A Child Of Slavery Who Taught A Generation Commonlit Answers

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  • 9th Grade
  • Lexile: 1080

Source: A Child Of Slavery Who Taught A Generation by Karen Grigsby Bates

Assessment Questions Answers

QuestionAnswer
Which of the following best describes the author’s main purpose in writing this article?to reveal how Anna Julia Cooper overcame great odds as a black woman to change American education
Which of the following best describes the central idea of the text?Cooper believed and proved that education could elevate any black student to success.
PART A: What does the phrase “ginned up” most closely mean as used in paragraph 19?created in a dishonest manner
PART B: Which phrase provides the best support for the answer to Part A?“the charges were laughable” (Paragraph 20)

How does the author’s inclusion of the feud between W.E.B Dubois and Booker T. Washington contribute to the central ideas of the article? Cite evidence from the text in your answer.

The author’s inclusion of the feud between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington contributes to the central ideas of the article by providing a historical and ideological context within which Anna Julia Cooper operated. This feud, which centered around the best approach for African American advancement post-slavery, highlights the broader educational and social debates of the time.

Du Bois advocated for the development of a “talented tenth” of African Americans who, through higher education, would lead the race to equality alongside whites.

On the other hand, Washington emphasized vocational training for the remaining 90 percent, believing that immediate economic stability was more crucial for a population just a generation out of slavery.

Cooper’s educational philosophy and actions serve as a bridge between these two viewpoints, embodying the article’s central idea that education can elevate any black student to success. While she did not explicitly choose sides in this ideological divide, her work at the Washington Colored High School (later Dunbar High School) emphasized a rigorous academic curriculum over vocational training alone.

This approach aligned more closely with Du Bois’ advocacy for higher education but did not exclude the broader applicability of education to all African American students, regardless of their socio-economic status.

Evidence from the text supports this interpretation:

  • The article mentions the feud to highlight the educational climate of the time, stating, “At the time, Washington, like many other black communities across the country, was riveted (and riven) by the feud between activist W.E.B. Du Bois and educator Booker T. Washington.”
  • It further elaborates on their differing views, providing readers with an understanding of the educational and ideological battleground on which Cooper made her mark.
  • Despite her friendship with both men, Cooper educated her students so well “that they could not be denied,” suggesting she believed in and worked towards the intellectual elevation of all her students, which aligns with Du Bois’ vision but is executed in a way that could benefit the broader population as Washington advocated.

Inclusion of the feud contextualizes Cooper’s achievements and reinforces the article’s central idea: Cooper’s belief in the power of education as a means of elevation for African Americans transcended the prevailing educational debates, demonstrating her innovative approach to education that sought to prepare her students for success in all areas of life.


How did the challenges Cooper faced impact her professional and personal life? Cite evidence from the text in your answer.

The challenges Anna Julia Cooper faced had significant impacts on both her professional and personal life, demonstrating her resilience and commitment to education despite adversity. These impacts are detailed through several instances in the article:

  1. Professional Impact: Resistance from the Educational Establishment
    • Cooper faced resistance from the District’s all-white, all-male Board of Education, which wanted the school to focus on teaching vocational skills to black students. Despite this, she insisted on an academically focused curriculum, believing in the intellectual potential of her students beyond vocational training. This resistance highlights the professional challenges she faced in implementing her vision for education, illustrating her determination to provide quality education against prevailing norms.
  2. Personal and Professional Impact: Scandal and Resignation
    • Cooper’s personal and professional life was deeply affected by a scandal “ginned up against her,” accusing her of having a sexual affair with her young adult foster son. Despite the charges being described as “laughable” and having the support of prominent individuals who testified to her impeccable morals, the persistence of rumors forced her to resign her principal’s post. This incident underscores the personal cost of her dedication to her students and her career, showing how societal and political pressures can impact personal lives and professional careers.
  3. Professional Resilience: Achieving a Ph.D. and Returning to Teaching
    • After being forced to resign, Cooper moved to Paris, enrolled at the Sorbonne, and at age 66, became the fourth black woman in the U.S. to receive a Ph.D. This achievement not only marks a significant personal triumph over adversity but also a professional milestone that further legitimizes her educational philosophy and methods. Her return to Washington and Dunbar as a teacher, where “rigor reigned” in her classroom, illustrates her unwavering commitment to education and her students, despite the challenges she faced.
  4. Legacy and Impact:
    • The article concludes by highlighting Cooper’s lasting legacy, noting that many of her practices were considered radical at the time but are common now. Her recognition with a U.S. Postal Service stamp further cements her importance in American education history, underscoring how her challenges and the way she faced them have left a lasting impact on educational practices and policies.

