Anita Scott Coleman
by Michelle Tseung, Period 4

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Bibliography:
Anita Scott Coleman was an influential black writer, whom is typically not mentioned when the topic of the Harlem Renaissance comes up, as she is not famous. However, her works greatly contributed to the world of Harlem. She was born in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. Her father was Cuban, and fought in the Civil war on the Union Side, but retired, and therefore the moved to Southeast US shortly after Anita was born. She was born in 1890 and raised in New Mexico, where she went to both elementary school and college. She was enrolled in New Mexico Teachers College in Silver City. She also taught there, writing in her spare time. However, she stopped teaching in 1916 when she married James Harold Coleman, a printer and photographer from Virginia ("Champion 302").

She became a published writer whom produced more than thirty short stories. She was published by Decker Press in Prairie City, Illinois. She came from a military family, so she wrote much about war, peace, and the definition of patriotism. She never lived in Harlem, however, she had the same themes and goals as the writers in Harlem did. She was a writer that would express what they believed through her poetry, inspiring others to make a change. She published her first work in New Mexico between 1919 and 1925. One of her most famous works is, "The Little Grey House". It was published in 1922. Later, James Harold Coleman, her husband, moved to Los Angeles, California, to find work. Two years later, she joined him, and there, they raised four children. She also ran a boarding house, and published famous stories like, "Three Dogs and a Rabbit," and "The Brat". She didn't write for several years after that, however, around 1940, she started to write again ("Unfinished").

A volume of poetry was published in 1948, named "Reason for Singing". Then, "The Singing Bells," which was a children's book, was also published a year after her death. During the 1920s and 1930s, she had published stories, essays, and poems that appeared in well-known magazines, such as Oppurtunity: Journal of Negro Life, The Crisis and The Messenger. These three magazines had many works from Harlem Renaissance writers. It was these three particular magazines, that writers were able to express themselves fully. Anita Scott Coleman wrote specifically about racial pride, support of black women, lynching, employment discrimination, and one of the main themes of the Harlem Renaissance - segregation. Her writing inspired many of the Harlem Renaissance writers. Much of her writing also was focused in the Southwest, where she lived. Her characters are know to develop and grow stronger through obstacles, which is also a theme of the Harlem Renaissance. Although she died in 1960, her work still lives on, adding to the inspring history of literature in the Harlem Renaissance ("Past").
Black Baby

The baby I hold in my arms is a black baby.
Today I set him in the sun and
Sunbeams danced on his head.
The baby I hold in my arms is a black baby.
I toil, and I cannot always cuddle him.
I place him on the ground at my feet.
He presses the warm earth with his hands,
He lifts the sand and laughs to see
It flow through his chubby fingers.
I watch to discern which are his hands,
Which is the sand. . . .
Lo . . . the rich loam is black like his hands.
The baby I hold in my arms is a black baby.
Today the coal-man brought me coal.
sixteen dollars a ton is the price I pay for coal.--
Costly fuel . . . though they say:
-- If it is buried deep enough and lies hidden long enough
'Twill be no longer coal but diamonds. . . .
My black baby looks at me.
His eyes are like coals,
They shine like diamonds.

Coleman had written about racial pride and segregation, which shows in this poem. Although the baby is black, she says many godo things about it. She says "Sunbeams danced on his head," (3) and "He lifts the sand and laughs to see," which describes the baby as mainly happy. However, she also says, "I toil, and I cannot always cuddle him" (5), meaning because he is black, no matter how much the mother, likely the speaker, loves him, he must face racism. Although at first glance, it may be confusing, it holds much meaning, as a mother is likely the speaker. She is thinking of what he must go through, and you can see the development through the poem. The poem says "I watch to discern which are his hands, Which is the sand" (10-11), and she is trying to distinguish between his hands and the sand. However, in the next line, she says, "Lo...the rich loam is black like his hands" (12). Loam is dirt, and she is talking about the same thing as she had said in the previous line. Though she was talking about the same thing, she used different words. This is symbolic. Sand is white, and loam is dirt, which is a dark brown. This means at first, she is trying to distinguish the difference between white people and black people. She then tells the reader to see, that the dirt is black like the baby's hands. The baby is black, and that is the difference.

However, the poem then changes, and starts talking about a man who sells coal. "Costly fuel...though they say:-- If it is buried deep enough and lies hidden long enough, 'Twill be no longer coal, but diamonds..." (16-18), and this means that although coal is costly, if it is buried deep enough and lies hidden long enough, it will become diamonds. She then follows up with the lines "His eyes are like coals, they shine like diamonds" (18-19). She is talking about her baby's eyes. The coal man says that although it is costly, and there may be sacrifice and obstacles, if you can get past all of that, the coal will become diamonds. This is used to compare to the child. Although the child will have to go through much, eventually, he will become a good person. He will become someone that is worth something, like diamonds.The child may also symbolize all African Americans, showing that not only does the child have potential to "shine", but also the rest of the African Americans, and the potential within them. Through their suffering, they will become something great.

Anita Scott Coleman uses similes in the line, "His eyes are like coals, they shine like diamonds" (16-17). She also uses adjectives that contribute to imagery, like "chubby fingers" (8), "the warm earth" (7), and "His eyes are like coals, they shine like diamonds" (19-20). She also uses personification in the line "sumbeams danced on his head" (3). There are words that set the tone, such as laughs and sunbeams. A commonly repeated phrase is "The baby I hold in my arms is a black baby." This may be because she wants to show that although this is a black baby, he is worth much more than what people see him for, as people see coal. Her poetry related to many of the themes of the Harlem Renaissance.

Works Cited

Coleman, Anita Scott. "The Shining Parlor by Anita Scott Coleman Classic Famous Poet - All Poetry. ." All Poetry - poets publish in a free online community, fun supportive cash contests at allpoetry. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <http://allpoetry.com/poem/8617185-The_Shining_Parlor-by-Anita_Scott_Coleman>.

Coleman, Anita Scott. "Black baby by Anita Scott Coleman Classic Famous Poet - All Poetry. ." All Poetry - poets publish in a free online community, fun supportive cash contests at allpoetry. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2012. <http://allpoetry.com/poem/8617187-Black_baby_-by-Anita_Scott_Coleman>.

"Unfinished Master Peices, Anita Scott Coleman." Prenhall. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <wps.prenhall.com/hss_master_lit_1/9/2557/654597.cw/index.html>.

"Coleman, Anita Scott (1890-1960) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed." | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aaw/coleman-anita-scott-1890-1960>.

Champion, Laurie, and Emmanuel S. Nelson. American Women Writers, 1900-1945: a Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000. Print.