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Volume 27 Number 11

“If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

February 2014

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris



FILM and BOOK CRITIC Kam Williams

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Angelia D. McGowan Charles Emmons Tanya Ishikawa Theo E. Wilson ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris



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 2014 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at

– Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history. Black History Month as we know it today grew out of the 1926 “Negro History Week,” the brain child of noted historian Carter G. Woodson. He and other prominent African Americans who drove the designation would be proud of the people and events published in this month of the Denver Urban Spectrum, a 27-year-old publication dedicated to spreading news about people of color all year round. Our cover story takes a glimpse into the dynamic life of Landri Taylor, a businessman adept at getting to the heart of the matter … because it can be done. We honor the 2014 African Americans Who Make a Difference for going above and beyond. Charles Emmons writes about the cornerstone role of barbershops in African American communities. Op-ed contributor Theo E.J. Wilson addresses the consequences of tearing down Randall’s at Pierre’s, a restaurant rooted in a Denver landmark. We also mark the passing of Pensal McCray, who along with her husband founded the Ethnic College Counseling Center, which has helped about 3,000 students get into college. In a tribute to a poignant moment in history, we run a piece on the 1921Tulsa Race Riots that burned down “Black Wall Street,” a name given to one of the most affluent all-Black communities in America. In honor of Woodson’s legacy, we note that the Harvard doctoral graduate wrote more than a dozen books, including Mis-Education of the Negro (1933), a particularly noted work that has become a regular course adopted by college institutions – a noteworthy tradition. Angelia D. McGowan Managing Editor


members of Congress worked to put the needs of our children first. One-fifth of children in this country live in homes affected by hunger, and with nearly half of food assistance funds directly benefiting children, Congress will decide which children get the food they need and which go hungry. Hunger and homelessness are far too prevalent, and Congress has a moral imperative to act. But making life better for our children is more than about addressing issues that affect the most marginalized in our society. It’s also about growing the middle class from both ends. Think about it: quality education, access to health care, a safety net for unemployed families – these are the things that allow people to climb into the middle class and stay there once they arrive. Children of immigrants are the fastest-growing demographic of children in America, and Congress will decide whether immigration law prioritizes their safety and development or continues to devalue children and tear families apart. Our schools continue to struggle, in large part because a parent’s income rather than a child’s ability determines whether kids begin school ready to learn. A federal-state pre-school partnership modeled on Colorado’s Child Health Plan Plus could level the playing field, but whether that proposal advances or falters will be up to the decisions of our representatives in Washington. So who were the members of Colorado’s delegation who made the grade? U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette was honored as a “Champion for


Last month in the Robert “Treebob” Williams tribute article, Epsilon Nu Omega chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha should have been Alpha Kappa Alpha. DUS Staff

Thank You Rep. DeGette for Being a Champion for Kids

Editor: 2013 was a tough year for children and education policy in Colorado. Headlines everywhere showed fires, floods, and an economy that is struggling to recover. But the media rarely mentioned the impact that these events had, and still have on our most valuable resource: our kids. 18 percent of Colorado kids live in poverty and 23,680 of public K-12 age students don’t have a roof over their head. And while politicians love talking about kids’ issues, few actually back it up when it comes time to vote. Fortunately there were some in Congress who did stand up for our kids, including several members of Colorado’s congressional delegation. These 2013 Champions for Children were recently recognized by the First Focus Campaign for Children, a nonpartisan group that advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. Every child in America deserves a fair shot in life, and that means enough food to eat, a good education, a safe roof over his or her head and access to quality health care. In 2013, despite the threat of budget cuts, these

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Children” while U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a former Denver Public Schools superintendent, and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis were named “Defenders.” Representative DeGette has played a critical role in updating our nation’s outdated and ineffective food safety infrastructure to keep our children safe and our food industry secure. In May 2013, she visited the Tennyson Center for Children in Denver to discuss and oppose cuts for education funding in the Ryan budget. She has also advocated for SNAP funding so that children can get the nutrition they need, and for preserving funding for Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which provides health care to more than 22 million children. Coloradans owe a thank you to theses leaders for their extraordinary efforts to protect and improve the future of America’s next generation. We look forward to their increased leadership on behalf of our kids in the years to come.

Caroline Webster Colorado Fair Share

Editor’s note: Caroline Webster is the State Field Organizer for Colorado Fair Share, which stands for an America where everyone gets their fair share, does their fair share, and pays their fair share; and where everyone plays by the same rules.

Do We Still See Colored People?

Editor: President Lyndon Johnson visited Martin county Kentucky in 1964. I was nine years old. We were considered the poorest county in the United States. Most of us did not know we Continued on page 32


Taylor Steps Up To The Challenge... rarely reported fact about busi-

ness and community leader, Landri

Taylor, is that he fully intended to be a pediatric cardiologist when he earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California at

Berkeley in 1974. The pre-med student followed another path instead, but his capacity to get to the heart of any matter has revealed itself in leadership positions throughout his career. His titles have included entrepreneur, vice president, president, CEO, board chair and board treasurer. A guiding question ingrained in him early in life by his father, James Taylor, has “driven me all of my life,” says Taylor of the times when he’s facing what appears to be insurmountable odds. The question: “Is it because I can’t do it or because it can’t be done?” He faced such a time in his career about five years ago, when the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver requested his business acumen. “It wasn’t my intent to be president, but when I saw the depths of the Urban League closing its doors the challenge to find solutions excited me. They were a half a million in debt,” says Taylor, who admits to always going to sleep at night with excitement about what the next day will bring. He was asked twice to help the organization get its footing – once to be an executive on loan while he was vice president of community affairs with Forest City Stapleton where he led its small business development, job training and minority and women-owned business enterprise outreach. But the timing was not right. They asked again eight months later around the time the company laid him off from a 10-year career with the company. Within two days of being unemployed, he accepted the position. It was not because he needed a job. He was financially stable. It was because the words of his father, who had died when Taylor was 31-years old, echoed in his mind. The recipient of the Denver Urban Spectrum’s 2001 African Americans Who Makes a Difference Award and a 2008 Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame Award did not falter. He’s proud of turning the Urban League into a “giving organization” to reflect its mission

...Again By Angelia D. McGowan Photo by Bernard Grant

to help African Americans and other residents of metro Denver attain social and economic equality and selfreliance. “We volunteer all over the metro area.” Urban League Board Chair Wayne Vaden says that when Taylor took the helm, the organization “was just a name, the building had been sold and the board was decimated.” He adds that Taylor, along with the former president, Jerome Whitney and his executive assistant, Latrice Norwood took the organization “from life support to a viable organization.” To help the organization get back on track, Vaden, also managing attorney at Vaden Law Firm, LLC, offered the back offices of his practice at 2015 York Street as a home to the struggling organization. The successful comeback of the Urban League can be attributed to Taylor for saying “no” to dollars not in line with the organization’s mission and to successfully explaining the return-on-investment to secure sponsors for investing in the league’s focus area – the Northeast Denver Corridor, from Union Station to DIA in the areas of education and economic development. Vaden notes that one of the reasons

nonprofits get off track and don’t do well is because they accept funding for reasons not in line with their mission. Under Taylor’s leadership, the Urban League Young Professionals program won recognition for its financial literacy outreach activities from the national office, the annual Whitney M. Young, Jr. Annual Dinner had been invigorated and the annual White Party fundraiser was launched. The challenge had been met and the groundwork positioned for future success. He has resigned from the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver and is now director of diversity and inclusion for PCL Construction’s U.S operations. Not skipping a beat, Taylor ended one job on Jan. 10 and began the next one on Jan. 13. In a Jan. 17 press release, Brett Dolan, PCL’s director of human resources, says of Taylor, “He has long been known for his collaborative and comprehensive methods of building a stronger Denver community and we’re expecting that same approach to have a profound impact at PCL.” PCL is a group of independent construction companies that carries out work across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and in

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Australia. These diverse operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets are supported by a strategic presence in 31 major centers. Together, these companies have an annual construction volume of more than $7.5 billion, making PCL one of the largest contracting organizations in North America. The new position is one of two recent role changes for Taylor, who in November 2013 was elected to a fouryear term as Region 4 District Director on the Denver Public Schools Board. While running for school board, he received endorsements from an overwhelming number of political figures in the Denver area, including “my political hero Wilma Webb for all she did and endured in her fight to establish the MLK Holiday,” says Taylor. “I think it’s the most important board in the country,” says Taylor, whose favorite quote, “It’s fun to do the impossible,” hails from Walt Disney, an animator, business magnate and creator of Disneyland. Taylor adds, “I say it for the kids. They need to know that the impossible is meant for them. They should never doubt. Have fun and go do it.”

College Days, Jesse Jackson and Roots

Taylor’s college days – the late 60s – on the University of California Berkeley campus demonstrated that activism is part of everyday life. “It was not unusual to have people like Bobby Seale, Jesse Jackson, Angela Davis and Melvin Van Peebles speaking at the campus on the steps of Sproul Plaza – the most famous steps for the Free Speech Movement. While a student, he headed the Berkeley Jazz Festival for four years. He booked guest from Miles Davis to Nina Simone to Herbie Hancock at the festival that was founded in 1967 and continues to run today. He says it was “magical.” Also while on the campus, he was part of the committee that established the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley campus – one of the first departments of its kind in the UC system and the nation. The committee secured American writer Alex Haley as a professor. He says during the committee interview, the co-author of Continued on page 6

Denver Parks Vital to our Neighborhoods

I grew up

By Mayor Michael B. Hancock

in Denver. I am the person I am today because of Denver schools, Denver neighborhoods and the Denver spirit. Throughout my childhood, my family and I lived in several neighborhoods, but the one major constant we had was this city’s amazing parks system. As I look back, it is indisputable the role that our parks and recreation system played in my life. I remember playing ball with my friends at Hiawatha Davis basketball courts and barbeques with our neighbors at City Park. Today, Denver’s urban park system encompasses nearly 3,000 acres of traditional parks and parkways, 2,800 urban natural acres and 154.9 square miles of urban forest. When you add our mountain parks, Denver’s park system spans nearly 20,000 acres. These are treasures that helped to shape my childhood, and I will ensure that they are available and growing to help shape future generations in Denver that we will never meet. Over the past two years, the city has taken great steps to fulfill this mission. Last month, we designated an additional 274 acres of park land, and by 2017, we expect to add an additional 142 acres to our urban park system, with new parks and natural areas planned around the city, including in the North Stapleton, Montbello, Sun Valley and Globeville neighborhoods. We’ve also made significant investments to enhance existing parks. Some $25 million has been earmarked to improve the South Platte River corridor, including the park areas along the river. I personally lobbied to have Civic Center designated a National Historic Landmark – a status it achieved last year – and we have cleaned up and activated the park recently with more ranger patrols, additional HALO cameras, more planned events and fitness classes. In partnership with the trust for public lands, we also installed fitness zones in Silverman, Swansea, La Alma/Lincoln, Huston Lake and Sonny Lawson Parks.

This is just some of the great work my administration is undertaking to improve and expand our park system. Parks and green spaces are about more than offering a place for a picnic. They have proven economic, social, health and environmental benefits in a big city like Denver. Our parks and rec. system is critical to providing and maintaining Denver’s high quality of life. As our population grows and our urban city becomes denser, it is important to protect the park spaces that exist, grow parks where we can and maintain parks at the highest level possible.

