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Quincy Jones: Musical Icon Gives A Thumbs Up in Support of Down Syndrome...4 Photo by Jensen Sutta


MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER Ushering In A New Year… Volume 33

Number 9

December 2019

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James EDITOR-IN- CHIEF Alfonzo Porter COPY EDITOR/PROOFREADER Ruby Jones COLUMNISTS Dr. Erynn M. Burns Kim Farmer Barry Overton FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alfonzo Porter Ruby Jones Annette Walker ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris OFFICE ASSISTANT Briana Rorex

As we say goodbye to another year and look forward to 2020, this month’s Denver Urban Spectrum is chocked full of diverse stories. DUS Editor Alfonzo Porter goes behind the scenes and walks the red carpet at the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. He shares why Quincy Jones, Terrell Davis and Jamie Foxx and his sister DeOndra Dixon attend and support the event and its beneficiary the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. Senator Rhonda Fields has a candid conversation with Connect for Health CEO Kevin Patterson about what’s new in healthcare in 2020 and DUS contributor Ruby Jones chats with Shelby Holly-Page and how she became known as “Chocolate Yoga.” We go back in history as the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library commemorates the life of businessman James Rountree II and the Coalition Against Global Genocide presents a film and discussion with “Remembering and Honoring 1619-2019.” Kudos goes out to the Black American West Museum, the 2020 Colorado Women Hall of Fame inductees, and the Denver Links for their recent accomplishments and honors. Read about who, what, where, when and why all the accolades are being bestowed on these well-deserved organizations and individuals. The Denver Foundation is on the move with new president Javier Alberto Soto and their support with a visionary model of community investment, Transforming Safety. And national contributor Allison Kugel shares the grace, beauty and grit of actress Vanessa Williams. Lastly and certainly not least, we pay tribute to icon Marie Greenwood who recently transitioned at the age of 106. I can only smile when I think of her beautiful spirit and how she touched so many lives. Misti Aas shares her life lessons and memory of her while serving as her personal assistant over the last five years. Her Each One Teach One Program at Marie L. Greenwood Academy, which focused on literacy, was very near and dear to her heart. So, read this issue in her honor and memory; and as you usher in the New Year, raise your champagne glass and give a toast to Marie Greenwood for the legacy she leaves behind. Rosalind “Bee” Harris Publisher

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix PHOTOGRAPHERS Lens of Ansar Bernard Grant DISTRIBUTION Ed Lynch Lawrence A. James - Manager

2019 Member 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 2019 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303292-6543 or visit the Web site at www.denverurbanspectrum.com.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR not the only “vibe” here, but it is broad and one of my favorites. With The Colorado Vibe, I want to encourage everyone to think about what makes our vibe unique. I want us to think of new ways to express new vibes that we feel, or that others help us feel; like new music or older music that either has newly surfaced or has resurfaced. And, art that we are producing, dances we are dancing, businesses we are starting, and on and on. I invite and encourage anyone with an interest in the unique Colorado Vibes to email us at TheCOVibe@sawayalaw.com to give a voice to what makes us so special. We want to let everyone’s light shine and let every voice be heard!

The Colorado Vibe Editor: I’m always thinking about what makes us such a unique bunch in Colorado and how to give a voice and a platform to present that uniqueness! So I embarked on a new project called The Colorado Vibe; a monthly newsletter and weekly social media conversation that will shed light with open communication and start conversations about topics YOU want to discuss! I knew as a kid growing up and living so far away from other parts of the United States, there was an insular feeling we had. And for this reason, we felt kind of special. We were integrated, we made our own music, and yes we thought we were all cool! We have produced some amazing talent in Colorado, like Cleo Parker Robinson, Pam Grier, and Purnell Steen, among many others. Now, performing arts is

Mike Sawaya Denver

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Colin Kaepernick: “It’s your party” Editor: Once again it appears that some people are up in arms about a certain young man. Isn’t it amazing how certain groups try to always tell you what to do and even how to act and think, and when you choose to go against their liking there’s hell to pay. Mr. Colin Kaepernick finally was given an opportunity after three years to display that he is still worthy of being a quality NFL quarterback. The NFL set it up a work out on their terms and conditions as most bullies like to do; Colin had a different mindset. The NFL wanted to save face and burry the whole “taking a knee” situation and Continued on page 30


A Smash Hit!! Quincy Jones Helps Down Syndrome Organization Reach New Heights By Alfonzo Porter

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ords like icon, legend, superstar, idol and mogul have all been used to describe Quincy Jones. However, they all seem to fall woefully short in measuring the greatness of this pioneering musical impresario. John Sie, Quincy Jones, John Hickenlooper

He is a performer, conductor, arranger and producer all rolled into one person. His 80 Grammy nominations and 28 Grammy victories ranks him number one among living Grammy winners and second overall. These, among so many other achievements, stand as a testament to his significance as an artist. So, when he arrived in Denver last month to headline a startstudded gala for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation it brought out many of Denver’s finest and set a new fundraising record of $2.5 million for the organization. Down Syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder as a result of the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. There may be a wide range of developmental delays, impacts on physical growth, mild to moderate intellectual issues and characteristic facial features. While there is no cure, organizations like the Global Down Syndrome Foundation are central to helping those with Down

of Colorado at the University of syndrome improve Colorado-Colorado Springs. their quality of life. The show featured The foundation’s some 22 models with annual event and Down syndrome who primary were allowed to strut attraction, the their stuff on the run“Be Beautiful, Be way. Perhaps the Yourself Fashion most recognized Show” drew of the models Hollywood A-Listers was DeOndra like Jamie Foxx, Eric Dixon, sister of Dane, Henry Academy Award Winkler, John C. winning actor, McGinley and Jamie Foxx, who Laura Linney; was also on hand to and of course support the evening’s Jones himself. gala. Held at the The “Be Beautiful, Sheraton Be Yourself Fashion Downtown Show” is the largest Denver, this was fundraiser for Down the 11th year for syndrome in the the fundraiser world. The proceeds which has netted an estimated total are used to fund lifeof more than $20 saving research and million since its medical care at the Photo inception. Crnic Institute for by Jones was on Down syndrome Thomas Cooper hand to personally and the Rocky Getty present the Mountain Images “Quincy Jones Alzheimer’s Exceptional Disease Center. Advocacy Award” Dixon, a 2009 (Q Award) to recipient of the supermodel “Q” Award has Amanda Booth, whose son, also been an ambassador for the Micah was born with Down organization since 2011. syndrome. He also presented According to Dixon, the Global an award to Megan Bomgaars, Down Syndrome Foundation the A&E star of the reality prodoes a terrific job helping gram “Born this Way.” people learn about the conBomgaars was the first person dition. with Downs Syndrome to “I’ve been involved for a become a member of a college long time now,” Dixon said. “I think they do a great job in raischeerleading squad in the state Jamie Foxx and sister DeOndra Dixon

Terrell Davis and DeOndra Dixon Photos by Bernard Grant Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2019

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ing money and teaching the public about Down syndrome – a really great job!” Known for her moves on the dance floor, she pledged to shine once she hit the stage. “I can out-dance my brother Jamie, of course, and I plan to make my partner, former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, look real bad out there tonight,” she joked. Davis admitted to having his work cut out. “DeOndra is a professional so I may have to bring my “A” game tonight,” he said with a broad smile. “This is my first time being in a fashion show and I’m relying on her to show me how it’s done.” Davis admits that this is his first year being involved with Global but hopes to continue his support in the coming years. “It is remarkable that I can come out to show my support and help bring some attention to Down syndrome and hopefully raise a lot of money for this worthy cause,” Davis said. “I have learned quite a bit about Down syndrome and I am concerned about the low level of federal funding for it – and it’s sad. Global puts on events like this in order to supplement the research and program needs. It’s nice to part of this. Global has done a magnificent job in bringing needed attention to Down syndrome.” But for Jamie Foxx, his key focus is on the advances in research for Down syndrome. Standing next to DeOndra on the red carpet, embraced in a


hug, he says that he is inspired by developments in studying the condition. “I am encouraged that they continue to make strides in the research into Down syndrome, particularly the work with chromosomes,” Foxx admitted. “They are revealing new ways for those with Down syndrome to better care for themselves and live longer, more productive lives. But it takes a lot of money to do this and that’s why we have been long-time supporters of the efforts by this wonderful organization.” It was in 2008 when the Global Down Syndrome Foundation created the award named for Quincy Jones. It was established in recognition of Jones’ humanitarian leadership and work on behalf of the disadvantaged; particularly those with Down syndrome. In a 2008 statement released by Jones, he expressed his profound gratitude: “I believe from the bottom of my heart that every child on this planet has something to offer mankind and they can soar to the highest mountain tops if they are given the opportunity to do so. As the first national institute that will comprehensively address the basic clinical research and care for people with Down syndrome, I have no doubt that the Linda Crnic Institute for Down syndrome will be the world’s leading care center for those impacted by this condition. It will also provide an avenue for obtaining undeniable and fundamental civil rights for these beautiful children, so that they can achieve everything they can imagine. I am enthusiastically looking forward to working with the patrons of this institution to bring those goals to fruition in any way I can.” Jones has been heavily engaged in philanthropic endeavors since the 1960’s but it was his 1985 anthem, “We Are the World” that catapulted his image and reputation as a humanitarian. The initiative,

It has been said that Frank Sinatra first conferred upon Jones the nickname “Q” in 1964 when he called to ask him to do an album with Count Basie and himself. His list of collaborations and awards over years are far too numerous to list in a single article. Needless to say that it is a veritable “Who’s Who” in music. In addition to having snagged 28 Grammy’s Jones

organized to raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief, reportedly garnered more than $63 million. It was Jones’ clout in the entertainment industry that brought together a collection of the biggest names in the music business including Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, and Diana Ross among more than 30 other chart topping artists.

