Page 1


December 2011

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris



COLUMNISTS Towanna Henderson Regina Lynch Hudson

FILM and BOOK CRITIC Kam Williams

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Misti Aas George Bamu G. Bram Angelle Fouther Shangra-La Angelia Mcgown Sheila Smith Annette Walker ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Gillian Conte,The Creative Spirit Jody Gilbert, Kolor Graphix PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Cecile Perrin


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 2011 by Rolado, LLC. 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. Office address is 2727 Welton St., Denver, CO 80205. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at

Happy Holidays!

The hustle and bustle of shopping, spending time with family and attending holiday events – what an exciting time! The Denver Urban Spectrum thanks you – our readers, advertisers, family and friends – once again for your support this year. Soon we will be turning another page in history. We are very proud of how we have served the community this year and will share how we did it in January 2012. But for now, in this issue, Misti Aas shares a compelling story of a young man, Dedrick Sims, who is “paying it forward” with gifts he received as a young boy. Angelle Fouther talks to four young men who are proud to be one of this year’s Jack and Jill’s Beaus. She also talks about the wealth gap in “Examining the Color of Wealth.” And Annette Walker writes about three deserving Nobel Peace Prize recipients while DUS contributor George Bamu shares insight on the peaceful African Nation of Cameroon. And writer, managing editor, Sheila Smith talks about the newly elected mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, who has been busy over the last 100 days while in office trying to make Denver a financially sound, competitive and thriving metropolis of the West. As you plan your holiday gift giving, check out “New Ideas For Christmas: Save the USA” and the Holiday Book Gift Guide section for some eye-opening and eye-popping ideas. And lastly, please make plans to join the Denver Urban Spectrum as we bring in the year with The Julius Show 2012 – A New Year’s Eve Celebration at Jazz@Jacks. Until next year…peace, love, joy and happiness! Rosalind J. Harris Publisher


I never dreamed I’d make 60

My Thoughts

Editor: One year from yesterday (Nov. 7, 2012) our votes will decide the future of this country and most likely the future of our world and I am tired of my fellow liberals who can’t see what is in store for us all if we don’t rally NOW to Obama’s side. I am 86 years old, was there in Berlin when the Nazis came to power, watched the fire engines make their slow way to the burning Reichstag, saw Hitler a couple of times, once only a few feet away together with Mussolini, and was lucky enough to have escaped to England with the help of many wonderful people. This country has been good to me and I am most grateful for its blessings. Like so many of us I have waited for someone to speak the truth about this great country’s future. Yes, Obama has made mistakes. He promised more than he could deliver and brilliant as he is, he was also naïve to think that those opposing him would put the country’s interests first. They will not do anything to help solve the many problems facing us, so there was and is no point in trying to persuade them. Now, my dear friends, we must realize what will happen if we don’t rally to Obama’s support. Start thinking about the Supreme Court. The next president most surely will appoint at least one, if not two new Justices. With a Supreme Court firmly in the hands of the Far Right, no matter how the country might vote in the future, no liberal or middle of the road legislation will pass in your life time. (Not mine, I will be long gone). And if we should be so lucky as to reelect Obama, unless we also elect a Congress that will support him, we will still see no improvements.



Randle Loeb Many times I begged and gasped how did all my friends disappear

Didn’t make it past 40.

Struggling, stammering staring from coal eyes sunken in an ashen vessel

From which none look back

Acknowledging a vacuum of why, what for

Causes don’t rise meeting fragile, uncertain tomorrows

Breaking all us down

The outlyers, the outcasts, the unforgiving

Only the wind's gait calls me tied and worn down forlorn

Losing rest, sight a place

Falling feeling left out behind forgotten Does anybody listen except the wind

Does anybody know whether I live or die, where, when how Does anyone have a place before this end is met

Only a blanketing wind chilling overnight air heaves covering every one no

longer faking a flicker of breath

We all fall down

Editor’s note: The photo of Randle Loeb was taken by Mario Masitti with the The Imagine Project. For more information on The Imagine Projec visit (, E-mail (, or call Dianne Maroney at 303-522-4496.

Henry Lowenstein Denver, CO

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011





“Welcome to DPS” were the

sweetest of words heard by supporters waiting with bated breath in the board room at 900 Grant Street for the long-awaited decision at the November 17 meeting. Those words spoken by Nate Easley, the president of the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board, were immeasurably profound to the 36 year-old founder, director, and visionary of Sims-Fayola International Academy. Dedrick Sims shed reflective tears of passion, joy, and relief in that moment, when the DPS Board approved the new Denver all-boy charter school by a unanimous vote. For Sims, on that emotionally charged eve, the long and difficult journey of the approval process had come to a triumphant culmination. And in that same moment, the exciting venture had just begun.

When Ideas Become Reality

Sims-Fayola had its humble beginnings as drawings on a square of cardboard mounted on the wall of the New Orleans educator. “I still have that piece of cardboard,” marveled Sims.

Photos by Bernard Grant

The determined warrior spent the next five years tirelessly pushing his vision forward, in order to one day make a difference for countless young men who were destined to have their lives impacted by a school that understands their needs. The first all-boy school in DPS is slated to open in fall 2012 with an expected enrollment of 120 sixth graders, and 130 ninth graders. Sims-Fayola will progressively build an additional grade each year, with the anticipation of sixth through 12th grades, and a total enrollment of 722 students for the 2015-2016 academic year. According to the Boy’s Initiative out of Washington, D.C., statistics show that on recent fourth grade reading tests, the average score for African-American girls was eight points higher than their male counterparts. By eighth grade, AfricanAmerican girls score an average 11 points higher than boys on reading tests. In national writing assessments, the differential is even greater. The average gap increases to 21 points by the 12th grade. This statistical gap abounds in every area of academics and behavior

in our school systems across the country. Boys are diagnosed with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders at a rate nearly twice that of girls. Boys are more than twice as likely to be suspended from school, and more than three times as likely to be expelled. Due to these profound achievement and behavioral gender gaps, SimsFayola International Academy is being founded as a single-gender educational environment. Research-based evidence from all over the world increasingly finds that this environment can be highly effective in helping to close the achievement gap, and giving a greater academic and behavioral advantage to young men. Sims-Fayola plans to address the specific and unique learning styles of boys, emphasizing project-based and hands-on learning. A strong emphasis will be put on international studies and opportunities to interact with students in other countries through collaborative completion of projects. This focus on global competence aims to give young, urban males the knowledge and skills to succeed and thrive in a global environment. Mentoring and service learning projects will be vital components as well.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


Character development will be an integral part of the Sims-Fayola curriculum, which is a valuable component of changing a mindset that goes beyond academics. The name Fayola is a Nigerian word meaning “walks with honor.” “We will be teaching young men to make better decisions and to think of the consequences of their actions very deliberately and intentionally,” said Sims. “This school will be a place where boys truly become men, and these men will walk into the community ready to make an impact, starting with the impact they can make on their own families.” One of the primary goals of SimsFayola is to send 100 percent of its young men to college without remediation. “I believe that every student should have the skills and the tools to be ready for college if they choose to go,” explained Sims. “The skills it takes to succeed in college are the skills that are helping these young men develop in the school. The ability to think critically through problems, to communicate across networks, and to collaborate in teams are the tools that are critical for them to be successful in life.” Adolescent males are all too often on the wrong side of every indicator of what it takes to be successful, both in behavior and circumstance. Families have become out of balance with an increase of single-parent households, without the presence of a male role model in the home. Young men of color are often placed into a box of stereotypes, which then can become what they are conditioned to believe for themselves, and in turn how they look and act. “Because they represent themselves in that way, no one hears them because society writes them off as thugs or misfits,” said Sims. “Even though they have a physical voice, they have no voice. They may not have been lucky enough to have people in their life to make a change in their trajectory.”

A Voice For Change

The driving force behind SimsFayola International Academy knows all too well what it feels like to be marginalized, and the pain of a lack of family support. Sims-Fayola is more than just a concept and idea for Dedrick Sims. It is an intense passion, and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of urban, young men, based on experience and deep wounds that have impacted his heart. The oldest child of five, Sims grew up in Pine Bluff, Ark., more rapidly than should ever be asked of any child. His father was not a part of his childhood. “I was young and didn’t know how to deal with the responsibility,” said Sims. Continued on page 6

How To Survive The Holidays When

Your Money Is Tight


By Shangra-La

he holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year, but it can be especially stressful for those that are unemployed or underemployed due to an unstable economy. If you are struggling financially or find yourself without a job, you might find it stressful and even difficult to get into the holiday spirit. But a lack of money doesn’t mean you can’t have a wonderful holiday season, while enjoying yourself and the people around you. Patricia Tyson, Director of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of NC, offers four tips to survive the holiday season when money is tight. Get Active – Maybe you’ve lost a job or are struggling with overwhelming debts. But if you have your health, that’s something to celebrate. So be grateful that you are of sound mind and body, and get out there and do something physical. Being active is great for your mental outlook and your physical wellbeing. A game of basketball with friends or even a solo run in a local park can not only help ward off depression, it can also improve your focus on personal goals and objectives. That will help you not just during the holidays, but also year-round. Shorten your gift list – You are not alone; others are feeling the money crunch. Talk with family and friends about not exchanging gifts this year. You may be surprised to learn that they are relieved that you brought the subject up. Exchanging gifts with fewer people during the holidays will reduce your spending. Alternatives to material gifts – Why not think outside the box? Try creating service coupons, such as redeemable for one deluxe car wash, one day of house cleaning, or one babysitting night. Family members, such as grandparents, love photo cards of grandchildren. Food preparations during the holidays are also welcome gifts. Just wrap everything in love and everyone will be happy.

Develop a spending plan and stick with it – Determine what you have to spend and stay with the plan. Don’t deviate from your plan, no matter how tempting or guilty you may feel. Remember to use cash, or if you use your credit card, be sure to pay off the card in full, within the payment cycle. But, most of all shower your family and friends with love, respect and appreciation, for these are the gifts they will remember. 

Editor’s note: If you would like to comment Shangra-La, E-mail or visit her blog at:

2100 York Street - Denver, Colorado 80205 - 303-333-5077 s i m p l y f l o r a l b j @ a o l . c o m - w w w. s i m p l y b e a u t i f u l c o l o r a d o . c o m


Feel the holiday magic everywhere you go in Denver. See the entire city wrapped in lights. Enjoy a classic holiday show like A Christmas Carol or Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum. Sample innovative cuisine at a variety of fantastic restaurants. With so much to see and do, Denver is the perfect place to reconnect with your friends and family. Make a night of it with hotel rates starting at $52.80.* D D EE N N VV EE R R M M II LL EE H H II G GH H


Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


Journey of Dedrick Sims

Continued from page 4 Sims’ home life included the complexities of abuse, and a mother who was dealing with drug issues. He bounced back and forth between his mother and his grandmother, living in a neighborhood with violence and drug abuse, and all the things that go along with an inner city. “I’ve been on my own since the sixth grade,” said Sims. “The people who kept my life consistent were always teachers. I can remember all the teachers who made a difference in my life. In the first grade, there was Ms. Keese; in the third grade, Ms. Farver; and my 11th grade English teacher, Ms. VanHoose.” On Fridays in the sixth grade, Mrs. Duncan would have him sing an hour before school ended, and all of the classes would come down and listen to the child – who could have so easily fallen through the cracks – use his voice and feel recognized. “When things weren’t going so well at home, I could come to school and escape,” recalled Sims. “The more my teachers encouraged me, the better I did academically. They showed me something different. I would go home to drugs and fights, and then I could go to school and just have a normal life.” Sims’ life-altering teachers exposed him to a world he had never known. They would take him to the opera and to the movies; they took him ice skating and invited him into their homes for meals. “I saw a different side, and I saw something I wasn’t used to, so I made a choice to pursue that of which I saw,” marveled Sims. Out of high school, Sims joined the military and went into the Air Force. He soon realized that it wasn’t what he wanted to do, feeling motivated to be able to pursue more of a leadership role instead. “I vividly remember calling home and talking to my family about wanting to come home,” recalled Sims. “They said that if I came home, I would be on my own. Sure enough I

The excelling student began tutoring juniors and seniors in math and science, falling in love with learning all over again. He chose biology as his major and thought he wanted to go to medical school to become a neurosurgeon. He volunteered for a couple of summers at the University of Arkansas medical school. Ultimately, Sims decided against the pursuit of medicine. Instead, he went back into the military right out of college, commissioned as an army officer for three years. Sims returned to Arkansas and after a brief stint in his father’s alarm business, moved to Mobile, Ala. in 1999 to become a teacher. Sims enrolled in a master’s program, taught in the classroom, and received a teacher of the year award in his first year. After three years of teaching, he left to work in pharmaceutical sales for a year. “I thought I wanted to chase the money, and realized I missed teaching so I came back to it and I have been there ever since,” said Sims.

came home, my things were given to me, and I lived in my car in the Blockbuster parking lot for about a week.” During that time, Sims enrolled in college. With good grades and high ACT scores, he was accepted into the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, and received a full ride. No one knew, not even his family, that the man who was focused on doing the best he possibly could in life, was living in an automobile. Until one day, unbeknownst to Sims, a friend of his followed him to the parking lot, knocked on his window, and said, “Man, you don’t have to do this.” Sims lived with his friend’s family until he was able to get on his feet and began a job at a video store. “There were some months I had to decide if I was going to eat or have lights,” said Sims. “I had a single income going to college and living on grants. I had to alternate those months.” As time went by, survival got a little bit easier. Sims worked two or three jobs and became very active in college life as the sophomore class president, the junior class president, a golden ambassador for the school, and a part of the honors program.

Making An Impact

The longer he taught, the more he realized that underserved students, or minority students, weren’t getting a fair shake. “The system wasn’t set up to allow for their strengths, or even their weaknesses,” explained Sims. It highlighted their weaknesses, but didn’t do anything for their strengths. I think that’s one of the reasons I was able to become successful my very first year, because I understood where they came from.” In Mr. Sims’ classroom, an environment was created that allowed for individual strengths to be able to shine, and their weaknesses not to be counted against them, impacting his own life as much as that of his students. In his 12 years in the field of education, the dedicated agent of change has served in roles from teacher to department head, from curriculum director to principal, and everything in between. Through his diverse experience, Sims has gained an understanding of the complexities of education from various points of view. The personal path of trial and challenge that brought Sims to develop Sims-Fayola International Academy had a strong impact on how he wants to structure the learning environment. “I always wanted to have this Morehouse type school where young men are able to graduate and be leaders in their community, and work to change the world,” described Sims. “I knew you couldn’t do that by focusing on low level skills, or just trying to get to grade level. You have to continue to push them, and as a lover of education and learning myself, the academic programming of Sims-Fayola comes from my own push for me.”

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


Sims-Fayola Community Celebration

Friday, Dec. 9 from 6 to 8 PM

Green Valley Ranch Rec Center 4890 Argonne Way 720-515-7342 -

Profound Gifts

One of the greatest rewards for Sims in his journey of forming the school has been the people he has met along the way who are deeply connected to his mission, many who have become integral parts of his team. “Sometimes you meet people that make you think you’re crazy and that this can’t be done, especially with black and brown boys who the world has written off as uneducable,” said Sims. “I refuse to believe that. I’m a Black boy who came from a neighborhood where there were more Black boys like me who were just as intuitive and excited and motivated as I am. I had teachers in my path who cared, so I got lucky.” “When you come across so many people who are like-minded, it emboldens you,” continued Sims. “It gives you more energy and power to continue to move forward. It makes you that much more hopeful, and gives you the audacity to keep doing this.” “This has been a labor of love and it is the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” he went on. “Even coming up through my childhood and having to survive through the drugs, and the poverty, and the child abuse – this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do by far.” The father of three daughters, ranging in age from 14 to 18, has a clear vision of what he would like his legacy to be. Through his very targeted approach to character and leadership, Sims wants to be that needed voice for the multitude of young men who will enter the doors of Sims-Fayola International Academy in their burgundy blazers and ties – empowering them to succeed. “There are certain people in history that you can look back on,” stated Sims. “The Martin Luther King’s, the Gandhi’s…The people who agitated the water enough to where change started to happen. They were either the spark, or the cog in the wheel, or they were the one who finished it off. I want to be that for education. I want to be a champion for kids and their families.” “Someone was my voice before, and that’s what I want to do,” expressed Sims. “That’s my legacy. I want my kids to say ‘My dad was a part of change for boys,’ period.” Editor’s note: For more information on the new DPS school, go to Writer Misti Aas can be contacted at

Tilling The Soil Of STEM Awareness By Heather O’Mara and Ruth Márquez West


ositive, hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics experiences have lasting impact on students. “When you think about how students choose their majors, it usually ties back to a positive role model in a subject where they were encouraged through a successful experience,” points out Hope Online School Counselor Kristie Richardson. Pursuing that opportunity for every student, Hope Online is ensuring those positive experiences include STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) topics, areas in which disproportionate numbers of African-American and Hispanic students consider a career path.* “We are de-mystifying science on fundamental levels for teachers, mentors and students, alike,” shares Hope Online Teacher Ben Davidson. “This year, through sequential lessons about the scientific method and a science symposium culminating their studies, we are systemically generating excitement about the impact of science on the world around us.”

