Page 1

Volume 31

Number 5 August 2017

Denver Mayor

Michael B. Hancock Delivers 2017 State of the City Address

Maps out new actions to better manage growth, traffic and affordability...2 Photo by Bernard Grant




Volume 31 Number 5

Home Sweet Home… Home is where the heart is… There’s no place like home…

August 2017

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James MANAGING EDITOR Laurence C. Washington CONTRIBUTING COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNISTS Kim Farmer Earl Ofari Hutchinson FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Charles Emmons Khaleel Herbert Melovy Melvin Allan Tellis

All of us have heard or said these phrases growing up and over the years; and in a sense, they mean the same thing. And this month, we can attest to it. Our cover story this month features Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s State of the City Address and how he plans to make living in Denver and in our homes better as he discusses growth, traffic and affordability. Melovy Melvin talks to “Coach” Copeland who shares his transition from one home to another and how it provides a guiding light for those who walk through his “front door.” Khaleel Herbert talks with Porter Lori about how his social activism was affected by residents and their homes at the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. And contributors Charles Emmons and Chandra Whitfield share stories of two “homeboys” who are pursuing their dreams as authors, writers and publishers. I, along with friends and promoter Perry Jones, was fortunate enough to spend time with Phillip Bailey after an outstanding welcome home concert by Earth Wind and Fire. As we round out our 30th anniversary celebrations Power 30 with the Family Reunion Festival in August, we invite you to join us and gather everyone in your home for a weekend of good old family fun. There will be live entertainment, food and vendors to make for an enjoyable time. And if you didn’t get a Family Cabana for your family, there’s always the next time when you can enjoy family time in a space that you can call your home away from home. Denver has been my home since 1980 and it is where my heart is. It is sweet. And, there is no place like home. Happy reading! Rosalind J. Harris DUS Publisher


ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert, Kolor Graphix Al Saadiq Johnson, Stunttime Production PUBLISHER & PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Melovy Melvin CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Bernard Grant DISTRIBUTION Glen Barnes Lawrence A. James Ed Lynch

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2017 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at www.denverurbanspectrum.com.

dreaming with hope of what our world should be. So often, we ask younger people to step up and when they do we push them back and tell them to get more experience (that is unless you are talking about the NBA draft). While his age may work against him with some voters, I think being young is a good thing. What everyone needs to be aware of is that the DPS board is a volunteer position with no pay. How many 18year-olds do you know who would do something for nothing? This is not an easy job because you have to learn about the twists and turns of public education and understand the different needs of the students and teachers. I encourage you to ask Tay about the issues because he’s done his homework.

Auontai “Tay” Anderson For DPS Board of Education

Editor: I recently endorsed Auontai “Tay” Anderson’s candidacy for the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. The recent Manual High School graduate is only 18 but he is wise beyond his years. I also spoke to the other two candidates running for the seat: the current representative Rachele Espiritu, an immigrant and psychologist who worked hard to achieve her doctorate; and Jennifer Bacon, a teacher and principal extraordinaire, who was raised by two great parents I know. While these two women are qualified for the position, I am drawn to Tay Anderson and his big eyes

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


An inspiring thing about Tay’s candidacy is that he could be on a whole different road. He was homeless and placed in foster home after foster home. He could have turned his back on society but instead wants to be part of improving our community. He’s not the stereotype of a young Black man in the news because of a police shooting or other negative image. Tay is campaigning by walking door-to-door and he has no high paid consultants or big money tied to education special interests. What is beyond baffling is that there is a $3,000 individual contribution limit for the Denver mayoral race and $550 individual contribution for the governor’s race, yet the DPS candidates have no limits. That means someone with deep pockets (and likely an agenda) can donate more than $20,000 or $30,000 to one candidate. That’s an issue that is up for debate but in the meantime I’m backing a candidate whose main contributions to his campaign, is his own energy and determination. As I was listening to Tay, I recalled another African American guy in 1991 who was a long shot to become Denver’s first Black mayor. I remember this guy was low on campaign contributions and put on his tennis shoes and walked the city for votes. I was fortunate to have a deep seated belief that I could win and help make my city better, and I was surrounded by people who believed in me. Let’s do it again. Let’s elect Tay, a Manual Thunderbolt, whose desire to make a difference is truly like lightning.

Wellington E. Webb Denver, CO

Mayor Hancock Discusses Housing, Mobility And New Projects with Denverites During the

State of the City Address

By Khaleel Herbert

Denverites eagerly indulged in

Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s State of the City Address at the Hiawatha Davis Jr. Recreation Center on July 10. Before taking the stage, Councilman Albus Brooks provided encouraging words, Up withPeople performed the national anthem and 2017 Thomas Jefferson High School graduate Yonis Noor presented the Pledge of Allegiance. Hancock tackled three key areas that currently impact Denver: affordable housing, transportation and new city projects.

Affordable Housing for All The first item of discussion on Hancock’s list was affordable housing–a major concern for most Denverites. “My sister, Carlyne, just moved back home from the east. She was amazed to find Denver housing prices were out of her reach,” Hancock said to the crowd. “We have helped drive the creation of 3,000 affordable homes over the past four years–a total we thought would take us five. Nearly 1,000 more are under construction and over 1,500 on top of that will get started over the next year. But many residents need an affordable option today, not a year from now. “I am excited to announce that we will pilot a new partnership to open 400 existing, vacant apartments to low and moderate-income residents struggling to find an affordable place to live,” Hancock continued. “We have apartments sitting vacant because there’s a

Photos by Bernard Grant

Transportation in Different Modes The next priority on Hancock’s list was transportation and moving more people more safely and efficiently though Denver. “I know many of us relish the days when it took 15 minutes to drive anywhere in Denver. But 15 minutes now takes 30 or longer,” Hancock said. “The quality of our streets is deteriorating. We don’t have enough mobility options and our roads are not as safe as they used to be. “Today, I’m announcing a new Mobility Action Plan. This plan will serve as a clarion call for a future that offers mobility freedom for all by sup-

gap between what it costs and what people can afford. Working together with the Denver Housing Authority, employers and apartment building owners, we aim to fill that gap.” Hancock explained that he wants to pull money from the 150 million dollar Affordable Housing Plan, which will crank out 6,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years. He also wants to submit a 2018 budget proposal to City Council in September, focusing on anti-displacement and affordability measures to support families and small businesses. The budget will also contain proposals on transportation and health care costs.

porting the choices we know our residents want to make,” Hancock continued. “It will accelerate the policies and projects necessary between now and 2030 to move more people more efficiently and safely. Today, 73 percent of Denver commuters drive to and from work in cars by themselves. By 2030, our goal is 50 percent with 30 percent of our commuters biking, walking or taking transit.” The goal of the new Mobility Action Plan is to help support the next generation of commuters who support various ways of getting around Denver. By 2030, the plan is expected to take traffic fatalities to zero, increase commuters walking and/or bicycling to 15 percent and have commuters taking transit to 15 percent. Sidewalk repair, upgraded intersections and crosswalks and a Bus Rapid Transit along Denver’s busiest streets are other benefits from this new plan. Hancock also mentioned two pilot projects he’s planned for this summer. First, with the help of RTD, 1,500 high school students will get free bus passes. Secondly, and in partnership with DaVita, weeklong biking safety classes will be offered to middle-school students at the Hiawatha, Montbello, La Alma and St. Charles Recreation Centers. Free mountain bikes and helmets will be given to 100 kids. Taking on New Building Projects for Denver Hancock gave insight on several new building projects in Denver. The Carla Madison Recreation Center, in honor of Councilwoman Carla Madison who died of cancer in

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


2011, will open in Central Denver this fall. It will include lap and leisure pools, a weight area, a cardio area, fitness and multi-purpose rooms, a dog park and more. This rec center will be the biggest rec center in Denver. The National Western Center is creating a community investment fund that is currently estimated at $200,000 a year. Investments will be governed by the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods, who will use the money for community improvements and programming support. The funds will come from operating and other revenue from the center. The Colorado Convention Center will get a facelift. A $233 million expansion and renovation plan is in the works. The plan will upgrade 120,000 square feet of existing space and add 250,000 square feet of new rooftop, exhibit and event spaces, along with an outdoor terrace with mountain vistas. “By upgrading the Colorado Convention Center, we will maintain one of Denver’s most important industries: tourism,” Hancock said to the excited Denverites. “Richard Scharf and VISIT Denver have been phenomenal partners not only on this, but in their continued pursuit to bring new and bigger conventions to Denver.” Lastly, Hancock aims to redesign DIA’s Great Hall. The main goal of this redesign is to extend the capacity of the terminal from 50 million passengers to more than 80 million per year. The TSA will increase in capacity by an estimated 50 to 70 percent. The whole facility, from escalators and elevators to restrooms, will be updated and 26 new airline gates will be added. “I’m certain the state of our city is strong because you, the people of Denver, are strong. Your determination has powered our progress and empowered each other while preserving the uniqueness of our neighborhoods,” Hancock said. “That is what makes us the best city in America–the great city that a great mayor, Federico Pena, challenged us to imagine years ago.

