A Still-Needed Voice: Anna Julia Haywood Cooper | The Rev. Susan E. Hill, Associate Rector

02.22.19 | Community, Pulpit Posts, World

The Reverend Susan E. Hill, Associate Rector

“Let woman’s claim be as broad in the concrete as the abstract. We take our stand on the solidarity of humanity, the oneness of life, and the unnaturalness and injustice of all special favoritism, whether of sex, race, country, or condition. If one link of the chain is broken, the chain is broken. A bridge is no stronger than its weakest part, and a cause is not worthier than its weakest element. Least of all can woman’s cause afford to decry the weak. We want, then, as toilers for the universal triumph of justice and human rights, to go to our homes from this Congress demanding an entrance not through a gateway for ourselves, our race, our sex, or our sect, but a grand highway for humanity.”

— Anna J. Cooper

In 1893, Anna J. Cooper spoke these words in her address to the World’s Congress of Representative Women held in Chicago – and it is remarkable, and frustrating, that they are still so relevant to us today more than 125 years later. Cooper was born into slavery about 1859 in North Carolina, and her father was likely the man who owned her mother. She received a scholarship at nine years old to study at an Episcopal school where she shone as an exceptional student. During her education there, she successfully lobbied to take a Greek class meant only for male theology students, and she ended up marrying the instructor, George A.C. Cooper (who was the second African American ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in North Carolina).

Cooper went on to earn degrees in mathematics from Oberlin College and became only the fourth African American woman to be granted a Doctorate of Philosophy degree, which she received from the Sorbonne in Paris. Through her work as the principal of the African American high school in Washington, DC, the President of Freylinghuysen University, and her public speaking and advocacy, Cooper was a vocal promoter of equal education for African Americans and had a particular concern for the rights of African American women. Clearly her activism kept her healthy – she lived to be 104!

We will remember Anna J. Cooper in the Episcopal Church on February 28, and if you are so inclined, I recommend that you honor her by perusing her collection of essays, A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South, published in 1892. I think you will find her work prescient, inspiring, and surprisingly humorous. Perhaps she can inspire us all to do more to build a grand highway for all humanity!

Almighty God, who inspired your servant Anna Julia Haywood Cooper with the love of learning and the skill of teaching: Enlighten us more and more through the discipline of learning, and deepen our commitment to the education of all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

This file is an image taken from the scan of Anna Julia Cooper’s 1892 book A Voice from the South
Rev. Susan Hill

Rev. Susan Hill


Stay current on activity at the Soup Kitchen, guest stories, thoughts from Clergy, news and events.

Subscribe to receive the latest news, events, volunteer opportunities, and more — right to your inbox.

Church of the Holy Apostles

We are an open, inclusive Christian Church celebrating in the Episcopal tradition.

Sunday Service is held 11AM (on site and via livestream). Weekday services are held on Zoom.


For Newcomers

Learn about our faith community and explore ways to connect with our work and worship.


Reflections on Holy Scripture from our Clergy.


Founded in 1844, with a focus on social activism and the desire for social justice.

Clergy, Staff & Vestry

The Vestry is the governing body of the Church of the Holy Apostles.


Music commands a strong presence at the Church of the Holy Apostles.

Space Rental

Host your next meeting or event in our landmark building.

Soup Kitchen & Pantry

Nourishing hungry New Yorkers since 1982 in an atmosphere of respect and hospitality.

Daily meal service

Serving a free, nutritious meal every weekday from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Meal outreach

Distributing bagged breakfasts and lunches throughout Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.

About the soup kitchen

Learn more about our mission, our history, our performance, who we are, and what we do.

Pantry Program

Providing fresh and nutritious groceries to food-insecure New Yorkers.

Sunday Supper

Bridging generations and building community over a monthly family style meal.

Give Layers of Love this Winter

Help Keep Our Guests Warm this Winter.

Social Support

Meeting basic needs, stabilizing lives, and supporting individuals and families to achieve their goals.


Addressing the needs of the whole person through basic needs, counseling, and referrals.


Offering learning and skill-building opportunities.

Community Partnership

Partnering with others to expand the services offered to our guests.

Get Involved

Holy Apostles is a great place to channel your time, talents and generosity for good.


Make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and hunger.


Join our efforts to serve others and provide for people who are vulnerable.


Your gift provides food, community, and hope to New Yorkers in need.

The Latest

Stay up-to-date on all happenings at Holy Apostles.

Food For The Soul

The official blog of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

Voices of Our Community

Guest stories, poetry, and more.


See our calendar of events.

Church Pulpit Posts

Read weekly meditations written by our clergy.


Holy Apostles in the news.