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The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner

Former Colorado state senator Gloria Travis Tanner was born on July 16, 1934, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Blanche Arnold Travis and Marcellus Travis. Tanner received her B.A. degree in political science and graduated magna cum laude from Metro State College in 1974. She received her M.A. degree in urban affairs from the University of Colorado in 1976. In addition, Tanner graduated from the American Management Association Program for Women in Top Managerial Positions and the Women in Leadership Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Tanner worked as an administrative assistant for the Office of Hearings and Appeals at the United States Department of the Interior from 1967 to 1972. She worked as a reporter and feature writer for the Denver Weekly News, one of the leading African American newspapers in the Denver area, from 1972 through 1976. From 1976 to 1978, Tanner was the executive assistant to Colorado lieutenant governor George L. Brown, one of the first black lieutenant governors since Reconstruction. She then worked for Senator Regis Groff as the executive director of his communications office. Tanner was elected as a member of the Colorado State House of Representatives for District 7 in 1985 and served as the House Minority Caucus leader from 1987 through 1990. She was the second African American to be elected to a leadership position in the Colorado House of Representatives. In 1994, Tanner was appointed to the Colorado State Senate to replace Regis Groff who resigned to take a position elsewhere. She was the first African American woman to serve as a Colorado state senator, and held the seat until the year 2000. During her seventeen years in public service, she initiated and sponsored legislation on key issues such as marital discrimination in the workplace, parental responsibility, worker’s compensation cost savings, civil rights for women and minorities, and parental rights for adoptive parents.

Tanner is a widow and has three children: Terrance Ralph, Tanvis Renee, and Tracey Lynne.

Accession Number

A2008.131

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/6/2008

Last Name

Tanner

Maker Category
Middle Name

Travis

Occupation
Schools

David T. Howard High School

Gray Street School

Metropolitan State University of Denver

University of Colorado Denver

First Name

Gloria

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

TAN02

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

This Too Shall Pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

7/16/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

State senator The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner (1934 - ) was the first African American woman to serve as a Colorado state senator. She was also elected as a member of the Colorado State House of Representatives for District 7 in 1985, and served as the House Minority Caucus leader from 1987 through 1990. She was the second African American to be elected to a leadership position in the Colorado House of Representatives.

Employment

General Rose Memorial Hospital

U.S. Air Force

Colorado House of Representatives

Town and Country Real Estate, Inc.

Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

U.S. Department of the Interior

Colorado Governor

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner talks about her parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her relationship with her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers the holidays

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes the Gray Street School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner recalls her extracurricular activities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers David T. Howard High School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes the sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes the sounds of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner recalls her aspiration to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her activities at David T. Howard High School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers her time in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner recalls her conversion to Catholicism

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers her time in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner recalls meeting her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her early career in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner lists her children

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner talks about her work experiences in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her political activities in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner talks about her career in real estate

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner talks about segregation in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner recalls the assassinations of the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers her first political campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her tenure in the Colorado House of Representatives, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her tenure in the Colorado House of Representatives, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner talks about her tenure in the Colorado State Senate

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her organizational affiliations

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers her work with NOBEL Women

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner talks about serving on the Colorado State Senate's Joint Budget Committee

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her hopes for women in politics

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her mentorship of aspiring black female politicians

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner talks about the election of President Barack Obama

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers meeting Nelson Mandela

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner reflects upon her life, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner talks about her family

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her plans for the future

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner shares her advice for aspiring politicians

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her hopes for the public education system

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner shares a message to future generations

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner reflects upon her accomplishments

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner talks about obstacles to her success