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has also been bestowed with an Emmy, a Tony and nominated for seven Academy Awards; among a long list of others including the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1994. He was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the age of 80 in 2013; curiously receiving a non-performing honor even though he had been performing for more than 60 years at the time. Continued on page 6


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Continued from page 5 Last year, Jones was the focus of a feature-length documentary of his life’s accomplishments titled simply “Quincy.” The work was directed and written by his daughter, Rashida. The film received the 2019 Grammy for Best Music Film of the Year. In 1974 he would suffer two brain aneurysms. In spite of these serious health challenges, he went on to produce hit after hit, after hit. In the 70’s and 80’s his list of smash hits for legendary artists like Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, George Benson, The Brothers Johnson and countless others made him a house hold name. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” produced by Jones, has sold an estimated 120 million copies worldwide – it’s still the bestselling album of all time. Jones, now 86 years old, was born in Chicago in 1933. His family would later move to a suburb of Seattle in the early 1940s. There, he began playing the trumpet and met another aspiring entertainer by the name of Ray Charles. A scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, in 1951 would seal his fate and launch him onto his extraordinary journey. He would soon find himself producing and arranging music for legendary artists such as Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Dinah Washington, Ray

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Charles, Sarah Vaughn and Tommy Dorsey. It was through the Global Downs Syndrome Foundation that Jones began to witness the inequity in research funding for Down syndrome. He considered increasing the funding a matter of both civil and human rights. He immediately began working with the organization and soon the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award was created. Designed to honor Jones’ work as a global humanitarian, the annual celebration continues to raise millions of dollars to benefit research, outreach and support for those with Down syndrome. The event features award categories to honor humanitarian work, public service and selfadvocacy. According to a statement from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, “People with developmental disabilities, especially Down syndrome, are too often neglected and underestimated by our government and society as a whole. With Quincy’s generous support, we are able to pay tribute to public figures who have taken the time to understand our children and dot shine a light on their contributions to this world. Also in Quincy’s name, we honor those self-advocates who are changing our world as role models anyone would be proud to emulate. The Foundation is deeply appreciative of Quincy Jones and the outstanding recipients of the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award.”.


Anyone who doesn’t get health insurance through their job has an opportunity to purchase their own coverage though Connect for Health ColoradoŽ once a year, during the a time known as the Open Enrollment period. State Senator Rhonda Fields, a longtime supporter of Connect for Health Colorado, met with the organization’s chief executive, Kevin Patterson, to discuss the current Open Enrollment season and highlight what the community should know about this year’s health insurance options. Fields: Kevin, why don’t we start with a quick explanation? What is Connect for Health Colorado? Patterson: Connect for Health Colorado has been open for business more than six years now, but a lot of people don’t know all the ways that the organization can help. We are here to support Coloradans who buy their own health insurance. We make it easy for anyone in Colorado who doesn’t get health insurance through their job to see what they can buy on their own. Our site is the only place to compare options side by side. And, importantly, we are the only place where you can buy insurance and get help to cut down your costs if your income qualifies. RF: Please tell me a little more about who can get financial help? KP: Whether you can get help and how much help you can get depends on your income and how many people are in your household. For a single person living alone, someone making $20 an hour full time can get help. For a family of four, they can qualify for help if they have an annual income of $103,000 a year or less.

Six Things You Should Know About Getting Health Insurance

For 2020 A Conversation with Senator Rhonda Fields & Kevin Patterson

State Senator Rhonda Fields and Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson discuss health insurance for 2020. The easiest way to see if you qualify and get an estimate of what you would get is to go to our site, Connectforhealthco.com, plug in the basic information, and you will get a cost estimate for the options available to you. It takes less than five minutes to complete that portion of the process. RF: What’s new this year? KP: There is a lot that is new this year. First of all, we have made a number of changes to our Web site that makes it a lot easier to get straight to the answer to your question. It’s also easier to use our site with your smart phone or tablet. Another thing you may have seen is that this year, for the first time, the monthly premiums for health insurance are going down by an average of 20 percent.

We are also happy to welcome a new health insurance company, Oscar. We have a total of 8 health insurance companies competing for business. The number varies in different parts of the state, with our customers in the Denver area seeing the most. RF: Wow, that’s a lot. What does all this mean to the average person? KP: It means that you can save money if you take a good look at your options. Try to look ahead at what your healthcare needs are going to be in 2020, and then shop around. We make it easy at Connectforhealthco.com to do all that. I say it every year but it’s true as ever, it’s important to shop around and look at total costs – not just premiums – when you choose your health insurance. We can help you

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choose. It’s more important than ever, customers at all levels can find savings at the same level of coverage. RF: That sounds hard. Is there help? KP: Yes, lots of help and a few ways to get it. We can help you choose your plan, or we can help you find someone who can meet with you in person, for free, to get it done. We have Assisters and Brokers all over Colorado. You can find one in your neighborhood on our site, Connectforhealthco.com. Or you can call our customer service center at 855-752-6749. RF: That’s great. Is there anything else we need to know? KP: Yes. It’s time to act now. Open Enrollment runs until January 15, but you should complete your enrollment by December. 15 to have coverage in effect on January 1. Open Enrollment is the only time you can buy your own health insurance, except for people who have what is called a “life change event.� Those life change events include losing the insurance you had through a job, having a baby or adopting a child, getting married or losing insurance because you moved. I urge anyone who doesn’t already have health insurance lined up for 2020 to go to Connectforhealthco.com and get started right now. Whether you want to find someone to help or you are ready to dive in on your own, the time to start is now! .

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t first glance, Shelby Holly-Page is a majestic force of nature, with striking ebony skin stretched effortlessly into seemingly impossible poses. Her sleek frame expresses strength from the crown of her shaved head to the tip of her perfectly flexed toes. Her stunning beauty is matched by artistic fluidity and quiet grace, as she invites a global audience to witness the power of her craft. She is Chocolate Yoga, and she is taking the world by storm. In the last decade, HollyPage has used the practice of yoga to transform her life, and with a burning desire to expand representation of the ancient practice to communities of color, she is utilizing her platform to transform the lives of others. Yoga, a word that means union with God, is a spiritual practice that harmonizes human and divine consciousness while releasing and controlling internalized energy to create balance between the body and mind. Hatha, the physical branch of yoga, deepens this mental and physical harmonization with a sequence of postures (asanas), and breath-control exercises (pranayama). Once peace of

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mind and body are achieved, practitioners enjoy a deeper state of awareness through meditation and strengthened energy, which releases stress, tension, and illness. While the practice dates back to Hindu traditions developed in preVedic India sometime from 5001900 BCE, more recent practices combine the influences of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The United States’ introduction to yoga is largely credited to Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk who appealed for increased financial support for India at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. As the practice gained popularity throughout the 1900s, immigration laws enforced in 1924 halted the influx of Indian teachers, forcing yoga-enthusiasts, including popular figures and celebrities who could afford the expense, to travel to India to learn the sacred art. By the 1950s, America’s first yoga studio was created in Hollywood, igniting the mainstream trend that has exploded into a $27 billion industry. Yoga’s transition from an ancient spiritual practice to a business-focused mainstream activity was facilitated by homogenous groups of privileged individuals during one of the most fervent struggles for social justice in history. Yoga was neither visible nor accessible to communities of color, with studios set up in swanky, segregated neighborhoods. Considering the roots of religion and spirituality within the Black community, the practice of yoga may have seemed oppositional to the idea of external divination; the focus on divine consciousness within the self would have been an intolerable concept among devout Black Christians, who were disallowed from learning about their own history, much less the history of other groups and spiritual practices from around the world.


Holly-Page is a trailblazer, who is dedicated to increasing inclusivity and visibility within the yoga industry, while showcasing the benefits of yoga to communities of color in hopes that all people will reap the mental, physical and spiritual rewards.

and whatever I could get my hands on,” she recalls. “I looked up tutorials on YouTube, yoga classes in my area, and people to follow on Instagram that I could look up to for inspiration and motivation, but there was no representation for people of color. I couldn’t find any Black

In addition to the astonishing contortions she manages to achieve, Holly-Page’s Instagram account captures the attention of thousands with her bold and artistic bare-skinned photos. Boulder’s beautiful outdoor landscape and Denver’s artful city scenes fade into the back-

Nine years ago, while attending the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, Holly-Page was introduced to yoga for the very first time. The university, a “Home of Consciousness-Based Education,” focuses on each student’s personal inner growth and wellness, with stress-reducing course requirements to promote a healthy lifestyle. “Yoga was a requirement,” says HollyPage, “I was into it in class, but I wasn’t in love with it, so I did some research.” Wanting to immerse herself more deeply in the practice, Holly-Page was discouraged by the high cost of yoga classes and one-on-one lessons. “I had to teach myself with social media, online videos, books,

women in the westernized/ Americanized yoga scene.” Holly-Page decided that she would be one of the faces of yoga, to diversify the practice and show people that yoga is beneficial and achievable for everyone. “Eventually I wanted the number of Black people who are involved in yoga to grow. Yoga is not exclusive to a certain group of people; we all need these benefits.” Holly-Page used Instagram as a platform to share her journey, and her efforts were a great success. With nearly fiftythousand followers, she has solidified her role as a representative of Black yoga, as she inspires others to explore and embark on a yoga journey of their own.

ground as Holly-Page tastefully bends, stretches, and folds her naked body into some of the most challenging yoga poses. However, when yoga-enthusiast and entertainment mogul, Russell Simmons, shared one of her photos, conflicting responses brought attention to the controversial nature of nudity on the ‘gram. “Nudity came along with me shaving my head,” says HollyPage, “It was a rebirth, a newfound acceptance for myself. I’ve always been an advocate for body positivity; nudity is natural, and doesn’t indicate sexuality.” The yogi/model transitioned from partial to full nudity after years of modeling and posing for figure-drawing classes, and while she recog-

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nizes the intrinsic value of photos that highlights engaged muscle structures, she acknowledges that everyone isn’t on board with the au naturel. “I’ve heard it all!” she laughs, “You can’t please everyone. There are times when I definitely get affected by things people say, but I’m the only person who can govern my happiness and I can’t let what other people think and feel about me be a factor.” Instead of combating negativity, Holly-Page engages her social media audience in thoughtful and provocative discourse about everything from sexuality to racism. “I learn something new every single day, and I’m thankful for that,” she says, “I know there are folks who feel like I talk about racism too much, but so what? It happens on a daily basis. I experience it on a daily basis, and other Black women experience it on a daily basis - So I’m going to talk about it until we are all experiencing it…and it stops.” Whether her social media platform is ruffling feathers or healing hearts, Holly-Page has been successful in growing her influence along with her practice. In 2020, Chocolate Yoga fans will have more opportunities to work with Holly-Page through group classes, private lessons, company health events, and wellness retreats centered on body positivity. “I want to keep inspiring. I want to get my name out there and bring yoga even deeper into the Black community.” Communities everywhere can value from the energy, flexibility, balance, and circulatory health improvements that yoga provides. At a time of great social unrest and dis-ease, the Black community should embrace yoga as a daily practice to harmonize the body, spirit and mind. . Editor’s Note: Find Shelby HollyPage on Instagram @Chocolate _Yoga. For classes and information, email Chocolate_Yoga@yahoo.com.


Blair Caldwell African American Research Library Commemorates the Life of James A. Rountree II

James Rountree II (far right) is pictured with sons (left to right) Glenn, Raymond, and Jimmy Rountree.