When people choose to call a place home, new businesses, stores and apartments will follow. And low income, minority and immigrant neighborhoods are especially lacking access to good parks. Our most steadfast commitment is to equitable distribution of our wonderful park space, and we are working hard to bring new parks – such as the forthcoming Cuatro Vientos/Four Winds Park in Westwood – so that every neighborhood can become a vibrant, thriving community where residents can experience nature and refresh their spirits. When our children have healthy environments in which to play, when

our residents have a recreational, inspirational and essential respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, we uplift our entire city. This is the power of parks in a city like Denver. Denver’s forefathers understood the value of preserving as much of our pristine land as possible while also setting out to build a vibrant, world-class city in the Rocky Mountain west – and I aim to continue on that path. We’ve accomplished a lot within our park system over the past two years, and I look forward to continuing that momentum as we head into 2014. 


We are proud that Landi Taylor, PCL Director of Diversity & Inclusion, has been recognized in this month’s Denver Urban Spectrum for his ĞīŽƌƚƐĂŶĚĂĐŚŝĞǀĞŵĞŶƚƐ͘ŽŶŐƌĂƚƵůĂƟŽŶƐ>ĂŶĚƌŝ͊ ƚW>ǁĞĂƌĞŵŽƌĞƚŚĂŶďƵŝůĚĞƌƐ͘tĞĂƌĞĂĚŝǀĞƌƐĞŐƌŽƵƉŽĨ ĐŽŶƐƚƌƵĐƟŽŶƉĂƌƚŶĞƌƐǁŚŽĂƌĞƉĂƐƐŝŽŶĂƚĞĂďŽƵƚǁŚĂƚǁĞĚŽ ĂŶĚĂďŽƵƚĐƌĞĂƟŶŐƐƵĐĐĞƐƐĨƵůŽƵƚĐŽŵĞƐĨŽƌŽƵƌĐůŝĞŶƚƐ͘ We share your vision. We build success. Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Landri Taylor

Continued from page 4 the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” began telling them the story of “Roots.” In fact, it was during their interview that Haley received the call from ABC saying they would be turning his book into a miniseries. The meeting inspired Taylor to follow and trace his (Haley’s) footsteps in The Gambia. He secured a financial aid scholarship and traveled over a twomonth period to numerous countries in Africa from Senegal to the Congo to Kenya. In addition, he spent one month in Europe. He even spent time in Mexico as part of his pre-med studies. With a rich history behind him, there was a time when he was lowkey in community activism, devoting more time on the home front. Then he heard a message that resonated with his roots. “My environment growing up was about service and change and how to make the world a better place,” says Taylor, who was inspired by his first heroes, his mom (Naomi Ruth Pierce) also his kindergarten teacher and his dad, a mailman. Jesse Jackson’s address on July 19, 1988 at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia “made me stand up and salute,” says Taylor of the Keep Hope Alive speech. “It

ignited me to get back in and make the difference my family expected of me. It was time to get off the sidelines and back into action.” But, how do you balance family life with community activism? “Meeting my wife (Gloria) set the foundation for the rest of what I could contribute in life. She made my value system accept the responsibility of the time I could dedicate to making a difference.” Taylor became a democratic precinct committee person, and worked on several local, state and federal campaigns. “I’ve worked politically in every quadrant of city to be involved,” says Taylor, a 1995 graduate of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Denver program. It’s not surprising that Taylor regularly attends events across the city. “I do that because that’s what people should be doing,” he says. “You can’t become an activist unless you are a community participant.” A family man who is most proud of the titles “husband,” “father” and “grandfather,” Taylor has been cognizant of how he and Gloria develops the next generation to be better than the previous generation, starting with their three adult children and four grandchildren. Even with the nation’s first African American president in office for a sec-

ond term, Taylor says there’s still a lot of progress to be made. “There are many issues still confronting the Black community like the persistent K-12 educational achievement gap in our community. We have to solve such issues and become the ‘Superman’ in the community.” “Today’s (African American) kids are privileged to not have the same struggles as their parents and grandparents who faced fire hoses, whiteonly signs, and sitting in segregated theatres in the balcony behind wire mesh.” Taylor recalls as a child bringing a brown bag of chicken on a train trip with his grandmother from Texas to California because the dining car was not open to Black people. “We have to teach our kids this history so they can appreciate the sacrifice many made for them to enjoy a better world,” he says. He adds, “I want the American dream for everyone. Whether it’s owning a home, having a family or a job that provides a livable wage, that’s what we saw in the movies. I want that American dream for everybody.”

Boards and Commissions

Landri has served on a number of boards and commissions throughout Denver including the 1998 Neighborhood Bond Campaign that

added more that $100 million dollars of community development projects throughout Denver’s neighborhoods. He has also served on the RTD Board helping spearhead completion of Denver’s first light rail transit corridor. In addition, Taylor served on the Denver Public Library Commission, Sand Creek Regional Greenway, DIA Business Partnership and the Foundation for Educational Excellence. Taylor currently serves on the boards of the American Public Television Stations, Blair-Caldwell African American Library Foundation, Stapleton Foundation and Denver Public Schools. For a person who has been asked to be on most if not all of his boards, he says, “It doesn’t bother me when people ask for help, but it’s important to do more for yourself than what someone has to give you.”

What’s Next for the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver?

Board Chair Wayne Vaden expects the search to last up to six months. The national office will post the job opening and a selection committee will review the candidates and make recommendations. Taylor and his wife have been asked to be part of the 2014 annual fundraiser dinner as chairs.

The Colorado Gospel Music Academy Awards & Hall of Fame presents the

43rd Annual Gospel Music Concert and Academy Awards Celebration

Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 3 PM

New Hope Baptist Church - 3701 Colorado Boulevard - Denver, CO

Special Guest: Rev. Raymond A. Wise, Ph.D.

Dr. Wise, from Columbus Ohio, is recognized internationally as a gospel music recording artist, musician, workshop leader, composer and star of stage and opera.

The public is invited to this free community event co-sponsored by McDonalds. Doors open at 2 PM with open seating on a first-come basis. Early arrivers will receive a McDonalds’ gift card. For more information, call 303-233-3321 or email

New this year! Workshops will be held on Thursday, Feb. 6 with the Denver Spirituals Project and Cummunity Choir and Saturday, Feb 8. with a Denver Children Citywide Mass Choir. For more workshop information, call Daryl Walker at 303-331-0466.

The Colorado Gospel Music Academy & Hall of Fame's mission is to preserve, perpetuate, promote and present gospel music as an historic,cultural and priceless treasure in the history of African Americans and the world church community. Morgan-Smith said, “We’re proud that jazz, rap, rhythm and blues have their origin in the Black Spirituals, which are sustained today in many art forms that include traditional and contemporary gospel music. Thanks to this music we heard the melodic voices of great singers from the church that have included, LL Cool J and Whitney Houston.”

Dr. Syl Morgan-Smith, Founder and President

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Dr. Syl Morgan-Smith Dr. Syl Morgan-Smith has a God-given and unique set of expertise with successful careers as a graduate nurse, a Denver primetime television news anchor, television talk show host, radio newscaster, radio gospel music announcer, newspaper managing editor, Western Region reporter for the National Mutual and National Black Radio Networks, Colorado realtor, and Director of Public Affairs for Rockwell International at the U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) Rocky Flats Facility near Boulder, Colorado. She retired from the Midwest Research Institute of Missouri (MRI) after 30 years of service in various positions for their DOE contract operations at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, where she held various executive level management positions that included Director of Corporate

Local Civil Rights History Comes to Cherry Creek D

By Tanya Ishikawa

enver has not only been the scene of major civil rights events but the city is also home to significant figures in the national civil rights movement. From Feb. 17 to March 2, visitors to Cherry Creek Shopping Center’s Grand Court will have the unique chance to explore this local history as well as meet AfricanAmerican leaders who broke institutional barriers. Luther King Jr. to Denver, as well as The Me & The Dream Exhibit and significant events leading up to Program, presented by the Denver Colorado’s adoption of the official Urban Spectrum, will be an inspiraKing holiday. The display will also tional and educational two-week feature for the first time historical event, free and open to the public. sculptures by Denver’s own internaCherry Creek Shopping Center is tionally-acclaimed artist Ed Dwight, the host location and main sponsor. who also was the first Black astronaut Located in the heart of Denver at 3000 program trainee. E. 1st Ave., the shopping center is the Rosalind J. Harris, publisher of the Rocky Mountain region’s premier "When you leave your job... 27-year-old Denver Urban Spectrum shopping environment with more don't leave your money says, “We are honored tobehind!" join this trathan 160 shops, including 40 stores dition at Cherry Creek Shopping exclusive to the area such as Neiman and bring Myra Donovan, Center CLU, ChFC, CFPto the forefront the Marcus, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, presence and voices of our local civil Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. Financial Adviser rights heroes.” “For the past several years, we’ve Throughout collaborated with various3200 cultural Cherry Creek Drive South, #700the two weeks, the community will have the special treasures in the Denver area to present Denver, CO 80209 opportunity to hear this annual event in honor of Dr. 303-871-7249 - personal stories of King’s legacy and to commemorate civil rights achieveBlack History Month,” says Cherry ments. Denver resiCreek Shopping Center General "Call Today for a FREE dent Carlotta Walls Manager Nick LeMasters. “We’re Consultation!" LaNier will get up excited about the activities we have close and personal slated this year to enrich this longon Tuesday, Feb. 18, standing tradition.” with her experiences as one of the The exhibit, celebrating Black Little Rock Nine students who as a History Month, is a rare display of teenager challenged school segregaphotographs and memorabilia docution in the 1950s. menting the visit of Rev. Dr. Martin

Filmmaker Adam Dempsey will lead a conversation on Sunday, Feb. 23, about his documentary, Spirit at the Mountaintop, about the history of African Americans in Denver through the 135 year legacy of Shorter Community AME Church. On Saturday, March 1, Denver’s first Black teacher, 100-year-old author Dr. Marie L. Greenwood, will share her wisdom from decades of dedication to classroom education. Greenwood’s presentation will be followed by recognition of essay contest winners from Sims-Fayola International Academy. The Denver Urban Spectrum, recognized for spreading news about people of color, will also present its annual “African Americans Who Make A Difference” awards to the 2014 winners on Wednesday, Feb. 26. All events will be hosted by program

"When you leave your job... don't leave your money behind!" Myra Donovan, CLU, ChFC, CFP Financial Adviser

3200 Cherry Creek Drive South, #700 Denver, CO 80209

303-871-7249 -

"Call Today for a FREE Consultation!" Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


emcees, Theo Wilson and CJay Smith. Wilson, also known by his poet handle, Lucifury, is a founding member of the Denver Slam Nuba team, who won the National Poetry Slam in 2011. He is also a pianist, actor, singer, rapper, dancer and activist. Smith is a speaker extraordinaire who uses visualization and humor to deliver refreshing real-life every day situational conversations designed to inspire, uplift, and educate. All visitors to Me & The Dream can participate in a fun local Black history trivia contest for the chance to win prizes from the Denver Urban Spectrum and its sponsors, including movie tickets, restaurant gift cards and more. Instructions for entering the contest will be available on the displays and from the Spectrum’s Facebook page. A VIP breakfast and a closing reception are also scheduled for sponsors supporting the exhibit and program. Kaiser Permanente and Colorado Access are partnering sponsors. First Bank, RTL Networks, Webb Group International, Civil Technology, Wells Fargo, ARC Thrift Stores, Ed Dwight Studios, Hapa Sushi and CPSI Sales are among the contributing sponsors. The event is being produced by Bat PR & Associates. To learn more about the event or sponsorship opportunities, email or call 303-292-6446. Free parking at the shopping center is available in two multi-level parking decks, as well as valet parking off of 1st Avenue.  Read about this year’s African Americans Who Make A Difference Pages 17-20


gives a word of encouragement, and

masculine work? Does it require skill? Whom should a barber shave? It’s enlightening to know who has weighed in on these issues. The African American barbershop is frequently a window into the community in literature. Vassar College history professor Quincy T. Mills published his research on the African American barbershop, in a book, Cutting Along the Color Line, Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America (2013).

