Monday, May 24, 2010

#288 USA...Thanks Candy!

The left 44c stamp was issued in 2009 honoring the 32nd Inductee into Black Heritage Series: Anna Julia Cooper,who is an educator, scholar, feminist and activist Anna Julia Cooper (c.1858-1964), who gave voice to the African-American community during the 19th and 20th centuries — from the end of slavery to the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.

Cooper — who once described her vocation as “the education of neglected people” — viewed learning as a means of true liberation.

Anna Julia Haywood was born into slavery around 1858 in Raleigh, NC. As a child, she developed a love of learning and wanted to become a teacher. In 1868, she received a scholarship to enter the inaugural class at St. Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute (now St. Augustine’s College), a local school for African Americans created by the Episcopal Church and the Freedmen’s Bureau, where she earned part of her tuition by tutoring fellow students. She continued to teach at St. Augustine’s after completing her studies in 1877. That year she married George A.C. Cooper, who was studying for the ministry at St. Augustine’s.

Two years after her husband’s unexpected death in 1879, Cooper enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1884 she graduated with a degree in mathematics, becoming one of the first African American women to graduate from the school. Cooper returned to Raleigh and taught math, Greek and Latin at St. Augustine’s until 1887, when she was invited to teach math and science at the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (later known as M Street and today as Dunbar High School) in Washington, DC, the largest and most prestigious public high school for African Americans in the nation.

In 1892, Cooper published A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, the first book-length volume of black feminist analysis in the United States. Cooper explored a variety of topics including race relations, poverty, and gender inequality. Across the contexts of religion, education, and literature, she examined the place of African Americans, especially women, in American society. “The time is ripe for action,” she wrote, urging all readers to assume an active role in liberating themselves and others from both racism and sexism in order to realize their fullest potential. She encouraged the African American community to take advantage of education and to develop and promote its own folklore, literature, and artistic culture. Well received by black and white critics alike, the collection was regarded as “one of the most readable books on the race question of the South” by the Kingsley Times of Iowa.

Because white women routinely excluded them from the growing feminist movement, Cooper and other black women across the nation began to create clubs and associations in the late 19th century that were dedicated to the interests and well-being of the African American community. In Washington, DC, Cooper helped establish local organizations for women, young people, and the poor that addressed a range of issues including education, housing, and unemployment. Cooper also used public speaking as a platform for change. In 1893, she spoke about the needs of African American women at the Chicago World’s Fair, and she was one of only two African American women to address the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900.

In 1902, Cooper became principal of the M Street High School and immediately worked to strengthen the curriculum, which stressed both liberal arts and vocational training. “We are not just educating heads and hands,” she stated, “we are educating the men and women of a race.” Refusing to use inferior textbooks, Cooper sought to better prepare students for admission to some of the nation’s top colleges and universities, including the Ivy League. Four years later, she was removed from her position under allegations of incompetence and misconduct, but more likely because of her steadfast resistance to the racist notion of African Americans’ intellectual inferiority. Cooper then taught languages at Lincoln University in Missouri until 1910, when she was invited to return to the M Street High School to teach Latin.

Noted for the breadth of her education, Cooper studied French literature and history for several years before enrolling as a doctoral student at Columbia University in 1914 while also remaining a full-time teacher. As part of her graduate work, she translated Le Pèlerinage de Charlemagne (The Pilgrimage of Charlemagne), a medieval epic poem, from Old French into modern French. However, because of her race, the translation — which was published in Paris in 1925 — was never published in the U.S. despite the professional recognition it garnered. In 1924, Cooper transferred to the University of Paris, Sorbonne, in France and, in 1925, successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, which explored the attitudes of the French toward slavery during the late-18th-century revolutions in France and Haiti. She was only the fourth African American woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. and the first black woman from any country to do so at the Sorbonne.

Cooper retired from teaching at Dunbar High School in 1930 but continued to give lectures, publish essays, and be active in community affairs. During this time, she also served as president of Frelinghuysen University, which offered affordable liberal arts and professional courses for working African Americans in Washington, DC. She retired from her role as president in 1940 but continued to serve Frelinghuysen, which was partly located in Cooper’s own home for several years. She privately published her memoir, The Third Step, around 1945.

Cooper died in her home at 201 T Street in Washington, DC, on Feb. 27, 1964. She is buried next to her husband in Raleigh, NC.

The 41c stamp in the middle was issued in 2008 honoring Charles W.Chestnut who is considered the first African- American writer to receive major acclaim. He made an important breakthrough when his short story, “The Goophered Grapevine,” appeared in the August 1887 issue of Atlantic Monthly.

Chesnutt (1858-1932) was of mixed racial descent, and provided insight into various perspectives along America’s color line. With light skin and blue eyes, Chesnutt could have disregarded his black roots, but he detested such actions. He believed that people of color who tried to “pass” or represent themselves as white would never achieve political or social equality. His first novel, The House Behind the Cedars, explored this theme.

Chesnutt’s writings include novels, books, essays, poems, a biography of Frederick Douglass and several unpublished works. His work in political and civic affairs and his stance against racial discrimination earned him in 1928 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal, which recognizes distinguished merit and achievement among African Americans.

The last 41c stamp was issued in 2007 honoring President Gerald Ford.

Gerald Rudolph Ford (1913–2006) was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974. As the first person appointed to the vice-presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, when he became President upon Richard Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974, he also became the only President of the United States who was elected neither President nor Vice-President.

Before ascending to the vice-presidency, Ford served nearly 25 years as Representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district, eight of them as the Republican Minority Leader.

As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, US involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. Domestically, Ford presided over what was then the worst economy since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure.One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford’s incumbency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President.In 1976, Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but ultimately lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. After experiencing health problems and being admitted to the hospital four times in 2006, Ford died in his home on December 26, 2006. He lived longer than any other U.S. president, dying at the age of 93 years and 165 days.

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