In October 2019, the Blair

Caldwell African American Research Library unveiled an exhibit dedicated to the life, service and legacy of one of Denver’s most successful Black businessmen. From now until April 2020, the historical commemoration will pay homage to the family man who remained committed to excellence while establishing a reputation as the city’s most reputable plumber. On April 9, 1912, James Rountree was born in Wildsville, Lousiana, to Eliza and James Rountree Sr. James or Jimmy (also known as Mr. Rountree and sometimes called “Tree”) was the oldest of eight children. He had two sisters and five brothers. As a child growing up, he worked in the cotton fields and eventually graduated from high school in 1931. In 1932, Mr. Rountree moved to Charenton, Louisiana, seeking work. While looking for work, he became a member of an agricultural and animal husbandry club called the “4H Club” which ignited his passion for wild game hunting. While

in Charenton, Mr. Rountree met his future wife, Gertrude Newell. They were married on July 19, 1934 and then had three children; Carolyn, James Jr, and Raymond. In 1941, Mr. Rountree and his family relocated to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he worked in a mechanical shop for the US War Department building engines for military air craft. Later, he became the first African American machinist instructor at Southern University. He was recruited to Oakland, California, to further instruct soldiers at a local military base. While in California, Mr. Rountree developed a sinus condition, and was advised to move to a dryer climate such as Arizona or Colorado. He and Gertrude decided to flip a coin, and Colorado was the winner. They arrived in Denver in 1944, and Mr. Rountree began working as a dining car waiter on the Santa Fe Railroad. Soon thereafter they purchased a home at 2222 Williams St. In March of 1946, a third son was born, Glenn Rountree. In 1953, Mr. Rountree made a career decision that changed his life when he decided to go to work for a plumbing com-

pany called Fred Berger Plumbing. He thrived in his new found trade as he earned more and more responsibility, eventually receiving his Colorado Master Plumber License on March 19, 1958. In 1960, Mr. Rountree left Fred Berger Plumbing and opened his own plumbing business, Rountree Plumbing, specializing in service and repair work. The business was located at 2942 Welton Street, in the heart of the historically Black Five Points neighborhood. Later, Mr. Rountree’s three sons joined the business and the name was changed to Rountree and Sons Plumbing. He was known as “the best plumber in town” by those that hired him, and his reputation for excellence never wavered. In 1963, Mr. Rountree became the first African American to join the Plumbers Union Local #3. His first contract as a union plumbing contractor was the Coleman Manor housing complex, located at 2263 Humboldt Street. The complex was owned by Campbell AME Church. This opened the door to other commercial projects that Rountree and Sons went on to complete

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in the coming years. The projects included the Denver Housing Authority’s “East Village 199 units,” Beaver Creek Resort, Quincy Waste Water Treatment Plant, Strontia Springs Dam, Chatfield Dam, the Eisenhower Tunnel and more. By the early 1970’s, Rountree and Sons Plumbing had become the top black owned plumbing contractor in the Denver Metro Area. When he wasn’t working or spending time with his family, Mr. Rountree could often be found fulfilling his passion for hunting and the outdoors. He and Gertrude were regular attendees at the some of the preeminent social functions of that era, such as the Top Hatters, the Black and White Ball and the Kappa Ball. One of the most anticipated events of the holiday season was the yearly New Year’s Eve dinner hosted by Mr. Rountree and his family, where they served his wife’s homemade Seafood Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice and Fried Chicken. Mr. Rountree was an ardent advocate of civil Rights and actively supported the march on Selma, the Montgomery bus boycott, the NAACP, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Mr. Rountree retired from the plumbing business in 1990 after 37 years serving the plumbing needs of countless customers, both residential and commercial, in the Rocky Mountain Region. And at the age of 84, James A. Rountree II died on October 13, 1996. The public is invited to join the Rountree family in celebrating Mr. Rountree’s success and contributions to this great city by visiting the exhibit at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library’s 3rd floor museum.. Editor’s note: The Blair Caldwell African American Research Library is located at 2401 Welton St. in the Five Points community. For more information, call 720-865-2401.


Control Your Weight This Holiday Season By Kim Farmer

T

here will be plenty of choices available over the holidays, and who can resist all of the candy at the office, pies at the parties, wine with the girls or an extra glass of beer with the guys? No one! And how easy is it to NOT exercise around the holidays? VERY! But holiday weight control can be easier if you follow these guidelines: 1. During the holidays, exercise may be the very last thing you think of doing. It is perfectly okay to miss a day or two of exercise, but try not to make it any more than this. It will be very easy to miss another day and even easier if you let more than 2 days go by. Even if you don’t exercise for as long as you normally do, it is important to still do something as long as you are moving.

2. Don’t deny yourself your favorite things, but learn to control the portion sizes. By denying yourself something you love, you are only making it harder to resist which only increases the urge to overeat. Limit yourself to one piece of pie or cake, use only a tablespoon of gravy, and drink only one glass of wine or beer. 3. Consider buying a box of candy canes and passing them out to a few of your neighbors over a span of 6-10 blocks. You can make a few new friends and burn some calories in the process. 4. We all love online shopping, but it has taken away some of the walking and shopping time we used to enjoy. Take some time to do some of your shopping at a mall so that you can also get some walking time in. If the weather is cold for a period of time, use the mall to do your walking even if you are not shopping. Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse for not moving! 5. Be Realistic. The holiday season is NOT the time to stress about trying to lose weight. Make it your goal to at least maintain and try avoiding any gains. You’ll need to plan ahead of course, a little more food here, means an extra walk or time on the treadmill there. It’s always about balance. While the holidays are an important time not to break your healthy habits, they are also usually not a good time to

try to start new ones. Try to stay on track with your exercise schedule, and be sure to eat in moderation when food is in abundance and rich with flavor. Reward yourself if you stick to it, and engage a friend or relative to help you stick with it if necessary.

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Have fun, and Happy Holidays! Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers inhome personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit www.milehighfitness.com or email inquiries@milehighfitness.com


Left to right: Dr. Rachel Harding, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies; Director and Producer Dante James; DUS editor Alfonzo Porter; Ghanaian native Joel Odonkor; and Rev. QuincyShannon

Remembering and Honoring 1619-2019: Film and Discussion ...By Annette Walker

“Genocide and slavery are crimes against humanity,” said Roz Duman in her introductory remarks at the recent 1619-2019 commemorative event. Duman is the founder and executive director of the Coalition Against Global Genocide (CAGG) which convened the recognition of the 400th anniversary of the arrival

of the first Africans to be sold into bondage on North American shores. She pointed out that genocide involves the intentional mass physical elimination of a group of people by a state, other authority or another group of people. According to the United Nations over the past 40 years genocides have occurred in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, the Darfur

region of the Sudan, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and northern Iraq (the Yazids). The United Nations estimates that there are approximately 40 million people currently enslaved worldwide. The UN defines slavery as “. . . forced labor so that the slaveholder can extract profit.” However, the UN has expanded the concept of slavery to include forced child labor, child soldiers, sex trafficking and forced marriage. Although slavery exists throughout the world, the UN has determined that the highest concentrations are in the Asia/Pacific region, the Arab states and sub-Saharan Africa. Canada and the United States are among the multitude of nations listed for sex trafficking. “CAGG’s mission is to educate, motivate and empower individuals and communities to oppose genocide and other crimes against humanity.” said Duman who established the nonprofit organization in 2008. The Denver Urban Spectrum and the Denver Film Festival co-sponsored the event which was held at the McNichols Civic Center Building. “The ravages of slavery and genocide continue to impact humanity on a global scale and while different, are not mutually exclusive,” said Alfonzo Porter, Denver Urban

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Spectrum editor and journalism professor. “There is purposeful dehumanization lending to unintentional apathy on behalf of the industrialized world, allowing these atrocities to continue to flourish,” he continued. “We know that issues in films create conversations and that is part of the mission of the Denver Film Festival, said Director of Marketing and Partnerships Kevin Smith. “We are focused on building community partnerships for these important conversations.”   Attendees viewed a screening of The Downward Spiral, Episode One of the 4-part series Slavery and the Making of America. Directed and produced by Dante James, it opens in the 1620s with the introduction of 11 men of African descent and mixed ethnicity into slavery in New Amsterdam Working side by side with white indentured servants, these men labored to lay the foundations of the Dutch colony that would later become New York. There were no laws defining the limitations imposed on slaves at this point in time. Enslaved people, such as Anthony d’Angola, Emmanuel Driggus, ad Frances Driggus could bring lawsuits to court, earn wages, and marry. Narrated by Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman, the series examines the integral role slavery played in shaping the new country and challenges the


long-held notion that it was exclusively a Southern enterprise. The remarkable stories of individual slaves offer fresh perspectives on the slave experience. The series was broadcast on PBS in 2005. “The vision for the series was that the enslaved were not passive victims,” said James. “They fought their oppression in every way possible. Slavery was and continues to be a critical factor in shaping the United States. Consequently, we must understand slavery if we are ever to be emancipated from its consequences,” he continued. During the post-screening discussion, Dr. Rachel Harding, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Denver campus elaborated on the need for the recognition of the 400th anniversary. “It’s important to acknowledge the 1619-2019 historical marker because it is one way to recognize the central

role that Africans and their descendants played in the creation of our nation,” she said. “On the one hand, it’s important to understand how fundamental Black people’s forced, unpaid, and then underpaid labor has been to the creation of the extraordinary wealth of the United States. Even after the abolition of slavery, the economic and social structures of our society continued to plunder the wealth and resources of Black communities through segregation, redlining, mass incarceration and terrible disparities in education, health and employment,” she continued. “On the other hand, it’s also essential to recognize that African-Americans have constantly pushed the country toward its most significant democratic advances. That is to say, Black people have been at the forefront of most of the historical struggles that have moved the United States in the

direction of greater democracy. Among these struggles have been the Abolitionist Movement, the Labor Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. All of these efforts were either led by Black people or had crucial African-American participation.” Rev. Quincy Shannon, who is also on the faculty at the Denver School of Science and Technology, commented on the current movement for reparations.  “By definition, reparation means ‘making amends for a wrong by paying to or helping those who have been wronged’. My premise is that reparations within the yet to be United States is a joke because America has yet to fully be honest about our past.  It’s difficult to make amends for something that some erase out of history books and downplay as a smaller event than it was.”

Shannon also pointed out issues facing the AfricanAmerican community. “Mass incarceration is plaguing the Black community,” he said. “Another problem is the way we have allowed media to develop what being Black is.  We are often associated with that which is bad and framed in a way that is detrimental to our communities.”  Joel Odonkor, a native of Ghana and resident of Denver, reflected on the 400th anniversary.  “There is a spirit in Americans of African origin that can never be killed nor destroyed no matter what. I believe the awareness and the recognition of this 400-year period is a testament to the resiliency and strength of the African spirit no matter where and how it finds itself. I believe the awareness should be more meaningful to the American of African origin than anyone else. We should use it as a platform for renewal.”.

