Throughout the month of February, 9NEWS is celebrating Black History Month. As part of that month, we’re asking our viewers to share their stories. Those stories involved the people and organizations in their lives that have a place in their personal narratives of Black History Month. If you’d like to submit a story for consideration, email 9NEWS Reporter TaRhonda Thomas at email@example.com
Below is the story of Ruth Cousins Denny, as told by her daughter, Denver County Judge Dianne Briscoe:
Ruth Cousins Denny, a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in Denver, was born on Nov. 1, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri, from the union of Stanard S. Cousins and Mamie Louise Carr Cousins and as the granddaughter of a slave. Her father was the chauffeur for the Rands, owners of International Shoe Company. When she was about four years old, her father died … leaving her mother with five young children to raise as a single parent. Her mother worked as a domestic and nanny for the Rands.
Mrs. Denny was determined to go to college and wanted to be a lawyer to defeat racial discrimination, but stated that during that time, it was impossible. She never forgot how her mother was not acknowledged by clerks in the store and had to wait until white customers were waited on before she was allowed her turn. With fierce determination she earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Stowe Teacher’s College in St. Louis, Missouri and later earned graduate credits at St. Louis University, Denver University and Colorado University. She began her teaching career in St. Louis at her alma mater, Sumner High School, in 1944. She moved to Denver in 1951 and worked at the Air Force Accounting and Finance Center, later teaching in the Denver Public Schools for 26 years. Even after retiring, she continued to tutor children.
Mrs. Denny helped lead the Civil Rights Movement in Denver during the 1950s and 60s. She was one of the organizers of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and led the fundraising project to take a contingent from Colorado to the March on Washington in 1963. She was active in the planning and picketing of businesses in Denver that used discriminatory hiring and promotion practices in areas other than traditional occupations for people of color during that time period.
Before and during this period, she was active with the YWCA, serving on the program committee and with the teenage girls group. She served for two years as a member of the Board of Directors for Denver Opportunity (War on Poverty). Mrs. Denny was active in promoting fair policies in the Denver Public Schools regarding not only teachers, but also the children.
From her marriage to Eugene Ambrose Briscoe, she had two children: Michael Eugene Briscoe and Dianne Louise Briscoe. She later married Galloway H. Denny and enjoyed traveling and entertaining with him until his death in 1987.
For over 20 years, she quietly donated thousands of dollars to various 501 ( c) (3) organizations including the Shaka Franklin Foundation for Youth. She has taught her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren the value of giving back to the community in service and gift giving. Mrs. Denny lived in Hampden Heights from 1964 until her death in October 2013 at the age of 92.
(© 2016 KUSA)