Anita Scott Coleman: An Unknown Contributor

Anita Scott Coleman

Anita Scott Coleman was born in Guaymas, Sonora Mexico in 1890. After she was born, her family moved to the United States, and she grew up in New Mexico. She became a teacher, but her job was ended when she married her husband, James Harold Coleman, who was a photographer (Coleman). Soon after, she became a writer, who published many short stories, all of which were pretty popular. About 30 stories were written by her when the Harlem Renaissance began. Her most popular one at the time was "The Little Grey House" (Coleman). Although she never actually lived in Harlem, she showed the qualities of writers from the Harlem Renaissance. Soon after, she began publishing more and more stories, poems and other writing for magazines. These magazines gave Harlem Renaissance writers a way out, and her works showed themes like racial pride, African American women, lynching, discrimination when employing, and also segregation (Coleman).

She fit into the Harlem Renaissance because of her writing styles. The Harlem Renaissance was a time for African Americans writers speak out and to get people to listen, just like entertainers. A big theme of the time period has to do with racism and segregation. After slavery ended, many African Americans didn't know what to do and the Harlem Renaissance pushed them forward a little. Writers like Coleman would be able to express what they believed through what they loved to do. This relates to self expression because she took what she thought, and put it into stories, essays and poems to try to get people to understand. If people where to look a little deeper, they could find realy meanings and the ideas are strong enough that it makes a change to the lives of many.

In 1926, she moved to Los Angeles to be with her husband. There, they had 4 children, and she managed a bording house at the same time. In the years after, she published more successful stories such as "The Brat" and "Three Dogs and a Rabbit". Her characters are known to develope through problems they encounter which could also be a theme for the Harlem Renaissance (Unfinished). That even though African Americans had a lot of trouble, they learn and continute to grow and get stronger. At one point, she stopped writing for 7 years, but then began again, and died in 1960 (Unfinished).

Poetry Analysis

"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 often wrote about things like racial pride, and we can see that here. She described the baby as black and says good things about it. Also we see how she develops her characters through this baby. When looking at the poem in a literal perspective, it doesn't make a lot of sense, but figuratively, many meanings can be interpreted. In the beginning she talks about the black baby, and when she says "I Toil, and I cannot always cuddle him" (5), it could possibly mean that because he is black, he will have to face racism so the speaker, who is probably a mother, is saying that she can't give him all the love he needs.

When she writes about the happy baby, laughingm then says "I watch to discern which are his hand, which is the sand... "(10) it's sounds as if she is doubtful and almost questioning. Wondering what he will become or many how is it that he can be so happy, because she's probably thinking what he will have to go through. The poem then shifts gears and talks about a coal man. "Costly fuel" (15) then leads to the next lines that says "If it is buried deep enough and lies hidden long enough, 'Twill be no longer coal but diamonds.... .... His eyes are like coals, They shine like diamonds" (16-17). The coal man seems to be saying that it'll be costly and painful once in a while, but if you get past that pain and "polish" up a little, rewards will be waiting, and in this case, the reward is that the boy will grow up to be a good person. A "diamond" that shines.

This can relate to many people, especially parents. Parents all over the world put in a lot of effort to raise their children well. They have to make sure they get a good education, and participate in activities such as music or sports. They have to correct their flaws when they need to and protect them when they are being hurt. Basically the children are the coal, and eventually they are able to become diamonds that shine. They are able to show their talents and be good at what they do. They can also become good or big and important people that inspires others.

Coleman uses poetic devices like similies in the line "His eyes are like coals" (16) and personification like "sunbeams danced on his head" (3). She also uses discriptive words to help show imagery, such as "the warm earth"(7), "black like his hands"(12), "chubby hands"(8), "eyes like coals" (19) and "they shine like diamonds" (20). This helps the reader get a clear picture of what they are reading. One line in the poem repeats a few timesl, and it is "The baby I hold in my arms is a black baby", and she uses the word "black" a lot. This may be becuase that is what she wants to stand out, and trying to find what "black" means.

Works Cited

"Coleman, Anita Scott ." LeS dOiGtS bLeUs - Bibliothèque Poétique - Poetry Library . N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <>.
"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. <>.
"Unfinished Master Peices, Anita Scott Coleman." Prenhall. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>.