In addition, some Learning Centers are continuing their success in local and regional science competitions. At Hope Online’s Tubman Hilliard Global Academy, students have earned coveted competition placements. All qualified applicants have navigated through the scientific method steps from hypothesis to datagathering and then constructed formal displays and presentations of their findings. “We have found that, regardless of where you are in your academic program, you can engage students in competitive science,” Tubman Hilliard Global Academy Director Tunda Asega asserts, pointing to the impressive roster of students who have been recognized for their science endeavors. In 2009 and 2010, several Hope Online students who entered the local and regional science competitions received high placement honors for outstanding projects.

their needs and to learn, in the greater landscape of their lives, to approach situations knowing how to collect and process pertinent information and data to make decisions for their futures. We believe this will result in an outcome that our students understand their social responsibility and that each has the ability to respond to important life questions.” In this way, Hope Online teachers, Learning Center directors and mentors are all working together, excited about one of American students’ most challenging topics – math – one in which they ranked 25th out of 34 participating countries.** However, while everyone at Hope Online is ready to support the push toward math readiness, Hope Online Staff Developer Sandy Fritz emphasizes the balance of offering help and good timing. “We continue to establish a learning environment in which our students are working as hard as the teachers and mentors and sometimes that requires patience, allowing the student to work through an appropriate level of challenge first.” This environment, as Hope Online Director of Student Achievement Dr. Janet Filbin explains, is part of the greater goal. “We want our students to achieve confidence in articulating

“We want to open doors for our students who often feel pressure to graduate high school and then go to work immediately,” says Hope Online Teacher Ben Davidson. “The need for financial security in the family is often placed above furthering the student’s education toward a career.” Richardson agrees, adding that students overlook many options for technical school and college because they think they are “not good at math or science.” But all that is changing at Hope Online. With science awareness in high gear, it is also the “year of math.” Ongoing hands-on professional development trainings encompass many facets of effective math coaching. Supplemental homework is also required and online classes are providing discussion forums to exchange relevant examples and friendly solutions for instructional challenges across Learning Centers.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


About Hope Online Learning Academy Co-Op

Hope Online Learning Academy Co-Op is a unique online public charter school that bridges the digital divide by affording k-12 students the benefits of online education in a safe and supportive classroom environment. Chartered by the Douglas County School District, Hope Online enrolls students statewide, with the majority of students representing minority populations that qualify for free and reduced lunch. Hope Online provides the only opportunity for Colorado’s at-risk students with working parents to participate in online education. For more information, visit or call 720402-3000 *“Women, Minorities Vastly Underrepresented in Engineering Profession” by Jason Koebler, US News October 28, 2011 ** “’Wake-up Call’: U.S. students trail global leaders” by Christine Armario, Associated Press, Life on December 7, 2010

The Annual Jack and Jill Beautillion:

Lifting Up Young African American Men for their Commitment to Excellence, Service, and Community By Angelle C. Fouther


earch the words “Black male” in “Google News” and you’ll find the top several pages of hits filled with words such as: “robbery,” “suspect,” “crime,” and “gangs.” With regards to education, you’ll find the words “lagging behind.” Despite the tremendous advances of African American males, including an unprecedented ascendancy into the White House, stereotypical and fear-provoking portrayals of young black men still prevail as the norm in American culture. This very trend was the impetus that led the Denver Chapter of Jack

and Jill of America, Inc. to present an annual Beautillion. The idea came from Jack and Jill member June Johnson, who was fed up with the negative imagery and brought the idea to the chapter. After researching the potential, along with fellow member Winnie Johnson, the first Beautillion was held in 1983. And each subsequent year, some of Denver’s finest young African American high school senior males – many who have overcome great adversity to achieve – don tails, top hats, and canes. On the arms of their escorts, all dressed in white ball gowns, they are presented to a loving village – Jack & Jill moms who have worked with them for months in preparation, their families, teachers, mentors, and friends see them as the outstanding youth they are, and the strong models of manhood they are on the precipice of becoming. It is a rite of passage. It is an embracing of tradition and modernity.

“We are very proud of the young men who have the honor of being recognized for their efforts in achieving excellence,” states Beautillion founder June Johnson. “Young men selected as Beaus since the inception of this program were prepared for success by their parents, teachers, and community. The Jack and Jill Denver Chapter Beautillion continues to recognize a small sampling of youth that defy the odds and dispel stereotypes.” Since the initiation of the event, the component of dancing has made it a unique and beautiful spectacle—capturing the elegance of ballroom, as well as contemporary expressions of dance, such as hip hop. Letitia Williams and Berma Benson choreographed the first Beautillion and then passed the baton to Rhetta Shead who has choreographed the guys’ moves for the past 26 years. “This is one event that is truly close to my heart,” Rhetta states. “I have literally watched these young men grow up. It is incredible to now teach the sons of some of beaus that I taught way back when.” The Denver Chapter of Jack and Jill, which is one of hundreds of chapters nationwide, was founded in 1955 with the goal of ensuring that children receive nurturing support to succeed and develop to their full potential. There are monthly membership meetings, regular educational, cultural, and civic, social, and recreational activities for its members’ children in the different age groups – and of course the Beautillion. “The members of the Denver Chapter take great pride in participating in an organization where the interests of the children are the utmost priority. The Beautillion is just another way for us to extend our reach and provide an enriching platform for learning and relationship-building for our youth,” says Chapter President Dr. Janette Andrews. This year, 30 beaus will be recognized. Each has been recommended for the Beautillion by high school counselors or principals for their outstanding achievements, involvement in extracurricular activities, engagement in community service, and extraordinary acts of courage and kindness. The young men have participated in months of workshops including: “Sexual Health,” presented by Dr. Johnny Johnson, “Time

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


Management and Leadership,” presented by James Reeves, and “The New Jim Crow,” presented by Don Toussaint and Stephen Williams. The escorts, who are all extraordinary young women in their own rights, joined the young men for a “Boot Camp,” a two-hour intensive workout session, led by Courtney Samuels of Bodies by Perseverance. “The workshops have taught me a lot, especially about the discrimination today between the police and young Black men,” says Beau Jordan Bickerstaff, a senior at Smoky Hill High

School. “When I learned about the concept of the “New Jim Crow” (from the book by Professor Michelle Alexander), I was surprised. I have always been polite to police and have had no reason to expect that there would be that kind of treatment. It just makes you more aware.” “I wanted to become a Beau because my father Bernard Bickerstaff, and uncle John Blair Bickerstaff were both Beaus. My grandma encouraged me to keep the tradition going, and I am glad I joined. It has been fun and I have made some great new friends.” Jordan adds how he and his mother have always been close. “She made me who I am.” “The night of Beautillion my family will all be there,” he muses. “And I’ll be able to say I’ve ‘gone through’ like all of you.” Basketball takes up most of Jordan’s time at school. He also tutors freshman, and is a Line Leader, and a member of DECA Business/Marketing Group. His future aspirations are to coach basketball, like his uncle, who is assistant coach for Houston Rockets, and grandfather who is a Portland Trailblazers Coach. The pride in joining a brotherhood of Beaus is something that has become a rich tradition for many families in the Denver community.

“Each year a new class of Beaus is welcomed into a brotherhood of Beaus that spans years, and even generations,” says DeVita Bruce, one of the 2011 event chairs. “Young men look forward to being a part of it long before their senior year, and I think that makes the Jack and Jill Beautillion unique.” Vanessa Howard, another chair for this year‘s event, says her son Justin, who is a member of Jack and Jill and a sophomore at Cherokee Trail, will be most excited about taking the Beautillion journey with his friends, many of whom he has known since grade school. “When I was selecting the tuxedos this year he made a point of letting me know that he wants his tuxedo to be tails.” Jaron Walker has been a member of Jack and Jill since he was a toddler, and is another Beau who has waited a long time for this moment. “It’s like a graduation from Jack and Jill,” says Jaron. “I’ve grown up a lot, and Jack and Jill has taught me life lessons. As a kid, I would tend not to take life very seriously, but I have learned when it’s time to laugh and when to take things seriously. I will definitely take the night of the Beautillion seriously. It’s significant and represents becoming a man.” Jaron attends Bishop Machebeuf and is Varsity Captain of Football, MESA Treasurer, and volunteer at Scott United Methodist Church’s food bank in the summer. He is also a member of the youth group, usher board, youth choir at Scott. Jaron grew up watching the Beautillion where he looked up to the kids. “I always used to wonder why they did the ballroom dancing,” he says. “But now I believe that it teaches us that the girls are not objects—this type of dancing is a respectful interaction.” Jaron’s escort, Lisa Napper, is a junior at Range View High School and has been in Jack and Jill with Jaron since they were both small children. “I love Lisa. She is open-minded, has creative ideas, and speaks her mind. She is compassionate, and my friend since forever. She has supported me with everything, including this.” Jaron wants to attend Tuskegee, Clark Atlanta, Howard, or Hampton, with a career in engineering or computer science. And he also hopes to play football in college.

Avion Perkins is another Beau. Avion says he has never known his father, and that his mother has raised him, his younger brother, and younger cousin as a single parent. But he is eternally optimistic. “I choose not to focus on the challenges. I have been fortunate.” “I have done a lot with track and field and have won a lot medals and ribbons, “Avion says. “But winning a ribbon in speech and debate would have to be my greatest accomplishment. Avion says he hopes to gain a better sense of self-awareness as a Black man in the community, and has enjoyed meeting all the other men in the group who are like him, yet have their own opinions. “My real interest was actually in the work leading up to the Beautillion—like we had the opportunity to go to an elementary school and work with the young students. This was one of the things I was really happy about. It made me feel so good to have the younger kids look up to me and ask me for my opinions.” Avion’s goal is to become a psychologist, and work in clinical therapy. “Ever since I can remember I have been interested in therapy. I like the aspect of talking to people and helping them.” Collins Gantz describes himself as “pretty laid back, funny, and trying to make things positive. The most you can do is to find the good in things and work hard,” he says. At Kent Denver, Collins has excelled at lacrosse which has led to a scholarship at Bryant University. Collins has also been recognized with the Brian Traice Award for demonstrating academic excellence, athletic achievements, and strength of personality. Collins says he really likes that the beaus join in prayer before starting every workshop. “When we say the prayer I realize that there are a lot out of kids out there that don’t get this opportunity – to be rewarded for what they’ve accomplished. This is a privilege.”

“I have been around Beautillion all of my life, years back my mom (Marcie Moore Gantz) helped out with Beautillion, my sister (Miesha) was an escort for four years, and brother (Chris) was a beau. I am glad that I get a chance to represent and be a part of the Beautillion family.” Collins is interested in a career in business. He says he often talks about stocks, what is going up and what’s down, often with his father Chris, who is in the business. “I really want to be an entrepreneur. I love entrepreneurship because it’s competitive. I know how to compete. I

know how to make things better.” Many months of hard work go into making for a beautiful evening. Chair Dei Wilson describes the planning as “challenging” and “exhilarating.” “Beautillion night will be full of splendor and enchantment,” Dei says. “But the real gratification is in the honoring of 30 outstanding young men. They truly represent the best our community has to offer.”  Editor’s note: The Jack and Jill Denver Chapter Beautillion will be held on Sunday, Dec. 18 at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel. For more information or for tickets, call 303-321-0285.

The Beaus visit with 4th and 5th grade boys at Hallett Fundamental Academy


12/16-17 ɒ 7:30 PM

TOO HOT TO HANDEL Marin Alsop, conductor laureate Cynthia Reneé Saffron, soprano Vaneese Thomas, mezzo-soprano Thomas Young, tenor Colorado Symphony Chorus ɒ Duain Wolfe, director 303.623.7876

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


BoldFood Partnership Addresses Human Rights Issue


By Angelia McGowan

resh vegetables, fruits and meat products become immediately available when the farmer’s market sets up in your neighborhood — an urban neighborhood. For many it’s a special event. But should it be? Many believe the lack of daily access to healthy food has become a human rights issue for communities across the globe. “Food justice is what our food system and social system should be modeled around – a society where all people are allowed access to and information about healthy, local food – real food,” says Neambe Leadon, a Denver-based eco-cultivator and fellow in the BoldFood Professional Fellowship in Food Security, a transAtlantic partnership launched in November 2010 between adult leaders and agricultural professionals in

Uganda, Kenya and the United States to focus on food security. It’s not just for wealthy neighborhoods; everyone everywhere should have daily access to FLOS - fresh, locally grown, organic, sustainable harvested foods, says Ashara Ekundayo, veteran community activist and contract project manager for BoldFood.

Rhodes, social worker and educator Wendy Talley; BoldLeaders staff member, Andrea Godshalk; University of Denver student, Tiffany Freer; Growing Power Director Erika Allen, and project assistant Erica Hougland. The partnership is made up of organizers working with Coloradobased social enterprise BoldLeaders

Boldfood fellows in the Maasai Land in Kenya in July 2011. Nefertiti Oji-Njideka, Chicago; Amy Breunissen, Colorado; Jennifer Johns, Colorado, Damien Thompson, Ph.D., Colorado; Project Manager, Ashara Ekundayo, Colorado. Photo: Andrea Godshalk.

Boldfood fellows Nefertiti Oji-Njideka, Francis Meru (Nairobi, “This partand in collaboKenya) and Ashara Ekundayo in Maasai Land in July 2011. nership has ration with Photo: Andrea Godshalk been instruGrowing mental in sharPower ing best prac(Milwaukee, tices in market Wis.), the creation, distriMazingira bution, urban Institute in planning and Nairobi, policy development as they relate to urban food production and social justice,” says Ekundayo, who infused her urban out- Colorado-based reach and strategic collabo- Boldfood Fellow Ietef “D.J. CaveM” ration expertise into the pro- Vita will travel to Kenya in January gramming for the fellow2012 to study food ship. justice. Ekundayo, who has served Colorado-based Boldfood Fellow Kenya, and Neambe Leadon is working in for over a Environmental Colorado-based Boldfood Fellow Denver's Five Points on food justice. Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish is headdecade as execAlert in ed to Uganda in January 2012 to utive director Kampala, learn more about food justice. of the Pan Uganda. African Arts BoldLeaders Founder and CoSociety and Director Michael Donahue says owner of Boldfood is a project that uniquely BluBlak Media speaks to BoldLeaders’ guiding princiConsulting, ple is to “Facilitate learning groups leveraged that are globally connected. We value many of her the knowledge and expertise of our diverse and African colleagues, and recognize all longstanding partnership to help as essential in creating a global food develop the BoldFood programming. system that conscientiously addresses As a result, local growers, activists, equity and sustainability for all.” educators, artists and entrepreneurs Last fall, 21 U.S. delegates and 32 participated in the program as fellows, from East Africa were selected as parcommittee members, financial and inticipants for the fellowship being kind supporters and host families. funded by the U.S. Department of She has traveled twice in the last State - Bureau of Educational and year to Africa in connection to Cultural Affairs. Travel to Africa and BoldFood, which consists of a coalithe U.S. involves four, two-to-six week tion of institutions, non-governmental long exchanges including a summit of organizations, and community leaders all the African participants in working together to provide program- Washington D.C. ming and internship fellowship Three of the four exchanges were opportunities to facilitate the two-way completed between March and exchange between the African counOctober. Some of the local organizatries and the U.S. tional partners who hosted Ugandan The BoldFood team also includes: and Kenyan Fellows included BoldLeaders Co-Director, Brady WasteFarmers, The GrowHaus, Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


GreenLeaf Denver, Urbiculture Farms, and the University of Colorado at Denver Department of Integrative Biology. The final U.S. delegation including half of the Colorado fellows will travel to Africa in late January 2012. They were initially slated to travel in November 2011, but due to war conflicts in Somalia and threats in Kenya, their travel was delayed. Despite the setback, Colorado Fellows awaiting departure in the final delegation have continued to participate in the exchange by developing programming and/or hosting events in their local communities. Below are their definitions of food security and what will be needed to achieve it. Perspectives from Colorado Fellows Ietef “D.J. CaveM” Vita, Denver-based educator, youth leader, urban organic farmer and deejay, says, “food justice is fresh, local, affordable, accessible and healthy food that makes you live longer instead of taking life energy away from you.” Jon Clayshulte, a rural farmer in Montrose, says, “I have realized that increasing the awareness and support around something as essential and culturally attached as food, is a shift of an entire community way of thinking – access to entire diet of affordable food. This is only possible through a network of community support and resources. This takes time.” Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish, an arts activist living in Superior, says, “The connection between our health, the environment and justice in general is blossoming amongst our communities even when people have a hard time naming it and speaking it, and I hope this community work has helped that blossom thrive.” Gabrieloff-Parish says, “We found out that most farmers in East Africa and increasingly throughout the world are not only buying the bulk of their seed from wealthy international corporations, but that they’ve lost in mass the knowledge about how to grow seed at all.” “That is a loss for all of us,” she further stated. “I hope in my trip I can help spark some intergenerational dialogue about how seed was cultivated and kept even just one generation or two ago.” Ekundayo, however, adds that the programs such as BoldFood are great experiments. “They are examples of growing minds and expanding the possibility of being stewards of the earth and each other through authentic exchange of ideas, techniques, and of course, recipes.” Editor’s note: For more information on BoldFood, visit /group/boldfoodfellows or E-mail

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2011 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded To African And Arab Women

Tawakkul Kaman

By Annette Walker


llen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, both of Liberia, and Tawakkul Kaman of Yemen are the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipients. Kaman is the first Arab woman to receive the award, while Sirleaf and Gbowee follow in the footsteps of the 2004 African Nobel winner Wangari Maathai, who passed away in September. The Nobel Committee, based in Norway, selected the three women “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peacebuilding work. We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.”

