Building the Legacy


This report reviews the history and highlights the of the the Anna Julia Cooper Center from its founding in January 2012 until July 2018.  



In January 2012, Professor Melissa Harris-Perry established the The Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race and Politics in the South as part of the Newcomb College Institute. From the outset, the project served  as a curricular hub for courses focused on intersectional identities of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, provided faculty with opportunities for intellectual collaboration, collegial interaction and scholarly support, and offered meaningful events for local community audiences. This included establishing an interdisciplinary faculty working papers seminar, an annual lecture, an undergraduate research fellows program, a youth essay contest, and hosting national speakers. 

July 1, 2014, Founding Director Melissa Harris-Perry returned to Wake Forest University as Presidential Endowed Professor of Politics & International Affairs. During the 2014-2015 academic year the Anna Julia Cooper Center operated with a planning grant from the office of the Provost and established its core programmatic efforts on the Reynolda Campus including: the interdisciplinary faculty working papers seminar, undergraduate student researchers, partnerships with other  universities and community based organizations, and the Anna Julia Cooper Annual Lecture. 

In March 2015, the AJC Center submitted a five-year plan spelling out clear objectives and specific aims including: Produce and support scholarship from multiple fields, perspectives, and methodological approaches that investigate political questions at the intersections of gender, race, and regional identity through postdoctoral fellowships, competitive research grants, bi-annual research projects, and publications.


Enhance curricular offerings focused on the intersections of gender, race and politics through teacher-scholar postdoctoral fellowships; fellows will introduce new courses to Wake Forest University, which can become regular offerings in their departments

Nurture research, teaching, and careers of young scholars studying gender, race and politics through robust and nationally recognized postdoctoral fellowship program, which prepares scholars at the postdoctoral or ABD stage to become leaders in their fields

Encourage young scholars to integrate an intersectional framework into their research and academic work through an undergraduate research fellows program and curricular offerings

Create a central meeting place for research and scholarly engagement with race, gender, and politics, while building cross-institutional support, through monthly research seminars for Piedmont-area faculty and bi-annual national conferences held in conjunction with institutional partners

Act as a catalyst for cross-institutional research projects and engagement through robust partnerships with Bennett College, Vanderbilt University, and other partner institutions

Leverage  technology and emerging media to promote the work of scholars and to connect students and community in meaningful ways. Offer students advanced and unique research opportunities with established scholars at Wake Forest and across the country through a summer research trip

Establish and maintain productive, impactful and accountable relationships with community partners through campus-community collaborative research projects. Host nationally recognized scholars, journalists, artists, and activists whose work advances the AJC Center mission.



Local Children SErved through ajc center freedom school 

$75 million

Commitments for research benefiting

women and girls of color 

Undergraduate Research Fellows

The Anna Julia Cooper Center supports undergraduate research opportunities in multiple ways. Since the Center’s founding we have crafted various programs.  Some have employed entirely  independent efforts to identify and pursue questions of interest to students. Other programs have created cohorts for students to work together on a single research agenda using the model of a laboratory of study.  Still other initiatives have supported undergraduate students who work closely with faculty members in departments across campus to pursue joint scholarly endeavors.  In each case, the work of the Anna Julia Cooper Center is to identify interested students, nurture capacity,  develop skills, offer guidance, and provide resources for intersectional scholarship. Interviews with former AJC Center undergraduate research fellows reveal a few key patterns.


  •  "AJC provided an invaluable space for me [to] develop my theoretical capacity as a scholar.”
  • “In addition to learning exactly what it means to do professional research, my research taught me to look at community problems with an interdisciplinary lens and how to [begin] crafting solutions to resolve large social conflicts”                
  • “AJC helped me develop…questions and it taught me how to take risks to answer it” –
  • “Simply put, the Anna Julia Cooper Center gave me the tools and support I needed to become a researcher, organizer, and advocate.”
  • “My research with AJC informed me on theoretical perspectives related to migration that I still employ in my research today when think about displacement.”
  • “The research fellowship enabled me to bridge the two worlds [biomedical sciences and health care policy] and contemplate my future path in medicine and public policy”

AJC Fellows After Graduation


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In 2018, the Anna Julia Cooper Center launched BLACK ON CAMPUS: a student journalism program of  in partnership with The Nation.  BLACK ON CAMPUS was an extension of The Nation’s long standing commitment to the education, training, and support of student and emerging journalists. BLACK ON CAMPUS was a national program for ten student journalists at top colleges, universities, and graduate schools. These young writers worked closely with Professors Harris-Perry and Williams to develop professional skills as they documented the experiences of black college students and reported on issues of national consequence to a black college student audience.  

Black on Campus received more than 110 applications from college and graduate students across the country. The ten cohort members were extremely diverse. Two students attended historically black colleges (HBCUs), two students were pursuing graduate degrees, several were from large state universities, several from smaller private liberal schools, and they represented the a broad geographic diversity from Amherst to Arizona State.  

The student journalists of Black on Campus sought to make visible the unique facing black college students. 




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