“There’s a quote engraved on the side of the Webb Building downtown: ‘What is the city but the people?’ The people of Denver are what make Denver a great city,” Hancock continued. “Your aspirations, your civic patriotism. That’s what has propelled the city to new possibilities. A city by and for the people, who call it home, is our guiding light. Without you, there is no city.”. Editor’ note: For the full text of Mayor Hancock’s annual State of the City Address and details on the Mayor’s announcements, visit www.DenverGov.org/stateofthecity.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


The Light of a Coach, Paying it Forward Finishing up a walkthrough at

By Melovy Melvin

the Coach Counseling Center, Hulond “Coach” Copeland makes his way into his office. A computer, supplies and papers sit at his desk and right above placed on the wall is a picture of his mother, and mentor James H. Parham, whom was a certified addiction counselor, C.A.C 3, at ACI Aurora Counseling. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.” It is here in his office where every client that walks into the door of the Coach Counseling Center is greeted by Copeland and begins the process of what Copeland says, it’s “Not an ‘I’ program but a ‘We’ program.” While serving time in prison he put his faith first. When he was released, he soon became a drug and alcohol counselor and worked at Amend Counseling in 2008. He then became the face of ACI Aurora Counseling in 2014. It was not until departing from ACI that he rented a building and birthed his own program, Coach Counseling Center. “When people in the dark see a light, they know that light will get them to safety. I would like to be that light in the field that I’m in.” With no actual degree, Copeland knows first– hand what many clients are going through with drug and alcohol addiction after having dealt with it himself. “I wrote my business plan in prison. I

Hulond “Coach” Copeland

wanted to get out, become a drug and alcohol counselor and run my own program,” said Copeland. “I went through school to get here. One place even had me scrapping bird poop to get my hours, and I did it.” Yes, people would agree that he indeed did it, seeing Copeland now, a man who walked away from prison life, changed his ways and used his past experiences to help and shed light onto others. Though, it hasn’t been easy. After being fired from ACI, the passing of his mother and losing his wife (only then to rekindle their friendship), Copeland has had his share of tough times and believes it only encouraged him even more to not give up on what he promised himself he would do after leaving prison. He took all his savings and rented the space in the building he is in now located at 2323 S. Troy St. Building 5 #330 in Aurora. “I was down and it is in those moments that a man can only do so much. My mom died, my wife and I had separated and I was worried about paying the rent for the center. Until one day, the owner of the building, Ben Getzel told me not to worry about the rent and to just get back on my feet and keep doing what I was doing. I couldn’t believe it!” Copeland shakes his head. “I came back to my office, laid my head down and cried my eyes out,” said Copeland. “Don’t believe anything he says!” Getzel teases. “He’s a good guy and I believed in my instinct about him and his plans for his program and the community.” Copeland was struggling to make ends meet and stayed homeless, sleeping in his car just to keep his center

going. Copeland then reached out to his wife, Sarina Hurd, to help him one day when he had a doctor’s appointment. “She came to help and decorated everything. She said ‘Let me put a touch on this place.’ None of this would be here if she hadn’t come in. She is the one who brought furniture, made a small break room in the back, helped me get a better wardrobe - and the clients loved her,” said Copeland. Hurd has been with Copeland before Coach Counseling Center and remains at his side. “He doesn’t give up and he never will,” said Hurd. “And I’m glad he didn’t because I always believed in what he was trying to pursue and we’ve been through hard times but never did it stop him.” Various clients visit the Coach Counseling Center, many from the courts, some recommended by friends and family and even once a Broncos player. Phillip Love, who had first met with Copeland for a session back at ACI’s DUI program in 2013, remains friends today. “What Coach does isn’t about financial gain but he has a sincere desire to dedicating himself and using his experience to help individuals surpass their addiction. He does not give up and since I have known him, he really hasn’t,” said Love.

Copeland knows the good and bad that comes with his job and shares a moment that is one of the unyielding things, yet true of being a counselor – not being able to help everyone. “I went to a funeral of a girl who once participated in the program and despite her suicide, her mother came to me and actually thanked me for being there for her daughter and trying to help. She told me her daughter said I was the one light she could see. It meant the world to me,” he said. Copeland has a small staff - himself and two others. However, he does not let it define him or what he believes the Coach Counseling Center provides. “We get to know our clients and develop a relationship because we care. I care because unlike some of these professors, doctors and men in nice fancy suits with charts of statistics and studies, I don’t just recite from books to my clients but from the heart, and walking in the same shoes before.” . Editor’s note: For more information on the Coach Counseling Center and rates on classes or one on one intake sessions visit www.coachcounselingcenter.com or call 303-953-0702. Like their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/coachcounselingcenter.

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Drink Up During Summer Months


If you enjoy performing intense exercise outdoors in the summer, you likely lose more sodium and potassium than most other people. Hence, the best way to replace these minerals is by the intake of fluids that contain sodium and potassium like vegetable juices or sports drinks in addition to drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workout. Keep in mind the mineral replacement drinks also come along with extra calories and sugar so balance the rest of your daily food and drink intake accordingly. A common cause of dehydration in the workplace is air conditioning, which results in a lower water content in office environments leading to increased water lost from the lungs and through skin cells. If you are low on water intake at work, it could lead to symptoms such as increased fatigue, loss of concentration and frequent headaches. Drinking more water in air conditioned environments is a good idea. Drinking plain water can get monotonous. So to add hydration through food, focus on eating fruits and veggies that contain high water content like grapes, melons, pineapples, oranges, cucumber, peaches, grapefruit, cherries, apricot, plums, celery and iceberg lettuce. In addition, you can also drink other beverages

By Kim Farmer

ow that summer is in full swing, the dry heat in Colorado can be overbearing at times. We are always reminded about the risks of dehydration and heat stroke when doing outside activities. One of the best ways to keep hydrated during the hot summer months is to drink plenty of water. However, many people are still unclear as to how much water to drink. The following points will help you determine what’s best for you. While there is much conflicting information on the Internet, magazines and other media outlets, the gen-

eral guideline still stands that for most people. It is recommended that we drink eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. This is commonly referred to as the 8Ă—8 rule and is very easy to remember. Most healthy adults produce about 6 to 8 cups of urine a day (1.5 liters) and about a liter of fluid is lost from the body from breathing, sweating and defecation. Additionally, most people get about 10 to 15 percent of water from their food but in hot weather, we need to drink more water. Here, in Colorado, we likely drink less water compared to people in more humid states due to water being lost due to sweating.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


and it will count toward your fluid intake, but keep in mind that other beverages will contain things we don’t need like extra calories and/or sugar. One final thing to note is that the best way to tell if you are hydrated without going to the doctor is to check your urine. If it is yellow and clear, you are doing okay, but if it is dark yellow, you need to drink more water. Thanks for reading! Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit www.milehighfitness.com or email inquiries@milehighfitness.com

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In the June 2013 issue of the

Denver Urban Spectrum, Paul Higgins interviewed musician Porter Lori on his musical styles and endeavors. Since then, Lori has put out new music and has participated in one of the biggest protests to date: the Standing Rock Reservation in Central Corson, South Dakota.

Catching Up With Porter Lori and His Paths of Social Activism, Music and Culture

Compelled to Help

Lori has always participated in marches and protests. Growing up, his mother took him to the Martin Luther King Jr. Marades in Denver every year. He was even on the frontlines during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Klan Rally at the state capital in 1992. When he read about the Standing Rock protests in September 2016, he was compelled to help. “When I read about Standing Rock, it hit home for me. I spent the day reading and two days later, my truck was packed up and I was on the road,” Lori says. “I saw it as an opportunity for this generation to finally stand up and say no to a government that has a long and horrific history with the Native Americans.” Lori recounted the first day he arrived at the reservation and all the things he saw. “The first time I went there, I was completely overwhelmed. It was hard for me to concentrate on any one experience,” Lori recalls. “When I arrived at the Oceti Sakowin camp, the sun had set and dark storm clouds had rolled in. I was greeted by the sound of beating drums from every part of the camp. I could hear voices singing from every direction in what seemed like a 1,000 different languages. “I quickly found a small patch of grass to set up my tent as the rain rolled in. From there on, I simply cleared my mind, closed my mouth and took mental notes of everything I was seeing,” Lori continues. “There were children dancing and elders chanting. I noticed quickly that there were people in attendance from all over the world. It was a beautiful few days there.” Awhile after Lori returned to Denver, he read that police prohibited people from bringing food and supplies to the protestors. Lori saw this as a call to action to have a supply drive. He started the drive at the Denver Cold Crush restaurant and received help from someone at Avis Car Rental. “It was an amazing turnout and when the woman at Avis found out what I was doing, she upgraded me to a bigger nicer truck for free,” Lori says. “Besides bringing supplies, I did a day-long orientation that really shed light on the history of the land, the facts behind the movement, and

By Khaleel Herbert

you can spend,” Lori says. “I’ve lived a lot of life, so I think it’s time to get started on some new music for sure.” Lori’s music branches off into two main genres: Hip-Hop and, what Lori calls, Americana Soul, which is soul, mixed with folk. “With each of my albums, I’ve presented my authentic artistic space at that time of my life. Hip-Hop was my first love and it will always be a part of my expression in some way, shape or form,” Lori says. “But as I matured, I needed another outlet where I felt like I could express more. My album, World Outside, was way ahead of its time, in the fact that I was singing and expressing more than what Hip-Hop had allowed up to that point. Now, thanks to Kanye West, Emcees are able to express deeper feelings. “The last album was an incredible journey for me. Songs written about vulnerability, love and especially my father, pushed me to artistic places I had never been,” Lori adds. “I was able to work with an amazing producer, by the name of Per Kjeller, to create an album I’m very proud of.” For his next album, Lori wants to combine the two genres that made a major impact on his music. “The next album is going to be really interesting because I feel like I’ve gone into the realms of music that touch me the deepest,” Lori says. “I’ll be combining them in some unique way I’ve yet to discover. Hopefully it’ll be a treat for all of us!” Lori has performed mostly in California for World Outside, but looks forward to performing in Denver since he recently moved back.

expectations of those wanting to involve themselves in the protest. “My first trip, Obama made a declaration, asking for the drilling to stop. The second time I was there, the Army Corp of Engineers officially stopped all drilling legally. When it was announced, there was a celebration and tears of joy in everyone’s eyes,” Lori continues. “Unfortunately within weeks of our current president being in office, it was all undone with the stroke of a pen. That was an incredibly hard day for me, and I still harbor feelings of anger because this generation of Americans didn’t do more. We will go down in the history books as the generation who knew better, but didn’t do better. “Since my first trip, it was clear that the areas had been militarized by private security forces and military police from around the country,” Lori continues. “It was frightening to see firsthand the lengths our government will go to protect their interests, even when those interests are illegal and clearly not in the best interest of its citizens.” Another recent protest Lori participated in was the 2015 rally against the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina. “That trip was funded by my amazing Facebook followers, who I am forever grateful for,” Lori says. “I purchased a large mirror and painted ‘Domestic Terrorist’ on the front to show them exactly what they were. The Klan is America’s longest running and most violent domestic terrorist group and I’ll fight them however I can for as long as I can.”