accommodation for Blacks provided that Black men and white men could not be shaved next to each other, because that would imply social equality. When the Civil Rights Act of 1872 was passed, many African Americans came to these ‘color line’ barbers for a shave and a haircut but were refused by their brethren for economic reasons. They feared they would lose customers if they started shaving blacks and whites in the same shop. The color line practices continued well into the 20th century despite protests in the Black community. White barbers, who were mostly European immigrants, eventually increased competition, but they would not cut black hair, claiming not having enough skill. African Americans continued to go to barbers in their growing, mostly segregated neighborhoods. Black barbers in many cities grew in wealth and influence. Mills writes in his book of one barber in Atlanta with three shops, which were not small, with one accommodating 25 chairs. He cites 1940 U.S. Census data indicating that there were 6,656 Black barbershops in the 14 cities with the largest Black male populations. They collectively grossed

barbershop begins. As he grows older, the boy may stick with this barber who will give him numerous grooming lessons, or he may find another that suits him and be groomed in another fashion. Getting a haircut in the African American barbershop is more than a commercial transaction. Barbershops in the African American community are gathering places for public conversations in private spaces among men – boys, old men, young men. It really doesn’t matter. Everyone in the shop is a participant, whether they listen or choose to be a part of the conversation. This barbershop in the community arose out of necessity as former slaves migrated north and west settling in mostly segregated communities. Newly educated and employed, with an eye on prospering, albeit within the constraints of their freedom, African American men needed a place to talk about issues in their lives and how to best navigate their course in an oftenhostile world. The barbershop provided that safe, sacred space. The history of the Black barbershop and its evolution is complex, rife with paradox and struggle as African American barbers established their place in the economic landscape. The barber profession has been debated and questioned throughout history in relation to African Americans. Is it

In 19th century America, few men could shave themselves and strop a straight razor, so they went to barbers, many of whom were mulatto. The shave was normally the objective rather than the haircut. Whites would go to barbershops sometimes found in hotels or public bath houses where African Americans would provide the services. Customers found this arrangement suitable, because it gave the impression that African Americans sustained a servile position, despite compensation. Ironically, African American proprietors found this arrangement profitable. Laws denying equal public

$8,273,000, paying the 5,266 men and women employed $2,448,00. He also reports that in North Carolina, barbers pooled their resources to form insurance companies to support Blacks in their newly found industrial and professional positions. African American barbers have often been considered the foundation of the Black middle class in cities across the country. As laws and styles have changed, their shops and requisite skills have groomed a race throughout the Great Migration, two world wars, the civil rights era and Vietnam. They are true entrepreneurs,

The Historical Significance of African American Barber Shops BY CHARLES EMMONS

On any Saturday morning, you

can find a young boy pulling away from their father, grandmother or

mother as they are led to a barber’s chair. A familiar scene in African

American barbershops, where getting a haircut is a significant rite of pas-

sage, the child is placed on the booster seat; the barber smiles and perhaps the life-long education in the Black

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


with a constant eye on their businesses, providing a service to their frequently marginalized customers, and adding value with Black culture. There are about six barbershops along Welton Street, in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. Three Denver barbers with roots in the area shared some thoughts about their shops. Frank Stiger has been a barber for more than 40 years. Learning a lesson that he wanted to work for himself rather than someone else, the laid off maintenance worker at Martin Marietta attended Colorado Barber College on Larimer Street and worked in two different shops before buying a house and remodeling the porch into his current shop, which opened in 1980. With three chairs and the typical style cut charts on the wall, he provides a civil space for a haircut and conversation. Numerous opinions have been expressed in Stiger’s shop. Customer names are usually held close to the vest, but he did comment that former Denver Broncos Tom Jackson and Goldie Sellers sat in his chair. The late Cosmo Harris and current editor of the Denver Post, Greg Moore, have also stopped by for a cut. But of course, not all patrons are famous. Stiger and his wife Maedella remarked that there had been so many young people who had their haircut in his shop that came back to say hello after leaving the neighborhood, many who lived in public housing. Wanting to make sure that everyone was groomed, “the 5th kid (in a family) was half price,” says Stiger. Understanding what customers want and need is just good business. If you have a philosophy and respect your customers success will come. Three-term Five Points Business Association President, Dee C. McGee has been a barber for more than 40 years since re-locating to Denver after retiring from the United States Air Force after serving as an aid to the Inspector General in Washington D.C. After completing barber college in Baltimore, he was first hired by Whitney Armelin, who had cut his hair at another shop when McGee attended Denver East High School. McGee eventually was able to acquire New Look Barbers from Armelin. He keeps a farmer’s wagon scale in his shop as a reminder of his father’s philosophy of keeping everyone honest. As the proprietor, he expects his customers to respect his business and each other. “We have to know who we are first,” says McGee. “Listen. Then if they have something to say, there is time for comment. Wait until I take my turn. Listen, share experiences and everybody wins,” he says. In addition to the farmer’s scale, McGee’s current space is adorned

with images of Black positivity— Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in embrace, a Buffalo Soldier and a poster of African American writers. He was at the 1963 March on Washington and counts King’s biographer and speechwriter, Dr. Vincent Harding, amongst his customers and friends. Moderating the conversation in the shop is perhaps the biggest challenge for an African American barbershop proprietor. As Denver’s Black population moved out away from Five Points, numerous barbershops were established in Park Hill. Frequently, it is the history or memory of the barbershop that inspires others to establish their own. Raymond Bo Melons, of the House of Hair Style Shop completed his coursework at the Colorado Barber College in 1969, on Larimer Street, where he recalls practicing on the indigent who would come in, on what was then skid row. His inspiration to become a barber started with Arthur Price, a barbershop owner who cut his hair in Colorado Springs. Melons’ family migrated from Arkansas, and he recalls being intrigued by the conversations that caught his attention. Melons observed Price’s family was well to do, with a nice house and he was well respected in the community. The Palmer High School graduate wanted that same respect. After barber school, he briefly worked for Frank Stiger and two to three other barbers as he built up his clientele. Melons opened House of Hair Style Shop in 1974 at 33rd and Holly. Two years into the venture, he started doubting himself, and after a conversation with one of his customers, a Denver Fire Chief, he filled out a civil service application to join the fire department. That day upon returning to the shop, opening the door, he realized that he was selling himself short and that two years wasn’t enough. “I wanted to be a barber to work for myself,” says Melons. “I told myself ‘you are going to do every-

“A special thank you to all of my patrons of the past and present. I am committed to keep all of you in my memory forever. Our association has been a wonderful journey and a truly meaningful experience of a lifetime. Thank you for this extraordinary relationship.

thing in your power, everything that is in you to make this business go, to make it work.’ My fears went out the door and I never looked back.” Determined not to be weak in his business, House of Hair survived on Holly Street for 14, often-turbulent years, before moving to 22nd and Kearney where the business was located for 29 years. Melons’ shop moved again in mid-January this year to the present location of 28th Ave. Melons is intensely proud of his profession and what it provides. In 2000, he received an impromptu award, Outstanding Barber of the Millennium from four of his customers – W. Harold “Sunny” Flowers, Jr., Gary Monroe Jackson, Garrett K. Kemp Tatum, and Edward Chuck Williams. The plaque read: “Those Who Admire and Depend on Him.” About barber shops, Melons says, “It’s a place where you can go in feeling bad and come out feeling good. It’s needed and can be a healing place. I’ve seen so many men out of work, ill, on hard times or in trouble with their marriage. But for some reason they come in get a haircut and a bit of conversation, and they get relief from things. You get cleaned up and look better, there’s not a better feeling. The barbershop offers so much more than a haircut.” One of the customers, who gave Melons his award, is attorney, and recently appointed Denver county court judge, Gary Jackson. Melons first started cutting Jackson’s hair when he was a DU law student. Melons message to the young men who come and sit in the barber chair: “Look around, who is sitting next to you, across from you; what you can become and make of your life. So many people worked hard. Hear it in their conversation. Take positives away from the negatives. See how successful Black men can be. There are a lot of successful Black men that come through that door. There is always a positive figure, and it is not easy getting where they are.” 

–Dee C. McGee

New Look Barbers

2825 Welton St. Denver, CO 80205 303-295-9192

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Editor’s Note: Originally published February 2012 at, this updated profile looks at BarberShop Talk, a platform that reinforces the power of conversations had at local barbershops.


arberShop Talk (BST) is offi-

cially back in the Mile High City

where it was initially launched in

2005. The roundtable, held in barbershops, provides an atmosphere for

The Power in

BarberShop Talk By Angelia D. McGowan

males, eight to 80, to share deep root-

ed pains, current life dilemmas, sports,

and various topics considered as “man talk,” says founder and chairman of

the board, Jide Gamu. With BST’s return comes a mission to fill the void countless males face as they attempt to navigate life without fathers or male figures in the home. Gamu, raised by a single mom, says, “Women can raise their sons to the best of their ability” but they can’t teach them what a man can teach them. It’s no secret that barbershops have historically been a haven for men from all walks of life to congregate, network, vent and share their stories. BST builds on the traditional role of barbershops to tap into a “wise men’s

Quincy Hines speaks at a meeting of 'Barbershop Talk' at the New Montbello Barbershop in Denver. counsel” with conversations bridging the age, race, economic status and religious gap between men. All religious leaders are encouraged to attend the

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bi-weekly roundtables. Gamu, 27, says, “Within the lineage of every culture, decision making about community and village endeavors, the rite of passage, and so much more, originated with a wise men’s counsel.” Since BST’s inception, more than 1,000 men have participated in discussions held in more than 10 barbershops located in Colorado, Texas, Maryland and Washington, D.C. As of January 2012, participating barbershops in Colorado include Rumors Barber Shop and The New Montbello Barbers. Colorado had been on a hiatus from participation for four years due to Gamu’s military deployment and personal re-visioning for the program. A 2004 graduate of Aurora Hinkley High School, Gamu now lives in Washington D.C. where he is an Airborne Trooper with the U.S. Army working for the Department of Defense. Also an entrepreneur, personal trainer and life coach, Gamu’s hope for BarberShop Talk is that it instills core values in every member, demonstrating honesty, courage, integrity, loyalty, respect, selfless service and professionalism in all aspects of life. “Males need them all in order to be called a man,” says Gamu as they expand into shops serving all cultures, not just African American. “We will help each other reach the standard, and hold each other to the standard. Remembering that writing a check