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first democratically elected female president and her election followed decades of civil war in Liberia. The Nobel Committee stated, “Since her inauguration in 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women.” Sirleaf, 72, just won a second presidential term. The Nobel Committee lauded Leymah Gbowee because she “. . .mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women’s participation in elections. She has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war.” Tawakkul Kaman received praise from the committee because “In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the ‘Arab Spring’, she has played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.” In addition to lessening internal tensions of Liberia, Sirleaf, a Harvardtrained economist, has been able to secure forgiveness for billions of dollars worth of Liberian debt, thereby making money available to rebuild a nation afflicted with high levels of unemployment and poverty. Her memoir, “This Child Will Be Great” was released last year. Sirleaf is divorced and has four sons and eight grandchildren. Leymah Gbowee has stated that in 2002 she had a dream in which someone urged her to organize the women of her church to pray for peace. “It was a crazy dream,” she said. “Prayer seemed like a flimsy counterweight to the forces of Charles Taylor, the tyrannical president at the time, and the brutally predatory rebels who were trying to oust him from power. The

violence was excruciating. People were dying by the tens of thousands. Rape had become commonplace. Children were starving. It’s the kind of environment that breeds feelings of helplessness.” Gbowee began organizing the women at her Lutheran church to pray for peace. That action transformed into a peace initiative that spread to other Christian churches and eventually to women of the Muslim faith. In a recent interview with Tavis Smiley, Gbowee said, “The women wanted the madness stopped. They wanted an end to the maiming and the killing, especially the destruction of a generation of children. They wanted to eradicate the plague of rape.” The women’s efforts evolved into a movement, Liberian Mass Action for Peace. When Peace Talks were held in Ghana, Gbowee and 200 women staged a sit-in, demanding that the two sides stay put until an agreement was reached. The women’s movement is the subject of a documentary film “Pray the Devil Back To Hell”. Gbowee, 39, is the mother of six children, and has written a memoir, “Mighty Be Our Powers.” She was in the United States recently on a book tour. Tawakkul Kaman, a 32-year-old mother of three children, was sitting inside her blue tent at the antigovernment sit-in headquarters when she received word that she had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She has resided in the tent since late February. She told a New York Times reporter that the award was “a victory for Arabs around the world and a victory for Arab women.” Kaman also described the government of Yemen’s President Saleh as corrupt and she urged the United States to stop supporting him. The lib-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


Leymah Gbowee

eral Islamist stopped wearing the full facial veil three years ago and is a leading member of Yemen’s largest Islamist party, Islah. She leads a human rights advocacy group called Women Journalists Without Chains, and her readiness to take to the streets inspired thousands more in Yemen to do the same. She was briefly arrested earlier this year, an action which sparked some protests. Many people in Yemen refer to Karma as “Mother of the Revolution” because of her bravery and insistence that people not give up in the face of the brutality of the government. The Nobel Committee cited the 2000 United Nations Resolution which for the first time made violence against women in armed conflict an international security issue. It underlined the need for women to become participants on an equal footing with men in peace processes and in peace work in general. 

Examining The Color Of

Wealth By Angelle C. Fouther

For the past two months, protest

signs have waved in the midst of tented encampments across the nation, the statement of generations outraged at the loss of opportunities and the gross class disparities that exist in the United States today. In a recent Listening Campaign, The Denver Foundation queried 800 Metro Denver residents from all walks of life about key areas needing improvement in this region. The vast majority identified both class and racial disparities that exist in education, and access to necessities like nutritious food, transportation, health care, and jobs. For the past 10 years, the Foundation’s Inclusiveness Project has worked to build a more racially inclusive environment with Metro Denver nonprofit organizations. Understanding the roots of the disparities that exist is critical to the success of this work. At the heart of this divide is wealth disparity, a topic that the Inclusiveness Project highlighted at a recent community dialogue they presented in partnership with the Chinook Fund, Veterans of Hope, the Matrix Center, and University of Denver Center’s for Multicultural Excellence. Dr. Rose M. Brewer, led the discussion based on the book she co-authored entitled The Color of Wealth, which lays out the history of public policies which have led to a wealth divide between whites and blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans in America. Dr. Brewer also addressed the question, “What can we do to create change to strengthen the entire community?” Earlier this year, the Inclusiveness Project partnered with Veterans of Hope, the Eclectics, and others to bring Professor Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness, to Denver for a series of community dialogues. Understanding the roots of the racial wealth divide, and how this history has impacted not only people of color but whites as well, is necessary to reach equality, according to the authors of The Color of Wealth. “The wealth gap is a profound problem for democracy here in the U.S.,” says Dr. Brewer, who writes and teaches in the African American

and African Studies Department at the University of Minnesota. “A lot of people have studied the income gap, and how that has been closing postCivil Rights Movement, but there has been far less attention paid to the persistent and growing wealth gap between

color, the authors assert. Different mechanisms for different ethnic groups have been utilized over the centuries. African Americans were bought, sold, and brutalized in the slave trade and encoded as property which was used as start-up capital for what

How is it possible to close this stark and persistent gap? Many strategies have been proposed by African Americans to gain a greater degree of wealth. The authors suggest a goal of building the collective wealth of the community through cooperative economics, a concept that

Dr. Rose Brewer leads community dialogue about The Color of Wealth presented by The Denver Foundation

Whites and people of color.” Wealth and income are often confused. While income is your annual salary, the authors define wealth as economic assets—a family’s net worth A diverse group of over 250 community members being their assets participated in the community dialogue about racial minus their debts, or disparities and wealth. what they own minus what they owe. Further, our net worth is influenced would become the basis for capitalism by the net worth of our parents, in the United States. Because of sysgrandparents, and earlier generations. tematic discrimination, they were shut Most wealth, in this country, is inherit- out of benefits offered through the ed. And, due in large part to governNew Deal, Aid to Dependent Children ment policies and practices outlined in (ADC), and the GI Bill. the book, white people are much more Native Americans were systematilikely to inherit wealth from deceased cally stripped of wealth, land, and relatives than people of color. other assets, and in many instances “For every dollar owned by the were “terminated” through governaverage white family in the United ment policy. States, the average family of color has Philosophies tied to the Monroe less than one dime,” the authors Doctrine, which turned Latinos into states. “Why do people of color have colonial subjects after the conquest of so little wealth? Because for centuries Spanish-speaking countries, have led they were barred by law, by discrimito the lack of wealth-mobility among nation, and by violence from particiLatino immigrants in America. pating in government wealth-building Asian immigrants have always programs that benefitted white been seen as outsiders in the United Americans. Understanding the roots States. Due to the 1790 Naturalization of the racial wealth divide will lead to Law, which designated Asian immimore understanding of racial inequali- grants as nonwhite, many wealthties in general and more understandbuilding opportunities were made ing of how to reach equality.” unavailable to them. The policies that disadvantage peo“When you add gender to the ple of color also cause whites to lose equation, the numbers become out as well, Brewer purports. astounding,” Dr. Brewer states. Disparities act to lower the overall “While white women in the prime quality of life – inadequate wages, working years of ages 36-49 have a weak benefits, lack of guaranteed median wealth of $42,600 (still only 61 health care, and a poor educational percent of their white male countersystem in the United States – as comparts), the median wealth for women pared with Western Europe, Canada, of color is only $5.” and other industrialized countries. Dr. Brewer notes that the numbers So how can we begin to address have only gotten worse since the pubthese disparities that have existed for lishing of the book in 2007 and the generations? It is first necessary to recession in 2008. According to 2009 understand the history. data provided by Pew Research, the While government racism has negpercentage change in median net atively impacted all communities of worth of households has dropped 66 color, it has not been applied in the percent for Latinos, 53 percent for same manifestation to all groups of Blacks, and only 16 percent for whites. Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


W.E.B. DuBois pioneered. If each successful new business offers seed capital to another one to start, the community is lifted up as a whole. With regard to Latino wealth inequity, increased educational opportunities, financial market participation, and access to home ownership are prescribed. Further, tax revenue can be realized from incorporating Latino micro business activities and selfemployment into mainstream markets and financial institutions. Native Americans should become legal beneficiaries of their own assets. The SEC or other neutral third parties should have the power to audit the Department of the Interior and trustees managing tribe’s assets. These are just a few of the suggestions offered. “This is a defining moment in our history,” Brewer urges. “We need to talk about ‘building a movement.’ The power has been in the hands of a few for a very long time, and why would they want to give it up? It’s just as Frederick Douglass states – ‘power concedes nothing without struggle.’” Editor’s notes: The Color of Wealth is also co-authored by Meizhu Lui, Barbra Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright, and Rebecca Adamsom, with United for a Fair Economy and can be purchased at Tattered Cover, LoDo. Editor’s note: Angelle C. Fouther is the senior communications officer at The Denver Foundation. For more information about the Foundation’s Inclusiveness Project, visit

Mayor Michael Hancock: 100 Days In Office By Sheila Smith


enver’s Mayor Michael B. Hancock definitely hit the ground running during his first 100 days in office – a new budget, new programs, and appointments that included a new police chief. Since taking office four months ago as Denver’s 45th mayor, Hancock has

made some major milestones. “Together, we have closed a $100 million budget shortfall, increased economic opportunity throughout the city and ensured that our diverse neighborhoods are involved every step of the way,” Hancock said. Of course, the mayor thanked all the city employees and Denver residents who played a role in his 100-day aggressive agenda. So far, Hancock made it his priority to focus on four areas: job creation, fiscal sustainability, education improvements in every neighborhood, and trust building between Denver residents and the police department. “We have heard from the people of Denver and we are responding,” he said. “While we have only been in office for a short time, the administration is taking action in order to deliver a world-class city where everyone matters. We’re setting a strong foundation for the next four years of progress.” In addition to accomplishments in those four priority areas, the mayor opposed Initiative 300, supported candidates for Denver Public School Board, balanced free-speech rights of Occupy Denver protesters with public safety concerns, and worked towards a winwin-win solution to keep the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

The mayor also has worked hard to tackle several emerging issues: “We will continue down this path, ensuring collaboration and innovation are at the core of every action made.”

Economic Development And Human Services

One of the most important steps for the mayor was revamping the economic stability and viability of the city. He appointed an economic team, made up of new Director of Economic Development Paul Washington, Director of Development Services Kelly Leid, and Tom Clark, who was with the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, who were all tasked with crafting a strategic jobcreation plan for Denver. And to round off the team is his Deputy Chief of Staff, Stephanie O'Malley, to help oversee city policies. O’Malley grew up in Denver and is the daughter of former Mayor Wellington Webb. She attended East High School before attending Howard University and graduated with honors while earning a degree in Business

Administration. She also earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Denver College of Law and is a licensed attorney in the State of Colorado. O’Malley has an extensive career of serving the people of Denver. Most recently as Denver Clerk and Recorder where she oversaw Denver elections and the many record keeping duties for the city and county of Denver. Before becoming clerk,she served as the Director of Excise and Licensing under Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. He appointed Chris Martinez as Director of Small Business. Martinez shares the same views as the mayor when it comes to business development and having a sustainable 21st century economy. Martinez said, “Mayor Hancock and I share the belief that Denver can and will be a major attraction to both small and large business. In the first 100 days, Mayor Hancock has assembled an all-star economic development team charged to refocus the Office of Economic Development on small business support and leading business

At participating McDonald’s for a limited time. ©2011 McDonald’s.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


retention expansion and recruitment, workforce development, and economic sustainability in key neighborhoods. He also appointed a small business start-up advisory group to focus on high growth, innovated start-ups that create new products and services resulting in the creation of high paying jobs.” Small businesses are the backbone of the city’s economy, added Martinez. “I would like to become the number one advocate for our small and start-up businesses, and ensure that minority and women small business owners are given an opportunity to be competitive on city contracts.” It was also important for Mayor Hancock to have well over 200 CEOs and business leaders in a dozen roundtables to identify challenges, find solutions and take advantage of opportunities. He also initiated plans for an international reverse trade mission that will bring new investment and economic growth to Denver, along with hosting leaders from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe in an effort to strengthen international business relations. Some of the mayor’s other bold strategic moves included launching Denver Seeds to grow a fresh-food economy and make Denver one of the most sustainable cities in America; and landing a new flight from Denver International Airport to Iceland on Icelandair that will provide a low-cost portal to and from Europe. The mayor made it a priority to be fiscally responsible when presenting a balanced budget to the City Council, which included eliminating the city’s $30 million to $50 million structural budget imbalance. Colorado’s educational system has always been a hot topic, especially for the city of Denver. This is why Mayor Hancock launched the Denver Education Compact, an initiative that brings together the city government, DPS, higher education institutions, the business community, and nonprofit sector to improve the educational pipeline from cradle to career. The newly appointed manager of human services, Penny May, is hoping to fill some of the voids when it comes to providing services for Denver residents. “When Mayor Hancock announced my appointment, he said, ‘If we are to build a world-class city where everyone matters, we must have leaders who care about the people they serve and the service they provide.’ I am absolutely committed to who needs it the most? By doing

this, we will build a world-class city together. Even in this difficult economy, to provide efficient and effective service to those living up to that expectation. I whole-heartedly agree that we must find a way,” May said.

An Issue Of Public Safety For Denver Residents

When it comes to keeping the public’s safety in mind, there tends to still be a gap of mistrust between communities and the police department. However, the mayor sought to rectify that situation by naming Colorado Supreme Court Justice Alex Martinez as the new manager of safety and Robert C. White as the new police chief. Holding neighborhood forums, providing suggestion boxes, creating an email account, and meeting with community leaders to build trust between the public and the police department was crucial, according to Hancock. After being offered the chief position, White addressed city council members on his plans to be more proactive with the Denver community and police officers and setting expectations before situations deteriorate. “That is what attracted me to Denver is how the mayor and I were on one accord,” White said. “We see the police department as the direct result of connecting with the community, and keeping the community safe. And we realize that we can be the best by communicating with every corner of the community.” This month, when White officially starts his new position as police chief of Denver, he is looking at accomplishing some immediate goals. First, he plans to spend as much time inside and outside the (police) department, which includes ride-a-longs with officers, going to roll calls, visiting churches in the community, and addressing community groups. “I want to show how policing should be, not just in the city but across the country. There are some perceptions of the police department that should make us rethink how we do things,” White stated. “The focus is on preventing crime in the city and so how do you do that most effectively?” Despite some dissatisfaction among the police union and officers about no one from within the police department being promoted as police chief, White is willing to go beyond what is takes to hear and understand all officers concerns and empower the police department. “Obviously some people are disgruntled about an insider not being

selected, but I think they will eventually get beyond that. They will see that I care about the community and my officers and we share the same goals of providing a great quality of life for the citizens of Denver.” Manager of Safety Alex Martinez, who oversees the police, sheriff and fire departments, agrees with the mayor and shares his views on public safety in Denver and rebuilding any broken trust. He strongly believes in having strong relationships between city government and Denver’s diverse communities. He said that is why it was important to go through a process in selecting the right police chief. “The mayor and I have both participated in several community forums, including a town hall meeting where we solicited the community’s input on characteristics they want to see in a new police chief. We were available for open discussions afterward, and received good feedback on what the community is seeking, not only in a police chief, but from their safety agencies as a whole. I also met with the Latino Commission recently, and plan to meet with other community

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


organizations including the AfricanAmerican Commission, the GLBT Commission and the American Indian Commission,” Martinez said. “I believe I will provide a sense of fairness and transparency when it comes to disciplinary issues. But that is also one of the challenges; communicating that the manager of safety’s responsibilities are much broader than simply imposing discipline. It includes making sure we are available to help the community when they need assistance, whether it’s emergency dispatch or a presence in our schools, and that we do so in an exceptional manner.”

