In 1832, twenty-six years and forty-seven years before Anna Julia Cooper and Nannie Helen Burroughs were born respectively, Maria Miller Stewart, a free Black woman from Connecticut, urged and beckoned African American women to develop their intellects, become teachers, combine family and work outside the home, and to commit themselves to a life of service in all aspects of community building.3 She cried out:

O, ye daughters of Africa, Awake! Awake! Arise! No longer sleep nor slumber, but distinguish yourselves, show forth to the world that ye are endowed with noble and exalted faculties. O, ye daughters of Africa! What have ye done to immortalize your names beyond the grave? What examples have ye set before the rising generations? What foundation have ye laid for generations yet unborn?4