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


does not answer the problem… and if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.” Because sensitive topics are discussed at the gatherings, a high importance is placed on confidentiality. No video or audio recordings and the forum is only open to males. Western District Director Quincy Hines says no matter who you are, “What you say in BarberShop Talk, stays in BarberShop Talk. Your title is stripped when you come in. We don’t care who you are. We want you to get to the nitty gritty and say what you feel with no censorship, with tact.” As a result, the talks, led by head mentor and renowned poet Theo Wilson (aka Lucifury) in Colorado, are ripe for intense discussions. One of the topics during Black History Month: the color of deity. “Color shouldn’t matter as long as when you are practicing fundamentals you are practicing love,” says Hines, a 35-year-old George Washington High School graduate, who now works in the information technology field in Colorado. Gamu, who always strives to be part of the solution, says, “I’ve listened to complaint after complaint about today’s youth. Yet now that young men are standing up asking for help, our mentors, men, and leaders have either given up hope or would rather talk about us than be about us. There is no reason why every barbershop in America shouldn’t be filled with men teaching and learning.” He adds, “To be an ethical leader means to be ethical in everything you do, in both our business and personal lives. The world is lacking both leaders and men. BarberShop Talk is here to restore the faith men all over the world.” Editor’s note: Denver BST meetings are held every second and fourth Wednesday of CO 80239. First-time visitors are encouraged to arrive at 6 p.m. For more information about BarberShop Talk in Colorado, visit the or email Quincy Hines at

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Richard Sherman’s Rant Again Blew the Hinge off the Door of Racial Stereotypes


he instant his verbal explosion of an interview hit, the predictable quickly happened with Seattle Seahawks all pro cornerback Richard Sherman. In fact two predictable things happened with him in the aftermath of the interview. The stereotypes flew fast and furious. Sherman was of course a “thug,” “dirt bag,” scum,” and “disgrace.” But make no mistake those were the genteel ones. The boing chorus heaped on him the racist favorites, “gorilla,” “ape,” “monkey,” and “animal. “ All the epithets were amply punctuated with the N word. While Sherman quickly back pedaled from his tirade against the opposing player that stirred the rant, he bitingly recognized that he was not just a target for his supposedly loose brained, bad behavior in front of a TV camera, but had been instantly transformed into the nation’s new walking, emblematic racial stereotype, “To use racial slurs and bullying language far worse than what you’ll see from me. It’s sad and somewhat unbelievable to me that the world is still this way.” It is and the last person that should be surprised at that is Sherman if he had paid even the least bit of attention to the unabashed and gleeful racial mugging in the past of the legion of bad behaving black sports notables. The prevalent thug image by many fans and observers of black pro football players is not merely a matter of repugnant and jaded personal bias. It’s had a troubling consequence. A study by USA Today in 2013 found marked differences in how authorities handled black NFL players vs. white players during traffic stops. The overwhelming majority of the black players were arrested for charges related to their driver’s license. No white players were arrested for the same thing. Black players were pulled over for playing their music too loud. No white players were

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

stopped for this. And white players were almost never arrested on charges after a search of their vehicle. A number of black players were. Even if Sherman missed that he need look no further than the most recent example of off the chart stereotyping in the trashing of Trayvon Martin. By the time the professional race baiters and legions of others got through assaulting his character and concocting lies about his past he was transformed from the innocent murder victim he was too a closet thug. As with Martin, and the others, the racial trashing of Sherman is silly stuff. The pantheon of stereotypes and negative typecasting they’re anchored on are not. The hope was that President Obama’s election buried once and for all negative racial typecasting and the perennial threat racial stereotypes posed to the safety and well-being of black males. It did no such thing. Immediately after Obama’s election teams of researchers from several major universities found that many of the old stereotypes about poverty and crime and blacks remained just as frozen in time. The study found that much of the public still perceived those most likely to commit crimes are poor, jobless and black. The study did more than affirm that race and poverty and crime were firmly rammed together in the public mind. It also showed that once the stereotype is planted, it’s virtually impossible to root out. That’s hardly new either. Sherman is a near textbook example of this. His lofty academic accomplishments, Stanford University degree, and often thoughtful and entertaining interviews and literary analysis and comment on sports and even at times social issues, and tout of education for young blacks meant absolutely nothing to the race baiters. There’s another predictable thing that’s been very much a part of the Sherman saga. It’s called denial. The same instant that the race baiting flew hot and heavy at Sherman, the eye wash of it flew just as heavy. The scramble was now on to airbrush the race hits on Sherman as just the sick

rants of a handful of racists who hid behind the relative anonymity of twitter. And then quickly shift back to Sherman and dump full blame on him for triggering such passionate and angered outbursts from so many people. The message was that the few times that race cropped up against him was unfortunate but had no real significance to explain the massive mostly negative public fascination with a few moments of a rant from a football player of all persons. In the end, as Sherman found out, it doesn’t much matter how prominent, wealthy, or celebrated the black is. The overkill frenzy feeding on the criminal or borderline criminal antics of a litany of black NFL and NBA stars who run afoul of the law or are poorly behaved, and of course, will always stir the negative image of black males. Sherman did much to put his team in the Super Bowl. He would have been universally hailed as a hero for it that is until his rant again blew the hinge off the door of racial stereotypes.  Editor’s note: Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst, a co-host of the Al Sharpton Show, author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge, an associate editor of New America Media, and host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.

RACE, RA CE, GENDE GENDER, R, POWER POWER How H ow Stereotypes Stereotypes Suppr Suppress ess Women Women in Politics Politics MSNBC host

MELISSA HA HARRIS-PERRY RR IS-PERRY will discuss ho how w harmful stereotypes ster eotypes pr prevent event w women, omen, especiall yw omen of color om especially women color,, fr from rrealizing ealizing their full potential.


Thursday, T hursday, F February ebruary 27 27,, 2014 AALL LL EVENTS AARE RE FFREE REE AND OOPEN PEN TO TTHE HE PPUBLIC. UBLIC. msuden

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Color Me Proud


School ___________________________

Age____________ Grade ____________ Address __________________________ City______________________________

Phone ____________________________

Instructions: Color this drawing and receive a prize! Any child,12 and under, who colors and returns this drawing to the Denver Urban Spectrum, will receive prizes from the participating sponsors. All entries must be mailed to DUS, P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041 by Feb. 20, 2014.

Landri Taylor

D e n v e r

B l a c k H i s t o r y T r i v i a Q u i z

Denver has been home to many notable African American residents. Here’s a short quiz to test your knowledge of the city’s history.

with Some of Denver’s Firsts

1. Who was the first Black physician in Colorado? 2. Who was the first Black dentist in Colorado? 3. Who was the first Black lawyer in Colorado? 4. Who was the first Black state senator in Colorado? 5. Who was the first Black lieutenant governor in Colorado? 6. Who was a well-known Black mountain man, guide, translator and entrepreneur? 7. Who was the Black actress who attended East High School and later won an Academy Award? 8. Who was the first Black elected to Colorado House of Representatives in 1894? 9. Who was the founder of the all Black farming community in Deerfield, Colorado in 1910? 10. What church did former slaves establish as the Mother Church of the Rockies in 1863? 11. Who was the first Black female elected to the Colorado Legislature in 1972? 12. Who was the first Black female elected to the Colorado State Senate? 13. Which Denver native is a world renowned choreographer, dancer and dance instructor? 14. Which church’s first building in 1866 was located at Park Avenue West and Cleveland Place? 15. Who was Denver’s first Black mayor elected in 1991? 16. Who was the Denver Public Schools first Black teacher? 17. What Five Points business was a jazz hot spot for Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Count Basie? 18. Who spear-headed the drive and got legislation passed to create the Colorado Martin Luther King holiday? 19. What was the first Black newspaper in Denver? 20. Which three members of the popular music group Earth Wind and Fire attended East High School?

Over the years, people forget the trailblazers who put a special mark on Denver’s history. Here’s a reminder of some of Denver “firsts.”

• Beth McCann – Who was the First female Denver safety manager?

• Rod Juniel – Who was the First Denver black fire chief? • Hon. Claudia Jordan – Who was the First black female judge appointed to Denver County Court and first in state of Colorado? • Hon. Mary Celeste - Who was the First openly gay judge appointed to the Denver County Court? • Tom Sanchez – Who was the First Denver Latino/Hispanic police chief? Tom Sanchez • Dan Muse – Who was the First black Denver city attorney? • Arie Taylor – Who was the First black clerk and recorder for Denver? • Tom Migaki – Who was the First Asian cabinet member, Denver’s department of general services? • Wellington E. Webb – Who was the First Black mayor of Denver?

In addition to these firsts who were all appointed by the Honorable Wellington Webb during his service as mayor from 1991-2003, these building were also named during his administration.

Denver Social Services building, named after Richard Castro Denver City and County building, named after Minoru Yasui Denver City and County building, named the McNichols Building for the McNichols family, Steve McNichols, who served as governor and longtime Denver Mayor Bill McNichols

Email your answers to First 10 winners will be announced in the March Denver Urban Spectrum and will receive a gift certificate.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Former NBA Player Inspires HOPE Students To Persevere

Kelenna Azubuike

Learning how to overcome obsta-

By Heather O’Mara

cles opens new doors and possibilities – this is the message that staff members at HOPE Online Learning

Academy Co-Op’s I AM Academy

aimed to instill in students by hosting Kelenna Azubuike on Dec. 16, 2013. The former NBA athlete spoke with students about the hard work and

dedication it takes to make it in pro-

fessional sports as well as the character and integrity needed when your

plans for the future take unexpected

turns. “This is an athletic group. Several want to be professional athletes,” said Anthony Watson, Director of I AM Academy. “I hope students left the assembly knowing that anything is

Kelenna Azubuike and manager Erik Martinez speak to students about perseverance.

possible and that they should always pursue their goals and never give up.” Azubuike attended the University of Kentucky, where he helped the Wildcats earn two Southeastern Conference titles, two SEC Tournament titles, and two NCAA Elite Eight appearances during his time as a student. After his junior year of college, Azubuike entered the 2005 NBA draft, but ultimately was not selected. Acknowledging that when he began playing basketball in the third grade – “The ability to play just came naturally. I didn’t really have to work at it,” Azubuike knew things were different now. Unwilling to give up on his

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dream, Azubuike entered the NBA Developmental League to continue toward his goal of making it to the professional level. “I knew I had to work hard and have a good attitude to make it to the NBA,” he said. During the 2006-2007 season, Azubuike led the league in scoring. That dedication paid off when he was called up to the NBA, joining the Golden State Warriors in 2007, playing over 200 games with the team before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. Uriel, an eighth grader at I AM Academy who attended the presentation, said he aspires to become a professional basketball player. Echoing Azubuike’s message on the importance of determination, he said, “I practice every day. I know with hard work and dedication, I can do it.” Eighth grader Marquise, who hopes to play professional soccer, was also inspired by the assembly. “I didn’t know how much work it was going to be until Kelenna Azubuike came here, but I’m ready. I will kick 500 soccer balls a day if I have to,” he said. Azubuike emphasized that the power of dedication and perseverance applies not only to athletics, but all areas of life. “It’s so important to remember that you can be successful at anything, as

long as you work hard,” Azubuike said. “If you decide you’re going to do something, then do it with everything you’ve got. Hard work really does pay off.” The assembly occurred in conjunction with the launch of Mid Range, a film about the power of second chances, which features Azubuike. I AM Academy students and their families were invited to attend a private screening for the film on Sunday, Dec. 22 at the Sie Film Center in Denver. “The movie premier experience was very awesome, enlightening and informative,” explained Anthony Watson. “Students were really pumped. They saw some NBA players, including Nuggets player Evan Fournier. It was a positive experience overall.” Lorenzo Chavez, an eighth grader who attended the screening with his family enjoyed the film, saying “it made me want to play basketball even more. But I also liked how all of the characters were so connected and loyal to one another.”  Editor’s note: For further information on HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-Op, call 720-402-3000 or email Heather O’Mara is Founder and CEO of HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-Op.

