The daughter of former slaves, Foote was born in Schenectady, New York. At an early age, Foote embraced her Christian faith and joined the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and immersed herself in biblical studies. However, at the age of 18, her insistence that God had called her to preach put a strain on her relationships with her family and church community who believed it was absolutely inappropriate and wrong for a woman to preach. Yet Foote persevered, traveling across the state and nation preaching at any venue that would allow her to pursue her Holy calling. After years of traveling, Foote finally settled down in Cleveland, Ohio where finally at the age of 71 she became the A.M.E. Zion Church's first woman deacon. By the time of her death, Foote was her denomination's second ordained female elder, a feat otherwise unheard of at that time.
Holiness takes the prejudice of color out of both the white and the black, and declares that, ‘The heart’s the standard of the man.’
– Julia A.J. Foote