Returning to the Music

Since Lori’s last album, World Outside, Lori decided to take a break from the music scene to live life. “I approach songwriting like a bank account. You have to save up before

Floating Around in TV and Culture

When Lori isn’t protesting for what he believes in or working on his

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


music, he’s working behind the scenes in the TV world. “I’ve worked in TV for 15 years and have had the pleasure of working closely with the biggest names in entertainment from the Kardashians and the Jackson Family to Oprah Winfrey,” Lori says. “I worked on Top Chef as an audio mixer and although I’m not a cook myself, it was an amazing experience and I was proud to represent Colorado on the crew.” Lori got his start in TV through the help of his then-girlfriend’s parents. “My girlfriend at the time was offered a job through friends of her parents at the Hallmark channel. They were willing to buy a condo in North Hollywood for us to live in,” Lori recalls. “Her parents trusted me and saw things in me I hadn’t seen in myself, so I followed her out there. “I had no idea what I was going to do out there. But after floating around for a few months, I landed a job as a production assistant on a show called, National Enquirer TV, which was basically the first TMZ,” Lori continues. “I was a production assistant for a while. Then I worked as a vault manager, then started learning audio on my days off and eventually ended up writing, producing and hosting my own segments on the show.” Lori has other projects for Denver’s art and culture scenes waiting in the wings. “I created a line of figurines called GahGoonz. GahGoonz are made from repurposed sources and represent the story of imperfection as the only image of perfection we should ever embrace,” Lori says. “Humans walk through life living and collecting stories within, but GahGoonz collect their stories on the outside. Little bits of moments are wrapped around them and they wear these moments like badges of honor.” Lori created, displayed and sold his GahGoonz in the Fred Segals store in Saint Monica, California before it closed. They were such a hit that they sold out in a month. He also wants to speak to kids and at-risk youth about the entertainment business. “I think entertainment is a business that really rewards drive, intelligence and creativity without necessarily needing a specific pedigree of education,” Lori says. “Although the numbers have increased since I first started back in 2000, there are still a lot of opportunities for us, as minorities, to make huge impacts.”. Editor’s note: For more information on Porter Lori, visit his website and Facebook page: www.porterlori.com and www.facebook.com/porterlorimusic. To listen and/or purchase Porter’s music, visit www.porterlori.bandcamp.com.

Funny Actor





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By Khaleel Herbert

anae Burris has gotten tons of laughs and chuckles from people while performing on stage in Los Angeles for years. With new opportunities on the horizon and fingers crossed, Burris and her boyfriend packed up for Denver, where her comedic feats scaled like Spider-Man scaling a skyscraper.

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Acting Funny

Although her title is comedian, Burris says she’s still an actor. “I’m a theater actor with the ability to be funny. I really liked writing material for myself. If you listen to my sets, they all sound like a one-woman show,� Burris says. “I thought standup comedy was Sinbad, Dave Chappelle and Martin Lawrence and that they were born with the skills to make people laugh. Then I watched my first open mic in LA and immediately thought, ‘Oh. I could do that.’� In Los Angeles, Burris did a lot of comedy while performing in folktales, Shakespeare, and comedia dell’arte, a type of improv where actors wear masks. She did four years of improv after college and nine years of stand-up. “I studied improv after college because that’s what they tell you to do in LA,� Burris says. “Improv became frustrating because you have to work

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Janae Burris

with other cast members for a laugh. I’m too controlling for that.� Burris lists famous and local comedians as her influences. “Mike Epps makes me laugh so hard! Leslie Jones almost caused me to quit. She was so good. I listen to Richard Pryor on repeat. I love to hear him go into characters,� Burris says. “Locally, my friend, Nathan Lund, tickles me with his super smart and quick wit. He’s got an ear for language and he’s silly. “I always write after talking to my best bud, Marina, because we speak very candidly to each other and end up laughing at outlandish stuff,� Burris adds. “She’s from LA and grew up similar to me, so the whole conversation is just she and I tagging each other. I learned a ton about performing my material and crushing hard in front of live audiences by watching Cristela Alonzo. So I count her as a major influence.�

First-Time Laughs

Burris says her first performance was a stand-up she wrote for a comedia dell’arte character while in college. She wore a mask, but performed it like a comedy club act. “I felt really great about it and it gave me a taste for more. “Years later, after seeing that open mic in LA, I took a stand-up comedy class with a casting director. After eight weeks, we got a showcase at the Hollywood Improv,� Burris continues. “I was nervous as hell, but the room was packed to the gills with friends and family coming out to support new comics. It was like having your first period at a women’s retreat: scary, and then perfect.� In Colorado, Burris has performed in bars, libraries, coffee shops and movie theaters in Aurora, Aspen, Glenwood Springs and other

Comedian Sam Adams introduces Janae Burris at the Denver Urban Spectrum’s 30th Anniversary Comedy Explosion last month at the Comedy Works Landmark. She appeared with fellow comedian Stephen Agyei and special guest comedian Louis Johnson. Photos by Khaleel Herbert

Colorado towns. She’s also performed at festivals in Bloomington, Indiana and Portland, Oregon. She hopes to perform in London and Australia in the future.

Crafting Her Cracks

Burris discusses inspiration for her material. “I’m just documenting my own life–writing about myself and my family,” Burris says. “I write down things that tickle me or make me mad about my day and my life. Then I try it on stage and the audience lets me know if it’s funny or sad. I have a hard time telling the difference. “I try not to censor myself. I say what I feel and speak the way I do with friends,” Burris continues. “I try to be my honest self and I don’t judge my own material as being clean or dirty. It’s just me.” Burris also explains the excited feeling she gets before going onstage. “I feel excitement. I plan on crushing it every time. I don’t necessarily crush it every time, but I try.”

The Gigs & Looking Ahead

Burris holds one of the best accolades a comedian can get in Colorado: being crowned the winner of the Comedy Works’ New Faces Contest. Every year, Comedy Works searches for the best undiscovered talent in Colorado. The contest starts with 100+ comedians and narrows down to one grand prize winner. There’s cash and other prizes that the comedians compete for, but being the grand prize winner gives the comedian recognition and major bragging rights. “I felt really proud of myself for setting a goal and achieving it. I also felt humbled by the support I got from our Denver comedy community,”

Burris recalls. “You have to be funny to win and you have to get all of your friends, neighbors, Comedy Works staff, strangers and they mommas to come and vouch for you live at the finals. My mom, sister and my beau were able to be there and I wanted so badly for them to see me win.” Burris says she had some awesome gigs, including one at Red Rocks’ Film on the Rocks. “Red Rocks this year was magical sold out audience for Film on the Rocks. The movie was Dirty Dancing,” Burris says. “The audience was right in my wheelhouse. Nothing better than telling jokes for an audience filled with women.” For the future, Burris wants to dream bigger in the comedy world. “I see my friends having success all over the place. I’d love to have a reason to move, like a writing position on a late night show. “I want people to remember me as being a very funny comic who also works hard,” Burris adds. “I want them to say, ‘Janae is hilarious! You should hire her.’”. Editor’s note: Burris does comedy for “Pussy Bros. Presents…” at the El Charrito Comedy Room Room in Denver with Comedians Christie Buchele and Rachel Weeks on the first Friday of every month. On the last Saturday of every month, Burris does “Pussy Bros. Birthday Party” at the Rackhouse Pub. Burris also co-hosts The Cannabist Show at the Denver Post. For more information on The Cannabist visit: http://www.thecannabist. co/category/culture/the-cannabist-show/. For more information on the Comedy Room Room and the Rackhouse Pub visit: https://www.facebook.com/ElCharritoCom edyRoomRoom/ and www.therackhouse. com.



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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


Sisters Enterprise Salutes 103 Year Old Centenarian Lt. Jim Downing

On Saturday, June 24, at Fields Foundation Opportunity Center in Aurora, Sisters Betty ReynoldsFunderburke and Elinora ReynoldsBrown of Sisters Enterprise presented the 2017 Centenarian Award to 103 year old Lieutenant Jim Downing at the 13th annual Random Acts of Kindness Award Program. Lt. Jim Downing was born in Oak Grove, Missouri on August 22, 1913. At the age of 19 in 1932, he joined the Navy and met his wife in in 1940. They married the following year in Hawaii. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, just 149 days later that killed more than 2,400 Americans, greatly affected the Downings. “I lost everything except the clothes on my back

103 year old centenarian Lt. Jim Downing is surrounded by family friends.

and the money in my wife’s purse,” said Lt. Downing. During the attack, Jim was unable to reach his ship, so he jumped on the USS Tennessee, slid down its gun barrel and landed on the USS West Virginia. His ship was hit with nine torpedoes and was on fire. After grabbing a fire hose to extinguish the fire, he noticed the fallen sailors all around him. With the fire hose in one hand, Jim went to the fallen and memorized their names. Making sure their dying words were sent home to their families, he wrote to their parents to let them know that their sons died as heroes. During his life, Jim served admirably in the U.S. Navy, was a

devoted husband for 68 years to his wife, Morena and father to seven children. Today, at 103 years of age, Jim Downing is the 2nd oldest known survivor of the 1941 Japanese attack. Having published three books, the Guinness Book of World Records is currently researching him as the World’s Oldest Living Male Author. In 2017, CO Representative Dan Nordberg sponsored House Resolution 103 that renamed the Cimarron Avenue Bridge after “Lt. James “Jim” Downing Bridge.” As a retired naval officer who retired in 1956 after serving more than 24 years, he is recognized and respected as an accomplished author, speaker and

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


leader. Today, Jim conducts weekly Bible studies, acts as a consultant to the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California and is board member and resource person for other ministries. His grasp of Biblical principles and application to everyday life is well known to the Christian public. Lt. Downing has lived in Colorado Springs since 1956. More than 125 random acts of kindness supporters were in attendance. Mistresses of ceremony were Toastmasters Michelle Bires and Joyce Ford. Keynote speaker was Ambassador Dr. Cenece Dixon, recipient of President Obama’s Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award. Ten Random Acts of Kindness Community Award recipients were given to Sandra Bea, Joe Gilliom, Karen Gonzales, Kathleen Hancock, Harvey McWhorter, Juanita Montoya, Sheila Robinson, Heath Rost, Andrew Thang and Glenn Younger. The program included a baby contest, a mini musical featuring vocalist Linda Theus-Lee, and a fashion show featuring Ms. 2017 Senior Colorado Jeannine Montgomerie. Sponsors and supporters include Chiyos Bridal, EV’s Curvy Girls, Bonnie Elder, Starchild, Senator Rhonda Fields and The Denver Foundation. .

