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Michal Scott: The Hope and the Dream of the Slave – Anna Julia Haywood Cooper (Contest)
Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Roseann Cyngier!

The resilience of the formerly enslaved in the face of societal oppression never ceases to amaze me. Despite violence from groups like the KKK and laws to strip away the rights they’d earned, former slaves refused to be daunted. One of these brave souls was Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.

I learned of Cooper while researching a novella I hope to set in Paris in the 1920s. She received a PhD in history from the Sorbonne in 1924 when she was 66. She had first started her doctoral work in 1914 at Columbia University but had to stop to take care of her siblings upon the death of her mother.

Born into slavery in 1858 in Raleigh North Carolina, Cooper went on to become an author, an educator, and sociologist. She received a scholarship at the age of nine to Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute. She studied there for fourteen years and successfully fought to take classes reserved only for men. She then enrolled in Oberlin College and once again refused to be barred from men-designated courses of study. She graduated in 1884 but after teaching at Saint Augustine’s and Wilberforce College returned to Oberlin and received an M.A. in mathematics in 1888.

Her book, A Voice from the South, published in 1892 is considered to be one of the earliest if not the earliest work advocating education and social uplift of Black women as the way to uplift her race. She is often called the Mother of Black Feminism. That same year she formed the Colored Women’s League with such luminaries as Ida B. Wells, Charlotte Forten Grimke and Mary Church Terrell.

In 1900 Cooper attended the first Pan-African conference in London and presented her paper, “The Negro Problem in America.” She retired from teaching and became president of Frelinghuysen University in 1930. This university was established to help African Americans receive education after working hours so they didn’t have to choose between an education and working to support themselves and their families. When the university could no longer pay its mortgage, she moved the school into her home. She died in 1964 at the age of 105.

When I discover women like Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, these words from Maya Angelou’s poem, “And Still I Rise”, come to mind: “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” Formerly enslaved women like Cooper were their own dream and their own hope. Her example inspires me to reinvent her audacity and resilience in the characters I create in my fiction.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments a woman from history or in your own life who inspires you.

One Breath Away
by Michal Scott

Sentenced to hand for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt from One Breath Away

The squeak of the indoor pump provided no distraction from the lingering tingle where Eban’s fingers had rested against her spine, where his lips had kissed her hand. She focused on her task to temper her excitement.

Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket. Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket.

The pans she filled slowly simmered then steamed on her small, pot-bellied stove.

Her heart seized as she fingered the simple gingham curtains covering Harvest Home’s windows. Harvest Home’s humble kitchen contrasted sharply with the trappings that had graced Mary’s Manor, her Weston restaurant expansion.

She’d looked up the word manor and decided her place would imitate that kind of luxury as much as possible. Brocaded drapes and white, linen tablecloths had dressed up the Manor’s supper room. Slipcovers made from the same linen covered the cushioned chairs. White, bone china and delicate silverware completed the picture of elegant dining she hoped to draw.

A Franklin stove, indoor pump, double sink, polished counter tops and spacious storage cupboards made the Manor’s kitchen a dream made true. Nothing lacked for the grand opening. Picturing couples enjoying themselves in her simple but elegant setting had become her favorite pastime.

Then Judah Little and his lies thwarted her plans. Thwarted. A good word. A true word.

“But not for long,” she whispered. “That dream will come true just as this dream might come true tonight.”


14 comments to “Michal Scott: The Hope and the Dream of the Slave – Anna Julia Haywood Cooper (Contest)”

  1. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · April 27th, 2022 at 9:28 am · Link

    As always Delilah, thanks for hosting me.

  2. Colleen C.
    · April 27th, 2022 at 12:30 pm · Link

    Thanks for sharing Anna! I have been enjoying the posts you have been sharing with us all… so many interesting people and tidbits! 🙂
    My grandmother was a huge inspiration in my life…

  3. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · April 27th, 2022 at 12:32 pm · Link

    Glad to be of service Colleen. It’s a joy when relatives can have that kind of impact on us. Thanks for sharing.

  4. bn100
    · April 27th, 2022 at 3:32 pm · Link


  5. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · April 27th, 2022 at 3:57 pm · Link

    Amen bn100!

  6. Mary Preston
    · April 27th, 2022 at 4:22 pm · Link

    Fascinating thank you. My sister inspires me. Her nursing has taken her around the world and now into a prison. Such dedication.

  7. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · April 27th, 2022 at 4:37 pm · Link

    Wow, Mary. What a fabulous example. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Roseann Cyngier
    · April 27th, 2022 at 7:07 pm · Link

    A woman named Jenny Grasselli inspired me in so many ways. Dr. Grasselli was one of the firsts of many. First woman director, VP and so much more in the world of chemistry and The Standard Oil Company (SOHIO). In the early 1980’s, I was a young scientist just starting out in a mostly-men’s field. She was and is brilliant, exciting, and such an inspiration. Never satisfied to blend in with black and navy suits, Jenny wore flowered dresses and was smarter than most people in any room she spoke in. Her list of patents of useful inventions is nearly endless. She commands respect while being reachable and friendly. In her nineties, she’s a world traveler, requested speaker and now wonderful philanthropist of the arts and music. She has hardly slowed down and continues to enjoy life. You, Jenny Grasselli, are an inspiration to all women!

  9. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · April 28th, 2022 at 6:20 am · Link

    Absolutely inspirational. Thanks so much Roseann for lifting up her name.

  10. Nancy Brashear
    · April 29th, 2022 at 2:33 am · Link

    Thanks for sharing about such an inspiring woman, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, a true trailblazer! And, against all odds, she earned a Ph.D. and also lived to 105. Amazing. A woman who has inspired me is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who also persisted. Rest in Peace, Notorious RBG!–Nancy

  11. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · April 29th, 2022 at 10:11 am · Link

    Yes, Nancy. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s journey inspires me too. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Charlene Whitehouse
    · May 1st, 2022 at 9:01 am · Link

    My mom inspires me. A single woman who raised six children while working nights. Remodeled a two room house with outdoor plumbing into a five bedroom house with indoor plumbing all by herself.

  13. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · May 1st, 2022 at 11:31 am · Link

    What an amazing woman. Thanks for lifting her up Charlene.

  14. Delilah
    · May 10th, 2022 at 6:13 am · Link

    Thank you so much, Anna, for being a great guest—as always!

    Anna’s winner is Roseann Cyngier! Congrats, Roseann! Anna will be in touch shortly.

Comments are closed.