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Anna Jo Garcia Haynes Reflects on Education as a Civil Right for Kids

Anna Jo Garcia Haynes has been Denver’s driving force for early childhood care and education, spending well over 50 years providing visionary leadership to improve the lives of children and families across the state of Colorado. For I Am Denver, she recounts the early years, how she emerged from the Auraria and Five Points neighborhoods to found Mile High Early Learning, bring the Head Start program to Denver and co-found the Colorado Children’s Campaign and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. See that and so much more below.

On Experiencing Racism As a Child in Denver

In early Denver, one of the things I didn’t say, was growing up and living very close to Curtis park, the swimming pool was open to white people on Monday, Tuesday; to Latino people on Wednesday; and to black people on Thursday. And on Friday, they closed the pool down to clean it up for the next week.

I remember going with a German girlfriend of mine, my best girlfriend. She had lived in Globeville in the early years of Globeville, when it was very much a German neighborhood. And she was a great swimmer. She was my best friend and she moved up to near Mitchell, where I lived, and that’s how I got to know her. She stayed involved in Globeville because she was a great swimmer. And so she said to me, "Why don’t you come and swim with me in Globeville?"

"OK, all right," [I said].

She had taught me to swim really well. And I remember getting in the pool, and when I did, everyone else got out. They sat on the edge of the pool. She dove into the water and said, "Come on. Swim across with me." And I did. [She] got up and sat on the ledge and said, "If you want me to swim on your swim team, she will swim with me." They wanted her bad enough, so I swam with her.

I was probably about 12 at that time. You know, I was terrified. I was really scared. And she was so determined. And I thought, determination. If you feel strongly about somebody, and if they’re your good friend, you stand up for them. And that’s what she did.

Anna Jo Garcia Haynes with children at school 

How Growing Up in Denver Shaped Anna Jo Garcia Haynes' Life & Advocacy Work