A Voice from the South / Edition 1 available in Paperback
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Nearly a century after A Voice from the South was written and published originally, the black feminist voice of Anna Julia Cooper remained mute. That is ironic because Cooper¿s main focus in her collection of essays was about the black women¿s silent voice. Cooper wrote: One muffled strain in the Silent South, a jarring chord and a vague Uncomprehended cadenza has been and still is the Negro. And of that Muffled chord, the one mute and voiceless has been the sadly expectant Black Woman¿ The fate of her 1892 non-fiction fortunately allowed Cooper¿s voice to sound, because it was rescued by the Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers that reprinted it in 1988. It was recently re-released. Before Schomburg Library discovered Voice, the work languished in the literary bin. The work is an evocative collection of essays for every woman and man interested in feminism and race-related issues. From education for women to solutions about America¿s race problem, she tackled a wide range of topics, but she staunchly was unwilling for female lives to be subordinated in male texts and equally unwilling for whites to dominate blacks in stories and essays. She eloquently wrote about this, making her a woman ahead of her century. Throughout Voice, Cooper is concerned with patriarchial power over the powerless. She saw the tendency to abuse power in the labor force in her writings. Regardless of the range of essays, it is clear that the central focus is women¿s rights with a particular focus on black women being subordinate to black men. These essays put Cooper in the preeminent position of critiquing race and black feminism a century ahead of the 20th century forays into these issues, including education. On education she criticized the lack of education as a vital limb for women. Her argument leaves no doubt that a few educated women only devalued those unable to educate themselves. At the time no stimuli existed to encourage women to make the most of their mind power. She argued that they should be welcomed into the development and progress of civilization, but the ¿aspirations, when they had any, were chilled and snubbed in embryo¿¿ She makes clear and concise points, and her reasoning is sound. She criticized the ideal that women need only to be flirty, pretty and uninformed. Modern-day feminists and the `70s feminists fought this battle and won many rights for women, the same rights that Cooper spoke of in 1892. She quotes Voltaire who said ¿Ideas are like beards ¿ women and boys have none.¿ Cooper, who lived to be 106, thought the world needed to hear a few thoughts from women because even a parrot could be heard. One of her most poignant feminist ideologies was this: ¿It would be subversive of every human interest that the cry of one-half the human family be stifled.¿ Woman stepped off pedestals into ¿statue-like inactivity¿. Here she speaks largely of the white female population and black wives of the well-off. She focuses a great deal of attention on women, saying a woman¿s cause is linked to every agony, and every woman needs a voice. Having been the fourth black woman to earn a doctorate, which she earned from the University of Paris, there is no question why education gains strength in her writing. Because she was a woman whose voice was unheard in her day, it is easy to surmise that she spoke from personal experience, too. Black men were more widely published and garnered more respect than black women writers whose works were nearly lost forever to this generation had it not been for the Schomburg Library, which has taken the mission to release the works of black women writers. The organization allows us to see comprehensive dimensions of writers like Cooper. Because she dealt with racial and sexual politics, we could have, and did, get the strongest statements along with that perspective in Voice. Because she was a black woman from the South leaves no question as to why she perpetu