These are the only words written or spoken by an American woman quoted in the current United States passport. This means every American traveling across the globe today carries along Anna Julia Cooper; a black woman born in North Carolina in the final decade of American slavery. She spent her extraordinary life as a scholar, educator, and activist, challenging the boundaries of gender, race, and location that sought to confine her. She pressed against these limitations, not only for herself, but for those she referred to as “neglected peoples” She was especially committed to children who many others believed could not learn or achieve.
With her legacy as our guide, the tiny but mighty team of the Anna Julia Cooper Center has accomplished ambitious and transformative scholarship, programming, and policy change far exceeding our size and resources. Leading this center since its founding in January 2012 easily has been the greatest privilege of my academic and professional career. The dedicated students, brilliant scholars, and peerless professionals of AJC Center have demonstrated their extraordinary capacity to convene and communicate intersectional ideas for the benefit of women and girls of color and to bring about justice-based outcomes at the local and national level. This innovative and exciting place has brought me far more challenges and joys than I could have imagined at its founding.