A Glimpse Into America’s First All Black Community L

By Sid Wilson and Rich Grant

ike everyone else, I grew up hearing stories that before the Civil War, the Underground Railroad helped slaves escape to freedom from the South to the North. So I was more than a little surprised to learn on a recent trip to St. Augustine, Florida that the very first underground railroad went the other direction – helping slaves escape from South Carolina and Georgia to the south to Florida, where the first free all Black community in North America had been established at Fort Mose. In 1738, more than a quarter century before the so-called “Declaration of Independence” was written in Philadelphia, St. Augustine, Florida, had a fort and town inhabited by runaway former slaves who had been granted their freedom by Spain. Today, St. Augustine offers a glimpse of Black history that few people know existed. It’s also a great little vacation town. This small settlement, originally located in the middle of nowhere on the edge of swamps filled with mosquitos, rattlesnakes and alligators, has grown into one of the most lovely and beautiful cities in the new world. It is a place of incredible charm with cobblestone pedestrian streets lined with quiet plazas and outdoor cafes shaded by palm trees. Of course, being in Florida, it has beautiful beaches. But rare for Florida, there are also dozens of 200-year-old buildings that have been repurposed into museums, antique stores, pubs with jazz and live music, and candlelit restaurants. And it also tells one of the most fascinating chapters of Black history in the Americas. Pirates, Privateers and Privations Welcome to St. Augustine’s Crazy History In the 1500s, Hernan Cortez conquered and looted Mexico, filling huge treasure ships with gold and silver bound for Europe. But to get there, the ships had to get past pirates. To fight these pirates, in 1672, Spain built the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. It is still the oldest and best preserved stone fort in the continental United States. Today, the huge diamond-shaped fortress is a national monument. You can walk the ramparts along the top of the towering, 28-foot-tall walls, defend the drawbridge, climb out on the bastions for a view of the harbor, and watch can-

nons being fired by re-enactors in Spanish uniforms. Among the people who built the Castillo were many African Americans. Spain allowed slavery, but slavery in Spain had nothing to do with race. Both Blacks and whites could be free or they could be slaves, and if slaves, they could earn their freedom by becoming Catholics and by serving in the military. So it’s no wonder that the slaves held captive for eternity in the nearby

or Fort Mose for short (pronounced moe-say). It was the first legally sanctioned Black community in North America, and was an earthen-walled fort with Indian-style thatched huts. The fort was under the leadership of Captain Francisco Menendez, a remarkable African-born Mandingo and escaped slave, who had already fought the British in Georgia. Of course, the British were upset with this Spanish policy, so in 1740

Top left: Captain Francisco Menendez Top right: Fort Mose was under the leadership of Captain Francisco Menendez Left: Sid Wilson at Castillo de San Marcos Below: St. George Street, the main cobblestone, car-free street of St. Augustine,with colonial buildings, pubs with wood signs, swaying palm trees, balconies and rustic old lanterns.

South Carolina and Georgia would seek the freedom to be found in Spanish Florida. But escape was not easy. Runaway slaves stole horses and boats, or walked through swamps, in a desperate attempt to reach freedom. The first escaped slaves arrived in St. Augustine in 1687. When the British demanded their return, the Spanish Governor Quiroga refused, establishing a fugitive slave policy for Florida. The newly freed slaves adopted Spanish names and customs, but with an African flair. By 1738, a community of 100 former slaves was living in an area two miles north of St. Augustine called Garcia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose,

they sent a naval force to attack and destroy Fort Mose and the Castillo in St. Augustine. For weeks, the English bombarded the Castillo, but the cannonballs bounced off the soft stone made out of compressed sea shells. Then, in a daring pre-dawn raid, Menendez and the Black militia launched a surprise attack on the British camp that killed 68 redcoats. The English retreated to Georgia and Menendez was a hero - to the Spanish. And, to the British? Well, of course, they considered him a pirate. A year later, Menendez was sailing on a Spanish ship to Havana to be

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


rewarded for his bravery when the ship was captured by the British. At first, the British wanted to castrate him. He was tied to a gun to await punishment, but many of the white Spanish crew came to his defense. In the end, the British gave him 200 lashes and “pickled” him, running salt and vinegar on his back to increase the pain. He was brought to the Bahamas, and sold as a slave. No one knows exactly what happened to him for the next 11 years, but at some point Menendez escaped and showed up again back in St. Augustine in 1752, where he rebuilt Fort Mose. A second Black community was established and thrived until 1763. Unfortunately, Spain had lost a war and Florida was given to the British. This meant a return to slavery for the inhabitants of Fort Mose. Instead they fled to Cuba where they could still be free, one of the great ironies of history. Fort Mose was abandoned and slowly faded back into the swamp. In 1964, the marsh where Fort Mose stood was declared a national historic landmark, and today there is a wonderful museum telling the story of the fort and the free people who lived in it. Two miles away is the incredibly large Castillo with its 60 cannon that was built to fight pirates, and across the street is the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. This is the largest and most authentic collection of pirate artifacts ever displayed under one roof. Of course, there are not a lot of pirate artifacts since most of the pirates were hung or killed in battle (Blackbeard went down with five bullet holes and 20 sword cuts, and they sliced off his head for good measure). Pirates had no color barrier, and Blacks and whites served equally side by side on pirate ships, sharing in the booty, and in the punishments. One of Blackbeard’s chief lieutenants was Black Caesar, a gigantic African chief who was enslaved and later became a pirate. He was captured during Blackbeard’s last battle and hung in Williamsburg, Virginia. St. George Street, the main cobblestone, car-free street of St. Augustine, looks like the setting of every pirate movie, with colonial buildings, pubs with wood signs, swaying palm trees, balconies and rustic old lanterns. It’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere of this historic town, especially at night when there are candles in every window, and history blowing through the palm trees above. . Editor’s note: Sid Wilson is the owner of A Private Guide and serves on the board of Visit Denver. For more information on St. Augustine and the Treasure Museum visit www.floridashistoriccoast.com and www.thepiratemuseum.com.

Jamil Shabazz,

Aurora’s Visionary Author and Publisher S

By Charles Emmons

ummertime is leisure time, and we sometimes pass the time reading a good book in the quietness of our homes, travelling on a plane, or simply for some downtime alone. What world you choose to enter through your reading is a highly individual decision. There are numerous classics in African American literature, but instead why not choose a newer author with a fresher perspective on familiar surroundings. Aurora author Jamil Shabazz, will publish his second novel, “Hiding Behind the Night,” August 18. The book is a follow up to “Not Another Night,” a dramatic narrative


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that follows characters Nila and Drian through the streets of Aurora in sometimes harrowing, stressful situations, yet in familiar relatable settings like the Waffle House. Shabazz is an Overland High School alum, and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSUD) in African American Studies a year ago. He felt he had stories to tell, but everything he had read had settings in major metropolitan cities like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. But he knows that everyone’s lives are important, and that their stories, with all their challenges deserve airing that are accessible. “But I wanted a story that I could genuinely tell sincerely about places I’ve been, places I’ve lived, places I know, places people around me know and recognize and I think that adds a bit of quality to the book where if you are from that part of town, and you

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


can say I know where that is. And it seems to be able to draw in the reader…I know exactly where that is or I know exactly what that is,” said Shabazz. “So I think it is very engaging, and it shows a positive image of the city, in terms of you live here and you write about where you’re from that necessarily doesn’t have to be one of those major cities at least the way that other people would consider it.” Lots of us can think of stories we want to tell, but few step forward to tell them. Literature is art, which gives readers a view into worlds that are both familiar and different from their own. It reflects our values and spirit, frequently inspiring our personal trajectories. Not Another Night is readily accessible in print on Amazon, and in the Nook and Kindle formats. But numbers of purchases and downloads, while success measures, take a backseat in Shabazz’s view. “I wouldn’t view it as a success,

because here is the thing. A lot of people will come to you and say they read the book. And that is fine and dandy, but I just didn’t set out to just write a book. I set out to write works of art, things that would make people think and change and give them something to leave with – something other than just a story that was exciting, titillating or something of that nature,” said Shabazz. “So to just say that you wrote a book, yeah that’s nice, but I don’t know that I can judge success in quantitative terms. It wasn’t like I sold x amount of copies or made x amount of money. I feel most honestly that as long as you keep writing and keep creating, you don’t think about what is successful and what is not successful in that regard. Did it touch people, was it meaningful to people; is it something that I can look back on and be proud of?” Shabazz touches on a number of latent topics related to the Black community which may not have been given a previous airing, including homosexuality, blended families, male relationships, and the real dramatic love relationship that drives the first book. Like in many previous novels, the Black males struggle to find their power and their place. Drian is trying to start his own business. Nila is viewed as stronger and more accom-

plished, because she is a corporate VP of Communications, and she loves and is protective of Drian’s pre-teen daughter as if she were her own. But in their relationship there is genuine love, and no jealousy or ill feelings like males have towards women in works like “Native Son” or “The Color Purple.” Shabazz sees a new reality, and he deftly handles these hopeful characters with vivid descriptions, sometimes laced with gritty language. These stories are a part of Shabazz’s soul, which came to him as he finished his academic career at MSUD. “I was in the midst of my next to last semester at Metro and with all the paperwork that was due and all the papers to be turned in. I remember not being able to sleep much, because I was working full time and trying to go to school full time and in one insomnia lead haze, I just started to write something down, how I felt, my thoughts, things of that nature. And then, I ended up taking the first couple of pages of what turned out to be my first novel to work with me and asked a couple of women to read it. I would ask them ‘what do you think about this?’ I just came up with this short story, and their reaction was quite positive.” Shabazz’s audience is women 18 to 50. His grandmother even read “Not Another Night.” Academics and

other authors often question whether men should even write with a first person point of view of women, because they don’t fully understand them and the biological and social differences that make us different. But we are human first, and we all have human needs, to love and be loved, to be cared for and for someone to show an interest and let them know that they matter, and to fight for them. These aren’t romance novels but rather dramatic examinations of how we can overcome together and get through life’s situations and challenges hopefully unscathed. “I would say it is a love story, but not romance in the traditional sense. It would be a drama novel. There would also be bits of comedy in there with love. I look at it more so as a novel about the test to the human spirit, about how to build relationships. I would say it is a relationship novel, more so than a flat out love story,” said Shabazz. “And in “Hiding Behind the Night” I feel like I got the opportunity to expand on family, and the union and chaos that can come with marrying, merging two families, and the personalities that come along with it. The second book brings in a more familial tone and incorporates the drama that comes along with it.”


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Nila and Drian’s story continues with the launch of “Hiding Behind the Night in August.” It will be the first book out under his company, Shabazz & Co. Publishing. Before his first book, he had approached numerous publishers, but all either passed on it or wanted more control than he was willing to allow. “I spent all that time writing the work, so why would I let someone else dictate the distribution and content of my art?” said Shabazz. “Shabazz & Co. Gives me the freedom to be independent, while adding another weapon in my intellectual and entrepreneurial arsenal. I also founded the company with more than just my own self-sufficiency in mind. I want to be a bridge for other creative individuals who want to take the next steps in their literary career, but are unsure which direction is best. For me, the release of “Hiding Behind The Night” is about more than just a book. It is an opportunity to introduce the world to Shabazz & Co. Publishing, while putting another brick in the foundation of my legacy.”. Editor’s note: Jamil A. Shabazz, will be autographing copies of his new book at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. Refreshments will be serviced. Follow him on Facebook, #HidingBehindTheNight.