Complex Peace And Stability In Cameroon

By George Bamu


o say that the nation of

Cameroon in Central Africa is not an

oxymoron is to say that many people, especially those within America’s news media complex do not pay

attention to African news. Or maybe

they do, only when disaster breaks in

the motherland. Cameroon remains one of Africa’s most peaceful and politically stable nations, ranking 15 on a scale of 30 nations in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the 2011 Global Peace Index (GPI). Globally, the country ranks eighty-sixth on a scale of 153 nations analyzed in the report. While sub Saharan Africa is the region least at peace, containing 40 percent of the world’s least peaceful countries, Botswana, Malawi and Ghana are the top three most peaceful countries in the region. Somalia was ranked last in the region at 38th and last globally at 153rd.

Ashley Johnson (pictured in the middle wearing Cameroonian attire) takes a photo with her students during graduation from MC2 Micro Finance business class.

The GPI is published by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace, which ranks the nations of the world by their peacefulness. The institute identifies the drivers of peace to include not only “the absence of violence,” but also the use of metrics that combine internal and external factors such as “peacefulness within, as well as between, nations.” Even though the 2011 report was published five months before Cameroon’s October 9 presidential elections, the question arises about

what makes it a peaceful African nation, and if the country is truly peaceful both within and without its boundaries. What does the international community know about the country? According to the latest United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) findings about Cameroon, “The country has generally enjoyed stability, which has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry.” For Ashley Johnson, a Colorado resident who recently returned from volunteering as a United States Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, “Cameroon has been a nation of peace for so long that they prefer to hold on to that peace more than many people prefer to seek the changes to a political system that has been in place for over 30 years.” “Cameroonians are deeply proud of the fact that their country has remained relatively stable and peaceful throughout their 50 years of independence,” she said, when asked about her experiences in the country. Johnson spent 27 months in Manjo, Cameroon as a small enterprise development person. But what makes Cameroon peaceful could be an impediment, according to Johnson, who thinks “this pride is hindering their step towards true democracy.” Despite an authoritarian, bellicose regime and jittery citizenry, Cameroon has had only two presidents since independence in 1960. Amadou Ahidjo was president after independence until he resigned on November 6, 1982 and handed power to Prime Minister Paul Biya. Biya, 78, has been in power for 30 years. The president was re-elected to a new seven-year mandate with 77.98 percent of the votes in the last elections, according to Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), the

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


body created in 2008 to oversee the conduct of elections. He is now serving his sixth term as president. Despite concerns that chaos would break out if Biya is returned to power, and amid allegations of voting irregularities, mostly tranquility has prevailed in the country since the October vote. The Cameroonian youth “feel as though there may be some upheaval if Biya is re-elected. There would be a significantly greater risk to lose the peace that has prevailed in Cameroon if another unknown candidate would take over Biya’s place in office,” Johnson stated. More importantly, Cameroonians have “watched the violence erupt in Cote d’Ivoire, in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, and this is nothing they ever want to see on their home land,” she said. The reasons for this are far from what the ordinary person would think about the country. “Many believe that if they truly were to fight for their voices to be heard in their country then they would lose some of the peace to which they cling so tightly. The contentness in guarding the country’s peace seems to outweigh the desire to take action towards creating uncertain changes,” she explained. But with no super star image such as South Africa and Ghana or a regional super power status such as neighboring Nigeria, which have much bigger economies, populations and privileges, the niceties about Cameroon’s peacefulness need understanding and more prodding. With a $44.3 billion economy, a population of about 24 million and a geographic size comparable to California, Cameroonians like to describe their country using a buzz word, “Africa in Miniature.” It is a microcosm of what is seen all over Africa, with a complex history, geography, population, politics, culture and economy. “All Africa in one country,” is how the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. chose to profile the country on its website. For Johnson who travelled to all of Cameroon’s 10 regions during her time there, “Cameroon is called Africa in miniature for good reason. It is a country incredibly diverse ethnically, geographically, economically and socially. This is part of what makes Cameroon such an intriguingly beautiful country.” Continued on next page

Women in dresses with the image of Cameroonian President Paul Biya celebrate. Photo courtesy of

What she learned is that “no one part of Cameroon is truly like another. There are over 250 languages spoken. The climate ranges from the hot dry deserts of the north to the humid green forests of the Congo River basin in the south and east.” While other African countries have seen frequent changes in leadership at the top, sometimes through violent means, Africa’s number one soccer nation still defies understanding by its critics. In neighboring Chad and the CAR, coup d’états and hunger are no strange events. An influx of refugees into Cameroon as well as criminal activities from neighboring countries threatens peace there. “Cameroon shares a long border with Chad and CAR, two countries that suffer from endemic conflict,” according to the International Crisis Group(ICG) in a 2010 report. Nevertheless, the country, its leader and the international community have tactfully navigated demonstrations for change in Cameroon by keeping the peace. “Who will blame the international community? Their attitude is always that when there is ‘peace,’ there is no need to indulge in provocative language that can disturb the peace, so the litmus test for their attitude is usually the people’s reaction following every election,” wrote retired Professor Tazoacha Asonganyi, a member of the erstwhile Social Democratic Front (SDF) party, a leading opposition party in Cameroon. After the October vote, Asonganyi blamed the Cameroon opposition for “selling after the market, sulking as usual about electoral fraud.” He cautions the opposition to “seize the moment” thereafter. Voter apathy could be another reason for why things are the way they are in Cameroon, said Johnson. “Paul Biya’s re-election in my opinion was not necessarily due to the great support nor confidence that the people of

Cameroon have for their president; it was more due to the fact that many Cameroonians, especially those who do not support Biya, believe that their individual voice will not make a difference.” Politically set with the potent combination of a bilingual and multicultural history and existence, the essence of which has fermented chaos in other African countries, the country continues to navigate its re-unification from two independent nations. Under the banner of brotherliness, two separate nations, East Cameroon and West Cameroon, gained independence in 1960 and 1961 from the French and British respectively, and cemented their unity with a May 20, 1972 reunification agreement. With a sizable amount of Cameroonians of Southern Cameroonian descent yearning for secession from the so-called La Republique du Cameroun and others clamoring for a return to the two-state federal system setup after a 1961 United Nations plebiscite, the country remains intact, with unmistakable coexistence between Anglophones and Francophones. Almost 40 years after both nations came together, and despite innumerable legal cases of exploitation of minority English-speaking Anglophones, the country has not gone to war over the issue. Many of the cases have gone to trial and many are still being examined by the United Nations, the African Commission on Human Rights and the International Human Rights Court. An international dispute with Nigeria over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula brought the country close to all out war with neighboring Nigeria many times. But the dispute was peacefully resolved in favor of Cameroon by the International Court of Justice in 2002. Far from its geography and political challenges, the country is the bread basket of the Central African region. It

is the region’s largest economy. The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) region encompasses Gabon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad. “Its economic and demographic weight as well as its strategic geographic position at the heart of CEMAC makes Cameroon the Central African natural locomotive,” according to Business Cameroon, an online investment portal showcasing strategic business opportunities in the country. In a May 25, 2010 report, CAMEROON:FRAGILE STATE, the ICG stated, “Cameroon’s apparent stability in a turbulent region cannot be taken for granted.” The report cast the different scenarios that could threaten the country’s stability, leading to conflict. It called for political reform, the strengthening of institutions and for government oversight. “The international community, focused on unstable countries in the region, just hopes Cameroon will muddle through,” the ICG report said.

Editor’s note: George Bamu is an Aurora based journalist and founder of Africa Agenda. He can be reached through the website,

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011



Key Factors To Consider When Choosing A School By Towanna “The Mama” Henderson


t’s that time of year to consider the school choices for students for the 2012- 2013 school-year. This year, any Denver Public School student planning to attend a new school in the 2012-13 school year, including those entering ECE, elementary, middle or high school for the first time, will be required to complete a DPS SchoolChoice form. Parents will be allowed to prioritize the top five schools in order of their preference on the form. The new SchoolChoice form is the one-and-only school application that needs to be completed for all DPS traditional boundary schools, magnet schools and programs, and charter schools. Choosing a school is a complex decision that includes the characteristics of the child, family, and schools. School quality depends on many factors not all easily measureable and not all equally important for each individual child or family. Parents may want to consider the following characteristics outlined by Project Appleseed™ when evaluating a school: 1.) Child’s personality. A child‘s personality, learning style, and any special needs should be taken into consideration. Also, a child may respond differently learning in small and large groups. If, for example, a child learns best in small cooperative work groups, then parents may want

to consider finding a school that uses this instructional strategy. If a child has a special interest in music or a foreign language, then a school that offers or excels in those areas through curriculum or after-school programming/clubs may be ideal. 2.) Family Values. A family’s values my play a large role in school selection. Choosing the neighborhood school regardless of other factors may be the best option for many families with close ties to their neighbors and neighborhood community, while choosing a religious school may be the best choice for others. 3.) School Culture. Parents should read the school’s statement of philosophy or mission statement and ask about beliefs that guide the school’s program and teaching approaches 4.) The Curriculum. Find out if the school’s curricular focus matches parents’ expectations and educational goals for their child. Does the school have a strong focus on literacy and other key areas? Does it offer a special focus such as immersion in a second language? Parents can find out how well the school addresses core subjects and skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics by looking at the curriculum, visiting classes, and reading the school’s report card. 5.) Instructional approaches. Parents will want to know how the school is organized for instruction. Multi-age grouping, looping, and traditional classrooms offer different advantages. Inquire about average class size at the various grade levels. A school with a traditional structure that provides clear standards and expectations may be a good choice for some children, while a school that allows extra freedom and places more responsibility for learning on the child may work well for other children. 6.) School facilities/personnel resources. Well-designed facilities do not automatically lead to higher student achievement, but some basic features that parents can look for include

a well-equipped library, a collection of age-appropriate books and periodicals in addition to textbooks in each classroom and adequate physical education facilities. Parents can also check to see whether the school has a full-time library/media specialist, on-site nurse, secretary, and social worker. They can also inquire about the background and qualifications of the teachers and what specialties are represented (e.g., English as a Second Language, special education, music, art). 7.) School policies. Parents will want to find out about school policies related to scheduling (traditional vs. year-round) and programming day (e.g., block, flexible, or traditional scheduling, hours of building operation). Parents will want to examine the school discipline policy to see if the rules seem fair and consequences seem appropriate. Parents will also want to find out about homework and grading policies. 8.) School reputation. Parents can ask friends, neighbors, parents, and community leaders about the reputation of the school(s) of interest. After listening to each person’s opinion, parents can decide whether the positive or negative views would apply to their family and children. Parents may want to find out about special areas of concern, such as whether community diversity is reflected in the faculty, and whether students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds are well integrated into the school culture and activities. 9.) Family and community involvement issues. Schools that are working toward excellence are developing many ways to involve parents. Parents can ask for a packet from the school about any programs and policies related to parent involvement. Once a school has been chosen, it is important that parents make a commitment to that school, including supporting the staff and contributing time and talents as they are able. Schools developing

partnerships with local businesses and community groups (for mentoring, guest speakers, service learning, and financial support) contribute to the quality of the school and the support that it enjoys in the community. You should always visit the schools. No written set of assessments or test scores can take the place of visiting a school and forming one’s own opinion about the overall environment and quality of the school and classrooms. Is the environment welcoming and orderly, yet creative and child friendly? How do the adults interact with the children (are they friendly, harsh, respectful, etc.)? Does discipline seem to be maintained? Do the classrooms have desks, or do the children work collaboratively at tables located in various parts of the room? The furnishings in classrooms can cue parents about the teaching philosophy at the school. Classroom arrangement can suggest a structured approach or an approach that encourages independent learning. While visiting, parents can look for student work on the walls and in display areas, including writing samples and other evidence of literacy projects and artwork. Displays that feature work samples allow parents to see beyond test scores to what the children are learning and how they are learning it. Has the school been recognized with any excellence awards or awards for dramatic recent improvements in achievement? Parents can ask during a visit about turnover of staff and the rate of student transfers, as well as student and teacher absentee rates.  For more information on the new DPS enrollment process, visit the DPS Office of Choice and Enrollment Services at Editor’s note: Towanna Henderson is the parent representative for the State Council on Educator Effectiveness. She also promotes academic excellence and community service through her involvement with the Asfaw Family Foundation International.

Flava! “Simply Good Food”

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


I Gottcha Bak Exudes Universal Love The Julius Show Set To Release CD By Charis Garret Photo by Bernard Grant

“You don’t have to worry about it no more…Cause I’m with you all the way…Leave your troubles right there at the door…I’m right here with you forever more…I Gottcha Bak”


ow often do you say or hear those words? And what does it really mean. For one man, it means the relationship between teachers and students – coaches and players – family, friends and business associates – it’s about universal love. Since his arrival to Denver, Julius, known as the man of 1,000 voices has been performing at local establishments while pursuing his most recent dream of releasing his latest recording for the holidays. His Christmas wish will come true this December with the release of I Gottcha Bak, a single which will be included on his I Love You Nice CD with plans to release in February. Julius is an experienced vocalist who has been performing The Julius Show (TJS) for almost 40 years entertaining audiences in Vegas, Paris, Toronto and Nigeria among other places – nationally and abroad. As of late he has been entertaining Denver

audiences with his multi-genre “Standing on the Shoulders” showcase honoring legends such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Teddy Pendergrass, Ray Charles, and Michael Jackson to name a few.

The sophomore project is all about love and enjoying life. The current single for the project is “I Gottcha Bak.” The song expresses a universal love that everyone can relate to with a message of, you can count on me. “This song is not only about love between two people but is about universal love and encouraging each other through a tough economy or just during difficult times that “I got your back,”” said Julius. With songs like these, “I Love You Nice,” is sure to give its listening audience a thrill and take them on a journey of love as they listen to each track. Some of Julius’ favorite songs from the project are “I Gottcha Bak,” “My Beautiful Lady,” and title track, “I Love You Nice,” with all three penned by Julius. The multi-talented artist will write most of the remaining songs for the project. This project will feature the talents of several musicians to make this project a success including members from The Julius Show orchestra and other

local well recognized musicians. “I Gottcha Bak” studio musicians include TJS musical director, Tom Sandquist on keyboards, Phil Weightman of Hot Lunch on drums, saxophonist Steve Watts of Dotsero, bass guitarist Vernon Barbary, Tum Kepri on lead guitar, Steven “Chi Chi” Gibson on percussion, and The Julius Show Angels, vocalists Coco Brown and Shiva Maxie. “I had a blast working with these musicians. I am so proud of them. They gave me 110 percent,” said Julius. The goal of this CD is to spread a feeling of love and camaraderie nationally and internationally among all audiences. The slated release for the album is Valentine’s Day 2012. The CD release party for I Gottcha Bak is Dec. 4 at Jazz at Jack’s at 5:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend. Audiences will have the opportunity to hear about other songs from the upcoming project and have the opportunity to receive a more intimate view of Julius, the man with a 1,000 voices.  Editor’s note: For more information on the CD release party or the Julius show, call 720-849-4197, E-mail or visit For tickets, visit


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Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


It’s Not Too Early To Start Thinking About Preschool



Granny Dances To a Holiday Drum Celebrating its 20th HOLIDAY SEASON of dance, live music & spoken word

2344 E. Iliff Ave (University & Iliff)

Saturday Dec 3 7:30 pm 303-871-7720 303-295-1759 x13

Fridays Dec 9, 16 7:30 pm Saturdays Dec 10, 17 2 & 7:30 pm

Box Office Monday - Friday 10am-4pm Saturday noon-4pm

any parents are already looking at preschool options for their children for the next school year. It may seem early but preschool programs often fill their seats long before the new school year begins. If you’re not thinking about preschool for your child, consider this: A child’s early years are a critical time in his or her development. According to research, 85 percent of a child’s brain growth potential is reached by age five and children who receive high-quality child care are more likely to go to kindergarten ready to learn. Every child benefits from high quality preschool. If you’re a Denver parent, or a grandparent trying to navigate the preschool maze, the Denver Preschool Program can help. The Denver Preschool Program is a notfor-profit organization that helps Denver families pay for high-quality preschool across the city and offers funding to local preschool programs to improve their quality. The Denver Preschool Program website can also be a valuable tool to discover preschool options in Denver. As a parent or grandparent who is the primary caregiver of a child, you must demand the best care for that child. Choosing a preschool should be a positive experience and it’s not too

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Sunday Worship: 8:00am (Traditional) and 10:30am (Gospel) 4VOEBZ4DIPPMBNr8FEOFTEBZ#JCMF4UVEZQN

Rev. Dr. James E. Fouther, Jr., Pastor 4879 Crown Blvd., Denver, CO 80239 303-373-0070

Official Airline of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


early to begin thinking about preschool options for next year. It’s very important that you choose a preschool that reads to your child every day, encourages curiosity and allows that child to explore the world and its wonders. “When considering a preschool, be sure to learn about your options,� said Gerie Grimes, Executive Director of Hope Center Inc., providing early childhood education in Northeast Denver, “Visit the school and ask questions. Take a closer look and learn about its licensing records and quality rating and, once your child is enrolled, continue to be involved.� The Denver Preschool Program was formed in November 2006 as a result of a ballot initiative that set aside a percentage of sales tax revenue for tuition credits for families and quality improvement grants for preschools. Each year, the Denver Preschool Program provides access to quality preschool for nearly 6,000 children. There are more than 150 preschool providers who participate in the Denver Preschool Program and they include for-profit, non-profit, public and private providers operating centers as well as family child care homes.