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner reflects upon her life, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner describes her hopes for women in politics
The Honorable Gloria Travis Tanner remembers the Civil Rights Movement
Transcript
And so, that's what made you so successful in the different organizations, you know, for, for women, and making sure that they get appointed. What was, what are some of the things--you talked about a lot of different organizations. But in the, and, and a lot of them have to do with women and making sure that, you know, they get appointed to boards. And what are some of the things that, that you had to accomplish to get these things done?$$Well, the first thing you have to help women to believe in themselves, to believe that you can accomplish this, and that you can do it. We always put everybody else before we put ourselves. We got our children. We got our husband. We got the house to take care of. We got this. We always have an excuse that we don't have time, and a lot of times, we don't, unless we can get our schedules together and set up priorities and do things. But the first thing you have to make women think that you, you can do it. You've done this at home. You've, you've done these kind of things before. You just didn't know you were doing it, you know, and get them to think that you can, you can accomplish it. And you can do it, and you are needed, and this is why you're needed there, you know, because if you're not there, these things are never going to come up 'cause, you know, men, men usually don't bring up some of this stuff, especially when it comes to things like parenting. And any kind of legislation that they--in fact, they used to tell us all the time, "That's the problem with you women that you don't get on the budget committee, or you don't get a leadership position 'cause you're always talking about families." Well, shouldn't they be concerned about families, too (laughter)? Are we the only one? But they think they talk about the big things, and we talk about the small ones, you know. So, you have to instill in women that we are capable of doing the same thing, you know. I think the only difference is that we're more sensitive. They say, we are more emotional, but I think being more emotional is--women make us more sensitive to these things, so that--but I, I think is really, really important. I think the most important thing for me, when I walked through that senate door every morning, was to realize how many shoulders I came in on, and how many people are going to be looking at my shoulders to see, can I climb on them, you know? But you got to do something to make it right, a lot less troublesome for women than it has been before. And from the Northeast, too, you know, you have, you have to look at those things and see. And people always say, "Aren't you proud of being the being the first black woman elected to the senate [Colorado State Senate]." I say, "No, I'm not, I'm honored because they finally opened the door, and let one in." But of a hundred years, that'll be, have the senate or so it just shows how many have been denied. It doesn't--I'm not so carried away with just being the first black woman, but what am I going to do with that? I'm going to make sure that I'm not the last one, that's for sure, so that's, that's some of the things (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And so--$You wanted to--we kind of brushed over the civil rights era.$$The era, um-hm.$$And we, we tried to go back and then we, we got a little lost, but you wanted to share a story--$$Yeah.$$--about that time.$$I, when I got out of the [U.S.] Air Force, as I told you, I got accepted at Emory University, Grady School of Nursing [Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, Atlanta, Georgia] there. And when I was there, the civil rights, it just really started with the Rosa Parks and everything. And the black students and nurses, we had a different dormitory. And for the least little thing that would happen if you were late coming in, five minutes, anything that would happen and, and you would get suspended and kicked out of school and everything. It was not happening to the white student nurses. So, we decided to go on strike there, and we all sit in the auditorium. And finally, they sent the dean there and she said to us, "If you don't get back in your classes, and get back in that hospital, you're all going to be maids, like your mother--like your mothers." And, and she never tried to tell us, we're going to try to make it right or anything, and that was really when it got started. And they, they finally suspended some of the students, you know, that got--they said, they got it started, and so forth and so on. But that--by that time in '56 [1956], I, in May, I left Atlanta [Georgia], so I wasn't there any longer. When I got to Denver [Colorado], most people worked for the government, so they all made around the same salaries. They were teachers. They worked at the Federal Center [Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado]. So, didn't have much of a civil rights thing going on here 'cause they didn't feel like they needed it, which I didn't agree, but they didn't feel that they needed it here. So, it was not really--the only thing you could really do is send money. And then things start getting tough here with gang type stuff, you know. And that's when people got involved here a lot, but before that, it was not a whole lot. Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.], I can remember coming here a few times, but not a whole lot of things. But I had faced so much prejudice as a child, drinking out of the coloreds' fountains, and going up all those steps to the Fox Theatre [Atlanta, Georgia] there that Senator Martha Ezzard was a senator here like I was. And she and I were back there in Atlanta for the Democratic Convention [1988 Democratic National Convention, Atlanta, Georgia]. And they took us over to the Fox and took pictures. And she showed how she went in the front door and I had to go up all these stairs, you know, and stuff. So, it was so many things that I remember--sitting on the back of the bus, and not being able to sit at the counters to eat lunch at the downtown drugstores, at Kress's [S.H. Kress and Co.] and all that, that a lot of things that these people here probably had not faced, you know. I don't know, but I do know they did have problems in Denver, but nothing like we had probably. So, I, I--it's a lot of memories back there, a lot of things that happened as a child, you know.