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(303) 360-6276 x2200 or Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Randall’s At Pierre’s Scheduled for Demolition Op-ed by Theo Wilson

Yes folks, you read that correctly.

After decades of serving this community, the history and nightlife at Randall’s (@ Pierre’s) will come to an end if the community does nothing. According to anonymous sources, the newly developed hospital complex off of Downing Street is making all properties in the area too hot of a commodity to pass up. WBD Residential Partners, LLC is planning to destroy this historic building and construct residences that will be highly profitable for them and the perspective well-to-do residents; however the benefit to the overall community remains in question. Randall Borne contacted the mayor’s office for help to keep it open as early as last summer. He also reached out to other elected officials including Landri Taylor for help. I personally spoke to David Bergner, the man at the helm of the destruction of Randall’s. To his credit, he seems like a reasonable man, and was very gentlemanly in our interaction.

ry is okay to celebrate, just not if it’s in the way of a profiteering developments and capitalistic progress. It’s the American way, right? After all, the idea of profit in the face of preservation is okay because we all want to be rich, don’t we? The Apollo Theatre in Harlem is probably sitting on some prime property. If forced to conjecture, I’d say more than one developer has looked at that land with dollar signs in their eyes. Condos and high rises would sure add a pretty touch to the profile of Harlem, right? You could likely make the argument that property values would increase if fancy apartments replaced the historic building. Developers could even argue that this would be a boom to the local economy, driving big spenders into the area, and unloading cash into neighboring businesses. But something in us knows that this is just a bad idea. Randall’s may not be the Apollo Theatre, unless you attend Karaoke there on Sunday nights with DJ Bella Scratch on the 1’s and 2’s. Just because Michael Jackson didn’t pass through there doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting for. Some things are worth more than money. Some historic values exceed a price tag. A piece of Denver’s soul lives in the hallowed walls for that building.

Bergner has allegedly offered Randall funds to relocate and rebuild. This gesture, however genuine, will ultimately erase the renovation Mr. Borne has invested from his own personal dollars into the historical establishment. Bergner and WBD Residential Partners, LLC are more interested in profit than preservation, ultimately. One can only wonder about the fate of Kappa Towers just across the street from Randall’s. If new high-priced residences are constructed directly across the street, how will the vulnerable residents of Kappa Towers be able to fight an increase in their living expenses? How long before Kappa Towers itself is in the crosshairs for demolition for the sake of new development? Will the Colorado Black Greek community stand by and let this happen, knowing that Randall himself has assisted in catering and hosting multiple functions for these organizations at discounted costs? Gentrification is real, folks. It’s knocking at our door, and nothing is sacred. It seems Black Colorado histo-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


I say it’s a piece of Denver’s soul worth fighting for. I say that not everything is for sale in this town, especially not our history. Maybe Kappa Alpha Psi, Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sigma Gamma Rho, Omega Psi Phi, Sigma Pi Phi, and every Greek-letter organization in our community needs to draw a collective line in the sand, stand up and say, “No! Not this building. Not this history. Not this landmark. Not this time.” Look what we lose if we do nothing at all. This is not just about the physical building of Randall’s. It’s about what the collective Black community loses symbolically and morally if developers can have any piece of our history any time they want it. If you feel that Randall’s (@ Pierre’s) is a piece of history worth preserving, contact District 8 City Councilman Albus Brooks. Send a Facebook message if you can’t afford a stamp. Somehow, some way, this piece of our history must be saved. 


Freed Slaves in 1865 Were Better Off Than Most Young Black Men Today By Phillip Jackson

any young Black men graduating from college today in the United States are less prepared to succeed in American society than their forefathers who were released from slavery in 1865. When Black men were released from slavery in 1865, they became blacksmiths, bricklayers, carpenters, merchants, teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, ranchers, cooks, soldiers and more. They built houses, towns, communities, businesses, families, schools, universities, institutions and futures. Most of these men had less than a third-grade education. Given today’s astronomically high unemployment rates for Black men in some cities, even Black men with college degrees might not find suitable employment, ever. One hundred forty-nine years after slavery has ended, sixty years after the Brown versus Topeka Board of

Education Supreme Court ruling and twelve years after the No Child Left Behind legislation, only 10 percent of 8th-grade Black boys in public schools across America read at or above a proficient level according to the 2011 U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The failure of Black boys in American schools is an unaddressed, undeclared and uncared about national disaster in the United States! Not being able to read at an 8thgrade level means that young Black males in America have fewer options than their forefathers who were freed slaves. They do not have the option to attend college, or enlist in the military, or even to earn a living wage! Their lack of school success directly contributes to their super-high unemployment rate, their hyper-incarceration rate in the prison system, the vicious breakdown of the family unit, the social and economic decay of the Black

Be the Difference: Be a Teacher. UNC Center for Urban Education in Denver

community, and the crippling, senseless violence that has over taken many Black communities. In fact, as many of these young Black men cycle into the criminal justice system, they find that they have virtually re-entered a slavery system similar to the one their forefathers left – modern prisons. There is no positive future in America for young Black men who cannot read at an 8th-grade level. They will have trouble working, living and surviving legally in America, and in most of the developed world. Truth be told, they are not better-off than their forefathers who were released from slavery. Appallingly low percentages of 8th-grade Black males read at or above a functionally proficient level according to data from the U.S. Department of Education: There is nothing more important to the future of Black American communities than to ensure that Black boys can read proficiently. The education of Black boys is too important to leave solely to schools and government. For young Black men to continue to exist and to begin to thrive as viable human being, parents, families and communities must take control of their learning. Black communities are responsible for teaching young Black men to read, to think, to build, to father and to love! Black communities must open their own reading academies in churches, community centers, libraries and parks to ensure that young Black men will learn to read well before the 8th

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


2011 Reading Levels of 8th-Grade Black Males from 15 Low-Performing American School Districts*


Milwaukee Cleveland Detroit Washington (D.C.) San Diego Dallas Baltimore City Chicago Jefferson Cty, (KY) Atlanta Los Angeles Philadelphia Austin Houston Hillsborough Cty (FL)

Reading 3% 3% 5% 6% 7% 7% 7% 9% 9% 9% 9% 9% 9% 9% 9%

* Source: Minority Students and Public Education by Dr. Michael Holzman.

grade. Black communities must create their own mentoring, tutoring, employment, entrepreneurship, technology, and father development classes for young Black men and boys. We can no longer afford to wait for America’s solution to this catastrophe. Constructive help is not coming! The destruction of Black males in the U.S. can no longer be considered an American problem. These horrific statistics are evidence that America does not care – or worse!  Editor’s note: Phillip Jackson is the founder and executive director of The Black Star Project in Chicago. For more information, call 773-285-9600 or email

Editor’s note: Each year during Black History Month, the Denver Urban Spectrum honors African Americans who are making a difference in the lives of others. In honor of our 27th year of publishing and based in part on recognition, number of times nominated and questionnaire response we have selected (from 42 nominations) 15 recipients as the 2014 African Americans Who Make a Difference. They told us about their achievements, what motivated them to become active in their community, suggestions to address the challenges facing the community, and how they would like to be remembered. Once you read their profiles you will understand why they were chosen.

education. She says, “The mental health challenge is difficult because of the secrecy and shame that is prevalent in our culture related to this topic. I believe with continued open discussion, targeted outreach and effective resource support more African American people will seek out assistance.” She adds, “A good education is paramount to the success of our children’s future and the disparity of resources between an inner-city school and a suburban school is part of the problem. Our parents of color need to be more involved and more dollars are important to our schools.” In the future she would like to establish a service-oriented business that would enable her to be a training partner for young adults along the autism spectrum who would like to live independently and be employed, earning their own money. She would like to be remembered for “my generosity, positive attitude, commitment and service to my community and my family,” she says.

to support the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation. She chose to take an active role because she has cultivated a passion for community service and serving after pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority as an undergraduate. “Taking an active role is something that comes naturally and I truly believe in helping others,” says Price. Price feels that one of the challenges facing the African American community is a lack of trust. “Trust is the key to having real relationships – relationship with God, ourselves and others – by opening our hearts to be of service. Each of us is significant and makes a difference; and we can impact our community and the world,” she says. When asked what she would like to accomplish in the future, Price replies, “I believe accomplishment in the future exist now. Everything we do in the present time is simply preparing us for the future whether that is tomorrow or next year. We should live to accomplish today. Let those who matter in your life, know that today.” Price feels that if she has made a difference in the life of one then it was a life well served.


Supplier Diversity Manager, CenturyLink Co-Founder, African American Autism Center

Angela Norris-Hawkins has been called the “connector” because of the cross connections and relationships she has established in the various communities of Denver. “This past year, along with my family, I publicly launched the African American Autism Center which provides advocacy, resource support and non-traditional services to families with an autistic child,” she says. Over the past five years she has been the president of the Alliance of Black Telecom Professionals. “There, I am able provide support from my employer to support African American community activities and organizations. I addition, we have been providing scholarships to graduating African American high school seniors and continuing education students for the past 33 years.” Norris-Hawkins chooses to take an active role because that is how she was raised – to care about others and to make a positive difference. She believes the two biggest challenges in the African American community are mental health issues and disparity of


Project Manager, Colorado Access

Caroline D. Price is best known in the community for volunteering and supporting corporate community events. Her contributions in the past year have been through volunteering and fundraising efforts for nonprofit organizations, including the Avengers Bowling Club, an outreach program that helps assists local families in need during the holidays, and a 100 Men Who Cook, which assists non-profit organizations that focus on education and youth. She also volunteers with the phone bank for Colorado Health line, answering questions regarding the HealthCare Exchange to call-in viewers. Price says her most notable or recognized contribution to the African American community over the past five years was having to lead a successful fundraising event for a former employer; with the support of a dedicated team of co-workers and friends


With 22 years of active service in 1978, retired MSgt Charles “Chuck” Moss has been actively involved in numerous community projects and activities. He volunteered for The United Negro College Fund’s Parade of Stars and 100 Men Who Cook in the early 1980s; was president and founder of the Spiral Educational Foundation of Colorado (SEFCO) to aid underprivileged youth pursue educational goals; established the Colorado Men Who Cook to support SEFCO’s; and organized the Breakfast Bunch, a support group for military retirees. During the past year, Moss organized the planning committee for the 100 Men Who Cook Black Tie Gala to raise funds for three grassroots community organizations serving youth. Chuck chooses to be involved in service for the betterment of our community. He says, “The biggest challenge facing our community is the education of our young people. We need to continue supporting organizations that provide tutoring, mentoring and scholar-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


ships to support higher education for the youth in our community. Young people need to be continually encouraged and rewarded for achievement and positive behavior.” He emphasizes, “Another issue that needs to be addressed is young adults being released from the prison system with no viable resources. There needs to be a process developed for them to be reintegrated into the community and helping them become productive contributors to society. A program like this may be something retired military could assist with. Many of us are too old to start it, but we certainly could support it given some of our own life’s experiences.” Future plans are to continue to be involved to try to make a difference in the lives of people in our community and developing the 100 Men Who Cook as the primary black tie fundraiser benefitting the community while training young people to pass the baton to. Chuck would like to be remembered as a man who was a tireless worker who was always willing to accept a new challenge.