The Denver Preschool Program benefits children by connecting them to high-quality preschool, which prepares them for success in academics and in life. Additionally, the program benefits parents by increasing their access to high-quality early childhood education. The program is open and voluntary for all Denver children in the last year of preschool before kindergarten and includes all licensed preschool providers that agree to participate in the DPP quality-improvement system. “The Denver Preschool Program reached an important milestone this year. We enrolled our 20,000th child into the program in just the fifth year of our existence,� says CEO Eileen Piper. “That’s 20,000 children who are more likely to succeed in school and in life. We look forward to growing that number and watching all their success.�  Editor’s note: For more information about applying for tuition support, or to find participating preschool programs in your neighborhood, visit the Denver Preschool Program website ( or call 303-595-4DPP (4377).


New Orleans

By Regina Lynch-Hudson

City Smarts: Though business beckons in the land of sweet beignets & French Quarter bistros, there’s nothing quite like Christmas New Orleans-style. From carriage rides through the lightfilled French Quarter and the nonstop spray of festive decoration to French Quarter shopping ─ New Orleans has been long considered an ideal spot for a Christmas getaway. In the month of December New Orleanians gear into high-spirit with parades, concerts, holiday tours and splendid celebrations in most every hotel. Six years after Hurricane Katrina, the city is on the road to recovery, and tourism remains a mainstay of the decadent city. The 2010 Census counted 343,829 residents ─ and while 29 percent down from pre-Katrina figures, the city is still one of the most popular convention, meeting and leisure destinations in the country. There are an estimated 60,000-some tourism jobs in New Orleans. There were 8.3 million visitors in 2010. There’s been the addition of a whopping 400 new restaurants since 2005! New Orleans received the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for Best Destination in the U.S. and World for nightlife in 2010, and has long been a dining capital. Gettin’ Around: Known as a “walking city” – New Orleans is one of few American cities where you can

actually skip a rental car and still have the time of your life! Survival Kit: I recommend a generous stash of Tums ─ for instant heartburn relief. New Orleans is famous for its culinary history with its rich sauces and creamy desserts! OH LAWD, grant me strength to resist the ‘Cajunstyle’ shrimp & grits, calorie-laden thick casseroles and Creole sauces! Catching Zzzs: Hotel Monteleone, the grand dame of the French Quarter, was crowned a literary landmark because of its reputation for bedding countless authors. The National Historic registry site has been the setting for many a novel. And, it’s no wonder. The romanticism and grandeur of the hotel leads way to imaginative story lines. For more info: call 504-523-3341; 214 Royal Street; or visit The Power Lunch: Forget lunch! When in New Orleans, you owe it to

Monteleone Lobby

even with my appetite operating in overdrive, wait staff couldn’t convince the old girl to try Potage Alligator au Sherry. Alligator is an “acquired taste.” (I just haven’t acquired it yet.) Trout Pontchartrain was enough to send my taste buds soaring! For more info: call 504-581-4422; 713 Rue Saint Louis; or visit A Meal Fit for a King: Countless food critics have raved over the fare at

Breakfast at Brennan’s

yourself to experience a Power Breakfast at the legendary Brennan’s. I always order their Flaming Bananas Foster, and we watch as it’s prepared before our very eyes. For more info: call 504- 525-9711; 417 Royal St.; or visit Cultural chow: World renowned Antoine’s Restaurant (est. 1840) has set

Antoine’s Restaurant

the standard that made New Orleans one of the greatest dining centers of the world. Operated by the same family for 167 years ─ the posh eatery is the culturally-correct go-to-spot for original New Orleans cuisine. The famed eatery with the frous-frous vibe features two large dining rooms, but if you’re well-connected you might get a preminum seat in one of a dozen historic back rooms. I felt honored to get the ‘dime store tour of the many dining rooms ─ my favorite being a festive lipstick red – a hue known to increase the appetite. BUT,

Chocolate Puddin Cake

at the Grill Room

The Grill Room, New Orleans only 4start/4-diamond restaurant. A Yuletide reservation there should be at the top of Santa’s Wish-List! Located in the Windsor Court Hotel, the lobby is spectacular during the holiday season with its massive evergreen surrounded by a full-stream-ahead toy train set. Diners rush to Christmas dinner at locomotive speed ─ for holiday fixin’s at their finest! For more info: call 504- 523-6000; 300 Gravier St; or visit Networkin’: The Bourbon House restaurant showcases New Orléans seafood and Créole cuisine, with a raw bar ─ and a joyous bourbon collection, a few dishes spiked with bourbon. It’s the ideal spot to ‘get your cheer on’

The Bourbon House

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


Festive dessert at the Bourbon House

and toast in the New Year! I started out behaving myself with an appetizer of Bourbon Barbecue Shrimp, and an entree of Gulf Fish Pecan. THEN, for the finale, I gave in to a shameful indulgence – Chocolate Chuck Bread Pudding with Bourbon sauce! For more info : 144 Bourbon St., or visit De-Stress: Nothing cures a bout of ‘bah humbugs’ like a Sunday brunch at the House of Blues. The lively juke joint features countrified Cajun and soul food, live local and national bands, and soul-stirring art displays. For more info : call 504-529-2583; 225 Decatur; or visit Flight Time: Louis Armstrong International Airport, Someone helpful: Thanks to our friends at the New Orleans Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and other tourism destinations, for providing data, facts and figures for this article. For more info: call 504-566-5019, or visit Editor’s note: Doing Biz In features continuously updated coverage of a full spectrum of top cities where readers conduct business. Publicist and travel writer Regina Lynch-Hudson has penned destination catalogs and articles for companies such as Vacation Express, AirTran Airways and North American Airlines. Along with husband, photographer Courtland Bivens III, she handles destination marketing for resorts, bed and breakfasts, and tourism boards. More information on The Write Publicist & Co. can be found at

New Ideas For Christmas:


Editor’s Notes: The following article was received by email from an unknown author. We felt that it was appropriate to share with DUS readers during this holiday season.

As the holidays approach, the

giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced

goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is! It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement. Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, Americanowned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates. Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamin’s on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, lawn mowed for the summer, driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

Which Hospital is #1 in Patient Survival

Denver Health Surprised? Insist on Denver Health Denver Health accepts most insurance plans. Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants – all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big national chains – this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open. How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy? Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day – or a massage – or a manicure or pedicure. How about gift certificates from the local grocery store or pharmacy for the older citizens or gift baskets filled with can meats, peanut butter or herbal teas? My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running. O.K. you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands. Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip. You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that what Christmas is about? 


Happy Birthday Broderick Bell!

Around Town

Denver, Colorado

Cuttin’ Up Beauty Academy Gives More Than Haircuts For Thanksgiving


Al “Your Pal” and Sandy at Midnight Star Concert

On Thanksgiving morning, volunteers assembled at Cutting Up Beauty Academy (CUBA) to serve and deliver more than 500 piping hot turkeys meals to individuals and families who live in motels and housed along the east corridor of Colfax Avenue. This is the third year that staff, students, friends and supporters of CUBA volunteered to brighter the lives for many residents who live in motels and don’t have access to a stove to prepare a hot meal. The dinners are assembled at the school and delivered on Thanksgiving Day. This grass-root outreach relies entirely on donations and is grounded in the principle that by giving of your time, you can help make your community a better, safer, cleaner, and more pleasant place to live. CUBA instructor, Mr. Dell said, “giving back to the community gives you a pleasant feeling of connectedness and the satisfaction of at least trying to make the world a better place.” Volunteer Valeria Howard-Vason feels that we have so much to be thankful for everyday, but on Thanksgiving it is especially important to take time to give to others as a way of saying thank you to God for all that he has bestowed on us. Howard-Vason has not only volunteered for the last three years, but assisted in the preparation of the food. Giving back has always been part of the Hall’s tradition – not just during the holidays but year-round and done without much fanfare. “We are proud to be a part of this community and feel we have both a personal and social responsibility to help those who those who are less fortunate and give back to the community that has embraced our business” stated Karen and James Hall, owners of Cuttin’ Up Beauty Academy (CUBA).

Bee Harris with Blues Singer Mel Waiters

Rumors Hair Salons Premier Holiday Hair Show with The Julius Show

Cuttin’ Up Beauty Academy Thanksgiving Community Outreach Photos by Lens of Anser, Luciana and Yolanda Jones

For more information on Cuttin’ Up Beauty Academy, call 303-388-5700.

Epworth Church “Daddy Bruce” Thanksgiving

Julius, Julius

Cleo Parker Robinson Dancing With the Denver Stars Gala

the Man of a 1,000 voices, the Julius Orchestra & the Julius Angels invite you to join them for a

Free Holiday Concert

First Fridays All Black Affair

Thurs., December 8 1 to 2 PM Seating at 12:30

Global Down Syndrome Foundation Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show

Zion Senior Center, 5151 E. 33rd Avenue Denver, Colorado To RSVP, call: 303-333-5746

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011



James Hall Inducted Into Phoenix College Hall Of Fame

Michael McDonald Illustrations 720-448-1912

Available for all Holiday Events, Special Occasions and... 303.355.4979 P.O. Box 39163 H Denver CO 80239

Last month, James Hall, aka Jimmy, was inducted into the Phoenix College Athletic Department Hall of Fame. Hall graduated from Phoenix Union High School in 1963, where he was an All-State Track Athlete and football player. After his stellar high school career, Jimmy attended Phoenix College, where he was a dual sport star. He was a running back and a corner back on the 1964 National Championship Team, and he also excelled in track as a sprinter for the 1964 National Championship Track Team. As a running back and corner back on the football team, Hall led the team in rushing and interceptions. He earned Honorable Mention AllAmerican during 1964 football season as the Bears won the National Championship. Hall also starred on the track team as a sprinter where he ran the 100 and 220-yard dash, and was the anchor on the 4x100 relay team. He won the 220yard National Championship and was also a part of the 4x100 relay team that captured the National Championship in 1964 and he helped lead the 1964 Phoenix College Bears Track team to a National Championship. He earned team MVP and All-American Honors for his accomplishments on the 1964 track team. Hall received a scholarship to attend the University of Tulsa, where he played football and ran track, and set the 100-yard university record with a time of 9.4 seconds. Hall lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, Karen, and is the father of three daughters. He and his wife own and operate Cuttin’ Up Beauty Academy, a cosmetology and barber school.

Dr. H. Malcolm Newton And Jacqueline Cradle Recognized

Dr. H. Malcolm Newton, Deborah Draper-Sights Unlimited Bowling Club and Jacqueline Cradle. Photo by Terrance Davis

On Oct. 15 at their annual reception the Sights Unlimited Bowling Club

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


presented the TIPS Award to Dr. H. Malcolm Newton and Jacqueline Cradle. Each year this organization recognizes the outstanding work of those who have made significant contributions to the sport of bowling or to the community at large. Dr. H. Malcolm Newton was selected for founding the Denver Institute of Urban Studies and Centre for Urban Research and Environmental Technology in 1998 which focuses on public policy issues in the interest of urban poor. He also is the founder of Global Academy which is an alternative to a GED which allows a student to receive a real high school diploma. He also was instrumental in the preparation of a grant to the Department of Labor’s Pathways out of Poverty grant program which received a grant for $3.8million dollars to do green job training, life skills, career readiness training, support services and job placement assistance to the residents of North East Denver. Jacqueline Cradle, a member of the Denver Black Chamber of Commerce, serves in the childcare arena assisting when possible families with other aspects and struggles in life. She is the founder of the Cradle Community Resource Center, a non-profit organization which helps to meet the needs of children by providing guidance in Medicaid assistance, food programs as well a child care resources. She is a vacillator and director of M’Pacts Girls Ministry and Women’s Worth Ministry, both of which are dedicated to the assistance and advancement of girls and women.

WFCO Reports Fundraising Milestones From Denver Event

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado (WFCO) announced that last month’s fundraising luncheon in Denver raised more than $850,000 for the organization’s mission to help women and girls across the state achieve their full potential. The event, which hosted tennis legend and social activist Martina Navratilova as the keynote speaker, drew more than 2,000 attendees. Martina Navratilova, spoke from her heart about how the mission of the Women’s Foundation resonates within her life and aligns with her personal and professional goals. Her overall message, illustrated with personal stories of triumph over hardship and constant growth.


Global Down Syndrome Foundation Raises $1.4 Million At Be Beautiful Be Yourself

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation announced the results of their annual fundraiser, the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, held in October at the Hyatt Regency at the Colorado Convention Center. With over 1,100 attendees, the Foundation raised $1.4 million and netted over $1 million that will go to groundbreaking research and medical care at the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome at the Anschutz Medical Campus. DeOndra Dixon is the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s 2011 Ambassador and a past recipient of the Foundation’s Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award. Her family, including big brother, Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx, was on-hand to support her and the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s work. Music Icon and Crnic Institute Spokesperson, Quincy Jones, was on hand to present the 2011 Quincy Jones

Exceptional Advocacy Awards to award-winning actor, John C. McGinley, and accomplished musician and self-advocate, Sujeet Desai.

Rep. Angela Williams Named Legislator Of The Year

On Nov. 5 the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) members honored Colorado State Representative Angela Williams by presenting her with the 2011 Legislator of the Year Award. Molly Foley-Healy, Esq., Chair of the Colorado Legislative Action Committee of Community Associations Institute presented the 2011 Legislator of the Year Award to Representative Angela Williams. In presenting the award, Foley-Healy noted that the award is not presented on a yearly basis and is reserved for legislators who have demonstrated a commitment to balanced and effective legislation impacting community associations and the homeowners who reside in them.


NCNW Hosts 20th Annual Harambee Brunch

The Denver Section of the National Council of Negro Women will present the 20th annual Founder’s Day Harambee Brunch and Awards program on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Doubletree Hotel located at 3203 Quebec St., in Denver. Margie Ball-Cook, Tina Carter, Alexis Fleming and Ahmani Noble, who exemplify the achievements and legacy as set forth by founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, will be recognized. Tickets are $60 per person. For more information, call 303-296-4359 or E-mail Denver Section at No ticket at the door.

A Gullah Christmas And Christmas Spirituals

Spend an hour experiencing stories and music of the African American Gullah people of coastal South Carolina and Georgia; known for their cooking, music, and language (and storytelling). Lucy M. Walker, founder of Eden Theatrical Workshop, will tell Gullah stories, punctuated by Christmas spirituals. Performers include

Debra Salsbery, Arlen Hirschberger, Alex Bennett, and Angela Pleasants. The event will be 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 2201 Dexter St. in Denver. For more information, visit

Toys For Kids

Kids ages 2 to 10 will be given free books, toys (while supply last), and photo shots with Santa at the Toys For Kids Christmas event. Kids, accompanied by adult, will enjoy tasty holiday treats and Christmas music. The Toys for Kids event will be at the BlairCaldwell African American Research Library, 2401 Welton St. in Denver on Saturday Dec.17 from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, call Dr. Faye Rison at 303-773-6852 or E-mail

Memorial Vigil For The Homeless

Red and Jerry’s Event Center

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless will be hosting the 15th annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil on Tuesday, Dec. 20 from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. on the steps of the Denver City and County Building. For more information, E-mail Meg Costello at or visit ases/vigiladvisory.aspx.

