Scholarship honors legacy of Silver City writer

SILVER CITY, NM – At best, life in the American Southwest around the turn of the 20th century was a struggle.

Living in the sunny border regions of New Mexico and Arizona, people of color have found this incredibly difficult. Apache, which called this region his home for hundreds of years, had been subjugated by the US military and its Buffalo soldiers. Hispanic residents have suffered prejudice and derision buy their Anglo-Saxon neighbors.

Colored people had to negotiate “a drab street, a street of white men, cluttered with cars, streetcars and trucks,” as Silver City poet Anita Scott Coleman wrote in “The Shining Parlor” . If you were a descendant of the valiant Buffalo Soldiers, your life was no easier than that of the vanquished Apaches or denigrated Hispanics who lived here.

Now, the Western New Mexico University Foundation provides a window through which to glimpse the lives of people of color in the late 1800s and early 20th century thanks to the Anita Scott Coleman Fellowship.

“I started the Anita Scott Coleman Fellowship through the University Foundation. Last year we finally awarded our first scholarship! Abe Villarreal, dean of the Cochise College campus in Douglas, Arizona, said Monday, Nov. 29. Villarreal works in higher education and grew up in the border community of Douglas. He received his first two degrees at WNMU and worked at WNMU for 12 years as Director of Communications and Assistant Dean of Student Support and Civic Engagement. Villarreal said he has launched another scholarship through the Foundation called Alumni Rising. It is awarded to new alumni of WNMU to encourage them to stay at WNMU to earn their masters.

Coleman’s legacy

Villarreal said the scholarship was created with the goal of making Coleman’s legacy something the WNMU and its students remember.

“Many don’t know that she was one of the first two black graduates to graduate from WNMU (both black graduates in the same year). Scott Park in Silver City is named after his family who owned a ranch on the original property, and of course his writings need to be studied and recognized, ”he said.

The Anita Scott Coleman Scholarship is awarded to students to honor her mixed ethnic makeup. The candidate is also invited to reflect on one of her writing, helping her writing continue to have an impact on students today and is typically valued at around $ 500 per year. The priority deadline for scholarships is January 31 and the closing date is September 30, 2022. The scholarship duration covers fall 2022 and spring 2023 and is based on both merit and financial need, full-time or part-time, undergraduate or graduate students who maintain a GPA of 2.75 or above. Applicants must submit a writing / essay reflecting one of Coleman’s works. Preference will be given to students majoring in education, English or history.

WILL course

To learn more about the life and times of Anita Scott Coleman, you may consider taking the Sonnie Sussillo One-Session Memorial Course on Coleman at the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning, presented by Ashley Smith of the Silver City Museum. “Creating Under the Radar: Anita Scott Coleman and the African-American Community of New Mexico” will provide a general overview of the life and work of Coleman (1890-1960) and the history of the larger African-American community. American from New Mexico, Smith, registrar and collections manager of the Silver City Museum, said in an interview Nov. 10.

Coleman has published over 30 short stories, essays and poems. The BlackPast website writes of Coleman’s work: “His writings remind us that the Harlem Literary Renaissance was national in scope and impact. Coleman was born in Mexico in 1890, according to, her mother was a slave bought by her Cuban father, who fought in the Civil War for the Union. His father continued his military service after the war as a Buffalo Private.

“His father was a retired Buffalo Soldier. As a child, Coleman came to the outskirts of Silver City where his father William lived. Anita Scott graduated from New Mexico Normal University – now Western New Mexico University – and married photographer and printer James Coleman, ”said Tom Hester, WILL’s program committee member, in an interview on Nov. 10.

Courses for WILL members for the spring semester will be posted on the courses page of the WILL website on Friday December 10th and registration will begin on Friday December 17th. Go to the website membership page to find out how to join WILL. There are 40 spots available for the Coleman course.

For more information or to register for the course, visit

For more information on the scholarship:

HOTO: Anita Scott Coleman is seen in this undated photo.

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