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The slowed

gence in sweet treats and old family recipes, but as I step onto the scale every January, I end up regretting some of my food choices; as it turns out, so do millions of other people. In fact, the top two New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and exercise more. While optimizing our health is top of mind in January, it is one of the last things we think about when Christmas comes around. The good news is with a bit of strategic planning, we can enjoy the holiday food without packing on the holiday pounds. Try these four tips to keep the excess pounds at bay this year:

pace of the season allows for

Stay Active

time with family and friends,

While the cold weather and shorter days make most of us want to go home early and spend time on the couch, it is important not to neglect exercise during the winter months. Increasing your daily activity can help compensate for the dietary indiscretions that result holiday weight gain. In addition to helping your body maintain its energy balance, exercise can improve health in a variety of ways including reducing insulin resistance and improving glycemic control in diabetics, increasing the good HDL cholesterol and reducing total cholesterol, improving blood pressure, improving symptoms of depression and anxiety, increasing physical fitness, and reducing all-cause mortality (an estimate of how many people died of any cause in a specified period).

Four Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain By Dr. Erinn M. Burks DrPH, CHES

Of all the holidays throughout the year, Christmas is my favorite.

the decorations sparkle, the music is cheerful, the gifts pile high, and of course there is all the food – decadent, rich, and calorie-dense. Christmas is a time for indul-

Limit Late Nights Our bodies have an internal clock that controls the sleep/wake cycle. This clock is activated by the presence of light that lets our brains know it is daytime. Throughout the day, the hours we spend awake build up and as the sun sets our bodies begin to release melatonin (a hormone that helps regulate sleep). Changes in our normal schedules due to time off from work and school can alter

our regular sleeping patterns and prompt us to overconsume calories. Research has shown a correlation between decreased hours of sleep and an increase in body mass index (a measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight). This increase in body mass is likely due to a change in the amounts of two hormones that help to control appetite – leptin and ghrelin. While leptin decreases appetite, ghrelin does the exact opposite and increases it. When you don’t get enough sleep levels of leptin fall and levels of ghrelin spike leading to increased feelings of hunger. Coupled with the stressful effects of sleep deprivation on the brain, an increase in ghrelin can prompt you to crave calorie-dense foods and overeat.

Trick Your Brain Drinking water before a meal can trick the hypothalamus (the appetite center in our brains) into thinking the stomach is full and reduce the amount of food you consume throughout the day; however, this appetite altering effect only lasts an average of three days. To extend the reach of this effect further, try lowering the energy density of your foods by incorporating more vegetables and fruits into your meals or eat a small 8 oz cup of soup. This can extend the effectiveness of this trick by two to three weeks.

Plan Ahead Coming up with a strategy for how you will navigate a big holiday meal is important to avoid overeating and subsequent weight gain. A good

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strategy might incorporate some or all of these principles: Snack Well – Many of us are guilty of skipping breakfast ahead of a big meal to save space for all of the tasty holiday treats. Consuming small, nutrient-dense snacks (e.g., piece of fruit, an ounce of nuts) before the big meal can help curb the urge to overconsume later by keeping blood sugar and energy levels stable throughout the day. Divide and Conquer – The “Plate Method” is not just an eating strategy used to achieve glycemic control in diabetics. In weight management, this method can be used for portion control to reduce the likelihood of overconsumption and running into an energy surplus. To use the “Plate Method” divide your plate into quarters. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (e.g., salad, collard greens, kale), one quarter with high-quality protein (e.g., turkey, chicken, beans), and one quarter with starches or grains (e.g., yams, mashed potatoes, dinner roll). Go Small – Portion control is not just important for the big meal, but important for desserts as well. Instead of eating a full portion of those calorie-dense holiday goodies, divide them into quarters and save the rest for the days ahead. By portioning desserts before you consume them, you can save yourself excess calories without missing out. . Editor’s note: For more information about Dr. Erinn M. Burks, services, location and hours of operatioin, visit www.MyCherryPointe.com.


‘Tis the season for great home deals! Why December and January are the best months for buyers to purchase By Barry Overton

I

n one of my recent DUS articles, we discussed there are better seasons for sellers, as well as, better seasons for buyers. The market tends to slow down the latter part of October, so we are in full swing of the buyers’ season. In most cases, people are getting into the holiday mood so a lesser amount of buyers are purchasing homes. So for the savvy buyer, this presents an opportunity because with lesser buyers, new houses are being listed on the market daily. A market that has high inventory and lesser purchasers is a huge benefit for the buyer. It provides the advantage to pick and choose from many different properties. The real opportunity comes with the knowledge of knowing from which properties to choose. I’ve been able to give many of my buyers, who are looking for a great deal, access to a program that identifies houses that have been on the market for a long period of time and multiple price reductions during that time. There is a psychology to real estate which can make all the difference in the world on how you purchase and sale a home.

For example, if you are a buyer and looking to purchase and noticing homes on the market for more than 30 days, this would be a property worth tracking. It’s important to track the price point as it begins to reduce. In some instances, you may see large price reductions of $10,000 at a time or it may be smaller price reductions of $1500. It’s also important to check the frequency of those price reductions. Are the sellers reducing more than once in a week or are they reducing only every 30 days? If the price is changing often, this usually tends to indicate that the seller needs to move the property fast. Another important indication is if the property is vacant. I personally love when I see a vacant house that has been on the market for 30 days or more. I know that the seller is more than likely paying two mortgages and let’s face it – no one wants to have to pay two mortgages. That seller is losing money monthly, so the seller’s mentality is “the sooner the better” as far as getting that property under contract. Now most buyers do not have the time to spend tracking the days’

low the psychology of real estate. Take a look at this real example of a house that hit the market in July of 2019, at $524,000 and is currently on the market for $382,900. I had clients who wanted to make an offer. We were able to make an offer less than the $382,900. We also requested the seller pay the buyers closing cost. This is a perfect example of a vacant home, with significant price reductions, and on the market for more than 100 days – making a great opportunity for a buyer. We went under contract and my buyers received everything that was sked. They will be in their home before Christmas. . Editor’s note: Barry Overton is a licensed Real Estate Agent with New Era Group at Your Castle Real Estate. He has been an agent since 2001, and started investing in real estate in 1996. For more information, call 303-922-9222 or email barrysellsdenver@msn.com.

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Katherine Archuleta

Lupe Briseño

Rosalind “Bee” Harris

Velveta Howell

Marianne Neifert

Gale Norton

Mary Lou Anderson

Alida Cornelia Avery

2020 Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Inductees Named, Denver Urban Spectrum Publisher Selected Among the 10 Honorees

Former head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a civil rights activists, a publisher, a lawyer, a physician and educator, and former Secretary of the Interior and Colorado State Attorney General will comprise the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF) contemporary

inductees. They will be recognized in March along with a community builder, a frontier physician, an educator/political activist/suffragist and a restaurant owner as the 2020 CWHF historical inductees. These 10 inductees will become the next group of extraordinary contemporary and historical Colorado women

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who have made enduring and exemplary contributions to their fields, inspired and elevated the status of women and helped open new frontiers for women and society. “Inspiration is the calling card of the Hall,” says Deborah Radman, Chair of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. “These women are trailblazers, pioneers of opportunities for women, and all have left a positive mark on our state, nation and the world. They deserve to have their stories told and to be honored as shining examples of the potential of all women.” The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF) was founded in 1985. Every two years, the organization inducts contemporary and historical women who have significant ties to Colorado and have made a difference for women and girls through their courage and leadership. Since its founding, the CWHF has inducted 162 women from many races, backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, career paths, political philosophies, and religious beliefs for their outstanding contributions to society. This new class of 10 makes 172 women in the Hall. The lives of these extraordinary women are proof of what can be achieved with passion, commitment, grit and the grace to stand tall in the face of obstacles. They are trailblazers,

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Elizabeth Piper Ensley

Carolina Gonzalez

visionaries, and women of courage, glass-ceiling breakers, innovators, and rule-changers from all walks of life. Their contributions span Colorado’s colorful and storied history, reaching all four corners of our state, and have spread to touch our nation and our world. The 2020 Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame inductees include Katherine Archuleta, former head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; civil rights activists Lupe Briseño; Denver Urban Spectrum publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris; attorney Velveta Howell; physician and educator Marianne Neifert, MD, MTS; and Gale Norton, former Secretary of the Interior and Colorado State Attorney General. Historical Inductees are Mary Lou Anderson, a community builder; frontier physician Dr. Alida Cornelia Avery; educator, political activist, and suffragist Elizabeth Piper Ensley and restaurant owner Carolina Gonzalez. The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Induction is sponsored this year by Colorado Public Radio, 5280 Magazine, Denver 7, La Voz, and Denver Urban Spectrum. For more information on the induction ceremony or to become a sponsor, visit https://www.cogreatwomen.or g/inductees/induction-gala/, email info@cogreatwomen.org., or call 303-271-3599..


More Justice, More Peace A visionary model of community investment, Transforming Safety puts resources into people, not courts, cops, or cages. By Steven Dunn Photos by Flor Blake

I was born and raised in McDowell County, West Virginia, a community affected by mass incarceration, poverty, and crime. There was no funding for services or supports; the county resorted to opening more prisons to stay afloat economically. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, McDowell County has only 18,000 people but three prisons. Two of those prisons opened in the 2000s. Some of my friends and family are prison guards. Some of my friends and family are prisoners. That fact saddens both sets of people because we know outcomes could have been different if our community had resources to prevent crime. I’ve seen on this micro-scale what opening more prisons does to a community. It was true in West Virginia, and it’s true in Colorado, which is home to 25 prisons that house more than 20,000 people. That’s why I wanted to learn more about Transforming Safety. Transforming Safety is a visionary approach to public safety that invests in strategies that strengthen communities to prevent crime in the first place. Instead of opening more jails and prisons, Transforming Safety is built on the understanding that communities themselves know what they need better than any outside entity does – and that those communities should have the power to put resources where

they will be most beneficial to the people who live there.

which manages Transforming Safety’s community grants pro-

Christie Donner, far left, with staff from the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, which led a broad community planning process to develop Transforming Safety.

