Bronze and mosaic relief designed by Thomas Jay Warren.

Marie Greenwood Papers

African American Research Library
Denver Public Library

Provenance: The collection was donated to the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library by Marie Greenwood.
Ownership: Literary and copyrights have been assigned to the Denver Public Library.
Call Number: MS-ARL56

1 box (0.25 linear feet)

Processed By: Tammi E. Haddad and Brent Wagner
Date: September 2002 and March 2004

Biographical Information | Scope and Content | Container Listing

Biographical Information

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.

back to the top

Scope and Content

The Marie Greenwood Papers (1930s-1940s and 1980s-2001) include materials (papers, certificates, publications and correspondence) she obtained during her years of service in Denver as a dedicated teacher and also as a volunteer to the community. 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.

back to the top

Container Listing

Box 1 FF1 A Class Act (Rocky Mountain News) 2/21/1999
Box 1 FF2 Alpha Kappa Alpha 1993
Box 1 FF3 Biographical Material Undated
Box 1 FF4 Certificate: Shorter A.M.E. Church 1/30/1994
Box 1 FF5 Channel 7 - Everyday Hero 2000
Box 1 FF6 Channel 9 - Who Cares 1994
Box 1 FF7 Correspondence 1990s
Box 1 FF8 Crestmoor Chronicle Fall 1996
Box 1 FF9 Chelsea Cusack 2000
Box 1 FF10 Dedication Program for Marie L. Greenwood Elementary School 10/11/2001
Box 1 FF11 Denver Public Library: Volunteer of the Year 1994
Box 1 FF12 Denver Public Schools: Pay Increase 1930s-1940s
Box 1 FF13 Far Northeast Neighbors, Inc. 3/11/1999
Box 1 FF14 William Rivers Greenwood, Sr. 1980s
Box 1 FF15 Ira C. Meadows: Annual Roast Toast 2000
Box 1 FF16 Newspaper Articles 1990s
Box 1 FF17 Poems Undated
Box 1 FF18 Read Aloud Program 1996
Box 1 FF19 Scribes: A 10 cents Miracle Spring 1977
Box 1 FF20 Summer Bulletin 8/1984
Box 1 FF21 20th Century Colorado: The Thirties 1993
Box 1 FF22 University of Northern Colorado 1997
Box 1 FF23 Marilyn S. Wells 3/2000
Box 1 FF24 Miscellaneous 1935-2001

back to the top

Denver Public Library - Denver Public Library Online
Bronze and mosaic relief designed by Thomas Jay Warren.
The Denver Public Library Online ©
Updated: May 08, 2013
Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library Home Page Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library Home Page