Julia Evangeline Brooks


Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Julia Evangeline Brooks, 1882-1948

By Rigby Philips, graduate student at University of Maryland, College Park

Julia Evangeline Brooks was born June 17, 1882, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her parents were Rev. Walter Henderson Brooks and Evalina Holmes Brooks. Rev. Henderson was born into slavery, but his father was able to purchase his freedom when he was a child. He went on to become a well-known clergyman, reformer, and orator. Julia's paternal grandmother, Lucy Goode Brooks, was a prominent social reformer.

Julia had eight siblings who lived past infancy. At the age of three, Brooks moved from New Orleans to Washington, D.C. In Washington, she attended Sumner Magruder Elementary School and M Street High School. After high school, Brooks enrolled at Miner Normal School to prepare for a teaching career. She taught elementary school for several years beginning in 1903, then continued her education at Howard University, earning a B.A. in 1908. During her time at Howard, Brooks was instrumental in the founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first intercollegiate historically Black sorority. She was a member of the sorority's directorate, serving as the sorority's tamiouchos (or treasurer) from 1913-1923. Brooks also authored a history of the sorority and was active in the Xi Omega Chapter until her death.

Between 1916 and 1922, Brooks taught English and Spanish at Dunbar High School (her former M Street High School). In 1928, Brooks received an M.A. from Columbia University Teachers' College, which she put to use as the assistant principal and dean of girls at Dunbar High School until her death in 1948.

In 1921, she joined a delegation of between 50 and 60 women who asked Alice Paul to bring up a resolution at the National Woman's Party Convention that year. The resolution called for a Congressional investigation into the disfranchisement of Black women voters in the South after the passage of the 19th Amendment. Ella Rush Murray, a white suffragist from New York, brought up the resolution as the New York state delegate to the convention. The convention, though, voted down the resolution.

Brooks spent a great deal of time volunteering. She served on the joint citizens' committee for an elective school board in 1919 as part of her work as the treasurer of the Armstrong-Dunbar Teachers' Union. She was also a member of the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools, the National Education Association, the National Association for Deans of Women, the Association for Study of Negro Life and History, and the NAACP. In 1926, Brooks performed in a production of Lady Windermere's Fan alongside other members of the College Alumnae Club, a group for Black women college graduates. Mary P. Burrill, a Harlem Renaissance playwright (and fellow suffragist), directed. On at least one occasion, Brooks donated to the National Training School for Women and Girls. She was also an active member of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, where her father served as pastor for 50 years.

Brooks did not marry. At 61 she suffered head and back injuries in an automobile accident but recovered enough to continue working up to her death. Brooks died November 20, 1948 of a heart ailment at age 66. She is buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland.


"D.C. To Be Represented." Evening Star. February 18, 1924, p. 11. Chronicling America. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1924-02-18/ed-1/seq-11/

"Dunbar Teacher Hurt in Traffic Accident." Evening Star. December 03, 1943, p. A-5. Chronicling America. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1943-12-03/ed-1/seq-5/

"Elect School Body, Teachers Demand." The Washington Times. June 27, 1919, p. 4. Chronicling America. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1919-06-27/ed-1/seq-4/

"Julia E. Brooks." Our Illustrious Founders and Incorporators. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://members.tripod.com/aka_doo/brooks.html

Julia Evangeline Brooks. Find a Grave. Accessed Oct 1, 2022. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/195084536/julia-evangeline-brooks

Lucy Goode Brooks. Find a Grave. Accessed Oct 1, 2022. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/81653782/lucy-brooks

"Miss Julia E. Brooks Dies; Dean of Girls at Dunbar High School." Evening Star. November 25, 1948, p. A-12. Chronicling America. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1948-11-25/ed-1/seq-12/

"Play to Be Given by Colored Alumnae." The Washington Post. March 27, 1926, p. 8. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/play-be-given-colored-alumnae/docview/149656111/se-2

"Students to Give Play in Spanish." Evening Star. June 10, 1928, p. 11. Chronicling America. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1928-06-10/ed-1/seq-11/

"Teachers are Feted." Evening Star. August 02, 1931, p. B-7. Chronicling America. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1931-08-02/ed-1/seq-23/

"Teachers' Union Elects." Evening Star. June 29, 1919, p. 6. Chronicling America. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1919-06-29/ed-1/seq-32/

"Training School Fund Reaches $4,296." Evening Star. January 6, 1927, p. 7. Chronicling America. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1927-01-06/ed-1/seq-7/


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