“Transforming Safety is not about courts, cops, and cages,” said Christie Donner, Executive Director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC), which led the Transforming Safety initiative through a community planning process and to the Colorado State Legislature. “The philosophy is pretty simple: Communities within themselves have the capacity to solve problems and create opportunity. What are always missing are the resources. “On a bigger-picture level, we’re hoping it actually transforms how we think about safety,” added Donner. “We’ve assumed that the criminal justice system is the best place to look for public safety. The truth of the matter is it’s the community. It’s in our families, it’s in our schools, and it’s in our faith entities. That’s where you build safety.” Transforming Safety reinvests $4 million annually in savings from parole reforms into pilot programs in North Aurora and Colorado Springs. The programs were designed with heavy input from residents of both communities. They include small-business loans to entrepreneurs and grants and technical assistance for community organizations. (For comparison, $4 million in community reinvestment is equivalent to only 39 hours of the Colorado Department of Corrections’ annual budget.) The Denver Foundation,

cess, has distributed $7.8 million to 46 organizations to date. “Folks from the neighborhoods set the grant boundaries, reviewed crime data, pored over statistics on school performance and out-of-school suspensions, interviewed their neighbors, and crafted the grant priorities that guide the grantmaking in both communities,” said Patrick Horvath, Director of Economic Opportunity for The Denver Foundation. Horvath noted that

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Transforming Safety has invested in small grassroots organizations that do not have access to typical state-run grants programs, which operate on a reimbursement basis. “Both Transforming Safety communities have deeply connected and passionate community leaders who do amazing work but who could never compete for funds in a complicated state reimbursementbased grant program,” Horvath continued. “By putting the grant dollars in the hands of The Denver Foundation to manage, Transforming Safety allowed many small community-based groups to get their first grant and to strengthen the impact they’ve been having in their own neighborhoods for years, often as volunteers.”

Beginning the Transformation Transforming Safety began with CCJRC, which was founded in 1999 to advance community health and safety Continued on page 18


More Justice, More Peace Continued from page 17 and decrease the presence of the criminal justice system in Colorado. Led by people convicted of crime and survivors of crime as well as their families and allies, CCJRC exists to advocate for the incarcerated—and prevent others from being lost to the system of mass incarceration. To shape the legislation that would become Transforming Safety, CCJRC sought direct input from communities and neighborhoods most impacted by over-policing, mass incarceration, and crime. They learned that community investment in the form of support for nonprofit organizations and small businesses was a major need. “This was designed for sustainable impact in community, and we’re presenting it to people that way, and telling them, ‘this is not like something else, this is not like someone parachuting into a community and saying, “We’re going to rescue you. We’re going to save you.”’ We know exactly what you need,” said Hassan Latif, Executive Director of the Second Chance Center in Aurora, a Transforming Safety partner and grantee that helps formerly incarcerated people transition into society. “This is a group of community members deciding what’s important and resources being directed into those areas,” he added. “That’s unique, when it comes to solutions-focused approaches to community problems.” Transforming Safety passed the Colorado State Legislature in 2017 with bipartisan support. Colorado became the only state in the U.S. to reinvest money from the Department of Corrections directly into communities. “We can take credit for some things, but this is really about what the community has done,” said Donner. “We put words on paper; we don’t make it come to life.”

With Donner’s words in my ear, I sought out two examples of how the community has lifted the Transforming Safety vision off the paper and brought it to life.

Work Options for Women’s Mobile Culinary Classroom

These factors make people want to find work wherever they can, so they can leave halfway houses as soon as possible. But that work may not always be sustainable. One way that WOW has helped fill that unforgiving gap in the system

Rega, Krista, Amee, and Edward are students of the Mobile Culinary Classroom, a Work Options for Women program funded with a grant from Transforming Safety.

Work Options for Women (WOW) is a workforce training program that received a Transforming Safety grant to help formerly incarcerated people transitioning from halfway houses overcome barriers to sustainable employment. WOW ensures that its graduates have culinary and jobreadiness skills and ongoing support to pursue sustainable careers in food service. Since 1997, WOW has trained and employed more than 3,000 people in Metro Denver. Julie Stone, WOW’s Executive Director, and Bailey Denmark, the organization’s Development Director, explained the reality for people living in halfway houses as one example of the challenges that await a person newly released from prison. Halfway houses are privately owned, for-profit businesses that charge their residents rent. In Denver that rent ranges from $20-$25 per day ($620-$775 per month). So residents accrue daily debt while transitioning from incarceration; plus living with the fear of not being employable. Plus other logistical, emotional, and societal barriers that make reentry difficult.

is through the Mobile Culinary Classroom (MCC), a fast-track training program that reduces barriers like transportation that can lead some to drop out of training programs run out of WOW’s central office. Students leave the program with Prep Cook Certification and two cognitive behavior classes under their belts. After the four-week training, they move on to job searches. In 2018, WOW received a $70,000 grant for the MCC from Transforming Safety, which was renewed in 2019. Stone and Denmark note that before they had the Mobile Culinary Classroom, they would enroll 150 students and 50 – or 33 percent – would become sustainably employed, which was still above the national average of 20 percent for similar programs. In 2018, after starting the MCC with support from Transforming Safety, WOW enrolled 199 students, and 50 percent became sustainably employed. This year everyone – 100 percent of the 33 students enrolled in the MCC is employed. “This population is very serious about becoming a part of our workforce,” says Stone.

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Breaking Chains, Building Bonds at The Rock Center My next visit was to see Pastor Corbin Tobey-Davis and Aubrey Valencia, who run Breaking Chains, Building Bonds at the Rock Center, housed in Parkview Church in Aurora. This transformational healing program uses storytelling and the arts to help parents learn new coping skills to handle the trauma that caused them to get involved in the justice system. The ultimate goal is to help parents rebuild and maintain strong family bonds. In 2018, the Rock Center received a $25,000 grant from Transforming Safety to support the program. The grant was renewed in 2019. While I sat with Pastor TobeyDavis, Valencia walked in, flustered. A few blocks away, she’d seen uniformed men with assault rifles walking in the road, peering into parked cars. She couldn’t tell what enforcement agency they belonged to, but guessed maybe ICE. Pastor Davis and Valencia were both concerned about how that would affect the community and what, if anything, could be done about it. I mention this because this type of holistic awareness and concern for the individual to the larger community is the essence of Breaking Chains, Building Blocks. Valencia talked about not using dehumanizing labels such as “felon” or “ex-con” because people are more than that. She recalled leading a workshop called Parenting with PTSD, when one of the men came in feeling guilty because he had a rough week. She told him, “This is the first time in your life that you recognized you were triggered. This is the first step toward healing PTSD.” A couple of the men in the program have since reunited with their children, Valencia noted. She met with them a couple of weeks ago, and they brought their kids. “It was so


Pastor Corbin Tobey-Davis (far left), Ronnie Harvey, and Aubrey Valencia of the Breaking Chains, Building Bonds program, also supported by a Transforming Safety grant.

cool to see how happy they were,” she said. Those men will be coming back to the program this year as paid peer mentors. Pastor Tobey-Davis pointed to a candleholder on the shelf. “That’s a circle of people with their arms around each other. The Rock Center logo is also that,” he said. “One of the key pieces of this program is this circle model. We start each session in a circle. Some of the feedback that we got is that so many of these men received

workshops where they were talked at, but we said, ‘We are part of this journey together.’ We created a culture of ‘We’re going to learn from each other in this circle. We’re going to be part of this circle.’” Before Transforming Safety, Pastor Tobey-Davis added, the question was always, “We’re doing the work; now how do we begin to access resources to allow us to expand the work?” Transforming Safety, and its continued funding, is the

“how.” It was originally slated to sunset in 2020, but in 2019, the Legislature passed a threeyear extension (Senate Bill 19064) that earned Gov. Jared Polis’ signature in May. The Legislature will conduct a sunset review in 2023. Through a competitive grants process, The Denver Foundation will continue to distribute $2.6 million annually in community grants to organizations like WOW and The Rock Center, which are serving the unique needs of the community in holistic, collaborative ways. The more I learned and met people who are doing the real and necessary work, I could see what Transforming Safety is about: collaboration, care, and commitment to community.. Editor’s note: Steven Dunn is the author of the novels Potted Meat and water & power. He was born and raised in W. Virginia, and after 10 years in the Navy, he earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the University of Denver.

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To commemorate the

upcoming 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently partnered with Main Street America to preserve historic buildings and sites that celebrate the contributions of women in communities across the country. The 2019 Partners in Preservation campaign garnered more than 1.1 million votes from Sept. 24 to Oct. 29, and with more than 60,000 votes, Denver’s Black American West Museum & Heritage Center, the former home of Dr. Justina Ford, secured a 10th place victory, winning a $150,000 restoration grant to preserve the site for generations to come. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920, ending almost a century of protest from the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which fought for the socio-political of women through education, employment, and the right to develop their own political identities through voting. While this momentous occasion marked a victory for white women, the 19th Amendment failed to alleviate restrictive practices that withheld voting and civil rights from non-white

Black American West Museum & Heritage Center’s $150,000 Grant Victory Honors the Legacy of

Dr. Justina Ford men and women for the next 50 years of U.S. history. In 1870, five years after the end of the Civil War, congress ratified the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, preventing states from denying the right to vote on grounds of race or previous condition of enslavement. This guarantee was meant to serve as an extension of the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 to guarantee citizenship to all persons born in the U.S. – including former slaves, but it was unsuccessful in protecting the rights of the Black community. Barbarous intimidation, poll taxes, literacy tests and Jim Crow laws restricted the Black vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 45 years after women were granted the right to vote. Ongoing discrimination after 1870 affected an entire community of men and women, like Dr. Justina Ford, who sought professional advancement in spite of the limitations that threatened their success. Ford, who moved to Denver in 1902 after graduating from medical school and working at a hospital in Alabama, was the

first Black female licensed doctor in Colorado. After initially being denied a medical license due to her status as a Black woman, Ford was prohibited from joining the Colorado Medical Association and denied access to local hospitals, so she treated patients at her home office from 1911 to 1952, helping circumvent the racial and economic barriers to their medical care. She often accepted services and food items in lieu of payment, and was known to send baskets of groceries or coal to patients in need. During her 50-year career in gynecology, obstetrics and pediatrics, Ford delivered more than 7,000 babies, and was affectionately known as “the baby doctor.” In 1985, Ford was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame, and was recognized as a medical pioneer by the Colorado Medical Society in 1989. In 1983, the historic Dr. Justina Ford House was saved from demolition and moved to

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its current 3091 California Street location in the Five Points Historic Cultural District of Denver. The home was restored and opened to the public as the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center, dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating the contributions of Ford and other remarkable figures throughout history. Residents, supporters and city leaders rallied around the landmark home during the Partners in Preservation campaign, voting daily to secure $150,000 of funding that will be used to complete necessary repairs to safeguard its collection of Black history. Marc Carter (57), the great nephew of Dr. Ford and the son of the baby in the iconic photo with Dr. Ford said “The recent publicity highlighting my great aunt’s contribution to Colorado gives me a tremendous sense of pride. It has been especially heartwarming to hear the personal stories told by people she delivered in the Five Points community. My father, Gene Carter, was a teacher and often spoke of the close relationship with his Aunt Justina and often credited her with motivating his higher educational pursuit. Only a few of my friends were aware that I was related to this amazing groundbreaking pioneer. But now because of the media attention and actually winning the funds to restore her home, many more can learn about her legacy!” The Black American West Museum & Heritage Center is a place of learning, with exhibits featuring Black cowboys such as Bill Pickett, the legendary Buffalo Soldiers, and a detailed history of the Five Points neighborhood, once known as the “Harlem of the West.” Residents and visitors are invited to explore this treasured landmark to learn more about the significant contributions of Blacks in the Old West.. Editor’s Note: For more information, visit www.bawmhc.org