For more information call 720-545-7984

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011






Movie Reviews

By Kam Williams Excellent. Very Good.. Good... Fair.. Poor.





Tower Heist

    No stars

upon learning that the remorseless embezzler has stashed about $20 million in cash somewhere in his condo. After all, as employees, they certainly have intimate knowledge about and unusual access to the inner workings of The Tower; although they will still need the help of a real crook, since none of them have ever cracked a safe before. So, Josh enlists the assistance of Slide (Eddie Murphy), a motor-






Tower Heist

.89225* ‡ .9-=25*

© 2011 DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC

Enter for the chance to win an admit 2 pass to the special advance screening of

Text the word HERO and your ZIP CODE to 43549 for your chance to win! Example Text: HERO 80246 Entry Deadline: Sunday, December 4

THIS FILM IS RATED PG-13. PARENTS STRONGLY CAUTIONED. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13. There is no charge to text 43KIX. Message and data rates from your wireless carrier may apply. Check your plan. Late and/or duplicate entries will not be considered. Limit one entry per cell phone. Winners will be drawn at random and notified via text message with screening details by 12/5 at 12PM. Each mobile pass admits 2. The screening will be held on Monday, 12/5 at 7:00PM at a local theatre. Sponsors and their dependents are not eligible to receive a prize. Supplies are limited. The film is rated PG-13. Passes received through this promotion do not guarantee a seat at the theatre. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, except for members of the reviewing press. Theatre is overbooked to ensure a full house. No admittance once screening has begun. All federal, state and local regulations apply. A recipient of prizes assumes any and all risks related to use of prize, and accepts any restrictions required by prize provider. DreamWorks Pictures, Allied-THA, 43KIX, Urban Spectrum and their affiliates accept no responsibility or liability in connection with any loss or accident incurred in connection with use of prizes. Prizes cannot be exchanged, transferred or redeemed for cash, in whole or in part. Not responsible if, for any reason, winner is unable to use his/her prize in whole or in part. Not responsible for lost, delayed or misdirected entries. All federal, state and local taxes are the responsibility of the winner. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. NO PHONE CALLS!



Victims Turn Tables on Con Man in Murphy-Stiller Buddy Comedy


y the time Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) was charged with running a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, it was already too late for the authorities to find the fortune that he had ostensibly hidden in offshore accounts. As a condition of being released on bail before trial, he was ordered kept under house arrest in his luxury penthouse at The Tower, an exclusive high-rise located on Central Park West. While this development might have prevented the arrogant embezzler from becoming a fugitive of justice, it simultaneously left him surrounded by some of those he’d swindled. For, not only had he stolen from the wealthy, but he had also talked the staff at The Tower into trusting him with all the assets in their pension fund. Consequently, the callous con man’s victims include building manager Josh (Ben Stiller), Lester the doorman (Stephen Henderson), Enrique the bellhop (Michael Pena), Odessa the housekeeper (Gabourey Sidibe), Charlie the concierge (Casey Affleck) and bankrupt, fellow resident Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick). Reluctant to let Shaw walk away with their money, the group hatches a plan to take the law into its own hands,

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


mouthed petty thief he’s occasionally encountered on the street. Once Slide joins the conspiracy, the only remaining hurdles involve first gaining access to an apartment guarded by the FBI, and then robbing it right under the nose of the accused who’s restricted to the premises, 24-7. This is the promising premise of Tower Heist, the latest buddy comedy directed by Brett Ratner. While the teaming of Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller doesn’t come close to matching the inspired, screen chemistry of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in Ratner’s Rush Hour trilogy, the talented twosome nevertheless manage to generate enough laughs, with the help of a colorful support cast, to make you forgive the fact that the crime caper grows increasingly improbable the further the film unfolds. A funny, if farfetched, revenge fantasy for folks bilked by the likes of Bernie Madoff.

Rated: PG-13 for profanity and sexuality Running Time: 104 Minutes Studio: Universal Pictures To see a trailer for Tower Heist, visit: J. Edgar 

Biopic Uncovers Skeletons in Closet of Legendary FBI Director


Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) served as director of the FBI from its founding in 1935 until his


J. Edgar

death in 1972. Over the course of that tenure, the legendary G-Man singlehandedly built the agency into an intimidating espionage and crimefighting operation feared by gangsters and law-abiding citizens alike. For, as his powers and spheres of influence expanded, he began directing his agents to spy not only on crooks and racketeers but on anyone he considered un-American, such as members of civil rights and anti-war organizations. And armed with the fruit of a variety of arguably unconstitutional surveillance techniques, he proceeded to stockpile a mammoth database of personal dirt to employ for purposes of blackmail, embarrassment and the leveling of veiled threats. But while he had no problem exposing skeletons in other people’s closets, Hoover apparently went to great lengths to hide his own clandestine relationship with his constant companion of over 40 years, his Deputy Director, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). Successfully suppressing the occasional rumors that they might be lovers, the couple was only ousted posthumously by New York City socialite Susan Rosenstiel. Directed by Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar is a deliberately-paced biopic which gradually finds support for the basic contention that Hoover was, indeed, a sexually-repressed drag queen. The picture blames his latent tendencies on an overbearing mother (Dame Judi Dench) who’d cruelly discouraged him as a youngster from exploring his curiosity about crossdressing by issuing dire warnings like, “I’d rather have a dead son than a daffodil for a son.” This overambitious flashback flick unfolds against the backdrop of some of the FBI’s most-celebrated cases, from the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby to the bloody showdown with mobster John Dillinger to the monitoring of the movements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, of far more consequence here than any of these touchstones in Hoover’s career is the shadowy specter of him and his life mate secretly sharing stolen moments, whether holding hands in the back of

a limo, whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears, or enjoying makeup sex after a heated argument. Appropriately narrated in an almost confessional tone by the title character, J. Edgar stands in sharp contrast to the dozens of previous screen portrayals of Hoover which had studiously avoided the sexual preference question. Credit iconoclastic Clint Eastwood for belatedly bringing a more balanced treatment to the screen, even if the shocking truth about such a tortured soul is apt to make audiences squirm in their seats. Between the cross-dressing and pleas of “Please don’t leave me, Clyde!” brace yourself to see the vulnerable underbelly, literally and figuratively, of an anguished icon knocked off his pedestal. Rated: R for brief profanity Running Time: 137 minutes Distributor: Warner Brothers To see a trailer for J. Edgar, visit: mv Or: Tyrannosaur


Recovering Sinner Returns Favor for Guardian Angel in Raw, Redemption Drama


yrannosaur is a raw redemption drama revolving around a rather unusual triangle. Joseph (Peter Mullan) is a widowed, unemployed alcoholic with some serious anger management issues. If he weren’t so totally out of sorts, he probably would

have thanked his lucky stars the day that Hannah (Olivia Colman) found him sprawled in a stupor outside of her second-hand clothing store. For as a Born Again Christian, she sees it almost as her calling to minister to the needs of the least of her brethren. So, she not only brought him into the charity shop to clean him up a bit, but she even dropped to her knees to pray for his recovery. Serving as Joseph’s self-appointed Guardian Angel, Hannah proceeds to do her best to bring the wayward sinner back onto the straight and narrow path. He only grudgingly goes along with the arrangement, not knowing exactly what to make of the kindly stranger. What Joe doesn’t know, at least initially, is that behind the serene exterior Hannah is dealing with her own demon in the person of a physically and emotionally abusive husband (Eddie Marsan). Then James drops in to visit his wife at work unannounced one afternoon, finding her alone with Joseph. Mistakenly presuming them to be lovers, he beats her mercilessly when she returns home that evening. The next morning, after Joe sees Hannah’s black eye and bruises, it is only natural for him to want defend her honor by playing knight in shining armor. After all, he’s already a violent-prone, macho thug given to picking fights in pubs and killing dogs for kicks. Set in Leeds, Tyrannosaur marks the auspicious directorial debut of actor

Paddy Considine, who is perhaps best known for playing the father in In America. Here, he exhibits considerable potential on the other side of the camera, spinning a relentlessly-grim yarn around a trio of tragically flawed individuals slowly being swallowed whole by the emotional quicksand of a blue-collar wasteland where there really aren’t any winners. Salvation and redemption by way of a black eye for a black eye, and a chipped tooth for a chipped tooth!

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


Unrated Running Time: 91 Minutes Distributor: Strand Releasing To see a trailer for Tyrannosaur, visit: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas 

Holiday-Themed Sequel Features “Pot”-pourri of Stoner Hijinks


s with Cheech and Chong’s string of classic stoner comedies of a generation ago, it looks like longevity might also be in store for relativelynerdy Harold & Kumar’s series of similarly-themed, Marijuana misadventures. Co-stars John Cho and Kal Penn reprise their roles as the title characters here, with the movie marking the latter’s return to the big screen after signing on to serve in the Obama Administration a couple of years ago. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, the third installment in the franchise, unfolds a half-dozen years after the conclusion of the pot-smoking pair’s previous outing, Escape from Guantanamo. At the point of departure, we learn that the pals have grown apart over the interim, ostensibly because Harold has married, settled in suburbia and taken a job on Wall Street while Kumar has continued to enjoy the life of a carefree bachelor after getting kicked out of med school for flunking a drug test. Obviously, it is just a matter of time before the predictable plotline must find an excuse to reunite the inseparable protagonists. That moment arrives when Kumar decides to deliver a package addressed to his ex-roommate which came to their old apartment. Although the suddenly-straitlaced Harold says he’s “kinda glad all Continued on page 28

Continued from page 27 the craziness is behind me,” the banker makeover is out the window once they discover a mammoth, Bob Marley-sized joint inside the parcel. Upon lighting it, our heroes accidentally set fire to the Christmas tree which, and so they subsequently embark on a desperate quest to replace it before Harold’s wife (Paula Garces) and his in-laws return from Church. This proves easier said than done, given that it’s late on Christmas Eve. What ensues is your garden-variety ganja flick, except one featuring a distinctly Yuletide spin. Better brace yourself for a Christmas wreath festooned with cannabis instead of holly leaves, for plays on words about “Winter Wonder Weed” and “Hannukah Hash,” and to have big clouds of smoke blown in your face in 3D. While the uninitiated might consider the incessant association of the holiday season with substance abuse almost blasphemous, fans of the franchise will undoubtedly get a kick out of the relentless irreverence. Along for the ride is Neil Patrick Harris again playing himself, as well as a couple of new buddies in Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld) and Todd (Thomas Lennon). As the guys crisscross New York City in search of another 12-foot fir, they encounter everything from fellow party animals to naked nuns to Ukrainian mobsters to Santa Claus himself. A raunchy and religiouslyincorrect roller coaster ride for the very-open minded, not to be mistaken for one of those traditional, sentimental Christmas yarns. What’s in store for number four, Harold and Kumar get Uncle Sam high on the Fourth of July? Rated: R for drug use, crude humor, pervasive profanity, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and violence Running Time: 90 minutes Distributor: Warner Brothers To see a trailer for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, visit: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 

Latest Vampire Episode More Campy Than Scary


aking a page out of the Harry Potter playbook, the soon-to-expire Twilight Saga is extending itself by splitting the last of Stephenie Meyer’s supernatural romance novels into two screen adaptations. However, the first, Breaking Dawn – Part 1, represents a striking departure from the earlier episodes, cinematically, being more of


destroy her unless aborted. What to do? What to do? A cross-species cliffhanger to be answered in episode 5, although you’ll get a big hint by sticking around for a closing credits postscript. Suggested solely for Twilight diehards, this underwhelming, unfunny melodrama amounts to little more than an uneventful setup for next year’s grand finale.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

a campy soap opera than a spine-tingling horror flick. So, instead of generating its typical tension via the fog-enshrouded specter of bloodthirsty vampires locked in combat with rabid werewolves, this cheesy spoof of the genre trades in puns and inside jokes ostensibly aimed at the legions of loyal fans of the review-proof franchise. This installment picks up where the previous one left off, namely, with the engagement of 18 year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) to Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a century-old vampire able who can pass for her contemporary. While her clueless parents (Billy Burke and Sarah Clarke) and the terminally-creepy Cullen clan have no problem with the impending wedding, the same can’t be said about teen werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) who is conspicuously-absent after losing the competition for the bride-tobe’s affection. But the rest of the couple’s high school classmates do attend, including jealous Jessica Stanley (Anna Kendrick) who does her best to ruin the reception, between spreading a vicious rumor about Bella’s already being pregnant and inappropriately suggesting during a toast that Edward should have fallen for her instead of Bella, ha-ha. Once each of their guests has had a chance to make a wisecrack or a tongue-in-cheek remark, the newlyweds depart for a remote island near Rio de Janeiro for what’s supposed to be a magical honeymoon. Unfortunately, vampires and humans apparently weren’t meant to mate and Bella’s deflowering brings out the beast in Edward who delivers his demon seed with an unbridled passion which leaves the hotel room in shambles. Bella soon misses her period and finds herself facing a moment of truth when she realizes that she’s carrying a rapidly-developing fetus destined to

Rated: PG-13 for violence, sexuality, disturbing images, mature themes and partial nudity In English and Portuguese with subtitles Running Time: 117 minutes Studio: Summit Entertainment To see a trailer for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, visit: watch?v=sIpeBi6SG4A Anonymous 

Intriguing Whodunit Suggests Shakespeare Was a Fraud


ho really wrote the works of William Shakespeare? That nagging question has remained the subject of speculation among academics for centuries, with authorship of his poems and plays being alternately attributed to dozens of others, most notably, Christopher Marlowe, William Stanley, Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere, aka the 17th Earl of Oxford. The primary reason the Bard of Avon has been shown such disrespect is because of his humble roots and the absence of evidence that he had much of a formal education. Consequently, his detractors argue that only another nobleman would have been capable of writing about royalty in such sophisticated fashion. Anonymous revives the controversial notion that the Earl of Oxford served as Shakespeare’s ghostwriter, in spite of a plethora a problems with that generally-rejected theory, starting with the fact that when the Earl died in 1604, ten of the Bard’s plays were yet to be published. Nonetheless, proAnonymous

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


vided you are willing to ignore an abundance of such historical inaccuracies, the picture proves to be a delightful whodunit. The film is a bit of a departure for Roland Emmerich, whose name one ordinarily associates with bombastic summer blockbusters like Independence Day and Godzilla. Here, however, the German director tones down his act considerably in service of a multi-layered mystery given more to subtlety and insinuation than to special effects and pyrotechnics. Narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, Anonymous opens and closes on Broadway in present-day New York City. Otherwise, the plot revolves around the unlikely financial arrangement secretly struck between rebellious, aristocrat de Vere (Rhys Ifans) and alcoholic commoner Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) at a time when the former was a prolific, closet playwright while the latter was a struggling actor. Thus, de Vere’s need for a surreptitious means of staging his incendiary, anti-establishment productions conveniently dovetails with the Bard’s desire for fame and fortune. But because Shakespeare is close to illiterate, the ruse is hard to hide from most of his contemporaries in the theater world. Meanwhile, de Vere himself has a host of his own issues to deal with, starting with his not only being the illegitimate offspring of Queen Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave) but possibly having fathered a child with his mom. Throw in a jealous wife (Antje Thiele) and an ambitious fatherin-law (David Thewlis) with designs on the throne, and you’ve got all the fixings for a convoluted, costume drama of, dare I say it, Shakespearean proportions. Rated: PG-13 for violence and sexuality Running Time: 130 minutes Distributor: Columbia Pictures To see a trailer for Anonymous, visit:

The Crime Of Kicking Christ Out Of Christmas


Op-ed by The Bramster

magine. It’s your birthday party. Your name is on all the invitations, the cake, and every balloon. Folks from all over the country, even the world, are making their way to come celebrate the event as the highlight of their year. No expense will be spared and nothing short of joyous anticipation fills the hearts of everyone who plans on attending. But there’s just one little catch; you’re not invited. That’s right, you heard me correctly: You are not welcome! In spite of the fact that it’s your birthday party, given in honor of your life, you can’t come. In fact, there’s even talk of making it against “party rules” to so much as mention your name during the festivities. Sound cruel? Well it should. Yet it’s exactly what is being done to Jesus Christ even as you are reading this article. Under the pretense of being politically correct society has been everything but correct in regard to this particular holy day. And note, I did say “holy” day because that was the original term. The word comes from the old English word “hāligdaeg” which meant a special religious day or occasion. Thus it became “holy day” until men replaced ‘y’ wit an ‘I’, changing it to holiday. Ironically, that sort of symbolizes where the real problem lies. By substituting the ‘y’ (why) with an ‘I’ (self), men exchanged the true reason behind the occasion for an opportunity to satisfy their own greedy desires. In essence, they put themselves in the place of God on the throne of their affections. So it is, when we choose to honor a fictitious, fat man in a red suit above the real man who shed his red blood for the world. The first represents our lust for gifts. The second represents God’s love for us in a gift more precious than anything this world has to offer. Now before we go any further, it’s only fair we address the contentions of these