Executive Director Sims-Fayola International Academy

Dedrick J. Sims is best known for founding and operating Sims-Fayola International Academy, Denver’s first public charter school for boys, serving 98 percent boys of color. “After only one year, we were one of the highest growing high schools in Denver Public Schools by exceeding the district and similar cluster schools in reading, writing, and mathematics,” says Sims. He chooses to take an active role because he wants to be part of the solution for male scholars of Denver. “With graduation rates for African American and Latino males at 48.8 percent and 40.8 percent, respectively, and drop-out rates at 7.7 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively, within the Denver Public School System, I recognize the challenge. If this issue of academic underperformance is not addressed, the academic, class, and opportunity gaps will continue to widen, thus limiting the dreams of boys of color in this city.” When asked what the biggest challenges facing the African-American community, Sims responded,

“Regardless of socioeconomic status, African Americans currently score below white American males on most standardized tests. This gap leads to serious negative consequences for African American and Hispanic males, such as suspensions, non-promotions, school dropout, unemployment, crime, and incarceration.” He believes another approach is needed to improve the students’ academic performance. “There has been little work focusing specifically on the academic attainment of African American males in our schools and how it is contributing to the destructive pattern we see,” he says, noting that the current state of affairs, if left unaddressed, not only threatens to devastate more lives, but will affect the ability of Black males to care for their current and future families. “We believe our model and school structure will help ameliorate the circumstances of this population of students in the communities we serve.” Sims would like to continue to create an education model for boys who use their natural strengths and interests to produce college-ready, globally competent, competitive, and socially aware young men. He would also like to open a second campus in the Five Points/Park Hill area of Denver. When asked how he would like to be remembered, he says, “As someone who left the world better than he found it.”

below grade level,” she says. Students are taught skill-building in math and reading that will enable them to reach, maintain and exceed grade level proficiency thereby enhancing their education and preparing them for successful life experiences. She’s involved because, “I enjoy doing something useful and am driven to help others. Discovering cures for the sick, bringing opportunity to those in need, bringing hope to a young person I love connecting with my community and making it a better place.” Harvell believes the need for more community leaders is a pressing challenge. “One or two leaders cannot solve all the complex problems that face the communities. But with more we can think about and organize around many issues. We need leaders that will work together and put aside personal desires in order to achieve goals that benefit everyone,” she says. Harvell’s future goals are to continue her research in order to make major advancements in the medical research field for the betterment of the African American community and the community at large. “I would like to be remembered as someone who made a positive impact on people’s lives and made a major contribution to society, and was a servant leader who lived up to the philosophy of John Adams ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,’ ” says Harvell.

organization through which the Chamber Connect Program is offered). Over the past five years, he has been most recognized for not only leading the efforts of the leadership program, graduating roughly 35 selected participants a year. He attributes much of his success to the countless people who took a selfless role in his life (which shaped who he is today). Wingfield chooses to take an active role because he is passionate about making the same difference in others’ lives that so many made in his. “Education, economics, family structure, the legal system, etc., are all challenges that are not mutually exclusive and need to be address as part of a greater master plan/effort, not tackled individually.” He hopes to “continue to be and live the change I hope to see both in individuals and in the community – a success in business, a difference maker in the community, a role model for the next generation, etc., none which have finality.” He likes to think of “my future aspirations not as a collection of accomplishments but more as progress no matter what I have already accomplished.” Wingfield would like to be remembered as “someone who lived life to the fullest (happiness) with high moral character and as someone who made a difference in someone’s life.”

Elinora L. Reynolds

Djuana Harvell, Ph.D. Research Associate and Biomedical Research Scientist, University of Colorado Denver President, Denver Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Djuana Harvell, Ph.D. is known best as a community leader. Her most notable contribution in the past year has been serving as president of the Denver Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., one of the largest black female organizations in Denver. Under her leadership, she led the chapter to be recognized as “Chapter of the Year” in the sorority’s Central Region which consists of seven states. Her most notable contribution in the past five years “has been president of the board of directors of the Bennie E Goodwin after-school academic program, which assists students in grades three through eight who are performing


President, Wingfield Commercial Realty President, Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Ed Wingfield is best known for his business acumen and success within the real estate industry and for his role as the president of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Chamber Connect Leadership Program –growing it over the last four years. Having spent time in both Aurora (with mother) and East Denver (with father), he grew up watching the evolution of the Black community. Upon graduation from the leadership program, Wingfield was asked to lead the program and later to be the president of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation (the parent

Co-Founder Absolutely Articulate, Sisters Enterprise

As co-founder of Absolutely Articulate Toastmasters International, Elinora L. Reynolds, is also an event planner, grant writer, a public speaker, a coauthor and the co-founder of Sisters Enterprise (Back Home Gospel Shout Out). She is best known for her Annual Random Act of Kindness Program (Back Home Gospel Shout Out), community volunteerism and Toastmasters International participation. Her most notable contribution to the African American community during the past year has been hosting the Sisters Enterprise event that honors community members for random acts of kindness and toastmasters international, an organization that encourages others how to improve their public speaking and leadership skills. “Based on a personal pledge and my promise to God Almighty to do my best as a good neighbor, mentor,

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


friend and spokesperson for the downand-out, I have chosen to do my part to keep our sacred village a safe and strong one. I believe one person can make a difference – therefore, I am using myself as a role model to show others what can be done,” she says. Reynolds strongly believes “That our African American community continues to be in desperate need of unity. To resolve this challenge we must never stop talking about this problem and encourage organizations, entrepreneurs, youth, seniors and all members of the community to present suggestions for a solution through town community sponsored town hall meetings. Reynolds would like to continue to promote leadership and public speaking by encouraging others to “stand up and speak out.” She also believes that the community would be much stronger if more random acts of kindness occurred. Reynolds would like to be remembered as one who boldly stood on God’s Word and made every attempt to do as much as she could with the resources she had to make a difference one step and one project at a time while reminding others of Philippians 4:13, which states, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”


President, Dynamic Images by the Hairston Group President, Colorado Black Women for Political Action

Elma Joyce Hairston, who lives by the words “stand for something or fall for anything,” has spent most of her adult life serving the Denver community providing leadership skills and professional image principles (branding, etiquette, communications skills, self-esteem). Many of her efforts have been centered in, but not limited to, grooming teen and pre-teen girls and women. As head of CBWPA she helps the organization to “amplify and expand partnerships as we leverage partnerships to grow in inclusivity and creating opportunities for the communities we serve.” Events this past year to exemplify this is their Women Making History program established to recognize accomplished women throughout the community during Women’s History Month and a community meeting facilitated by the governor’s office to educate

the community on serving on state boards and commissions. Within the past five years, she has been appointed by the International Grand Basileus of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. to serve on its national board of directors (2010-2014) as national youth coordinator — developing the curriculum and guidelines and overseeing all youth affiliate programs. She is the first to be appointed to serve in this capacity from Colorado. She “chooses to take an active role in my community because African American relevance is moving in a direction that does not uplift our people. We must all work toward increasing African American relevance and enhance our brand in the economic, business and political arena.” In a role with a broad lens, she sees several challenges that need to be addressed in the African American community including economic development, healthcare disparities and housing solutions that keep families in their home. She also says “far too many black and brown men are serving prison sentences for non-violent drug crimes – marijuana possession.” On elections she says, “We must register to vote and take action on Election Day — and that means all elections.” To groom leaders, she says “we must be at the table in numbers to effectively capitalize on many opportunities that seem to escape us.” That means taking a proactive approach to “create succession committees whose purpose is to groom the next level of leaders to fill boards and commission seats, run for office or serve as executive directors of organizations.” In her future are several books with “words and actions that make a difference in people’s lives.” Hairston plans to run for political office for a termlimited seat in 2015. She would like to be remembered as an individual who tried to make a difference in the life of the people she served.

Black Chamber of Commerce and its business members. She is committed to creating programming and services that meet the demanding and everchanging needs of business owners and professionals. Involved with numerous African American social and professional organizations, she continuously shows her commitment to providing tools, resources, support, and access to children to ensure they have the foundation needed to successfully grow. She has encouraged Colorado children to start their own businesses while assisting in the development of a youth entrepreneur marketplace, provided intern opportunities, and is even preparing to launch a series of youth entrepreneur workshops. She chooses to take an active role “to afford others opportunities that I was once provided. I believe that in order to best impact the community in which I live, work, and play, it is critical for me to take an active role in order to get the positive results I desire. Singleton believes a great challenge facing the African-American community is making sure that the “community” is supportive of each other. She believes that Blacks must continue to support and promote Black businesses; that it still takes a village to raise a child; and that we have to be our brothers’ keeper. She knows from her own personal experiences that working together as a unified body makes the African-American community a stronger and more effective force. She is committed to ensuring not only the bottom-line growth of the Chamber’s members’ businesses but healthy economic development for the entire Colorado market. Singleton would like to be remembered “as an individual who was always willing to run towards challenges and never accepted a ‘No’— while also being very approachable, having a sincere heart and an optimistic attitude.”

surrounding communities. We have tripled the vendor participation, quadrupled the overall attendance, reestablished the Miss Juneteenth Pageant after a four-year hiatus, and created the Juneteenth Music Festival featuring nationally recognized bands along with Denver’s best local entertainers,” he says. When asked why he chooses to take an active role, Harris says, “We are the ‘They.’ “Oftentimes people ask questions like, ‘Why don’t THEY have more activities for children in my neighborhood? Or why don’t THEY have Juneteenth for a whole week like we had in the 1980s? My typical response was who is THEY? My answer now is we are THEY,” Harris says. He chooses to take an active role because, “My passion for Juneteenth stems from my background and growing up in northeast Denver. My earliest and most fond memories are connected to Juneteenth and Five Points. Leading the Juneteenth celebration is an honor that I hold in the highest regard.” Harris believes the biggest challenges facing the African-American community are education, employment, communication and collaboration. “We have to take action and be the change that we want to see,” he says. Harris is working to help redevelop his family’s property on the Welton Corridor while helping improve the overall image of the Five Points neighborhood through managing what will be “the best festival Denver and Colorado hosts.” He is working to be the best father and role model he can be for his son, which is most important to Harris. When asked how he would like to be remembered, he says, “As Mr. Five Points.”


Founder, Quintessential Remedy


President and Chief Executive Officer Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce

Known for being the voice of Black businesses, Nicole A. Singleton is an advocate for business growth, economic development and workplace diversity. Singleton has worked to generate increased awareness for the Colorado


President, Juneteenth Music Festival

Norman Harris is best known in the Denver community for being the lead organizer of Denver’s Juneteenth celebration, now known as the Juneteenth Music Festival. “In the last two years, we have successfully rebranded the Juneteenth celebration to Denver and

Quincy Shannon, who is actively present at a diverse array of events, strives to be an advocate who tries to serve as a voice to the voiceless through preaching, poetry, teaching and training. Also known for his community service and volunteer efforts, he is intent on ‘being the change he wishes to see’ and a father to his daughter, Imani. Shannon’s most notable achievements last year were receiving Brother

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Jeff’s Community Health Institutes Community Rising Leader award, being accepted into Metro Denver Chambers of Commerce’s Leadership Denver Program, and becoming president of the Metro Denver Urban League Young Professionals. “The connections I have made, the students whose lives I have been able to positively impact, and whose souls that my preaching has helped lead them to God has had the greatest impact on my life over the last five years,” Shannon says. “I take an active role because it is the only way to satisfy the fire that is in my bones. I was created to serve in the capacity that I have been blessed with and if I didn’t I would be running from purpose. Taking an active role is the sweet space where my destiny and reality meet,” he says. Shannon feels the biggest challenge facing the African American community is lack of identity. “Where and who is the African American community? If I don’t know who I am, what I represent, nor recognize others within the community then how can we work together to help the community?” He believes the ways to resolve this challenge is to take advantage of more opportunities to come together for positive reasons. To educate the African American community about the proud history we have while recognizing some of the amazing achievements we are still making daily; and supporting each other so failure is not an option. He would like to be remembered as someone who simply tried to do good in spite of his failures and downfalls, who gave his precious gift of time to others in a hope that his investment would cultivate positive change, and as an Omega Man who was the sermon he preached.