Native Denverite Seeks To Diversify Sci-Fi and Fashion A

By Chandra Whitfield

nubis Heru is a man of many talents – literally. When the native Denverite, born Brandon Cole, is not working his day job as a Grievance and Appeals Analyst for a major health insurance provider, he’s toiling away at his long list of goals, namely promoting Acid of the Godz, his graphic novel series with pan-African and martial arts influences and his Urban Arkanum clothing line. “This logo symbolizes our commitment to integrity, respect for all systems of knowledge and positive imagery,” explains Heru, 36 of Englewood. The freelance graphic designer recently talked to DUS Contributor Chandra Whitfield about his plans to open a small boutique in Englewood this year and how he aspires to make his mark on the worlds of fashion and sci-fi.

DUS: Let’s start with your most recent endeavor – a sci-fi series with diversity at its core? Heru: Yes, we are now a small independent publisher. Our first publication is a graphic novel I wrote that was illustrated by Ryan Best, called Acid of the Godz - it’s where Lord of the Rings meets Stargate! We launched the Kickstarter campaign at a launch party in July and we also had a table at the 2017 Denver Comic Con. The book tells the story of a group of genetically engineered creatures who terrorize people as weather anomalies begin to surface and cause serious damage. The focus of the story is a young prince and three unlikely heroes who must find an ancient artifact to bring balance to the world. I created the original manuscript in 2005 and completed the final draft in 2012.

DUS: You also have a passion for fashion – do tell! Heru: The name Urban Arkanum means secret or mysterious knowledge. In a nutshell, Urban Arkanum is a lifestyle brand. It started out as graphic T-shirts with images of ancient symbolism from ancient Egypt, Mali, India etc. The line features T-shirts and hoodies featuring ancient gold and silver Egyptian symbols. The UA logo features an ibis bird inside a shen ring. In Egyptian myths, the sacred bird was the symbol of knowledge. UA seeks to create united universal front of unique personal expression by connecting the world through meaningful ancient symbols and imagery brought to life on premium apparel and accessories. We included a concise meaning of each graphic design on the hangtag. Over time, Urban Arkanum has expanded to include consulting, film and video production, music, publications and photography. DUS: So, you got the idea for the clothing line during a health crisis? Heru: Yes. In April 2001, I was diagnosed with a hemangioblastoma, which was a tumor in my brain. I had emergency surgery that took eight hours to complete and about a year to recover from. I literally had to learn how to walk and re-develop fine motor skills. While in the hospital I mostly read several books on ancient historical cultures and pop culture magazines. I got the idea for the brand while I was recovering from the surgery. I was anxious to get back to normal so I could start plotting out my new brainchild. I filed for an LLC in 2009. DUS: What is your design philosophy? Heru: Live your truth, which is not only the tag line for Urban Arkanum, but something I live by. I started designing clothes during freshman year at Lincoln University. I was always looking for a brand to encompass my character and the values that I honor. Those values include integrity, loyalty, honor, knowledge, equality and culture. I never found it, so I

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


decided to create my own. Everything I create comes from a deep place in my soul, so it will always have a profound meaning. I don’t worry about what the competition is doing. There is nothing truly original, so whatever inspires you, don’t hesitate to create something amazing and share it with the world. DUS: What and who inspires your work? Heru: I am inspired by history and the artifacts left behind by our [African] ancestors. I always wonder about whom or what inspired their creativity. Some of my favorite modern [fashion] designers/brands include LRG, Mark Ecko, FUBU and Under Armour, just to name a few. These brands have very interesting origins and stories on how they came to be. They all started with an idea. Success leaves clues. DUS: What do you hope to achieve with your work? Heru:As a brand, I aim to create a household name – a brand that is respected internationally that embodies those core values. I hope to inspire others and create several different means of giving back to domestic and international communities. DUS: Where may one find your gear? Heru: Currently the brand is undergoing a restructuring. We have learned so much on our journey. There are new and exciting opportunities that we are exploring and executing. Some include a new retail store we plan to open in Englewood and [the creation of] a mobile app. DUS: What is your dream for Urban Arkanum? Heru: I dream of Urban Arkanum becoming a multifaceted conglomerate. I forsee having subsidiaries in commercial real estate, entertainment, technology, sustainable textiles and consulting. I know, I know, I shoot for Mars and hope to land on Saturn (laughs). . Editor’s note: For more information, visit and like his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/urbanarkanum. Anyone interested in learning more or contributing to the Kickstarter campaign, visit https://is.gd/HcQyH1 ACIDOFTHEGODZ.COM.

Denver All Star Review

Saturday, August 5 - Great Lawn Park (at Lowry) 5 to 8 PM Goatfish and Friends:

Dr. Michael Williams on keys, Rafael Orlando on guitar, Palence Bradshaw on drums and Larry Cotten on bass presents...


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Mary Louise Lee Linda Theus-Lee

Linda Styles

Diana Castro

Tony Exum Jr.

Denver’s Best and Denver’sFinest!

Larry Cotten

Harold Rapp III

Ron McMilion

Gregory Goodloe

Ernest Washington

Leon Harris

Duane Lucas

Ed Battle

A special Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation program will be presented from 4 to 5 PM featuring past program participants.

Hip Hop Artist Shane Franklin (SFI); Vocalist MarChelle McKizzie and Dancer Cecile Perrin

Other Entertainment: Dance showcases by choreographer Renesha Berry and Boulder CU Student Alliance choreographer Kahdija James. Live jazz band performance by ILL Qhemistry Band featuring Billboard saxophonist Harold Rapp III and Dj Big Spade Dr.XclusiveAlternative. Music performances by Bailey Elora Navarro Klassick (Curtis Duncan) L Keys (Rahshon Butler) Frostie A Meazy, Kevin Cartoon and Esi Juey (Foster Spahn). Artist headliners: KEVIN CARTOONESI JUEY. DJ sets by DJ Shadoe of Power 109, DJ Mr. Groove of 96.1 FM & iHeart Radio, DJ K-Tone of Flo 107.1 FM, DJ Erika Victoria, DJ D Johnson, DJ Webbiedee of Mountain Lion, DJ Selector C For more information, visit www.familyreunionfestival.com or call 303-292-6446.

Sunday, August 6 - Friends of Joda, Black Pearl Entertainment, The Hendersons and Black Berry Love

Why O.J. Should Be Freed – And Why It Matters

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Editor’s note: This article was submitted on July 19. O.J. Simpson was granted parole at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada on July 20, 2017.

an avalanche of responses. Even while respondents hotly protested they didn’t care, they still debated, raged, and

fumed on the page about him. He still

O.J. Simpson won’t go away.

I posed the question on my Facebook

page “Should O.J. be paroled? It drew

touches a sore nerve. There is, and never will be, any proof that Simpson is really serving a 9 to 33- year sentence, not for robbery, kidnapping, and weapons charges, but for murdering Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. But whenever the subject of Simpson and his Nevada conviction and sentencing comes up, more than a few adamantly believe that’s why he’s really in prison. He’s not. Simpson is there because the charges were serious.


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Was he overcharged by a DA with a sneaky eye on Simpson’s walk in the murder case? Maybe, but the sentence slapped on him fit within the legal parameters of punishment for the three serious offenses he was convicted of. This should be history and the decision whether to grant him parole or not, should not be based on that history, The Nevada pardon and parole laws are clear on this. It considers these factors: a reasonable probability that the prisoner will not commit further crimes, the release is compatible with the welfare of society, the seriousness of the offense, and the history of criminal conduct of the prisoner. Simpson has been a model prisoner and therefore meets and exceeds the criteria for release. Even Clark County DA Steve Wolfson who prosecuted Simpson says he deserves to get out. It would be the wildest stretch to think that Simpson at age 70 would embark on a crime spree when released. So, Simpson should be released because he deserves it. It would do much to allay the notion that the law is excessively harsh, and vindictive toward Simpson because of his murder acquittal. It would show that parole boards can be fair, impartial, and uphold their own rules for release of a prisoner. Simpson’s release matters for another reason. His acquittal on double murder charges more than two decades ago still sticks in the craw of much of America. The needle of bloggers and legal pundits who still furiously debate whether Simpson deserves parole is stuck hard on that point. They reflect the feeling of many. If Simpson served every day of a lengthy sentence with even the faint possibility of walking free, that would not be good enough for them. From the day that he beat the double murder rap and walked out of a Los Angeles court, his ill gained notoriety and perverse celebrity virtually guaranteed that the legal hammer would drop especially hard on him at the first whiff of criminal wrongdoing.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


There was no chance that given the savage public mood toward him that he would get the benefit of the doubt on any future charges against him. He, of all people, should’ve known that. Even many of Simpson’s one time Black supporters who passionately screamed that he was the victim of a biased criminal justice system in the L.A. murder trial, cut and ran after the Las Vegas verdict. There was only a bare peep from them that the Nevada conviction had any racial taint to it. Simpson and his attorney’s complaint that prosecutors massaged and twisted jury selection to insure a non-Black jury drew barely a yawn in the press and legal circles. Simpson didn’t invent or originate the oft-times ugly divide in public opinion about celebrity guilt. It has always lurked just beneath the surface. But his case propelled it to the front of public debate and anger. The horde of Simpson media commentators, legal experts and politicians who branded the legal system corrupt and compromised also fueled public belief that justice is for sale. Simpson’s acquittal seemed to confirm that the rich, famous and powerful have the deep pockets to hire a small army of high priced, high profile attorneys, expert witnesses, experts, and investigators who routinely mangle the legal system to stall, delay, and drag out their cases, and eventually allow their wellheeled clients to weasel out of punishment. Even when prosecutors manage to win convictions of, or guilty pleas from celebrities, their money, fame, power, and legal twisting often guarantee that they will get a hand slap jail sentence, if that. Whether Las Vegas prosecutors did indeed grossly overcharge him, it didn’t stop the chatter that a killer was finally getting at least some of his due. Few others rushed to his defense and blamed the steep charges on a callous and unforgiving criminal justice system. Despite what one thinks of Simpson, he’s served his time and paid at least that part of his debt to the justice system. If justice is to be served then he should be free. That’s the way system is supposed to work and it, as Simpson was, will be on trial in the Nevada parole room. Yes, Simpson still matters.. Editor’s note: Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is an associate editor of New America Media. His forthcoming book, The Trump Challenge to Black America (Middle Passage Press) will be released in August. He is a weekly cohost of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.