Denver Chapter Links Receives Outstanding Service Award “Linked in Friendship, Connected in Service” is their motto, and at the 2019 National Philanthropy Day event, The Denver (CO) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated received the prestigious Outstanding Service Award for the state of Colorado. As the crowd of 800 gathered to celebrate the most generous givers and volunteers in the state, applause resounded for the inspiring dedication of The Denver Chapter. The Outstanding Service Award is presented to a volunteer social club or community service group that has demonstrated outstanding commitment through financial support and the encouragement and motivation of others to take leadership roles in philanthropy and community involvement. The Denver Foundation nominated The Denver Chapter “in honor of its deep history of service.” Jada Dixon, the current Denver Chapter President accepted the award on behalf of the 50 active Denver Chapter members. “We impact the community in powerful ways. Giving of our time, talent, and treasure” she explains. “This is

L to R: Gwen Brewer, Victoria Scott-Haynes, Val Gill, Jada Dixon, Wanda Pate-Jones, Toni Baruti Photo by Chris Schneider

an engaged, passionate, powerful group of African American women.” The Links, Incorporated, founded in 1946, is recognized as one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations comprised of African American women dedicated to community service. More than 16,000 women serve in 288 chapters across the country. The Denver Chapter launched in 1952 and has been a powerhouse in the community ever since, granting more than $1 million to local causes and contributing more than 5,000 volunteer hours annually. Since their inception, The Denver Chapter has focused their community efforts on key areas – Health and Human services, Services to Youth, National Trends, International Trends, and The Arts. In recent years, the Denver Links have worked closely with Hallett Academy, a Denver public elementary school. Through the Children Achieving Excellence Signature Program, Early

Literacy and Mentoring, the Denver Links work to help improve reading proficiency and instill a love of reading for under-served students. The Denver Chapter also implemented Backpacks to Briefcases: Links to the Future at Omar D. Blair Charter School, a public K8 school in Denver. The program, for African American middle school girls, focuses on improving academic achievement while supporting their health, cultural, social and career development. The Denver Chapter established The White Rose Foundation Incorporated and its endowment at The Denver Foundation as their philanthropic arm. The foundation has awarded more than $250,000 in college scholarships and many other charitable contributions, including a gift of $50,000 to help establish the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. Motivated to help those most in need, The Denver Chapter, The Links, Incorporated are

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among the most generous and steadfast benefactors of Volunteers of America, supporting women and families in its shelters investing gifts of what they call the “4 T’s”- time, talent, treasure, and testimony, into improving lives in Denver communities.. About National Philanthropy Day: National Philanthropy Day in Colorado is a celebration of giving, volunteering and charitable engagement. The day highlights the contributions that philanthropy, and those involved in giving and volunteering, make to society and the world. In Colorado, 12 outstanding honorees were recently celebrated for their generosity of spirit, time, and treasure at the National Philanthropy Day at the Colorado luncheon on Friday, Nov. 8, at the Seawell Grand Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. National Philanthropy Day is a nationwide program created and promoted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). The AFP Colorado Chapter serves as the host for National Philanthropy Day in Colorado. A robust selection process, involving a wide-ranging group of community representatives, including members of the nonprofit/ foundation, business, and government sectors, determined the winners. Denver Urban Spectrum Publisher Bee Harris served on the selection committee this year.


I NTRODUCING J AVIER A LBERTO S OTO

The Denver Foundation’s New President Has Ideas, Energy, and Lots of Questions By Laura Bond Photos by Flor Blake

As a child in Miami, Javier Alberto Soto grew up in a philanthropic home. Not a wealthy one: At night, his Cuban-born parents cleaned an office building together. Cleaning was a second job for both of them, and they sometimes brought Javier along. From their earnings, they gave all they could to their neighbors and community, in keeping with their Catholic faith. Javier’s father always paid the charitable “bills,” sending checks to every organization that sent letters in the mail. To him, it was a responsibility and a regular part of life, like paying the electric company or the rent. Their example of sharing and service rooted in responsibility followed Javier into his career. He spent many years in the public sector, including as a litigator in the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office and as Chief of Staff to the MiamiDade County Mayor. But it was as the President and CEO of The Miami Foundation that he embraced what felt like a calling. Over the next 10 years, Javier emerged as an innovative and influential leader in the philanthropic arena, guiding

The Miami Foundation through a significant period of growth and positioning the organization at the center of civic and philanthropic life in the Greater Miami area. Javier was born in Madrid, where his parents briefly settled after leaving Cuba. He moved with his parents to Miami at age three. Apart from time away for college (he has a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Florida State University) and law school (he earned his law degree from Georgetown Law); he has spent his whole life in that vibrant, complex, coastal city. It took a special opportunity to draw him away, one that aligned with his personal commitment to improve the lives of the most vulnerable, a value modeled by his parents and informed by his faith. It had to feel like the next step toward living his calling. That opportunity, it turned out, was in Denver. In June, after much consultation with his family, Javier accepted the position of President and CEO of The Denver Foundation. The cross-sector committee that chose Javier from more than 350 applicants recognized him as someone uniquely qualified to steer the Foundation through the coming years, which will

bring the development of a new strategic framework, one shaped by actively listening and deepening our roots in the community. Javier is the sixth President and CEO in the Foundation’s 94-year history. When we sat down to talk to Javier exactly one month into the job, he had already experienced a couple of firsts, including an early-season snowstorm and an icy drive to Denver International Airport. He had met dozens of people, including philanthropists, fellow foundation heads, business leaders, community organizers, and residents of neighborhoods where Denver Foundation programs and grantmaking are concentrated. He’d encountered some surprises, too. “Denver is a lot smaller than I expected, and I don’t mean that in terms of the size of the place or the number of people,” he said. “There is a closeness of connection here; it feels like there are, at most, two degrees of separation. That’s incredibly helpful to someone coming in as a newcomer.” Most important, he’d begun to formulate a clearer sense of The Denver Foundation’s role in Metro Denver and the lives of people who live here – and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. “As a community foundation, we absolutely have an obligation to everyone in the community, especially those who are the most vulnerable,” he said. “And we should be leading in a way that folks want to be a part of and contribute to because they see that, if we work together, we have the potential to solve real problems.” Miami to Denver is a big move. What convinced you to uproot from the city where you’ve spent your whole life? There were many things. I have a close friend in Boulder and have been coming out here for years; I’ve always loved hik-

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ing and running and cycling, which are all big attractions here. There parks were also a big draw. Parks play such a vital role in the life of a family and the life of a community, in bringing diverse people together, and parks are a huge part of what Denver offers. As the father of two daughters, I also wanted to be in a place that empowers and lifts up young women, in a way that I think Denver absolutely does. I asked my 12-year-old daughter to write a list of things that she would want if we were to move someplace new. The number one thing was “nice people,” and Denver surely checked the box. She also wanted a place with people from different countries, one that celebrates diversity, which Denver also has. Those were things I wanted, too, somewhere that we would all want to be as a family. Coming into a new community is challenging; coming in as a leader is that much more difficult. What is your strategy for getting to know your new home? One of my primary responsibilities as head of The Denver Foundation is to understand this community deeply. When I’m traveling, the way that I get to know a city is to run or bike through that place. So starting this fall and continuing next year, I’ve begun a listening tour on my bike. I plan to visit all 78 neighborhoods, to get to know the people who are the boots on the ground, the organizations doing important work, etc. I’m also really interested in learning as much about Denver history as possible. It’s important not just to understand where Denver is today but to learn the road that it has traveled. I’ll do a lot of wandering, taking the time to understand how the different parts of Denver work and being an observer. What are you listening for, on these tours?


My goal is to understand what the folks in this community view as our most pressing challenges. I also want to hear what their aspirations are for this community, for their families. I don’t just want to paint a picture of what’s going wrong. I want to understand what a bright future looks like in the minds of people in Denver. So you are someone who listens to learn. What are some other traits of your leadership style? I consider myself to be a values-focused leader. That’s always a continuous work in progress, to be grounded in values while you’re making decisions. That absolutely is my North Star and approach to leadership. My parents have always lived a life centered on core values, particularly faith and family, and that has shaped my approach to leadership. Humility is one of the core values I always try to be guided by. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t be confident as a leader or confident as an organization. You can be humble and still be confident in the direction you’re going and the results you’re aiming toward. At The Miami Foundation, you were known for your advocacy and engagement with policy issues. How do you plan to approach advocacy in your new role with The Denver Foundation? Well, staying with humility for a moment, I don’t think we should assume that we can

solve every single problem in this town. But I think we need to understand what the challenges are and then identify where we can lean into and push for policy solutions. I don’t think community foundations can influence meaningful change through grantmaking alone. It should be paired with policy solutions and partnerships with the public sector to drive real, meaningful change. You have to be thoughtful whenever you step into the public affairs arena. Part of the work is bringing diverse views to the table, and trying to understand if there is a consensus path forward that helps us create the greatest possible community that we can. That may look different depending on where you sit, what your lens is, and what your experience in this community is. Like Denver, Miami is facing challenges from growth, such as gentrification and displacement. How similar are the two cities? Miami is struggling with some challenges that wouldn’t be quite as monumental if there had been more foresight when the pace of change accelerated dramatically. I think that’s the point that Denver finds itself in now. We still have the ability to make those decisions that will help guide this growth and this transformation in positive ways so that the challenges don’t become quite so huge down the road, whether that means

investing in infrastructure; whether it means investing in social capital and building bridges between different peoples in this region; whether it means paying close attention to how climate change is going to impact this region. Solving for these things today will make them much easier to manage in the future. Where do you see The Denver Foundation in all of that? The Denver Foundation has a critical role to play in all of those conversations. Any conversation that is centered on the future of the Denver region must include The Denver Foundation. This organization was established to be mindful of the future of this community. And so being involved in decisions that have such a great impact on the future of this is essential. Javier Alberto Soto led many initiatives during his 10 years with The Miami Foundation, including the launch of Give Miami Day, which has generated $47 million in donations since 2012. In 2016, Javier convened Miami, Miami Beach, and Miami-Dade County to submit a successful joint application to The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Program, which focuses on urbanization, globalization, and climate change in major urban centers. This collaboration resulted in the rollout of the Resilient305 Strategy, a blueprint for a more resilient future for the region. He also

led the development of key projects including the “Our Miami Report,” a biannual overview of issues that shape the experiences of people in Greater Miami. In 2013, Javier was awarded the prestigious Henry Crown Fellowship by the Aspen Institute. For two years, he served as Board Chair of the Council on Foundations, and also sat on the Knight Foundation’s Miami Community Advisory Committee. Upon news of Javier’s departure for Denver, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez shared a common sentiment: “Our loss is Denver’s gain,” he wrote. Javier’s listening bike tour will continue through November and resume in the spring of 2020. What he sees, hears, and learns will inform his understanding of the Metro area as well as his role as the leader of the largest and most experienced community foundation in Colorado..

