This Too Shall Pass: Remembering Sen. Gloria Travis Tanner

Sen. Gloria Travis Tanner, who was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002, died on April 4 at age 86 at her Denver home. She was the first Black woman in state history to serve in the Colorado Senate and the second to be elected to a Colorado House of Representatives leadership position.


Gov. Jared Polis and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera released a joint statement on April 5, noting the significant community loss of Tanner. 

“We join fellow Coloradans in mourning the loss of the great Gloria Tanner,” the joint statement said. “Beyond her storied career spanning 17 years at the Capitol — fighting to pass landmark legislation to improve the lives of women and families — former Senator Tanner’s undying love for her community is manifest in her mission to shape emerging leaders.”

Tanner was the lead founder of Colorado Black Women for Political Action, a co-founder with former Sen. Regus Groff of the Colorado Black Roundtable and the co-creator of National Organization of Black Elected Legislators or NOBEL-Women headquartered in Washington, D.C. Tanner also established the Senator Gloria Tanner Leadership and Training Institute for Future Black Women Leaders of Colorado in 2001 and was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002. 

“I can do it, I don’t care what the obstacles are . . . my limitations are mine, not yours. If you want to place them I will overcome them,” Tanner said, according to her Google Arts & Culture entry.

“On the day that Gloria Tanner leaves our physical world behind, she also leaves doors of opportunity open for the next generation to make a profound difference, to be a part of the change,” Polis and Primavera said in the April 5 statement.  

Senator Tanner was a trailblazer whose determination and commitment to Colorado improved the lives of all people in our state, and I join Coloradans in mourning her passing,” Rep. Leslie Herod said in an April 5 statement. “Gloria’s tireless devotion to serving our community uplifted the lives of so many Coloradans and families. Gloria was a mentor to us all. As the founder of Colorado Black Women for Political Action and the co-creator of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislators, she fostered an entire generation of leaders who will continue her legacy and make their mark on our state and nation – just as she would have wished. Today, we celebrate her life and legacy as she ascends to join our ancestors.” 

According to Tanner’s History Maker’s biography, her favorite quote was, “This too shall pass.”

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