August Is Boss Women Month BLOWING SMOKE

Women Entrepreneurs Announced As New Power Players in the Cannabis Industry

It is with

By Wanda James

tremendous pride that I present the Boss Women of Cannabis. Fourteen female business owners are proclaiming August 2017 as Boss Women Month. Fourteen women-owned cannabis companies are prepared to showcase the power of female entrepreneurship in the cannabis space. The owners of the cannabis businesses are not just promoting their businesses, but the tremendous amount of revenue, jobs, and taxes, their stores, products and services provide to the state of Colorado. Among these are three African American businesswomen who own four of the cannabis companies. They include Wy Livingston, the managing member of Joint Venture Flavors LLC., which developed the Purple Monkey

infused line of drinkables as well as Wise Hemp, a CBD Hemp line consisting of numerous wellness products, Deloise Vaden, owner of Better Baked Edibles, and myself, the first African American in the country licensed to own a dispensary, Simply Pure, and a cannabis business consulting company, the Cannabis Global Initiative. “It is truly amazing seeing the numerous opportunities in the cannabis space. It is important for women and people of color to understand this industry and become involved; not just for financial freedom, but to better understand the health-related benefits and choosing a safer way to unwind,” says Wy Livingstons. Livingston is also the owner of Wystone’s World Teas, which provides award-winning teas to such notables as Whole Foods Market. She also owns the Denver A List award-winning Wystone’s Tea and Coffee Café in Belmar. Livingston furthered her business endeavors by stepping into the cannabis world as a product formulator. A snapshot of the revenue power of the 13 Boss Women entrepreneurs shows the value of women lead businesses in the cannabis space. It also shows that women promote women, proving the importance of women in CEO and managerial positions.

#BOSSWOMEN BUSINESS PROFILE •Combined Number of Employees: 118 •30 Female Managers

•50% of the Combined Management Teams are Female •70% of the Combined Staffs are Women •Combined Monthly Sales Revenue: $1,149,839.00

•Combined Monthly Mortgage/ Rent/Lease amount: $62,750

The Boss Women businesses cover a wide range of cannabis products and services, infused teas and coffees, edibles and concentrates as well as business consulting, jewelry design and manufacturing, and greeting cards. The creativity and business acumen in this group is outstanding. Boss Women are not waiting for the world to change, they have made the decision to take action and be the change in the world, as women often do. And as always, we are not blowing smoke… Editor’s note: For more information on all the promotions, events, and discounts that will be offered during the month, visit www.420BossWomen.com.


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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017




1. Wanda James Simply Pure Dispensary and Cannabis Global Initiative 2. Wy Livingston Purple Monkey Teas 3. Deloise Vaden Better Baked

4. Maureen McNamara Cannabis Trainers 5. Megan Solano Canna Botica

6. Genifer Murray, Genifer M Cannabis Inspired Jewelry 7. Morgan Iwersen Canyon Cultivation

8. Dahlia Mertens Mary Jane’s Medicinals 9. Missy Bradley Stillwater Brands

10. Olivia Mannix Cannabrand

11. Julie Dooley Julie’s Natural Edibles 12. Ashley Picillo Point 7 Consulting 13. Lauren Miele KushKards


Must See............llll It’s Worth A Look.....lll See At Your Own Risk.ll Don’t Bother.....................l

Editor’s note: Samantha Ofole-Prince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is Blackflix.com’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Khaleel Herbert is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Laurence Washington is the creator of BlackFlix.com. Like Blackflix.com on Facebook, follow Blackflix.com on Twitter

ic crew - each member more unhinged that the other. Bats, one of Doc’s crew members, (Jamie Foxx) dislike Baby instantly, so natural enemies are born. Actually, we really wouldn’t have a story if Bats liked Baby. By the way, Foxx’s character is aptly named. A righteous killer, in his own mind, Bats has a Gibraltar size chip on his shoulder and wants to waste everybody. And I mean EVERYBODY. At the risk of sounding cliché, Baby Driver is a constant thrill ride, as each

Despicable Me 3


Baby Driver


Baby Driver ll1/2

By Laurence Washington

aby Driver is a departure from director Edgar Wright’s usual fare, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End and Shaun of the Dead. Although some parts are as violent and surreal as those films, Baby Driver is tethered in reality. It’s almost homage to Tarantino’s vengeance and psychopath-driven storylines. Ansel Elgort is Baby, a virtuoso getaway driver. He drives a car like he’s coming home through rush hour. Once he inserts his ear buds (to drown out the constant ringing in his ears), and slides beneath the wheel, Baby becomes a prodigy who creates his masterpieces on the city’s asphalt. With its wall-to-wall classic rock and R&B soundtrack from Barry White to Queen, (Boomers might like the music better than the movie), Baby Driver is Transporter meets Fast and Furious. Which Fast and Furious? Does it matter? Pick a number…any number. I think they are up to eight now. Baby is recruited by Doc (Kevin Spacey), a mastermind who plans elaborate robberies with a psychopath-

heist becomes more elaborate than the last, and the car chases are fueled with a higher mix of octane. To the film’s detriment, the story slows down to 55 mph, to establish a love story between Baby, and a waitress name Debora (Lily James) whom he meets in a diner. An obvious plot, as Baby promises to do a final heist, and drives off in the sunset with Debora. We’ll there is still 45 minutes left in the film, and the scriptwriters ain’t having that. Neither is the audience who are holding a $12 ticket stub. So, Bats and Doc blackmail Baby back into the business with the threat of harming Debora. Surprise! Bet you never saw that coming. With the film back on track, the final heist goes wrong and the crew falls apart. Not to give too much away, but Jon Hamm (Mad Men), who plays a creepy member of Doc’s crew, is like the Energizer Bunny - he takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin.’ Hamm’s character starts off shallow, but becomes deeper and darker as the story progresses. Baby Driver is a small film compared to the other summer blockbusters. But it does offer a stellar cast. Thank God it wasn’t in 3-D.

Despicable Me 3 l By Khaleel Herbert

espicable Me 3, like Gru’s longlost brother, should have stayed longlost. Gru (Steve Carell) hits rock-bottom. He mistakenly let 80’s hipster Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) get away for the umpteenth time. The Anti Villain League has let him and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) go and all but two of his beloved minions threw in the towel because they can’t return to villainy. What’s the poor guy to do? The next day, Gru discovers that he has a long-lost twin brother named Dru (also Carell). Gru packs up the family and travels to Fredonia. When they arrive, they see Dru living the good life with a big house, cool cars and long luxurious hair. Of course, Gru is jealous. Dru shows Gru the family history and how they all come from a line of notorious villains. When Dru asks Gru to join him in villainy, Gru is torn. Despicable Me 3, although great for children, lacks the same depth and magic of the first two films. First, Bratt was a terrible villain. He’s an 80’s junkie who dance-fights to Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and bombs people with a Rubix Cube. He was funny at first, but his catchphrase, “I’ve been a bad boy,” got stale quickly. Plus he tries to destroy everything with a giant robot. News flash: Villains from Power Rangers already used that bit. Vector and El Macho were better adversaries than Bratt by a landslide. Vector had squid launchers and rigged his house with all kinds of booby traps. El Macho persuaded Dr. Nefario to join his side and he stole most of Gru’s minions to turn them into purple monsters.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


Next, the movie’s plot took me higher and higher, and then dropped me when it hit the middle. The plot became predictable and the ending didn’t give closure. They shouldn’t add any more movies to the franchise unless it’s a spinoff like Minions. There were some good parts to the third installment. Pharrell Williams returns as composer for the film. He includes the famous tracks, “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Despicable Me” plus new songs. I also admire that the Despicable Me trilogy nods at movie buffs. Certain scenes parody classic movies. In Despicable Me, Gru freaks out when he finds a doll’s head in his bed. That comes from The Godfather. In Despicable Me 2, Gru is attacked by El Macho’s chicken and it pops out of his shirt. That comes from Alien. In Despicable Me 3, Gru says Dr. Nefario accidentally froze himself in carbonite. That’s Han Solo in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi. Despicable Me 3 is fun for the kids and can make adults chuckle. But as Gru says, sometimes you look for a unicorn and you get a goat. Despicable Me 3 is not a unicorn. It’s a smelly goat.

War for the Planet of the Apes llll


By Samantha Ofole-Prince

hile watching this third installment from the Plant of the Apes franchise, I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics of Marvin Gaye’s antiwar, song “What’s Going On?” Gaye’s message that war is not the answer is highly poignant in War For The Planet Of The Apes. At the core of this film is a decisive battle between rapidly rising apes and desperately declining humans with each fighting for the survival of

REEL ACTION - WWW.BLACKFLIX.COM Spider-Man: Homecoming “No Stars”

War for the Planet of the Apes

their species and it takes place two years after the last offering Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis), the superintelligent alpha-ape who was introduced to audiences in the first film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, only wants to live peacefully apart from humans especially after the power struggles seen in Dawn. But peace between the species has collapsed and when a renegade band of human soldiers, led by an imperious Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson), attacks the colony and Caesar is hit with an unimaginable personal loss. Despite criticizing his late former antagonist Koba for his inability to forgive humans, he finds he can’t forgive Colonel McCullough. Despondent and devastated, he comes to the grim conclusion that humans and apes will never be able to live together and it becomes a world filled with hate and rage as the apes and humans battle for world domination. A sweeping, action-packed spectacle peppered with political and social ideologies, it’s directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), and is a heartfelt drama with cinematic references to war films Platoon and Francis Ford Coppola anti-war epic film Apocalypse Now (there’s a scene showing the sign Ape-ocalypse Now scrawled in a cave). Audiences will witness a winnertake-all high-tech CGI battle, mass explosions, spears, bullets and apes on horseback and swinging from trees and the pivotal war that determines the fate of human civilization. Accompanied by Michael Giacchino’s brilliant score, which really propels the action and emotion, they will be immersed in Caesar’s emotional quest to lead his young society to a new home. Driven by his personal vendetta against the Colonel, they will empathize with his rage to use any

means necessary to vanquish the humans. Returning cast members include Maurice (Karin Konoval) and Rocket (Terry Notary). New additions include a young human girl (Amiah Miller) who plays an unexpected role in the apes’ survival and an elderly intelligent chimp and zoo escapee called Bad Ape. Portrayed with comic poignancy by Steve Zahn, he adds the smidge of comic relief to this delightfully dark drama. “This is a holy war,” Colonel McCullough tells Caesar in one terrifying scene. “All of human history has led to this moment.”