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Editor’s note: Samantha OfolePrince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is Blackflix.com’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Laurence Washington is the creator of BlackFlix.com. Like Blackflix.com on Facebook, follow Blackflix.com on Twitter

Doctor Sleep lll By Jon Rutlege

A

s a new horror fan, I am intrigued by how it took almost 40 years to get a sequel to the Shining produced and on the silver screen. It’s something we need to see in other horror movie franchises. Way too often, horror filmmakers find a new idea and beat it to death, making sequel after sequel.  Doctor Sleep took so long, because they had to tell the right continuation of the story, instead of trying to shootout another film trying to ride the wave of popularity. Danny (Ewan McGregor) is grown up and struggles with surviving the Overlook Hotel ordeal and living with his power. Danny is contacted by someone like him, a young girl who also has “the Shine.” Abra (Kyliegh Curran) is the young girl who has visions of a gang of people who feed off the Shine. These evil creatures are

lead by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). They are looking for Abra, and only Danny can help. The dedication to rebuilding, not only the set of the Overlook Hotel, but also the care used in casting people who resemble members of the original cast was an excellent choice. Looking at both actresses who play, Wendy (Danny’s mother), Alex Essoe takes on Shelley Duvall’s mannerisms

and speech patterns. It’s an excellent performance that doesn’t need CGI to make them look the same. Filmmakers sometimes rely on using CGI, but instead Director/Screenwriter and Editor Mike Flanagan, chose actors who closely resemble the actors from The Shining. (’80)  When a filmmaker wears too many hats on the production, you get a singular vision. Mike Flanagan has avoided the traps and has made an excellent product.  In an interview Flanagan explained that the Stanly Kubrick’s estate shared with him the Overlook Hotel plans from the original film. He used only some of the original film in brief flashbacks. But there were many new shots, and the detail in the set design is spot on. It’s the little attention to details that blend this movie seamlessly into the original. Fans of the original film won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t seen the original, you

won’t be left out as there is enough backstory told to keep you up-to-date. You should absolutely see the original, but it’s not needed before going to see this film.  The performance of Kyliegh Curran, who is carrying this big-budget film with only one other acting credit to her name, shows enormous potential. Her flexibility in changing characters and emotional range, and playing a person with believable power is incredible. You will need to watch her career. Based on this performance, she has unlimited potential. This movie is more thriller than horror, but it has some incredibly hard scenes to watch. It doesn’t pull any punches on showing the darkness of the protagonists. In the opening scenes, they set the stage at how vile and evil they are. It gets much darker and horrific from there. You may want to bring a pillow, as it can get uncomfortable on the edge of your seat. You will be there

“We all saw it as a female empowerment film, but I really viewed it as an adventure film as well,” says Lemmons. “I was interested in the things that you don’t know about Harriet Tubman and this was an opportunity for me to present this superhero, a real American hero, this woman that existed outside of the realm of ordinary limitations.” Lemmons, who spent months researching Tubman’s life directs an incredible cast that includes British actress Cynthia Erivo as the small but mighty Tubman. A part she plays with precision, the entire story falls on the strength of her perfectly restrained performance which is heartbreaking and raw and whenever she is on screen your eyes are on her. “There were not too many people who could play Harriet. Cynthia is fierce and she’s tiny, she’s strong and powerful, and she’s filled with this beautiful energy and humanity. You feel her soaring soul when you talk

Harriet Makes An Unforgettable Impression

By Samantha Ofole-Prince

I

t’s virtually impossible not to be moved by this story of Harriet Tubman’s life. A film, which begins with her as a young slave on the Brodess plantation, and ends with her being the first woman to command a battalion in war, director Kasi Lemmons brilliantly portrays a fully rounded individual who did more than just free a few slaves.

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to her and I knew this was the woman who could play Harriet Tubman for she is a force of nature,” Lemmons adds. Her tenacity is on display from the opening moments of the film when Harriet, then known as Araminta “Minty” Ross, discovers she is being sold to new owners in the south. After experiencing a powerful premonition, she realizes


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she needs to run. She travels on foot, relentlessly pursued at every turn by the plantation owner’s son Gideon (Joe Alwyn), who calls her unruly and untamed, along with a few enlisted Black slave catchers headed by Omar J. Dorsey. Littered with emotional and pivotal moments and guided by a powerful score by Oscarnominated composer Terence Blanchard, there’s a pivotal moment, where rather than allow herself to be recaptured, she chooses to throw herself into the river below. “It’s in that moment that Harriet makes the true decision to be free or die,” Erivo shares. “There is no other option. I don’t know if she knew that until that moment. I think that is the crux of the movie—the idea that freedom is more than just not being someone else’s property. Freedom is the opposite of death.” Throughout her 100-mile quest for freedom, Tubman encounters allies and enemies who create an amazing ensemble cast. From Vondie CurtisHall as Reverend Green, who is secretly a conduit to the Underground Railroad, Marie Buchanon (Janelle Mona �e), who runs the boarding house she resides to abolitionist William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.), from the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia. It’s there she ends up choosing the new name, Harriet Tubman. Months later Tubman,

armed with a gun, bravely returns to the Brodess plantation to rescue her husband, John Tubman (Zackary Momoh) and there is yet another pivotal moment when she learns the devastating news that he has moved on after her departure, has remarried and is expecting a child. That doesn’t stop Tubman who becomes a full-fledged conductor on the Underground Railroad—a liberator known only as Moses, secretly helping runaway slaves reach the Promised Land. There are several more touching scenes of her shuttling more slaves to freedom, returning for her parents, played by Clarke Peters and Vanessa Bell Calloway to her sister who refuses to leave the plantation. “Can’t everybody run!” she states as Tubman tries to convince her.  There’s a moving encounter with the dangerous slave hunter Bigger Long (Dorsey), and another satisfying scene with the increasingly angry and reckless Gideon Brodess who is still seething over the financial loss of several slaves and its then she finally delivers her brand of justice. Erivo felt an enormous responsibility to do justice to Harriet Tubman’s legacy. “There’s definitely been pressure to play this woman, this icon, because she’s an inspiration to so many people,” she shares. “There’s also the excitement of finally being able to

bring this woman’s story to the screen – because it should have been done well before now. I’m just lucky that I get to be a part of it.” The film features an ensemble of important historical figures from the 19th century including Frederick Douglass and not only covers Tubman’s role as a conductor in the Underground Railroad, but her life as a suffragist and position as a spy for the Union army. The best way to capture the

true emotional weight of historical events is to portray them dramatically. This extremely powerful story about the life of the iconic freedom fighter traces her remarkable accomplishments, shares her resilience and shows what happens when a cohesive group of people come together for one common cause. “You will come out uplifted, inspired and knowing things you didn’t know before and will be incredibly moved and optimistic,” says Lemmons. .

Tune in to Denver 89.3FM, Breckenridge 89.7FM, Vail 88.5FM or download our app today and listen anytime, anywhere.

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The Grace, Beauty and Grit

of

Vanessa Williams

V

anessa Williams is a creature unlike any other. It’s as though she came here to impart the ins and outs of living life on one’s own terms. From unwitting social lightning rod during the 1980s, to multi-platinum selling recording artist and Broadway, film and television star, Williams slayed the maledominated Hollywood dragon long before the #MeToo movement. You can tell from talking to her that both the scars of past judgment she endured, and the fruits of her sweet success have made their impact.

By Allison Kugel

Now preparing to carry her stage skills across the pond to London’s West End, Williams will be starring in a production of City of Angels, opening at the Garrick Theatre in 2020. She has also added fashion designer to her packed resume, launching the sexy and sophisticated Vanessa Williams collection for HSN; and fresh on the heels of a multi-album deal with BMG, Williams is working on new music to reflect a collection of musical genres she is passionate about.

A renaissance woman for the ages, Vanessa Williams’ life is nothing if not purposeful. Kugel: I read your 2012 memoir, “You Have No Idea,” and I’m so glad I did, because it was the missing piece to really understanding you. The one constant theme throughout your life, it seems, is that you are a natural born rebel!

Photo by Rod Spicer

Williams: (Laughs) Yeah. Kugel: That quality plays out in one way when we’re young, but changes as we get older. How do you express that side of yourself now? Williams: It’s now about being unafraid to take chances.

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In terms of my career, I just signed on to do City of Angels on the West End [of London]. It’s not a lot of money, but it is an opportunity to work on the West End. It’s always been a dream of mine to live overseas, and to study in London. There are no guarantees, in terms of leaving my life in the states behind, but it’s something that excites me. At this stage of my life it’s all about asking myself what I want to do that I’ve never done. The challenge of it excites me, and doing the same thing bores me. Kugel: When nude photos of you surfaced during your 1984 reign as Miss America and you were forced to relinquish your crown ten and a half months into your year-long reign, you were counted out there for a while in your twenties. Do you ever pat yourself on the back these days and say, “I did it!”? Williams: No, I really don’t. I don’t think that, because there’s always that next goal, like, “but I want to originate a role on Broadway;” or “I want to do a movie musical.” There is always something to be done. It’s not that I’m never satisfied, but there is always another goal on the horizon. Kugel: Clearly, you value adventure over routine. Williams: Well, I look at some people who have been on the same show for eleven or twelve seasons, and it’s a great cash cow. It’s great to have that kind of consistent salary where you can budget and put money away. God bless everyone who has had a series on the air for ten years, but there is an energy that keeps you kind of hungry when you are always looking for the next thing and you don’t know what that next thing is. Kugel: You broke through a pretty significant glass ceiling in your twenties being crowned the first African American Miss America. In 2008, when President Obama was elected as our first African American president, did you feel a connection

or kind of kinship with him, since he broke a barrier in a similar way? Williams: Oh, absolutely, in terms of his safety and his presence was worldwide. But there is an expectation that comes with that honor of breaking barriers. It’s also a tremendous fear, not only for yourself, but for family members; because there is such division, which doesn’t seem to leave us. So, there is a specific fear and uncertainty that you have, but you have to be brave and you have to continue to do what you were chosen to do, and the job that is before you.

