Scholarship honors trailblazing state leader Gloria Tanner
The MSU Denver alumna, who died in April, was a longtime Colorado lawmaker and the first Black woman to serve as a state senator.
Gloria Tanner’s legacy of service will live on at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where a scholarship has been established in her name.
Tanner, an MSU Denver alumna and the first Black woman to serve as a Colorado state senator, died April 6 at age 86.
The Gloria Tanner Annual Scholarship will support students interested in community leadership, including running for public office.
“Gloria was a trailblazer, leader and role model. We are so proud she is part of our Roadrunner family,” said Christine Márquez-Hudson, vice president of University Advancement and executive director of the MSU Denver Foundation. “It is our honor to celebrate her memory by supporting students who want to follow in her footsteps as dedicated leaders in their communities.”
Born and raised in Atlanta, Tanner grew up in a neighborhood of activists, including her mother, which inspired her to make a difference in the community.
“My mother used to say, ‘You owe something to someone for your existence.’ I think she had a point,” Tanner told RED in 2018. “Growing up in the South, where there were ‘colored’ water fountains, there were bathrooms you couldn’t go to, and seeing all the nonsense things that were going on at that time, I think it made me want to try to make a difference.”
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After high school, she served for three years in the U.S. Air Force and met her husband, whose military career brought their family to Denver. When their third child started grade school, Tanner enrolled at then-Metropolitan State College, earning a degree in Political Science in 1974. She followed that up with a master’s degree in Urban Affairs from the University of Colorado Denver in 1976.
Fill out the scholarships application and navigate to the Gloria Tanner Annual Scholarship, where you’ll be prompted to answer one question and write a short essay.
Visit the giving page to support students who have aspirations to become involved in public service or run for political office.
Known for her distinguished career in public service, Tanner worked for Lt. Gov. George Brown and state Sen. Regis Groff before serving five terms in the Colorado House of Representatives starting in 1984. From 1994-2001, she served in the Colorado Senate, where she was selected as a member of the Joint Budget Committee. During her tenure, Tanner worked to pass significant legislation, including Colorado’s safe-haven law, civil rights for women and minorities, and rights for adoptive parents.
To be considered for the scholarship, students must write a short essay sharing how they relate to the experience of African American women. Then, one junior or senior will be selected to receive an award of $5,000 per academic year for up to two years.