Spider-Man: Home Coming, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly By Laurence Washington and Khaleel Herbert

While I was enthralled with the

Man, played believable by Tom Holland, had a cameo in Captain America: Civil War, so he’s a veteran character. The audience already knows that he can spin a web any size and catch thieves just like flies. Cons: Admittedly, Spider-Man hardliners will miss many of the usual suspects: Harry Osborne, the Green Goblin, J. Jonah Jamison, flashbacks of Uncle Ben dying, but they are not essential to this story arc. They will probably show up in sequels, but these characters would just be underfoot here. Final Word: If you’re going to see this movie with your mind already made up, save your money, and revisit the Sam Rami films. You’ll have a much better time. But if you’re ready to put on your “big boy pants” and join the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man: Homecoming is worth every dollar.

–Laurence Washington

Spider Man: Home Coming

new Spider-Man movie, Khaleel was less...well, let us say impressed. In fact, I’m sure Khaleel will agree that we saw two different movies with the same title. I say, go see the movie for yourself, and get back to us with your thoughts. That being said: Below are our quick takes on Spider-Man: Home Coming.

– Laurence Washington

Spider-Man: Home Coming llll

Best Tidbit: The after credit scenes will whet your appetite for the next installment. However, it’s Spider-Man: Homecoming’s final shot that will bring audiences out of their seats saying wow! Pros: Spider-Man: Homecoming’s is fresh and thankfully avoids another boring origin storyline. How many times do we have to retread that storyline? Marvel fans might recall SpiderDenver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


Best Tidbit: The only good thing about Spider-Man: Homecoming was seeing Garcelle Beauvais as Liz’s mother. Everything else was garbage. Pros: Nothing Cons: This version didn’t live up to the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Amazing Spider-Man comics. They didn’t show or flashback to when Peter Parker was bitten by the spider, Uncle Ben telling Parker with great power comes great responsibility or Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn. There was no sign of J. Jonah Jameson at the Daily Bugle or Parker taking photos of himself fighting crime as Spider-Man. These were all essential points in Parker’s world and how he took on a double life. In Homecoming, Spider-Man gets a decked-out spider-suit from Tony Stark and wants to join the Avengers. In the comics and animated TV shows (from the 60’s to mid-2000’s), SpiderMan was his own superhero and teamed up with different superheroes along the way. Parker designed his own suit and found out information about villains with his wits–not with a Siri voice inside his suit. Final Word: Homecoming is a disgrace to the Spider-Man universe and all who played the web-slinger through the decades from Paul Soles to Tobey Maguire.

–Khaleel Herbert.

COMMUNITY NOTES ULFC Presents PowerUp Men’s Summit

Goatfish Tams

The Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado will present PowerUp Men’s Summit, a service-focused initiative on Saturday, August 5. This event will raise awareness, promote conversation, and provide resources and education around stress management to aid in reducing the numbers of suicide associated with minority men ages 18 to 64. This Summit will provide a safe network of support aiming to emPower and emBody men to have improved daily interactions and increased emotional sustainability. The goal of the PowerUp Men’s Summit is to impact the mindset of health as well as how to manage it. Speakers include local athletes, entertainers, and professionals with backgrounds in behavioral health. Participants will ask questions and get answers through breakout sessions. The ULFC PowerUp Men’s Summit will be held at the Evie Dennis Campus at 4800 Telluride St. in Denver. For more information, email or call Chair Dominique Thompson, at Hunnycombhair@gmail.com or 720544-3489 or ULFC President/CEO Dr. Ryan Ross at ryan.ross@uflcolorado.org or 303-5581050. For more information about the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado, visit www.ulfcolorado.org.

Park Hill Interfaith commUNITYfest

Fashionable and fun for men, women and children! •Day Time •Night Time •Cold Time •Rainy Time •Sleepy Time

Only $8 or 2 for $15 Various Colors and Sizes

Uniting Our Community through Faith Celebrating our Diversity For the very first time in the Park Hill Community history, people of different colors, ethnicities, and religious affiliations will be joined together for one reason – to promote health, wealth and education. The Park Hill Interfaith 2017 Fest will be held Sunday, August 6 from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Park Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church and the Northeast Denver Islamic Center on Albion Street between MLK Blvd. and 35th Ave. Vendors, entrepreneurs, entertainers, musicians, fitness instructors, health care professionals and investment leaders are welcomed and encouraged to participate. There will be food, presentations, live music and arts and crafts for children to enjoy! For more information, call 303-3335089 or 303-297-8010, Ext. 104. The Manual High School Class of 1967 is celebrating its 50th Golden Class Reunion August 11-13. Thunderbolts from the Class of ’67 are invited to come and celebrate this milestone. For more information, visit

Calling All Thunderbolts!

720-849-4197 To order, call:

www.FriendsOfManual.org, call 720217-4524 or email manualreunion@aol.com.

Emma Eminash Launches National Book Tour

“From Africa to America: A Coat of Many Colors” is a fearless chronicle of one woman’s migration from Uganda, Africa to the United States of America. From her most sorrowful vile moments to the joys and pleasures of living in both Africa and the United States, Emma Eminash’s story is one of victory over struggles with anger, jealousy and loneliness to the many blessings and revelations in her walk as a woman of faith. “From Africa to America: A Coat of Many Colors” is a guidebook for helping people adjust to life in a new culture. Eminash’s journey in viewing the world through a multicultural lens offers wisdom that inspires people of all ethnic, religious and cultural identities. A book signing will be held Saturday, August 26 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Blair Caldwell Library, 2401 Welton St. in Denver. A panel discussion on the Contributions of Immigrants to America’s Advancement will be held as well as excerpt “From Africa to America: A Coat of Many Colors” will be presented by Eminash. For more information, email Publicist TaShia Asanti at allthewords@aol.com or visit www.emmaeminash.com. “From Africa to America: A Coat of Many Colors” is available for purchase on Amazon.

A Taste of Colorado Announces 2017 Festival Dates

A Taste of Colorado’s four-day, free admission festival takes place over Labor Day weekend in Downtown Denver’s Civic Center Park. In addition to local and worldly cuisine, six music stages and shopping, there will be local artisans featured in the Arts & Crafts Marketplace, culinary demonstrations, and interactive activities, rides and games for kids. A Taste of Colorado is the ultimate end-of-summer opportunity for residents and visitors to experience the sounds, tastes, and sights of Colorado’s diverse cultural traditions and Western heritage. Food and beverage tickets are sold in strips of 15 tickets for $10. Festival hours are: Friday, Sept. 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 2 from 10:30 a.m.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


to 10 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Monday, Sept. 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.ATasteofColorado.com, check out A Taste of Colorado on Facebook, follow @ATasteofCO on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat and search #ATasteofCO, or call 303-295-6330.

Denver Arts & Venues Accepting Nominations for Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture

Nominations for the 2017 Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture are now being accepted through Friday, Sept. 1. In the spirit of IMAGINE 2020 – Denver’s Cultural Plan, Mayor Michael B. Hancock will recognize individuals and organizations that make significant and lasting contributions to the artistic, cultural and creative landscape in the City and County of Denver. The awards will be announced in November. Visit the Denver Arts & Venues website to submit nominations (selfnominations are accepted) in the following categories (Panel Selected Awards): Arts & Culture Youth Award – This award is presented to a person under 18 that has made a noteworthy difference in the community through the arts or an organization that has significantly impacted the lives of youth in the City and County of Denver through the arts. Arts & Culture Impact Award – This award is presented to an individual or an organization that has made a significant and lasting impact on arts and culture in the City and County of Denver. This category requires that the nominee have at least 10 years of history in the arts in the City and County of Denver. Arts & Culture Innovation Award – This award is presented to the individual or organization that is breaking new ground in the arts and whose contribution to innovation in the arts has been significant in 2017. Arts & Culture Global Award – This award is presented to an individual or organization that has brought Denver’s arts and culture to the national or world stage. Nominees for this category have received national or international recognition through collaboration, media coverage or grant dollars received. IMAGINE 2020 – An individual or organization that exemplifies the vision and goals of Denver’s cultural plan through their programs and initiatives. This individual or organization is setting an example for others to aspire to as we IMAGINE 2020.

Girls Inc. of Metro Denver Receives National Grant to Support Local Growth and Expansion

Girls Inc. of Metro Denver announced its three-year grant award of $125,000 to expand strategically to serve more girls growing up in lowincome communities. A total of 17 grants were awarded to Girls Inc. affiliates in the U.S. and Canada, during the first round of funding totaling $3,525,000. The S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation chose the Girls Inc. network for a $10 million investment, as a part of their visionary plan to invest in organizations capable of making a transformational difference in the lives of youth. The Girls Inc. national board led a campaign to match the Foundation’s investment and will award $14.5 million in growth grants over the next three years. “Girls Inc. of Metro Denver has a strong track record of making a measurable difference in the lives of girls,” said President and CEO of Girls Inc., Judy Vredenburgh. “As a well-run, sound organization, they are poised for expansion and growth, preparing more girls for responsible and confident adulthood, economic independence and personal fulfillment. We are

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


thrilled at the national level to recognize their impact and invest in their future success.” A requirement of the award is for Girls Inc. of Metro Denver to leverage local support to ensure they have the necessary resources to sustain and grow even more following the grant period. “Beginning this fall, we will partner with new and existing elementary school partners throughout the Denver metro area to bring a comprehensive Girls Inc. experience to significantly more girls,” said Sonya Ulibarri who is president and CEO of Girls Inc. of Metro Denver. “Over the next two years, we plan to continue our investment in the growth of our programs with the goal of doubling the number of girls served with impact through these partnerships.” In addition to the gender and social barriers faced by all girls, many girls are burdened with the realities of childhood poverty. Children who grow up poor are more likely to struggle with cognitive and developmental issues, perform poorly in school, and experience violent victimization. With these investments, Girls Inc. is positioned to have the most significant and life-changing impact on girls with few opportunities. . Editor’s note: For more information, visit www.girlsincdenver.org.

Understanding The 4 Basics Of Money Can Enrich Your Life

Many young people have the

misconception that as they grow older and advance in their careers they will have more disposable income, giving them the freedom to do what they like and buy what they want. But as life moves along bills add up, college loans need to be paid, mortgages need to be secured and insurance needs to be kept up to date. Throw in kids and many people find themselves living paycheck-to-paycheck much longer than they ever expected. That type of living doesn’t leave much room to plan for retirement. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Those who understand the basics of money can begin planning early in life and will be ready to retire in their 60s, says Ann Vanderslice (www.annvanderslice.com), president and CEO of Retirement Planning Strategies. “Part of working toward retirement is having a plan and a strategy ahead of time,” says Vanderslice. “That begins with understanding the four basics of money.” Those basics are: The secret to making money – whether you are an entrepreneur or work for a large company – is finding a solution to people’s problems. Once you understand this, Vanderslice says, the keys to success include: showing up on time, doing what you say you are going to do, finishing what you started and doing it all with a courteous attitude.


