Marie Greenwood Papers
Scope and Contents
The Marie Greenwood Papers consists of publications, articles on Marie Greenwood's accomplishments, and personal papers. The collection includes information on the various programs with which Greenwood was involved (such as the Read Aloud Program), and material on all of the awards for which Greenwood received nominations - - including the 9 Who Cares and 7 Everyday Heroes awards. The collection is arranged alphabetically.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.
Biographical / Historical
Marie Louise Greenwood exhibited great determination and resiliency in becoming one of Denver's first black schoolteachers. She prevailed and overcame severe opposition in the 1930s, when segregation had a strong grip on the city. Even after retiring in 1974, Greenwood’s passion and dedication motivated her to volunteer in several programs for children in northeast Denver for several more years.
She was born Marie Louise Anderson on 24 November 1912 in Los Angeles to a railroad chef and a domestic worker. Her family moved to Denver when she was thirteen.
During adolescence, Anderson realized her love for children and decided she wanted to teach. Every step of the way, however, she was blatantly discouraged. Her high school dean told her that all she could do was "work in somebody's kitchen or clean somebody's house."
“It hurt, it hurt deeply,” Anderson said in the book, Growing By Black. "I left home office and went to the girls' room. I cried, I pounded on the walls; I said, 'I'm going to show her.'" She defied other myths, too, such as one about black parents not wanting black teachers for their children.
Anderson not only graduated from West High School but also attained a scholarship as one of the state's top students. She enrolled in Colorado Teacher's College in Greeley, but racism prevented her from living on campus or joining clubs. She shared a house with eleven other young black women and walked to school every day. Getting ready to graduate in the spring of 1935, Anderson was encouraged by a Denver minister to take the teacher's exam. Greenwood passed the exam and interview session and received her letter of assignment on the twentieth of June 1935 to teach at Whittier Elementary School for the 1935-1936 school year.
Anderson married Bill Greenwood in 1943. Two years later, she left teaching to concentrate on raising a family. The Greenwoods built a home in West Denver and their four children became the first black students at Newlon Elementary School. She returned to the classroom in 1953 as a substitute teacher at Newlon before being reinstated full- time two years later. Again she broke barriers since all black teachers at that time were being assigned strictly to schools in northeast Denver. Her quality of teaching helped white parents at Newlon overcome their prejudices of a black teacher instructing their children.
Greenwood still exhibits the spirit today for teaching that she displayed back in 1935 when she refused to be turned away from the profession.
-taken from a draft for the Colorado Black Leadership Profiles found in the collection
1 box (.5 linear feet)
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift, Marie Greenwood, 2001.
- African American women teachers -- Colorado -- Denver. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
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