Screening Showcases Life of Dr. Anna Julia Cooper

12/3/2012, 8:09 p.m.

WASHINGTON, DC--A film that details the life of Dr. Anna Julia Cooper, a pioneering African-American educator who fought for black students to have the right to higher education, will be screened at 6:30p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, at The Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, located at 1201 17th St. in Northwest.

The short film, "Sis Anna," also portrays the legacy of Dr. Cooper, who resided in the District, and was the principal and long-time teacher at the M Street High School (now Dunbar High School).

Cooper, the daughter of a slave woman and her white slave master, fought tirelessly throughout her life to championing for young African-Americans to have an educational curriculum that would prepare them for college.

The educator particularly advocated in D.C. where the School Board's position favored only industrial education for blacks. Cooper not only understood, but was vocal about the important role black women played advancing the community.

Her first book "A Voice from the South: By a Woman from the South," was published in 1892, was a vision of self-determination through education and social uplift for African-American women. Essays in the book also touched on a variety of topics, from racism and the socioeconomic realities of black families, to the administration of the Episcopal Church.

The film about Cooper -- who was born just before the Civil War and died at age 108 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement -- is produced by KOALATY ENTERTAINMENT, a video and film production company that specializes in producing scripted and non-scripted films about people of color.

"Sis Anna" was written by award-winning writer, filmmaker, and university professor Michelle Parkerson, and produced and directed by Cheryl Hawkins, president and CEO of Prosperity Media. Associate Professor Sherelle Williams, a mass communications professor at Prince George's Community College, served as the film'sproducer and cinematographer.

The legacy surrounding Cooper's life came to light about 2-1/2 years ago when researchers were looking for a subject for a docudrama, and discovered her in a book about blacks in D.C.

Since that time Hawkins and her associates have been on a mission to produce a feature film about Dr. Cooper and her accomplishments. Their efforts also included having the U. S. Postal Service release a commemorative stamp in Cooper's honor in 2009. She is also quoted in every U.S. Passport on pages 26 and 27.

Hawkins noted that although Dr. Cooper's name still remains relatively unknown by many, much is known about the e educator's personal and professional life: The writer and poet married George Cooper in 1877 but became a widow just two years later. She never remarried and had no children. She attended Oberlin College and earned a bachelor's degree in 1884, taking the "Gentlemen's Course," rather than one for females.

She taught at Wilberforce University and St. Augustine, but returned to Oberlin and earned a masters degree in mathematics in 1887. Cooper entered the doctoral program at Columbia University in 1914, and later transferred to the University of Paris (Sorbonne) where she earned a Ph.D. in 1924.

"Hopefully, by the end of the evening, you will know much more about Dr. Cooper and will be as convinced as we are that she deserves to have her story come to life on film," said Hawkins.

The event is free and open to the public. People may register online in advance at www.eventbrite.com/org2894296239.