Vanderslice says the old rule of thumb about saving 10 percent still applies. Even if your company offers matching retirement funds, she says that doesn’t give you a pass to save less. The first bill you pay each month should be one to yourself. After that 10 percent is set aside, manage your budget from what’s left.


Do you want to know how much you will be able to live on in retirement? A good rule of thumb is the 4 Percent Rule, which states that you should withdraw 4 percent of your retirement portfolio in the first year of retirement. Each subsequent year you should do the same while adjusting for a 3 percent inflation rate. “People who report having the easiest transition into retirement had a strategy,” says Vanderslice. “They don’t just wing it.. Editor’s note: Ann Vanderslice (www.annvanderslice.com), president and CEO of Retirement Planning Strategies, helps federal employees understand their benefits, maximize the value of their benefits and plan for retirement, as well as organize income planning and IRA distributions. Vanderslice holds the Registered Financial Consultant designation from the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants and the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation from the College for Financial Planning. She is author of Fedtelligence 2.0 – The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Your Federal Benefits.


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Investing should be a long-term endeavor, Vanderslice says. For example, take today’s 25-year-olds. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, if they want to retire with a similar lifestyle as what they have now, they need to invest 6.4 percent of their paychecks. That’s based on the stock market staying on the average path it has held for the last century.


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4 Reasons A Life Insurance Policy Could Be Your Retirement Salvation

Americans worry a lot about retirement. Will their savings hold out? Will Social Security still be around? Will healthcare costs gouge a great hole in their finances? What many of them may not be aware of, though, is that if handled correctly their life insurance policies could play a role in making retirement a little more secure. “One of the big tricks for having a successful retirement is to make sure you have enough cash flow to pay your bills and still be able to enjoy life,” says Brett Sause, CEO of the Atlantic Financial Group LLC (www.atlanticfinancialgroup.org). “Few people have pensions any more. Social Security only helps so much. But if structured the right way, a life insurance policy could be the perfect life preserver in retirement.” How does that work? Essentially like this, Sause says: Over the years, a person pays premiums into a permanent life insurance policy with the intent to provide a death benefit as well as cash-value accumulation for as long as the policy remains in force. “When you need money for retirement, you can withdraw funds without paying income taxes, generally up to the amount of the total premiums you paid into the policy,” Sause says. If you go over that amount and still need money, you can take loans against the cash-surrender value, although that means if you die any outstanding loan and interest amount would reduce the amount your policy beneficiary would receive. Using supplemental life insurance for retirement planning comes with a number of advantages. Sause says a few of those include:

insurance policy as part of your retirement planning.

No early-withdrawal penalty

The cash value is available for your needs without any penalty for early withdrawal. Most people probably know that if you withdraw money from your IRA or 401(k) before you reach age 59 ½ you are charged a penalty along with having to pay income tax on the withdrawal.

Leave an asset that’s tax free

When you die, the death benefit is generally received tax free by the beneficiary. That’s not the case if you leave your heirs a traditional IRA or a 401(k).

“People usually view the life-insurance premium they pay each month as just one more bill,” Sause says. “Instead of thinking of it as a bill, though, it should be viewed as a contribution to your retirement, just like the contribution you make to your IRA or your 401(k). . Editor’s note: Brett Sause, an 18-year veteran of the financial services profession, is CEO of the Atlantic Financial Group LLC (www.atlanticfinancialgroup.org). Brett is both a life and qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), the premier association of financial professionals. Brett is also a four time member of MDRT’s Court of the Table.

Avoid extra costs

The policy can provide retirement income without excessive administrative costs or government reporting. That means a greater portion of the money goes directly to help the retiree with day-to-day living, rather than in fees paid to someone for managing a retirement investment.

No contribution limits

Annual contribution, vesting and participation limits don’t apply. For example, with an IRA, you can’t contribute more than $5,500 annually if you are younger than 50 or $6,500 if you are younger than 60. That’s not the case if you have structured a life Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017



LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Health-Care Crisis: We Goin’ Be Alright

Editor: The irony of the current health care issue in America is that it is causing more stress and consequently more health care problems for individuals who desperately need quality health care. While there is more discussion of late around the exorbitant cost of health care, working class and poor people in general have always lived this reality – to middle class, welcome to the struggle. The failings of the health care system have always acutely affected people of color, who in addition to dealing with cost also deal with institutional racism of the system. The threat of terminal disease and debilitating conditions is alarmingly high and well documented in African American communities. In the current health care arena, which is fraught with uncertainty and inflated cost, the onus for health falls squarely upon our shoulders. There are three major areas which we as individuals need to focus on to remove ourselves from dependence upon a system which sees the individual as a source of revenue. The first is mental health. How we manage stress impacts our general health. Poorly managed stress can eventually lead to physical ailments. Singing, dancing, and regular exercise reduce stress and improve overall

health. In this area, looking to the African American community for strategies in stress reduction is especially fruitful because our community, arguably, is under some of the most severe forms of stress. Yet we are least likely to seek counseling or employ stress reducing practices like yoga, or massage therapy. It is important that we create a space that allows the connection between our minds and bodies to be realized so that we can move towards optimal health. The second area of focus is our health and nutrition needs – how we eat. American society makes it very easy to eat unhealthy. If accessibility were the only enemy to eating healthy, more people would do it; however, fast food feeds the economy and the health system’s appetite for profit is insatiable. For example, the least expensive food is often the least healthy – a salad at a fast food establishment is often two to three times more expensive than a hamburger. Now I’m not saying that a fast food salad is a healthy option but it promotes the perception that eating healthy is more expensive. Cost is not the only limitation to food choice either. With our busy lives, time is also a factor. It is not uncommon to hear arguments about healthy meal prep being too time consuming. Even if both these obstacles are overcome (money and time), there is also the

issue of what we eat. There is often reluctance in our community to change our diets and move away from “traditional” foods, and outright outrage over suggestions like vegetarian, organic non-GMO, or “whole” foods. We need refresher courses on the purpose of eating, and a discussion on the phrase “You are what you eat.” The final area we need to focus on is our treatment when we do fall into illness. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the current system focuses on managing the symptoms instead of dealing with the underlying cause. With a system designed to turn a maximum profit, this makes sense. Managing our mental health and our nutrition effectively will reduce the need for invasive surgeries and expensive treatments. So, what do you do when you do fall to illness and the medication your physician wants to prescribe has side effects that could cause death or worse symptoms? Moreover, are you prepared to be, or are you already, living a lifestyle that requires a regimen of daily drug use indefinitely? As is always the case, education is key to improving our lives. Classes around holistic health that are easy to understand, accessible, and don’t require a massive time commitment are crucial to increasing our individual health as well as our communal health. Self-care and preventive measures is imperative to our survival. The current health care crisis can be a catalyst to us coming together as one community for the health of everyone.

Dr. Rhonda Coleman Denver, CO

GOP Health Care Bill Is Just Wrong

Editor: The Senate bill effectively destroys Medicaid – stripping health care from children, seniors and low-income Americans, and I am one of them. The Senate plan is not a health care bill. It is a massive transfer of wealth from working people to Wall Street. Twenty-two million Americans would lose their insurance under the Senate bill. The Senate bill taxes working people’s health benefits while cutting taxes for millionaires and insurance companies. That’s just wrong.

Judith McIlvaine Littleton, CO

Oppose the GOP Health Care Bill

Editor: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that last Thursday’s scheduled vote on the awful GOP health care bill would be postponed until after Independence Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – August 2017


Day. That is because the GOP doesn’t have enough “yes” vote commitments from members of the party to bring this horrible bill to the Senate floor. Help us keep up the pressure by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to explain why you are opposed to the GOP health care bill.

Carlos Zarur Lafayette, CO

The GOP Health Care Bill Is Dreadful and Inhumane

Editor: I am writing as a retired medical professional to state my problems with the GOP health care Bill. From a provider I saw patients of all socioeconomic groups and their biggest fear was losing their health care benefits. My main concern was keeping people functional and their spirits uplifted so that they could fight their disease or dysfunction. The Bill if my estimation is not a health care Bill. It is a massive transfer of wealth from working people to the wealth, 22,000 will lose their insurance, it would cut taxes for the wealthy and insurance companies and last but not least it would destroy Medicaid stripping children as well as low income Americans and seniors. On the note on Seniors I remember working with patients who were in nursing homes that depended on Medicaid for them to stay there. Do we want these people on the street with no one to take care of them? This, in my opinion, is a dreadful and inhumane Bill that is better voted down. We should be joining the rest of the industrialized nations and have Medicare for all from birth to death and would provide quality health care at a reasonable price.

Cleo Dioletis Denver, CO

GOP Health Care Bill is Unacceptable

Editor: Health insurance is more than a policy, its peace of mind. It’s knowing your family will be cared for and not having to worry about going broke when you get sick. That’s why I strongly oppose the Senate health care bill. The more I learn about it, the less I like it. Robbing health care from millions of Americans to give yet another tax cut to the rich and powerful is just plain cruel. Our health care system needs to be improved – we all agree on that. But this bill would do exactly the opposite – for no other reason than greed. I urge ALL Senators to vote no on the Senate health care bill.

Dr. Katherine Nicole Delao Denver, CO

We are looking

for a licensed and insured naturo-

pathic physician, nurse practitioner,




massage therapist, CAM

practitioner who wants to be a part of a collective of

professionals who are laser focused on creating a cul-

ture of health in our community.

Denver Urban Spectrum â&#x20AC;&#x201D; www.denverurbanspectrum.com â&#x20AC;&#x201C; August 2017







Louis Johnson

2017 Colorado Black Arts Festival

Left: DUS 30th Anniversary Comedy Explosion at Comedy Works Landmark. Photos by Khaleel Herbert

City Park Jazz Festival

Sam Adams

Stephen Agyei

Welcome Home Earth Wind and Fire & Phillip Bailey! Photos by Bernard Grant

Janae Burris

Mayor Michael Hancock State of the City Address


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Profile for Denver Urban Spectrum

Denver Urban Spectrum August 2017  

Our cover story this month features Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s State of the City Address and how he plans to make living in Denver and in ou...

Denver Urban Spectrum August 2017  

Our cover story this month features Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s State of the City Address and how he plans to make living in Denver and in ou...