President, Denver Branch of the NAACP

Rita R. Lewis, Esq is an attorney and president of the Denver branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). She says her most notable contribution to the African American community during the past year was, “speaking out after the Department of Justice decided not to charge the three Denver Police officers who brutally beat Alex Landau with civil rights vio-

lations. I described the officers’ actions as “Jim Crow” era police brutality and urged the former Denver Manager of Public Safety to dismiss the offending officers.” Over the past five years, Lewis has worked at revitalizing the Denver Branch of the NAACP. As a Denver native, Lewis takes an active role because, she believes African Americans must continue to demand equality in education, employment, housing as well as every other arena in Denver and the State of Colorado. ”If we don’t insist on equality and inclusion, we will lose our seat at the table and no longer have a voice in terms of issues that directly impact us,” she says. Lewis believes the biggest challenges facing the African American community are educational disparities/achievement gaps, racial profiling, high unemployment rates, the pipeline from schools to prisons, the small percentage of government contracts for African American businesses, and housing and lending discrimination. “We can overcome these challenges by supporting each other, making it a priority to educate our youth and continuing to demand equal access and equal treatment,” says Lewis. In the future, she would like to be instrumental in the re-creation of a thriving, vibrant African American community in Denver. Lewis says, “We can’t afford to sit back and expect to be included – we must develop viable partnerships and insist that we are included in the planning, development of the Mile Hi City.” Lewis wants to be remembered as someone who “stepped up to the challenge and spoke out against injustice to the best of my ability.”

When asked what has been his most notable contribution to the African American community over the past five years, Bates says, “My continued work with my youth organization – working with St. Charles Recreation Center to help mentor and coach the youth in the community in efforts to make a positive change in their lives.” “I choose to take a role because that’s the way I was raised to be involved where you live. I feel there are not enough positive adults active in the lives of our youth,” says Bates. “The community really needs to get behind and support community programs that are very effective with building our youth and making a difference in the community. Athletics and Beyond and the Crowley Foundation are just to examples,” he says. Bates believes unity is the biggest challenge facing the African American community. “We are stepping on each other instead of bending down and helping each other up. Not sure how than can be resolved but a good start would be respect, support, and a willingness to just work together.” In the future Bates would like to help provide more affordable afterschool and weekend activities that focus on life skills, self-responsibility and accountability for each one. Bates wants to be remembered as someone who cared about the community and is willing to work with anyone for the prosperity of everyone in the community.



Co-Founder Black Hawks Youth Organization

In addition to co-founding the Black Hawks Youth Organization, G. Rodney Bates also volunteers at St. Charles Recreation Center, enjoys working with kids and helping families. He serves as a board member at Wyatt Academy Charter School, volunteers with Athletics and Beyond at the Boys 2 Men work shop and works to provide awareness of affordable access to the legal system to the community.

Founder and Executive Director New Destiny Youth Service: A Child Placement Agency

Stephen Williams is best known for helping parents, foster parents and child welfare staff to manage the challenging behaviors of adolescents who have been the victims of abuse or neglect. His most notable contribution to the African American community has been his trainings on how to manage difficult behavior in foster and adoptive children, as well as teach effective non-physical disciplinary techniques to birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents and child welfare staff. “New Destiny Youth Services has created a training program called “How to Start A Successful Group

home” to teach anyone who loves working with children, how to open their own group home business. In the past five years numerous individuals including teachers, nurses, counselors, social workers, and coaches have completed our program and have successfully created their own group home business,” Williams says. “I believe that children who have been the victims of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, need well trained caring providers to care for them until they are able to return home. Caring providers also need a mentor to go to in times of stress when they are in need of professional guidance,” he says. This is why New Destiny Youth Services, whose goal is to assist both the children and the people caring for them, takes an active role. Williams feels that “we don’t teach our children to dream big. I am the son of entrepreneurs, my father owned a security system business and my mother owned a home child care center. I was taught to believe that I could be anything that I wanted to be if I had faith in God, believed in myself, and worked hard. I have followed those principles and have owned three successful businesses. My mission is to teach those principles to the youth that have been entrusted to me.” In the future, he would like to teach people across the United States how to create jobs for their family friends and community by doing what they love to do. Williams would like to be remembered as “a man with integrity that dedicated his life to helping youth reach their highest potential.”


Director Inclusive Excellence Student Success and Leadership Development University of Denver

Tracey Adams-Peters is best known in the community for being the cochair of the Colorado Black Chamber

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


of Commerce Foundation Chamber Connect Leadership Program, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and as the co-founder of The University of Denver Black Male Initiative Summit. Over the past five years she has been a part of organizations such as the 2010 Chamber Connect Alumni; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Scholarship chair (board member), Langley Family Trust; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated I.V.Y. League chair (vice president), Association for Black Culture Centers; Co-founder, Black Male Initiative Summit at the University of Denver. When asked why she chooses to take an active role, Adams-Peters says, “As a native of Denver I have a responsibility to fully engage my community. I have little tolerance for people who complain but don’t take an active role in finding a solution. I am thankful that I have been blessed with God-given talents and deep-seeded passion to positively impact my community.” Adams-Peters sees the biggest challenge facing the African American community is the lack of affordable and quality education. “A well-educated and informed community can come together to increase educational opportunities for everyone. Not simply academic educational opportunities, but education around financial literacy, health and wellness, and political engagement to impact positive change within families and in the broader community,” she says. In the future Adams-Peters would like to work within the community to open doors to quality education for everyone, either by collaborating with lawmakers to create legislation that increases equitable access to quality education or work within individual school districts and communities to increase the scholastic attainment of children and working adults. Individual ability to access education as a means of positively transforming generational patterns is essential in our community. The presence of African Americans and historically underrepresented communities within higher education institutions should be the norm, not an exception. “I would like to be remembered as someone that motivated others to make that possible,” she says. 


African-American Community Leadership Luncheon With Congresswoman DeGette

Rep. Diana DeGette (D), who represents Colorado’s 1st district and is chief deputy whip in the House, held her annual African-American Community Leadership luncheon on Friday, January 24 at Bogeys on the Park at City Park Golf Course. More than 100 leaders in the AfricanAmerican community attended the luncheon where DeGette addressed current and ongoing issues like health care, education, jobs, and other concerns affecting the nation as a whole.

Colorado State University Pueblo Establishes Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

The Tau Tau Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha at Colorado State University-Pueblo sorority became the third undergraduate chapter in the state with 13 women chartering the chapter at a ceremony last month. This brings the number of Greek organizations on campus to four, joining Latina sorority Lambda Theta Nu (chartered in 2011) as well as the Delta Omega Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, and the Zeta Pi Chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1908. It is the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American college-educated women. For more information on the sorority, visit or the new chapter, email Chapter President Jasmin Lewis at

Burgess Awarded Largest Minority And Woman-owned Construction Contract in Denver’s History

Burgess Services recently announced the company was awarded a $39.6 million contract for the mechanical construction of the Denver International Airport’s (DIA) Hotel

and Transit Center Program. The contract is the single largest contract ever awarded to a minority Denise Burgess and Mayor Hancock at the launch of the or woman-owned DIA expansion project. enterprise in Denver’s history. President Denise Burgess grew up in the construction arena with her late father Clyde J. Burgess, owner of Burgess Heating and Air Conditioning. In 2002, she led the transition of Burgess Service from installation and maintenance contractors to a nationwide firm specializing in construction management, commissioning and quality assurance/quality control. Awarded by MHS (Tri-Venture of Mortenson, Hunt, Saunders), 100 percent of the contract will go to Burgess Services, who will then subcontract to several other firms. Contracted by DIA, MHS is the prime construction manager/general contractor for the Hotel and Transit Center Program. Burgess Services originally contracted to MHS for design assist, which provides constructability reviews, estimating and coordination prior to actual construction. For more information, visit

Learn. Achieve. Graduate.

Spruce Townhomes Affordable Housing Development Breaks Ground At Stapleton

Forest City Stapleton, Inc. celebrated the ground breaking of the Spruce Townhomes at Stapleton on Jan. 16. The Spruce Townhomes are an 18unit quality affordable housing development built by the Northeast Denver Housing Center (NDHC) that will provide homeownership opportunities to households making less than 80 percent of Denver’s area median income in Stapleton, one of Denver’s most sought after neighborhoods. A majority of the townhomes range in price from $160,000 to $198,500 and will serve a diverse array of buyers with a family-friendly building product and floor plans. The project site and its surrounding amenities, schools and proximity to work, live and play are excellent, making this a major developmental milestone for North East Denver and the Stapleton community.

A Free Online Public K-12 School Proven to Help Students Succeed

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


A Moment in Black History: Burning of Black Wall Street

Editor’s note: The following article has been circulated through the Internet for a few years. Although we have no true credit of author, we feel it is worthy of publishing in honor of Black History Month.

The date was June 1, 1921 when

“Black Wall Street,” the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent allBlack communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving Black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering – a model community destroyed and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused.

The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African Americans dead and more than 600 successful businesses lost. Among them were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. As could have been expected, the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials and many other sympathizers. The best description of Black Wall

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Street, or Little Africa as it was also known, would be to compare it to a mini Beverly Hills. It was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s, and it proved that African Americans could create a successful infrastructure. That’s what Black Wall Street was all about. The dollar circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Now a dollar leaves the Black community in 15 minutes. As far as resources, there were Ph.D.’s residing in Little Africa, Black attorneys and doctors. One doctor was Dr. Berry who owned the bus system. His average income was $500 a day, a hefty pocket change in 1910. It was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six Blacks, owned their own planes. It was a very fascinating community. The mainstay of the community was to educate every child. Nepotism was the one word they believed in. The main thoroughfare was Greenwood Avenue, and it was intersected by Archer and Pine Streets. From the first letters in each of those three names you get G.A.P. That’s where the renowned R&B music group The GAP Band, who were from Tulsa, got its name. Black Wall Street was a prime example of the typical, Black community in America that did businesses, but it was in an unusual location. You see, at the time, Oklahoma was set aside to be a Black and Indian State. There were over 28 Black townships there. One third of the people who traveled in the terrifying “Trail of Tears” alongside the Indians between 1830 and 1842 were Black people. The citizens of this proposed Indian and Black state chose a Black gover-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


nor; a treasurer from Kansas named McDade. But the Ku Klux Klan said that if he assumed office that they would kill him within 48 hours. A lot of Blacks owned farmland, and many of them had gone into the oil business. The community was so tight and wealthy because they traded dollars hand-to-hand, and because they were dependent upon one another as a result of the Jim Crow Laws. It was not unusual that if a

resident’s home accidentally burned down, it could be rebuilt within a few weeks by neighbors. This was the type of scenario that was going on day-today on Black Wall Street. When Blacks intermarried into the Indian culture, some of them received their promised ‘40 Acres and A Mule’ and with that came whatever oil was later found on the properties. On Black Wall Street, a lot of global business was conducted; the community flourished from the early 1900s until June 1, 1921. That’s when the largest massacre of nonmilitary Americans in the history of this country took place, and it was led by the KU KLUX KLAN. Imagine walking out of your front door and seeing 1,500 homes being burned. Survivors interviewed think the whole thing was planned because during that time, White families with their children stood around the borders of their community and watched the massacre. The looting and everything – much in the same manner they would watch a lynching. The riots weren’t caused by anything Black or White. It was caused by jealousy. A lot of white folks had come back from World War I and they were

poor. When they looked over into the Black communities and realized that Black men who fought in the War had come home as heroes – that helped trigger the destruction. It cost the Black community everything, and not a single dime of restitution – no insurance claims – has been awarded to the victims to this day. Nonetheless, they rebuilt. An estimated 1,500 to 3,000 people were killed and a lot of them were buried in Mass Graves all around the city. Some were thrown into the river. As a matter of fact, at 21st Street and Yale Avenue, where there now stands a Sears parking lot, that corner used to be a coal mine. They threw a lot of the bodies into the shafts. Unmarked Graves Tulsa, OK (CNN)