These instances from the text illustrate how Cooper’s challenges, both professional and personal, shaped her life and career. Despite significant obstacles, she remained committed to her vision of education as a means of elevating African American students, leaving a legacy that continues to influence educational philosophies and practices.

Discussion Answers

Haywood Cooper? What does awareness about her figure contribute to our overall understanding of U.S./world history?

Knowing about Anna Julia Haywood Cooper is important for several reasons, and awareness of her figure contributes significantly to our overall understanding of U.S. and world history, particularly in the contexts of education, civil rights, gender, and racial equality.

  1. Educational Reform and Pedagogy: Cooper was a pioneering educator who championed the cause of rigorous academic education for African Americans during a time when educational opportunities for black students were severely limited, often restricted to vocational training. By insisting on a curriculum that included classic literature, foreign languages, and advanced mathematics, she demonstrated a belief in the intellectual capabilities of African American students that challenged prevailing norms. Her work contributes to our understanding of the evolution of educational pedagogy and the fight for educational equity in the United States.
  2. Civil Rights and Racial Equality: Cooper’s life and work occurred at the intersection of the post-Civil War and Jim Crow eras, a critical period in U.S. history marked by significant struggles for civil rights and racial equality. Understanding her contributions provides insight into the broader context of African American activism and intellectual thought during this time. Her insistence on high academic standards and her belief in the potential of every student align with the broader goals of racial uplift and equality.
  3. Women’s Rights and Feminism: As one of the first African American women to earn a doctoral degree, Cooper’s achievements break barriers not just racially but also in terms of gender equality. Her life is a testament to the challenges faced by women, particularly women of color, in accessing higher education and professional opportunities. Her story enriches the narrative of women’s history and feminist movements by highlighting the intersectionality of race and gender.
  4. Intellectual History and Thought: Cooper’s writings, including her seminal work “A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South” (1892), contribute to American and global intellectual history. Her perspectives on education, gender, and race offer valuable insights into the intellectual currents of her time and have continued relevance in contemporary discussions on these topics.
  5. Inspiration and Role Modeling: Learning about Cooper’s life and achievements serves as an inspiration to current and future generations. It exemplifies how perseverance, education, and advocacy can drive social change, even in the face of daunting obstacles. Her legacy encourages ongoing efforts toward educational equity and social justice.

In summary, awareness of Anna Julia Haywood Cooper enriches our understanding of U.S. and world history by highlighting the interconnectedness of education, civil rights, gender equality, and intellectual thought.

Her life and work provide a powerful example of how individual activism can impact broader societal norms and contribute to progress in multiple domains.


Why do certain people – especially those in situations of adversity like Cooper – succeed? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

People in situations of adversity, like Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, often succeed due to a combination of resilience, determination, support from others, and a profound belief in the value of their goals.

These elements, evident in Cooper’s life as described in the provided text, are also mirrored in various literature, art, history, and personal observations.