African-Americans Who Make A Difference

critics who are quick to point out the likelihood that December 25th is not the day Jesus was born on. And even if it were, some may say what right do Christians have to force their religious beliefs down the throats of others who may be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhists, or even cat-worshippers.(Don’t laugh. They do exist). Well in response to December 25th being Christ’s actual birthday, let me state for the record, it probably isn’t. The decision to honor Christ’s birth on that day dates back to 336 A.D. when Constantine, a Roman Emperor, chose to make it official. The reality is no one knows the exact date of Jesus birth except of course for God, the angels, Mary and Joseph, and a few sheep herders. Unfortunately, none of them saw fit to leave us a written record. Or, if they did, we haven’t found it. What we do know is that Jesus was conceived in the month we call March (collaborated by most Jewish historians and the Roman recorded history regarding the time of the census), and that he was most likely born nine months later, which puts it sometime in December. However, the reasoning behind choosing that particular day in December was definitely influenced by some pagan beliefs. Greco- Roman culture considered that day in 336 A.D. a very sacred occasion because it just happened to be the advent of the wither solstice: the time when the earth is furthest from the sun, marking the longest night and the shortest day of the year. Many considered it to be the time when the sun was “re-born” and Constantine, though a devout worshipper of Mithra, the sun-god, chose to honor Christ on that day. He felt that Jesus, who was probably born in December, would more than likely have entered into human life on the day “God was re-birthed”, which happened to be the 25th of December that year. That also helps to explain how exchanging of gifts became a part of the occasion. Such was an accepted practice during other events considered sacred and therefore fused easily into the celebration consecrated as Christmas; originally Christes MaesseChrist’s Festival. So in spite of the questionable origin of Christmas, it doesn’t negate the fact it was created in honor of Christ! We all know that Thanksgiving doesn’t fall on the exact day the Native Americans invited the Pilgrims over for dinner (and boy, what a mistake that turned out to be for the Indians!), nor is Presidents Day the actual birthday of any of those honored. Yet we have no problem calling those celebraContinued on page 34

The Denver Urban Spectrum is requesting nominations for the

African-Americans Who Make A Difference. The honorees will be featured in February’s 2011 Black 2012 Black History Issue.

Criteria include • Demonstrating service to the community • Serving as a role model for youth • Upholding standards of excellence in professional and personal life • Maintaining high moral and spiritual integrity If you know someone, or you are someone, who exhibits these qualities: CALL: Denver Urban Spectrum at 303.292.6446 FAX: Denver Urban Spectrum at 303.292.6543 MAIL: African-Americans Who Make A Difference PO Box 31001, Aurora, Colorado 80041 EMAIL: DELIVER: 2727 Welton Street in Denver’s Five Points Community DEADLINE: Friday, 10,9,2010 Friday,December December 2011 All call-in nominations MUST include a current phone number for the person being nominated to be eligible. ALL NOMINEES will receive a questionnaire that must be returned to the Denver Urban Spectrum by Friday, Friday, JanuaryJanuary 7, 2011. 6, 2012


Nomination Form

Street Address: City/State/ZIP: Phone:

Nominated by:

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


African American Almanac: 400 Years of Triumph, Courage, and Excellence by Lean’tin L. Bracks with Foreword by Jessie Carney Smith, Visible Ink Press Paperback, $22.95, 560 pages, ISBN: 978-1-57859323-1.

Celebrating centuries of achievements, the African American Almanac provides insights on the influence, inspiration, and impact of African Americans on U.S. society and culture. The most complete and affordable single-volume reference of African American culture available today, this almanac is a unique and valuable resource devoted to illustrating and demystifying the emotionally moving, complex and often lost history of black life in America. A legacy of pride, struggle, and triumph spanning centuries is presented in this fascinating mix of biographies – including over 750 influential figures – little-known or misunderstood historical facts, enlightening essays on significant legislation and movements, and 445 photographs and illustrations. This comprehensive source thoroughly explores the past, progress, and current conditions of African Americans. Covering events surrounding the civil rights movement; African American literature, art, and music; religion within the black community; advances in science and medicine; and politics, education, business, the military, sports, theater, film and television, this reference connects history to the issues currently facing the African American community and provides a range of information on society and culture. Each chapter offers a narrative history, along with separate biographical profiles of key figures, including Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Josephine Baker, Amiri Baraka, Daisy Bates, George Washington Carver, Ray Charles, Bessie Coleman, Gary Davis, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Michael Eric Dyson, Duke Ellington, Medgar Evers, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Eric H. Holder Jr., Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, LeBron James, Mae C. Jemison, Martin Luther

King Jr., Queen Latifah, Jacob Lawrence, Kevin Liles, Thurgood Marshall, Walter Mosley, Elijah Muhammad, Barack Obama, Gordon Parks, Rosa Parks, Richard Pryor, Condoleezza Rice, Smokey Robinson, Wilma Rudolph, Betty Shabazz, Tavis Smiley, Clarence Thomas, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Ross Tubman, C. Delores Tucker, Usher, Denmark Vesey, Alice Walker, Booker T. Washington, Kanye West, Reggie White, Serena Williams, Oprah Winfrey, and Malcolm X.

You Are Not Alone Michael: Through a Brother’s Eyes by Jermaine Jackson, Touchstone Hardcover/ Simon & Schuster, $26, 439 Pages, ISBN: 978-1-4516-5156-0.

Jermaine Jackson offers a keenly observed memoir tracing his younger brother’s life starting from their shared childhood and extending through the Jackson 5 years, Michael’s phenomenal solo career, his loves, his suffering, and his tragic end. You Are Not Alone Michael is a sophisticated, no holds-barred examination of the man, aimed at fostering a true and final understanding of who Michael Jackson was and what shaped him and his music. In this raw, honest, and poignant account, Jermaine reveals the real Michael as only a brother can, focusing on the private person behind “the King of Pop” persona. This is the unique up close and personal perspective of the brother who was closest to Michael; who shared a bunk bed, a dream, a stage, and childhood fame as well as tears, tantrums, laughter, pranks, and innermost thoughts. You Are Not Alone provides a rare glimpse into the complex heart, mind, and soul of a brilliant but sometimes troubled entertainer. As a witness to history on the inside, Jermaine is the only person qualified to deliver the real Michael and reveal what made him tick, his private opinions, and unseen emotions through the most headline making episodes of his life. Filled with insight, rich in anecdotes and behind-the-scenes detail, You Are Not Alone is the book for any true Michael Jackson fan and for anyone trying to make sense of the artist whose death was so premature.

Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story by Michael Seth Starr, Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard, $27.99, 304 pages, ISBN: 978:-1-55783754-7.

In the eyes of most of America (certainly most of white America), Redd Foxx was an “overnight sensation,” materializing on television in 1972 at age 49 as the bowlegged, chestclutching junkman Fred Sanford on the NBC sit-com, Sanford and Son. But, as Michael Seth Starr recounts in Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story, Foxx arrived on the set of Sanford and Son as a street-smart, natural-born comic, who, through sheer talent, guile, and unbridled self-confidence, overcame a life of poverty in the slums of St. Louis to make his mark on three entertainment genres: standup comedy, recorded nightclub comedy, and, finally, television. With the 1956 release of Laff of the Party, Foxx was crowned “King of the Party Records,” and his frank, trailblazing style opened the door for generations of African-American comedians, including Dick Gregory, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Rock, but did little for his own career. Shielded from mainstream (that is, white) audiences both by the color of his skin and his refusal to ton e down his act, Foxx eventually clawed his way up the show-business ladder, breaking through in Las Vegas and New York and appearing in a few films, before that first episode of Sanford and Son in January 1972 changed his life utterly. Sanford and Son took Foxx to the pinnacle of television success, but it also proved to be his downfall. Based on Starr’s interviews with dozens of Foxx’s friends, confidantes, and colleagues, Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story provides unique insight into this generous, brash, and vulnerable performer – a man Norman Lear described as “inherently, innately funny in every part of his being.”

The GQ Candidate by Keli Goff, Atria Books, 384 pages, $24.99, ISBN: 978-143915-872-2.

After a sex scandal brings down a local politician, Luke Cooper finds himself catapulted into the Michigan Governor’s mansion, making him one

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


of the few black and – by virtue of adoption – Jewish elected officials to hold such an office. His national celebrity is increased when he heroically saves the life of an avowed racist, and his good looks and charm earn him the nickname “The GQ Candidate.” One day Luke stuns his inner circle by informing them that he has decided to run for president. His friends offer to help but a fundraiser, hosted by one, and a major scandal involving another, become the subject of negative gossip that threatens the campaign. Meanwhile, Luke’s wife is ambivalent about her husband’s political aspirations, and grows wary of life in the spotlight especially after a surprise from their past inconveniently reappears during his historic run. The GQ Candidate gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in the lives of candidates, and the people closest to them, when the cameras aren’t rolling. In addition to the story of the campaign, the novel also follows the lives of Luke’s tight knit circle of friends and reveals how his amazing race changes their lives forever.

You Can Get There From Here: My Journey from Struggle to Success by Bob Knowling, Penguin Publishing, $26.95, 272 pages, 978-1-59184-422-8.

Bob Knowling knows what it is to face staggering odds. And what it is to achieve tremendous success. At a time when economists and news organizations are trumpeting that the American unemployed are simply giving up their job searches Bob Knowling finally tells his own story in order to encourage and inspire the unemployed, the student, and the aspiring entrepreneur. Now, as the American public faces challenging times and leaders of every size business scramble to change and adapt to the current economic climate – Knowling shares all of the knowledge he has accumulated through the years. You Can Get There From Here is not a “do what I did and you will be successful” business book. Instead Knowling shares his own experiences, his influences, his successes and his failures in an effort to inspire others to build and follow their own bridges.

Our Man in the Dark: A novel by Rashad Harrison, Atria Books, $25, ISBN: 978-145162-575-2.

“Most people let the beast in them run amok, John. And they merely shrug their shoulders at the damage left in its wake. America has let that beast run wild. I may not be morally perfect, but we are on the right side of morality. We need to remind America of its moral obligation to accept the struggle within itself.” So says Martin Luther King, Jr. in Our Man in The Dark, speaking to John Estem, one of his foot soldiers in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It’s the summer of 1964, and Estem is a downtrodden numbercruncher, a man with a polio-inflicted limp and only the dimmest hope of career mobility. Marginalized even by his fellow SCLC members, Estem desperately wants to contribute more to the movement than just his bookkeeping skills. An outsider who longs for relevance, Estem is tormented by the things that are so close and yet out of reach: Money. Influence. The woman he loves. And so one day, Estem decides to help himself to a $10,000 donation check meant for the SCLC, and finds himself in the custody of the FBI. They not only know about the check, they have been watching him all along: If Estem wants to keep his theft from his fellow SCLC members, he needs to get the FBI the information they want: Specifically, any information that links Martin Luther King to the Communist Party. “This country is under attack,” they tell him. “Every day, foreign interests threaten to unravel the very fabric of American society. This is a matter of national security.” But it’s not just Communism the FBI is after, but King himself. And in this endeavor, they are not alone: Estem soon finds himself caught between two forces trying to bring down Martin Luther King – the FBI, and Count. While both parties want MLK taken down for different reasons, they play equally dirty. With Our Man in the Dark, Rashad Harrison delivers characters that are neither good nor evil but a provocative combination of everything that makes us human.

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones, Algonquin Books, 352 pages, $19.95, ISBN: 978-1-56512-990-0. With the opening line of “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and

two teenage girls caught in the middle. Set in Atlanta in the 1980s, Silver Sparrow revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families – his public one…and his secret one. The two daughters meet and form a friendship, but only one of them knows they are sisters. At the heart of it all are these two girls whose lives are at stake, and like the best writers – think Toni Morrison with The Bluest Eye – Jones elegantly portrays the fragility of her characters with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women.

Love, Honor, and Betray by Kimberla Lawson Roby, Grand Central Publishing, paperback, ISBN: 978-0446572453.

It’s the eighth installment of The Reverend Curtis Black series Love, Honor, and Betray and this time around, Curtis and Charlotte find themselves at total odds with one another as the end of their marriage now seems inevitable. Tabitha, Curtis’s long-time mistress and mother of his illegitimate twoyear-old child, Curtina, has died, and Curtina must now move in with them permanently. Needless to say, Charlotte is beyond upset. Curtis, on the other hand, is ecstatic to finally have his entire family under one roof, but it isn’t long before Charlotte’s resentment towards Curtina simmers to the brim – despite her constant efforts to conceal her emotions. Worse, when Curtis notices and confronts her about her cruel and selfish behavior, Charlotte makes it very clear that Curtina is his baby, hot hers, and that she wants Curtina out.

Sinners and Saints: A Novel by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Touchstone Books/A Simon & Schuster Trade Paperback, $15, 288 pages, ISBN:978-1-4516-0815-1.

Victoria Christopher Murray’s Jasmine Cox Larson Bush and ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s Rachel Jackson Adams are not your typical First Ladies. But they’ve overcome their scandalous and dramafilled pasts to stand firmly by their husbands’ sides.

But when a coveted position opens up – the President of the National Baptist Association – each woman thinks her husband is perfect for the job. As Jasmine and Rachel’s husbands are both nominated, the scheming begins and both women are back to their old ways. With their husbands as President, they will have more power, prestige, and money than they could have ever dreamed! The competition is on and both will do anything and everything in their power to get their husbands’ the job. It becomes a battle of the First Ladies as these women try to one-up each other. Just when Jasmine and Rachel think they’re going to have to fight to the finish, the current First Lady of the National Baptist Association steps in…a woman bigger, badder, and more devious that either of them. The women have finally met their match, but the conspiracy behind the position runs deeper than either Jasmine or Rachel could have imagined.

A Belle In Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life by Demetria L. Lucas, Atria Books, $24, 256 Pages, ISBN: 978-1-4516-0631-7.

Now, in A Belle In Brooklyn this real-life Carrie Bradshaw celebrates the joys of her single status while offering bits of experience and effective tools for finding a great mate. Through a series of candid personal anecdotes that reveal several “a-ha” moments by Lucas and the no-holds-barred opinions shared by her Male Mind Squad – a group of men who give their take on everything from female independence and monogamy to sex commitment – the book is a treasure-trove of stories and information that is certain to make even the most jaded single smile in solidarity with Lucas. Over the years, Lucas has shared her signature bran of dating advice on media outlets such as TV One’s Access Hollywood, The Oprah Radio Show, and The Tom Joyner Morning Show and in A Belle In Brooklyn, she does not disappoint as she helps women embrace the single life – with or without the perfect man. As the confidante of many and as a keen observer of the dating dynamic, some of the tidbits of wisdom Lucas shares include: •Men talk about relationships constantly – just not with the woman they’re dating.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


•Your salary or degrees are nonfactor in their decision to consider dating you, marrying you, having sex with you, treating you well, or replacing you. •Good men make bad mistakes. There’s a difference between a moral failing and a mistake. Forgive mistakes. Get rid of moral failures. •To women, playing detective is generally harmless but men interpret casual inquisition as character assassination. •Men like compliments. They respond like dry plants to water when you tell them they look nice, smell nice, did something well. •Sex can be just an activity, like eating a sandwich or going to shoot hoops. Just because a man has sex with a woman, it doesn’t mean he feels anything for her. Intriguing and highly entertaining, A Belle In Brooklyn is an accessible read that captures what most women are dying to say but don’t have the courage to do so. With her unapologetic and spot-on-honest style, Demetria L. Lucas illustrates that being single is not a death sentence and can be quite enjoyable.

The Hot Box by Zane, Atria Books, $14, 291 pages, ISBN: 978-0-7434-9928-6.

