a screening for the short film Sis Anna at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives in downtown DC.
The short film Sis Anna portrays the life of scholar, author and pioneer of women’s rights, who resided in Washington, DC and was the principal and long-time teacher at the M Street (now Dunbar) High School. Dr. Cooper fought tirelessly throughout her life to champion the cause of young African-Americans to have an educational curriculum that would prepare them for college, during a time when the school board favored only industrial education for Blacks.
The film, produced by Koalaty Entertainment, was written by award-winning writer, filmmaker and university professor Michelle Parkerson, and produced and directed by Cheryl Hawkins, president and CEO of Prosperity Media. Associate Professor Sherelle Williams served as producer and cinematographer. Ms. Williams, a professor of Mass Communication at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) solicited the talent of her students who served as crew, extras, actors and film editors. The producers hope for the short to serve as a fundraising vehicle for the planned feature-length docudrama about Dr. Cooper’s life entitled Called to Teach: The Anna Julia Cooper Story.
The event began with a reception followed by the screening and concluded with a Q & A panel with one of the film’s consulting scholars, Dr. Vivian May of Syracuse University.
I was so inspired learning about the phenomenal Dr. Cooper that I couldn’t even tweet (and y’all know how I love to live tweet). Dr. Cooper’s life experience and accomplishments are so vast that there is no way to properly acquaint you with her in this post. Here are just a few of the interesting tidbits I learned about Dr. Anna Cooper:
• Dr. Cooper was the daughter of a slave woman, Hannah Stanley, and her white slave master. Dr. Cooper thought it ironic that she dedicated much of her life to fighting racism and sexism, both of which directly contributed to her birth.
• Her first book, A Voice from the South: By a Woman from the South, was published in 1892 and advanced a vision of self-determination through education and social uplift for African-American women.
• Dr. Cooper was born just before the Civil War and died at the height of the Civil Rights Movement at the age of 108.
• The United States Postal Service released a commemorative stamp in Dr. Cooper’s honor in 2009.
• Dr. Cooper is quoted in every U.S. Passport on pages 26 and 27.
• Widowed after only two years of marriage, Dr. Cooper never had children of her own but went on to adopt her brother’s five children in her late-50′s (the children called her Sis Anna).
• After earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Oberlin College, Dr. Cooper later earned a Ph.D. in History. While working. And raising five children. At the age of 65. From the University of Paris (Sorbonne). Which required her to travel back and forth across the Atlantic. By boat. In 1924. After defending a dissertation on the French and Haitian revolutions. With her research access limited solely to the biased French military archives. In French.
I’m going to just leave y’all with that last bullet – you might want to read that again…go ahead, I’ll wait. If I ever, ever, ever have the gall to believe that I “can’t” do anything, I will call on the spirit of Dr. Cooper to give me a good slap!
To learn more about Dr. Cooper, you can find her book A Voice from the South here and Dr. Vivian May’s Anna Julia Cooper, Visionary Black Feminist here. To find out more about the short film or to support the development of the feature-length film, contact Prosperity Media here.
Have you heard of Dr. Anna Cooper? Would you support a feature-length film about her life? Is Dr. Cooper not AMAZEBALLS!? Leave your sunshine below.
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