  1. Resilience and Determination: Cooper’s life story exemplifies resilience and determination. Despite the adversities of being born into slavery and facing the double marginalization of being both African American and a woman, she became one of the first black women to earn a doctoral degree. Her insistence on an academically focused curriculum for African American students at a time when they were expected to receive only vocational training showcases her determination to challenge and change the status quo for the betterment of her community.
  2. Support from Others: Success in adversity is rarely achieved in isolation. Cooper’s achievements were also the result of support from those who believed in her vision. For example, the article mentions prominent individuals who testified to her impeccable morals in the face of scandal, helping to preserve her reputation and legacy. Historical and contemporary examples abound of individuals or groups who have succeeded in part because of the solidarity and assistance of a community that shares their goals or believes in their potential.
  3. Belief in the Value of Goals: A deep belief in the importance and value of one’s goals is crucial for overcoming adversity. Cooper believed in the transformative power of education—not just as a means to personal advancement but as a vehicle for uplifting an entire community. This belief is evident in her lifelong commitment to education and equality, as she worked tirelessly to provide her students with opportunities she fought hard to access herself.
  4. Examples from Literature, Art, and History: The narrative of triumph over adversity is a central theme in many literary works, artworks, and historical accounts. For instance, Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, chronicles his journey from prisoner to president, highlighting how resilience, support, and a steadfast belief in his cause were pivotal to his success and the anti-apartheid movement.
    Similarly, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings offers a powerful testament to overcoming personal and racial adversity through resilience, the support of others, and a belief in the power of words and education.
  5. Personal Observations: In everyday life, individuals often encounter stories of resilience and success in the face of adversity. These can range from a student who becomes the first in their family to attend college, overcoming financial and societal barriers, to immigrants who build new lives in unfamiliar lands through sheer determination and support from their communities.

In conclusion, the success of individuals like Anna Julia Haywood Cooper in situations of adversity can be attributed to a complex interplay of resilience, determination, community support, and a profound belief in the importance of their goals.

These elements, reflected across literature, art, history, and personal experiences, underscore the universal nature of the human spirit’s capacity to overcome challenges and effect meaningful change.


In the context of this article, what is the goal of education? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

In the context of the article about Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, the goal of education transcends mere acquisition of knowledge or vocational skills; it is portrayed as a transformative force capable of elevating individuals and communities, fostering intellectual empowerment, and challenging societal inequalities. This multifaceted goal is evident in various aspects of Cooper’s educational philosophy and actions, as well as in broader discussions in literature, art, and history.

  1. Empowerment and Elevation of Individuals and Communities: The article highlights Cooper’s belief in education as a means to elevate black students to success, insisting on an academically focused curriculum that would put her students on par with the best white private schools. This suggests a goal of education that includes not only intellectual development but also social empowerment, aiming to dismantle the barriers imposed by racial discrimination.
  2. Intellectual Empowerment: Cooper’s insistence that her students be exposed to classic literature, foreign languages, and advanced mathematics reflects a goal of education as intellectual empowerment. This is not just about providing knowledge but about fostering critical thinking, cultural awareness, and a broader understanding of the world, which are essential for full participation in society.
  3. Challenging Societal Inequalities: The article demonstrates how Cooper used education as a tool to challenge and change societal norms and inequalities. By providing a high-quality education to African American students at a time when such opportunities were limited, she was directly challenging the racial and economic inequalities of her time.
  4. Evidence from Literature and History: The transformative goal of education is a theme that resonates through literature and history. For instance, Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” emphasizes education as a means for critical consciousness and liberation from oppression, aligning with Cooper’s educational goals.
    Similarly, the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States includes numerous examples of how education was used as a tool for social change, highlighting its role in empowering individuals and communities to fight for equality.
  5. Personal Observations and Experiences: In personal and observed experiences, education often serves as a key to unlocking potential and overcoming barriers. Whether it’s observing first-generation college students using their education to lift themselves and their families out of poverty or participating in educational programs that aim to foster inclusivity and understanding among diverse groups, the goal of education as a means of empowerment and societal change is evident.

In conclusion, the goal of education, as exemplified by Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and supported by evidence from literature, art, history, and personal experiences, is multifaceted. It encompasses intellectual empowerment, individual and community elevation, and the challenging of societal inequalities.

Education is seen not just as a path to personal advancement but as a crucial instrument for social justice and transformation.

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Avery L. Mitchell
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Avery L. Mitchell is a literary enthusiast with a passion for classic literature and its enduring themes. Holding a Master's degree in English Literature from the University of Eldenbridge, Avery has spent over a decade analyzing and writing about timeless literary works. With a keen eye for detail and a deep appreciation for storytelling, Avery brings stories to life with insightful commentary and engaging narratives. When not immersed in books, Avery enjoys hiking, photography, and exploring hidden cafes in her hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.




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