On the Cover: Anjel Newmann

Motif Cover, February 2021

Anjel Newmann is an educator, anti-racist organizer, director of programs at AS220 and the face of Shepard Fairey’s most recent Providence mural. She’s also the artist behind this issue’s depiction of a modern Anna Julia Cooper, and we couldn’t be more proud to showcase her work. Newmann said of her art, “‘Only the Black Woman,’ centers Anna Julia Cooper with Queen Beyonce’s glasses and hair to show that we are our ancestors, they are us, and when we move in divine alignment, we advance justice for everyone.”

Cooper’s driving force was advancing justice. She was a Black liberation activist; an author, educator and public speaker; and one of the most prominent scholars in US history. Her first book, A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South, is widely acknowledged as one of the first articulations of Black feminism.

She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oberlin College and taught at Wilberforce College before she moved to Washington, DC. There, Cooper, Helen Appo Cook, Ida B. Wells, Charlotte Forten Grimké, Mary Jane Peterson, Mary Church Terrell and Evelyn Shaw formed the Colored Women’s League in 1892. The goals of the service-oriented club were to promote unity, social progress and the best interests of the African-American community.

Throughout the rest of her career, she sought to advance her community through education. A few years after receiving her doctorate in 1924 — only the fourth Black woman to do so — she retired from the Washington Colored High School and accepted the position of president at Frelinghuysen University, a school founded to provide classes for DC residents lacking access to higher education.

Newmann calls her portrait of the mother of Black feminism a “hip-hop futurist digital collage that honors the lineage of bad ass Black women who have used their bodies, minds and spirits to transfer the electric nature of our power.”