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Kugel: What have you learned about love? What’s been your greatest love lesson? Williams: I’m lucky to have four children, and there is nothing like that love; a love like that never ends. Once they’re out of the house, you’re still, as a mom, always available. You’re still always worried and concerned. And you’re still always extremely proud, no matter their age or what they are doing. Kugel: How do you take care of your body, mind and spirit; and what’s your feelgood routine? Williams: My feel good is waking up with a good cup of coffee and doing a crossword puzzle in the sun. That starts my day off perfectly. And when I get a chance to explore and travel, I love to horseback ride. Continued on page 28 Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – December 2019

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Vanessa Williams Continued from page 27 Spending time at home is also a joy for me. I’m on the road traveling so much, so my happy place is kicking off my shoes and hanging out at home. Kugel: You’re a practicing Catholic and you attend Church regularly, but in your most quiet and intimate moments, whom or what do you pray to, and what do you pray for? Williams: I pray to God and my ancestors and my guides, and everyone who has been with me along my journey. As far as what I pray for, it depends on what I want or need at that particular moment; whether it’s guidance or protection for my children. It depends on what my particular need is at that moment. Kugel: Do you consider yourself a trailblazer for women? Williams: I think my history has made me a trailblazer, unknowingly. I’ve always just been myself and that’s how it played itself out.

Kugel: What makes you feel most beautiful? Williams: The sun and the warmth make me feel beautiful. Every time I land someplace that’s warm, it makes me feel like I’m connected to nature. And that’s without hair and makeup and wardrobe, and all that stuff. It’s just the breeze, the water, and heat that make me feel like my most natural self. And then being around children, whether it’s my children who are all grown up… there’s a connection that I have with kids. Maybe because both of my parents were elementary school music teachers, but there is a connection that me and my kids have with young kids that I absolutely love. My connection with children makes me feel so alive. Kugel: You recently launched your own clothing line, Vanessa Williams, which is available through HSN. The collection is versatile, imaginative and sexy, yet understated. And I love how you incorporate

animal prints and patterns with different looks. Williams: Thank you. It’s another opportunity to be creative and I’ve got a great manufacturer, so the quality is fantastic. It’s an extension of what I love, which is putting my stamp on things. I love fashion, and I’ve been fortunate to work on amazing shows, both on television and on Broadway, where I’ve worked with incredible costume designers and been exposed to fantastic fashion through stylists. When I design, I keep my eightyyear-old mother in mind, and then my children; my girls are from age 19 to 32. Everyone’s got their own sensibility, and there’s one piece for everyone to enjoy. Kugel: When will you be recording your next album? Williams: Now! I just finished recording a children’s album, which will be out next spring. And I’m working on a new album for BMG that will be out next year. We’re leaning towards mood and tropical music for this next album, and there will be more projects to come.

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Kugel: Let’s circle back to your upcoming show on London’s West End, City of Angels. You’re a Broadway veteran, but this will be your West End debut! Williams: This will be my “junior year abroad” that I never got the chance to do! In college, I was supposed to go to London and then I became famous that September. So, it’s my delayed junior year abroad, thirty-six years later. And it’s getting a chance to show my stage talent on another respected stage.. Editor’s note: Shop the Vanessa Williams collection at HSN and pre-order tickets to see Vanessa Williams star in City of Angels at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West end. Visit www.VanessaWilliams.com. Editor’s note: Kugel is a syndicated entertainment columnist, author of the memoir, Journaling Fame: A memoir of a life unhinged and on the record, and owner of communications firm, Full Scale Media. Follow her on Instagram @theallisonkugel and at www.AllisonKugel.com.


Remembering Marie Greenwood

11.24.1912 - 11.15.2019

A trailblazer, a go-getter, a determined individual, and someone who believed in equal rights for everyone; Marie Louise Greenwood impacted change and left an indelible footprint in every area of her amazing life. Mrs. Greenwood made a mark for herself in Denver that has been celebrated across the country. She has left a lasting legacy that will never be forgotten. She accomplished so many firsts; the most well-known becoming the first contracted African-American teacher in Denver Public Schools. In the mid-fifties, she was the first Black teacher to integrate an all-white school. Born on November 24, 1912 in Los Angeles, California, Marie Anderson moved with her parents, a railroad chef and a domestic worker, to Denver in 1925 in order to gain more opportunities. After graduating from Denver West High School as one of the top three students in her class, Marie received a scholarship to pursue her education at Colorado Teacher’s College (CTC) in Greeley - now the University of Northern Colorado. She was not allowed to live on campus or join any formal organizations. This blatant racism and discrim ination never altered her focus in achieving her goals and making the most of her time in college. In 1935, she gradu ated from CTC and was given a teaching assignment at Whittier Elementary School in Denver; receiving tenure in 1939. On April 17, 1943, Marie married her best friend, William (Bill) Greenwood. She spoke often of how proud she was of her husband in all of his accomplishments in the 40 wonderful years they spent together in marriage; particularly in his career as a Budget Officer at Lowry Air Force Base. In 1945, she took a hiatus from teaching in order to raise her family. Four children were born to their union; Richard, Louise, William, Jr, and James. Her family has grown to now includesix grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. In 1953, Mrs. Greenwood returned to teaching part-time as a substitute at Newlon Elementary School, an all-white school near their home in West Denver. At first faced with discrimination from parents, soon she was requested by par ents to teach their children, and in 1955, she was hired as a full-time teacher becoming a trailblazer yet again. In 2010, UNC awarded her an honorary doctorate degree that added to her countless other awards and honors. At the age of 100 she completed her autobiography, By the Grace of God – following her first book, Every Child Can Learn. And at the core of everything, it wasn’t about what she accomplished, it’s who she was and the attributes that formed all that she achieved - her strength, her optimism, her humor, her adaptability, her tenacity, her life-long learning. Like a unique family recipe with all the special ingredients and love, it could never be replicated the same way by anyone else. Mrs. Greenwood cannot be defined by any single achievement or attribute. She lived her life with integrity, faith, deter mination and a spirit of adventure; overcoming obstacles, challenges, and discrimination all along the way. I was honored to be her personal assistant for the last five years of her life. As I imagine her first graders absorbed so many skills and life lessons every day, I soaked in her wisdom and philosophies each time I was in her presence: “You are a success if you do what makes you happy.” “Nothing is so bad that it couldn’t be worse, be thankful for what you have and make the most of it.” I gleaned so much from every conversation we had, and I loved hearing at the end of a phone call, “Have a goodie now!” I enjoyed accompanying her to Marie L. Greenwood Academy where she was so often honored by the students and parent tutors in the Each One Teach One program. Mrs. Greenwood so loved this incredible literacy and hands on learning program which embodies all of her own teaching philosophies, and will continue to be one of many legacies that so strongly impacts its participants. I will miss you, Mama Marie! You will always live on in my heart, as well as the hearts of so many others.

Misti Aas Funeral services for Mrs. Greenwood will be Thursday, December 5 at 10 a.m. at Shorter AME Church. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation be made to the Marie L. Greenwood Scholarship Foundation at UNC or the Each One Teach One program at Marie L. Greenwood Academy. To learn more about both Mrs. Greenwood and Each One Teach One, visit the Friends of Marie L. Greenwood website, www.friendsofmlg.org.

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Continued from page 3 put it behind them by basically saying, “Hey we gave this man a chance so we’re clear, now it’s up to the owners to decide to let him back in.” Not so fast. Kaepernick is smarter than that; he read the intentions very well, so he chose his location, his time, his rules, and his music to his favorite jams with his favorite people. You see it was never about the flag; it was about awareness to unfair treatment and police brutality towards people of color. Let’s just go back to most current events, Unarmed Black man Botham Jean was shot dead in his own apartment while watching television by a white police officer who entered the wrong apartment. Atatiana Koquice Jefferson was shot and killed by a white police officer while playing video games with her nephew. So these are facts that Kaepernick wants to bring attention to, others see it as a

flag issue. This was murder committed to people who were home. Can you begin to imagine what actually goes on when a young man of color, Black or Hispanic is pulled over by the police; and the fear they must face? It’s not surprising when some people just refuse to listen and go off “popular emotions.” Every Sunday we all see football jerseys being worn by thousands of NFL fans of their favorite players. It’s so ironic how some will wear that players’ jersey but won’t allow him on their block or in their family. “Just entertain me and shut your mouth” Voicing your opinion is sometimes met with “taking a militant stance” or “go back to Africa if you don’t like it here.” Kaepernick did it his way. He held his own party and moved to his favorite beat in front of his favorite people. Colin I salute you! Dexter Hopes Denver

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Turning Faith Into Action Editor: I recently had the pleasure of joining my brothers and sisters in faith in St. Louis for the annual Green The Church Summit, a convening of congregations from around the country dedicated to confronting the systemic issues posed by environmental injustice. Communities of color have long known that the effects of pollution aren’t evenly distributed- they affect vulnerable populations like ours with greater frequency and severity. Whether it’s soot in the air or lead in the water, the health and economic burdens of pollution have often fallen on those with the least of means. We came together with a shared understanding that to be a person of faith in the year 2019 means making a commitment to solving these fundamental issues. With the rapidly encroaching climate change crisis, we are facing a problem of truly biblical proportions, one that will test our ability to come together and implement real solutions. Confronting this global crisis means taking substantial action to transition to a clean energy economy, and that also means recognizing how our communities are disproportionately affected. Today, 68 percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a dirty coal plant, one reason why black children are 10 times more likely to die as a result of asthma compared to white children. Our reliance on coal also translates into the added economic burden of more missed school days due to air pollution in the very marginalized communities who least can afford them. When we commit to tackling the climate crisis, it must also mean a commitment toward tackling these inequities.

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Rather than striving to solve these entrenched problems, the Trump administration has been actively making them worse. Instead of maintaining or strengthening the Clean Power Plan – the first ever set of federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants – President Trump and his enablers are gutting it with the so-called Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. This rule would do absolutely nothing to limit the carbon pollution contributing to climate change and would fail to protect Coloradans from the increasingly frequent and severe droughts and wildfires threatening our local communities. Unfortunately, our very own Senator Gardner has been supportive of the Trump administration’s ‘dirty power scam’ at every step, voting in favor of the ACE rule and going against the will of the 61 percent of Coloradans who are worried about climate change. In spite of all this, the dedication and perseverance of community leaders like those present at the Green The Church Summit have filled me with immense hope. Together, we can work toward pressuring our elected officials to adopt legislation requiring net-zero carbon pollution, which would address the particular health disparities in communities of color, and the larger impacts of the climate crisis for all Coloradans. The health and wellbeing of our communities are on the line, and we cannot afford further backpedaling on this existential issue. We have a sacred obligation to be good stewards of the planet we inhabit, and the time is now for turning that directive into action. Dr. Reverend Timothy Tyler Shorter AME Church Denver, CO


Profile for Denver Urban Spectrum

2019 December Denver Urban Spectrum  

Check out who was in Denver - Quincy Jones, Jamie Foxx, DeOndra Dixon and Terrell Davis for the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. Check...

2019 December Denver Urban Spectrum  

Check out who was in Denver - Quincy Jones, Jamie Foxx, DeOndra Dixon and Terrell Davis for the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. Check...