Lydia has two lovers – Glenn and Phil – best friends who work different shifts at the Freightliner factory in a small town just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. She’s living with Glenn and has been in a committed relationship with him for three years. She’s also been having hot, wild sex with Phil for over 10 years. She’s living a dangerous game, but it feels so damn good. Lydia’s best friend Milena is a woman who has lived the last eight years of her life in celibacy – ever since she found out that her fiancé was getting it on with other women the night before their wedding. Milena is not the forgiving, or forgetting, type, and heartbroken, she’s thrown herself into her veterinary practice, feeling more at peace with her “patients” than the real world. But now her ex fiancé is back in town and he’s determined to win her back. Jacour was a star player for the New York Yankees before a knee injury sidelined his career – but not his bankroll. Wanting to help her best friend experience the love she knows she deserves, Lydia urges Milena to give Jacour another chance. But fearing for her heart, Milena’s not buying it. Continued on page 32

Continued from page 31 Meanwhile, Lydia is beginning to question her own life. She’s sure there is something better out there; she just has to find it. As a check-out girl at her uncle’s Food Lion, she’s sick of merely surviving. She wants to be thriving. She’s tired of two-timing two men, and in all honesty, she wants to break away from the place where everyone has known her since she was wearing pigtails. She’s determined to move to NYC and no one is going to stop her. Not Glenn, not Phil, not her parents, and not even Milena. You only get one opportunity at this thing called life. And it’s important not to waste it… Two beautiful women. Two love triangles. No one ever said life is easy. And when circumstances force Milena and Lydia to each take a gamble, their decisions land them in a place they never would have imagined.

Kitty-Kitty, Bang Bang by Cairo, Atria/Strebor Books, $15, 355 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59309-303-7.

Katrina, Cairo’s cut throat killer from the Kat Trip, is back with a score to settle! Once a murderer on a seductive prowl with two missions in mind – satisfying her insatiable libido and killing unsuspecting marks, Katrina has laid down her guns. Having once used her alluring charm and exotic beauty to lure men to their deaths, Katrina has had a change of heart. She’s settled for a simpler life; she’s avoiding relationships and men like the plague. For her, life couldn’t be any sweeter – at least that’s what she wants to believe. But when drama rears its ugly head, Kat returns with a vengeance – confronting her ex-friend who she learned had slept with an old boyfriend and her three aunts – who are angry about how she treated her mother. And now she has to face her family, her demons, and the woman behind them – reopening old wounds, trying to mend new ones. Ultimately Kat has a new mission: to find the man behind her mother’s death and serve him up a dish of her own justice and the only way she knows how – with a bullet to his head.

A Cold Piece of Work by Curtis Bunn, Strebor Books/Simon & Schuster Publishers, $12, 326 Pages, ISBN: 978-159309-349-5.

In A Cold Piece Of Work, Soloman Singletary is the ideal catch. However he has always been known for avoiding relationships with women due to

painful experiences he encountered in his past. Having had his heart broken when he was young and impressionable, he guards his heart at all costs as an adult, leaving women before they could leave him, turning him cold, ruthless and noncommittal. However, one day he meets Michelle Williams and his life is changed forever. Though, in the beginning of their courtship Soloman persistently distanced himself emotionally from Michelle, deep down he always had strong feelings for her, more than any woman he’d ever been in a relationship with. However, once the opportunity presented itself, just as he had done countless times before, Soloman makes an abrupt exit out of the relationship in the early hours of the morning as she slept, leaving Michelle confused and biter for years to come. Eight years later, a chance encounter with Michelle and her young son, Gerald, sparks something in Soloman he never anticipated: to seek forgiveness, from her and himself. The quest for that forgiveness opens up character traits he never knew existed. And a surprise discovery regarding Gerald further leaves him full of questions and regret.

Love’s Damage: A Novel by Timothy Michael Carson, Atria Books/Strebor Books, $12, 289 Pages, ISBN: 978-1-59309-309-9.

Negating the laws that govern the heart, three very different people try to love on their own terms. As each character takes a ride on this rollercoaster of love, they endure many highs, lows, and unforeseen twists and turns. Shielding themselves from any further unwarranted pain, each will try to avoid the laws that govern the heart and attempt to love on their own terms. On a quest for happiness, encompassed with the bitter and the sweet of falling in love, they will attempt to let down their guards and avoid Love’s Damage. A lot of things can go right in the game of love, but a lot of things can also go wrong. Carson explores them all in this exciting story.

Exit by Phillip Thomas Duck, Atria Books/Strebor Books, $12, 411 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59309-370-9.

In recovery from his sexual addiction, step five was the hardest for Michael Sawyer: admitting to another the exact nature of his wrongs. But his dark compulsions were ruining his life, and rather than lose everything, he confessed to his wife, Rachel. Sordid tales of anonymous sex, degrading sex, and huge chunks of his time mired in fantasy thought. Rachel’s response was surprisingly tempered. No tearful tantrums. No veiled threats. Not on mention of telling Michaels’s employer, millionaire Malcom Ferrer – who also happened to be her father – about her husband’s reckless and humiliating treatment. Could there possible be a luckier man alive? Michael doubted it very seriously. So why is he now running for the life he created with Rachel? Because suddenly everything is falling apart and finding an exit is going to be tough. Exit is intriguing, captivating, and explosive – an intricately woven tale an alluring erotic sequences, Exit is an excellent thriller, full of suspense.

Scandalicious by Allison Hobbs, Atria/Strebor Books, 352 pages, $17, ISBN: 978-1-5930-9368-6.

Allison Hobbs introduces us to Solay, a woman who went from baking in her kitchen to opening Scandalicious, a trendy cupcake shop known for its gorgeous and dangerously delicious cupcakes. Practically married to her business, Solay does not have time for romance or it complications. After nine years of marriage and two kids, Chevonne is bored and her husband Lincoln is starved for physical attention. When the couple seeks help from a relationship counselor, he suggests they take a bold step and explore an open marriage. Six months later and happy with their new situation, Lincoln and Chevonne enter Scandalicious looking for some naughty treats. Sparks fly between Lincoln and Solay, and Solay is both shocked and thrilled to discover that Chevonne doesn’t mind sharing her husband.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


What Chevonne doesn’t expect, however, is the emotional connection that appears to be developing between her husband and Solay. Is this really what the doctor ordered?

Book Reviews By

Kam Williams

Ashamed to Die: Silence, Denial, and the AIDS Epidemic in the South by Andrew J. Skerritt, Lawrence Hill Books, Hardcover, $24.95, 320 pages, Illustrated, ISBN: 978-1-56976-814-3. “HIV/AIDS remains a significant public health and social justice crisis in the United States, and the South in particular is heavily burdened… Poverty, poor education, and limited community resources conspire against people who live in the rural South… Even as America has dispatched billions to fight this disease overseas, our small rural communities remain vulnerable to the sinister threat of HIV/AIDS. The enemy isn’t just the physical illness. It’s ignorance; it’s the guilt and shame-inducing silence that kills our young… HIV/AIDS is more than a disease – it is a symptom of the larger problems of social inequalities and racial/ethnic health disparities… It’s time to end the silence and to provoke an eruption of empathy, compassion and community action to alter the sad trajectory of AIDS in our small towns.”  Excerpted from Chapter One (page 11) When the AIDS epidemic exploded about 30 years ago, it initially ravaged the gay community. But the number of homosexuals infected dropped dramatically due to a combination of safe sex education and medical breakthroughs. Simultaneously, however, the AIDS rate among blacks has continued to skyrocket to the point where twothirds of the new female cases in the country are African-American, meaning a sister is 15 times as likely to

become HIV positive as a white woman. And these statistics are even worse in the South where eight of the states with the highest infection rates are located. But Andrew Skerritt didn’t need help from the CDC to appreciate the toll the plague is taking on black folks in the region. For the London-born, professor of journalism at Florida A&M University could observe how such factors as denial, shame, racism and poverty had collaborated to prevent AIDS patients from receiving proper treatment. In Ashamed to Die, he chronicles that societal failing as witnessed in the Clover, South Carolina, a typical tiny town where talk about AIDS is considered taboo. Consequently, many of the infected remain in denial and undiagnosed, especially since, “the health department couldn’t force a person to be tested even if a contact gave them names of people exposed tom AIDS.” Nonetheless, symptoms of the lethal illness eventually do appear, as the body becomes susceptible to a variety of opportunistic infections. Sadly, the author found that “Caring for people with AIDS is the kind of thankless work few are willing or even equipped to do.” And in the case of Dr. Robert Ball, he ended up broke and “a pariah in his own community,” when he was abandoned by his regular patients because he allowed those with AIDS to share the same waiting room and office. And not only did the 42 yearold physician eventually lose his practice, but his wife and his home, too. Still, his plight pales in comparison to that of those dealing with the debilitating ailment on a day-to-day basis. “Those dying of AIDS long for comfort, someone to hold their hands,” since “no one wants to die alone,” Skerritt concludes. Apparently, no one wants to die forgotten either. For, in fascinating fashion, he proceeds to put a face on the disease by devoting individual chapters to the life stories of several ill-fated patients and devoted caretakers. A sobering manifesto practically begging African-Americans to acknowledge the omnipresence of an escalating plague decimating the community. To order a copy of Ashamed to Die, visit: N/1569768145/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir by Mark Whitaker, Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, $25.99, 368 pages, Illustrated, ISBN: 978-1-4516-2754-1

“His father, Syl Whitaker, was the charismatic grandson of slaves… His mother, Jeanne Theis, was a shy, World

War II refugee from France…They met in the mid-Fifties, when he was a college student and she was his professor, and they carried on a secret romance for more than a year before marrying and having two boys…

My Long Trip Home is a reporter’s search for the factual and emotional truth about a complicated and compelling family, a son’s haunting meditation on the nature of love, loss, identity and forgiveness.”  Excerpted from the Inside Cover Page As Managing Editor of CNN Worldwide, Mark Whitaker is currently in charge of content and reporting for the world’s largest, global television network. Previously, he made history as Newsweek’s first African-American Editor-in-Chief. To his credit, Whitaker has achieved his phenomenal, professional success in spite of being raised in a very dysfunctional family by parents as different as night and day, literally and figuratively. His mother, Jeanne, was in her fourth year as a French professor at Swarthmore College when she found herself being pursued by one of her students, Syl. Since this was America in the 1950s, perhaps of more significance than their age difference was the fact that she was white, conventional and the daughter of devout Christian missionaries while he was black, immature, and a relatively-bohemian freelove advocate. Nonetheless, the unlikely couple secretly embarked on a torrid affair and wed just a couple of months after his graduation. Unfortunately, although their union soon produced two precious sons, it would only last about halfdozen years. For Syl had a weakness for both broads and booze. Worse, he turned into an ill-tempered lush to boot, when liquored up on the sauce. In no uncertain terms, the abusive husband repeatedly made it clear to his wife that he considered theirs an open marriage, whether she was prepared to join him in participating in the Sexual Revolution or not. And he

proceeded to imbibe and sleep around with such abandon that he torpedoed his own promising career in the process. For instance, after being hired to head Princeton University’s newly-created Black Studies Department, he developed a reputation for propositioning colleagues’ wives and for staggering around the campus drunk, until he was finally given a severance package and shipped off to rehab. On the home front, not only was Syl a deadbeat dad after the divorce, but he was too busy making whoopee with fellow swingers even to call his sons, let alone share some quality time with them. This makes Mark’s subsequent ascension up the corporate ladder something of a major miracle, especially given his mother’s simultaneous battle with depression as she struggled to keep a roof over her kids’ heads. Meanwhile, Mark was compensating for his anger at being abandoned by his father by acting out and overeating to the point of obesity. Reflecting both a reporter’s painstaking attention to detail and a Prodigal’s Son’s sincere search for closure and redemption, My Long Trip Home is a riveting, revealing, and heartbreaking memoir affirming the potential of even the messiest of lives to blossom belatedly into something satisfying and beautiful. To order a copy of My Long Trip Home, visit: ASIN/1451627548/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire -20.

Second Chance: The Martha Marie Preston Story by Martha Marie Preston,Quintrell Public Relations, Paperback, $15.95, 144 pages, ISBN: 978-0-615504292 “I had finally run out of options… There I was. Locked in a tiny jail cell, staring into space and wondering how my life had come to this: A fortyyear sentence for a drug crime. Not long ago, I was a respected, churchgoing, pillar of the community, contributing to the less fortunate

Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


and living a life of luxury. It never dawned on me that the double life I was leading – upstanding citizen, by day, and drug conspirator, by night — would come to such an abrupt, disastrous end. And yet it had… My future seemed bleak... But that’s not where my story ended. It’s actually where my life began… This book is about a second chance.”  Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. iv) Martha Marie Preston was born in an eastern section of Houston, Texas known as Royal Terrace on April 9, 1949, the 7th of 12 children. She was raised by her divorced-dad from the age of 8 on, after her mother, without explanation, decided to abandon the family. In the absence of a maternal figure, Martha turned into a rough-and-tumble tomboy, due to being teased mercilessly about her hair (“Ragmop!”) and skin color (“Midnight!”) by kids in the neighborhood. Preferring to hang out with the boys, she walked around topless until the age of 11 when her breasts began developing. At 14, Martha lost her virginity to a friend of one of her older brothers, and she ended up pregnant fairly soon thereafter. And she was both married and divorced by 17, as growing up fast was par for the course in her neck of the woods. Martha opened a diner and then a nightclub to provide for herself and her daughter, Cheryl, and quickly discovered that she had a knack for business. Regrettably, she also allowed selling cocaine to become part of the operation, a decision she would come to regret when it eventually led to her downfall despite making millions of dollars and owning a Rolls Royce, a suburban mansion and other trappings of success. Convicted by a jury of her peers and sent up the river in 1998, Martha became suicidal and bottomed-out behind bars before being Born Again and rededicating her life to Jesus Christ. Ultimately, through faith and the power of prayer, she was granted parole well before the completion of her 40-year sentence. This cautionary tale about a fall from grace and ultimate redemption unfolds blow-by-blow style in Second Chance: The Martha Marie Preston Story. The warts and all memoir is a real page-turner you’ll probably read in one sitting, given the author’s heartbreaking honesty while reflecting about the pitfalls of living life in the fast lane. As gritty and as forthcoming an autobiography as you’re ever apt to encounter. To order a copy of second Chance, visit: 

Kicking Christ Out Of Christmas

Continued from page 29 ations by their intended names and recognizing the individuals associated with them. That brings us to the next point: For those who argue that nativity scenes, caroling, and open acknowledgement of Jesus on Christmas are equivalent to shoving Christian beliefs down their throats, my reply is : Then don’t come to his table!. No one will crucify you if you choose not to celebrate or even acknowledge that day as being special. No one will force you to buy gifts, sing songs, or God forbid, go to a Christmas play at church. But PLEASE don’t have the audacity to enjoy all the nuances of the feast while denying access to the one for whom it was given. Otherwise, let’s do the same thing to all the other holidays. Let’s make it illegal to mention George Washington or Abe Lincoln on President’s Day. Let’s outlaw the wearing of green on St. Patrick’s Day, and statutes depicting Martin Luther King, Jr. in January, and by all means let’s prohibit the sale of Mexican food during Cinco de Mayo. I know it’s absurd to even think along those lines. But it’s no more absurd than what we have allowed to take place during the Christmas season. In fact it’s sort of criminal. 


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Myron Gooch, Manager 760 Dayton Street Aurora, CO 80010 303-363-9783 Making transmissions well for 22 years. Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2011


AARP invites you to the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Performance of “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum.� Saturday, December 10 2:00 p.m. Newman Center for the Performing Arts 2344 E. Iliff Ave., Denver, CO The senior price for this performance is $33. AARP members can purchase two discounted tickets for $13 each. Please present your AARP card to pick up tickets. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance box office number at 303-295-1759, ext. 13

For additional information, please contact the AARP Colorado Office at 303-318-6763.


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when you buy GIFT CARDS* Choose from these and HUNDREDS more


OFFER VALID: ALID N November b 20 20–December D 11

*CARDS HAVE NO VALUE UNTIL ACTIVATED. TERMS AND RESTRICTIONS APPLY. Only purchases made with your loyalty card from the Kroger Family of stores or 1-2-3 REWARDS® VISA® Card are eligible. Excludes Kroger Co. Family of Stores gift cards, Green Dot prepaid reloadable products, MoneyPaks and American Express Variable Load, Visa Variable Load, 1-2-3 REWARDS® Reloadable Visa Prepaid nued at any Debit Card and MasterCard Variable Load gift cards. Offer may be modified or discontinued p chase, time without notice. Fuel discounts are limited to up to 35 gallons of fuel per vehicle perr purchase, subject to fraud prevention limits on the amount of purchase. Not valid where prohibitedd by law.

DUS December 2011  

Denver Urban Spectrum December 2011

DUS December 2011  

Denver Urban Spectrum December 2011