Anna Julia Cooper wrote “Our Raison d’Être,” the preface to her book A Voice From the South, on September 17th, 1892. The piece, which sets up the premise of her book, begins by stating,

“In the clash and clatter of our American Conflict, it has been said that the South remains Silent. Like the Sphinx she inspires vociferous disputation, but herself takes little part in the noisy controversy. One muffled strain in the Silent South, a jarring chord and a vague and uncomprehended cadenza has been and still is the Negro. And of that muddled chord, the one mute and voiceless note has been the sadly expectant Black Women.”

She ends the preface by stating, “if these broken utterances can in any way help to a clearer vision and a truer pulse-beat in studying our Nation’s Problem, this Voice by a Black Woman of the South will not have been raised in vain.”

You can read the entire piece here, thanks to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s accessible electronic edition of A Voice From the South.