Representative Arie Taylor began her political career at the age of 19, serving on the staff of the first African-American woman elected to the Cleveland City Council. Rep. Taylor served in the Women’s Air Force from 1951 to 1955 as a staff sergeant where she was the first African-American Women’s Air Force classroom instructor.
Elected to the Colorado General Assembly in 1972 as a Democrat, Rep. Taylor was Colorado’s first African-American female legislator. Her district was in northeast Denver and she earned a reputation as an outspoken voice for civil liberties, women’s rights, health care, and fair housing. When she came to the legislature, a woman in Colorado could not buy a home in her own name and could not borrow money from a bank. Taylor sponsored an amendment to the civil rights act that allowed women to obtain credit in their own names.
While a member of the Colorado General Assembly, Rep. Taylor was chair of the State Affairs committee. In 1989, Rep. Taylor was awarded the Harriet Tubman Achievement Award in recognition of extraordinary efforts against racial violence. Former Mayor Wellington Webb appointed Representative Taylor to the position of Denver Clerk and Recorder in 1991. In recognition of her many years of public service, in 1999 the Denver City Council named the municipal center the Arie P. Taylor Municipal Center.
Though known for her distinctive hats, which you can see in the photos of legislators from the past hanging in the House Committee Rooms in the State Capitol, she will always be remembered for her more important legislative legacy and the trail she blazed for African-American women.
Note: A tribute to Arie Taylor hangs in the women’s restroom just off the floor of the House of Representatives. The tribute recognizes (with a sense of humor) that Rep. Taylor worked hard to have accessible restroom facilities for women in the House.
The tribute reads:
Once women at the airport who were running short on time,
Couldn’t even use the bathroom unless they had a dime.
Then Arie Taylor took the mike with her Stapleton crusade,
She made herself a heroine for the cause of the traveller’s aid.
Once here beneath the golden dome if nature made a call,
We’d have to scramble from our seats and dash across the ahll.
We missed a lot of crucial votes (No more could we delay!)
To use the lone facility a hundred feet away.
The Arie took the mike once more to push an urge organic,
No longer do we fret and squirm or cross our legs in panic.
The ladies finally have a place to fill their empty void,
She helped to get a women’s john just like the men enjoyed.
In mem’ry of you, Arie (may you never be forgot),
From this day forth we’ll call that room the Taylor Chamber Pot.
More information about Arie Taylor:
Note: The information on this page is made available through the generosity of the Colorado Legislative Women’s Caucus, which has asked us to preserve, maintain and promote information they gathered.