The Gun Went Off, The Riot Was On

Beulah Smith and Kenny Booker, two elderly Oklahomans, lived through one of the worst race riots in U.S. history, a rarely mentioned 1921 Tulsa blood bath that officially took thousands of African-American lives. On the night of May 31, 1921, mobs called for the lynching of Dick Rowland, a Black man who shined shoes, after hearing reports that on the previous day he had assaulted Sarah Page, a white woman, in the elevator she operated in a downtown building. A local newspaper had printed a fabricated story that Rowland tried to rape Page. In an editorial, the same newspaper said a hanging was planned for that night. As groups of both Blacks and whites converged on the Tulsa courthouse, a white man in the crowd confronted an armed Black man, a war veteran, who had joined with other Blacks to protect Rowland. A fabricated newspaper story triggered the violent riots that left hundreds, if not thousands, dead. Commission member Eddie Faye Gates told CNN what happened next. She said, “This white man asked the Black man, `what are you doing with this gun?’ `I’m going to use it if I have to,’ the Black man said, according to Gates, and (the white man) said, ‘No, you’re not. Give it to me,’ and he tried to take it. The gun went off; the white man was dead, the riot was on.” Truckloads of whites set fires and shot Blacks on sight. When the smoke lifted the next day, more than 1,400 homes and businesses in Tulsa’s Greenwood district, a prosperous area known as the “Black Wall Street,” lay in ruins. Today, only a single block of the original buildings remains standing in the area. Experts now estimate that at least 3,000, died. ‘We’re in a heck of a lot of trouble’ said Beulah Smith who was 14 years

old the night of the riot. A neighbor named Frenchie came pounding on her family’s door in the Tulsa neighborhood known as “Little Africa,” that also went up in flames. “Get your families out of here because they’re, killing niggers uptown,” she remembers Frenchie saying. “We hid in the weeds in the hog pen,” Smith told CNN. People in a mob came to Kenny Booker’s house asking, “Nigger, do you have a gun?” he told CNN. Booker, then a teenager, hid with his family in their attic until the home was torched. “When we got downstairs, things were burning. My sister asked me, ‘Kenny is the world on fire?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, but we’re in a heck of a lot of trouble, baby.” Another riot survivor, Ruth Avery, who was seven at the time, gives an account matched by others who told of bombs dropped from small airplanes passing overhead. The explosive devices may have been dynamite or Molotov cocktails – gasoline-filled bottles set afire and thrown as grenades. “They’d throw it down and when it’d hit, it would burst into flames,” Avery said. Only a single block remains of the 1,400 homes and businesses that made up the area known as the Black Wall Street. Unmarked graves and many of the survivors “mentioned bodies were stacked like cord wood, says Richard Warner of the Tulsa Historical Society. In its search for the facts, the commission has literally been trying to dig up the truth. Two headstones at Tulsa’s Oaklawn Cemetery indicate that riot victims are buried there. In an effort to determine how many, archeological experts in May used ground-piercing radar and other equipment to test the soil in a search for unmarked graves. The test picked up indications that hundreds, of people have been buried in an area just outside the cemetery. Editor’s Note: Accounts of this tragedy have been documented through a number of sources, including the Oklahoma Historical Society, Tulsa Historical Society, Oklahoma Commission to study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, the news media and the academic community. Reports say the commission called for direct payments to survivors and victims’ descendants, scholarships, and a tax-check off program to fund economic development in Tulsa’s mostly black Greenwood area and a memorial to the dead. To view a full-version documentary, Black Wall Street, Little Africa, Tulsa, Okahoma 1921 visit, v=X4IvFXPGYNA.

Ask About Our Specials in Honor of Black History Month!

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Zeus. Paw Sidin also appears on Earth under many disguises to further meddle in the lives of Ulysses’ family. In retelling The Odyssey in modern terms, Gardley does an incredible job of transposing language and re-conceptualizing the time shift, says the 59Popular Film/Stage Star Performs year-old actor who adds, “It’s updated language but Marcus is still a poetic With Denver Center Theatre writer.” The actor describes Gardley as “an By Tanya Ishikawa emerging playwright to pay attention andyman. Candyman. Candyman. to” who wrote 12 plays by the age of 28, and has seven productions at Candyman. Candyman. regional theaters across the Repeating that name country just this five times was the year. “It may be supernatural too soon to incantation christen that him the brought next actor August Tony Wilson, Todd to but he is the prolific. He screen in Tony Todd, Jason Bowen and Sequoiah Hippolyte in the seems to Denver Center Theatre Company’s world premiere prohis enduring duction of black odyssey. Photo by Jennifer M Koskinen write because portrayal of the he can’t stand 1992 horror film still,” Todd comments. character of the same To prepare for the performance, name. Todd was given a 200-page packet Paw Sidin is the name of the charfilled with the script’s historical referacter that brings Todd to Colorado to ences, from the Alabama church perform with the Denver Center bombing in 1963 to the shooting of Theatre Company this January and Trayvon Martin in 2012. February. The prolific film and stage “We studied that and I brushed up actor plays an updated, Africanon Greek mythology and who the American version of Poseidon in the characters are,” says Todd, who credworld premiere of Marcus Gardley’s its black odyssey director Chay Yew black odyssey. This modern interpretawith having a great world view. tion of Homer’s epic Greek poem elic“Every night I listen to the play I am its the full range of emotions from the continually discovering something audience from joy and wonder to new. Even when we had been workshock and sadness as they observe the ing on it for five weeks, it was still weaknesses and strengths of the refreshing. He is a great director who human condition, influenced by the puts his actors on an equal playing hands of the Gods. field and encourages us to be truthful “It’s a very important play for and simple.” young audiences, as well as people The stage and sets are also simple without regular exposure to theater. and stripped down, yet full of surprisTheater can have a bad rap, with peoes and creative props and effects to ple thinking it doesn’t relate to them, keep the audiences engaged. While but I think people will see something the production runs two hours and 32 in this play,” he says. “In Denver, I minutes including one 15-minute hope we see true diversification in the intermission, the performances are audiences, and an energy of cultures tight and never slow down, making it feeding off each other, so people can seem much shorter than it is. Though come away with a more complete not a musical, interludes of song also understanding of what it’s like to be keep the production rolling and enddifferent.” ing with an uplifting, swaying finale. Centered around a Black soldier’s Denver Center Theatre Company homecoming, Todd explains, “The presents black odyssey at The Space basic story is that this young man, Theatre Tuesdays through Sundays, Ulysses, is away from his home and ending on Feb. 16. It is recommended his child for 13 years. He has to go for ages 16 and above, due to some through all these historical checkprofanity. Audience members are points, fighting his own demons to advised that strobe effects and live end up where he belongs.” gun fire (five shots) are used in the Throughout the play, Ulysses is show.  being manipulated by the smoothEditor’s note: For tickets and information, talking yet sinister Paw Sidin who, visit or call 303from Heaven, shares control of the 893-4100 or 800-641-1222. world through a chess game with

Tony Todd Dives Deep Into Black Odyssey

Q&A: Tony Todd on his Personal Odyssey

what I wanted to do. From that moment, acting kept me out of harm’s way and from being an endangered person.

Have you been to Colorado before? Why? I acted in a short movie filmed in Aurora and Denver. The film was Driven, produced by (Colorado direc-

Tony Todd and Shamika Cotton in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s world premiere production of black odyssey. Photo by Jennifer M Koskinen


Tony Todd was born on Dec. 4, 1954, in Washington, D.C. His theater training includes the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and Trinity Rep Conservatory. His theater credits include Aida (Broadway), The Royale, Fences, Zooman & the Sign, Home, Playboy of the West Indies, Les Blancs, King Hedley II (Originated), No Place to be Somebody, and Captains Tiger for which he received a Helen Hayes nomination. His TV and film credits include Black Fox, Le Secret, Man From Earth, Platoon, Lean On Me, Bird, The Rock, Night of the Living Dead, The Crow, Candyman, Sushi Girl, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, 24, Final Destination 1,2,3,5, Hawaii 5-0, Criminal Minds, Law & Order, Homicide, NYPD Blue, X-Files, and Deep Space 9.

What do you like about theatre performances compared to film roles? Theater is where it started, you know. I’ve worked with some great playwrights on Broadway and off Broadway. There’s more satisfaction that I get from theater than I get from any other media. I love film, but win or lose, succeed or fail, theater is the naked truth. It’s something you can’t imitate. It’s raw and visceral. You leave your emotions on the stage, and hopefully have communicated a story. It’s the first acting I ever did, and it saved my life. I never go more than two years without performing on stage. What do you mean by it saved your life? I discovered it in high school when I was an at-risk youth being raised by a single woman. My English teacher gave me a copy of ‘The Tempest’ one day and from that moment I knew that’s

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


tor/writer/producer) Brian McCully and directed by (East High School graduate) JT Richardson. It was released about a year ago (July 2013). I was here for two days and did one day of work, which ended up in a 17minute drama. Now they’re raising money to shoot the full-length feature in Colorado as well. What do you think about the Colorado filmmaking industry? I know you guys have it here but you have constant competition with New Mexico because of the government financial incentives. Our crew was completely competent and the check didn’t bounce.

What is next for you after black odyssey? I always have work these days. I’m not worried about that – I’m worried about my daughter going to graduate school at Columbia in New York. I am doing a TV pilot. I have some voiceovers I need to finish. I’m slated to do three films before July.

What are your passions outside of acting? I rescue cats. I have two rescues now. I like to cook. I’m a lover of world cuisine. Living in Los Angeles, I am constantly surrounded by great food. I like to hike and raft. I’m an avid traveler.

This is the Denver Urban Spectrum’s Black History Month issue. Who are your most treasured Black historical figures? My favorite male role model growing up was Muhammad Ali, just because of his attitude. Just the fact that he called himself the greatest and Continued on next page

Dance Theatre of Harlem Returns to Denver for Encore

Black History Month is overflowing with cultural treats to inform the general public about the many gifts the Black community has and continues to contribute to the world. In addition to information, the month also features many inspirational and cultural events. The nationally and internationally-acclaimed Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) returns to Denver on Friday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. when the repertoire will perform at The Buell Theatre, a 2,884seat venue at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The DTH last performed in Denver in 2011. Earlier on the same day, the dancers will interact with up to 2,800 students from schools in the Denver metro area who have been invited at no charge to attend an event just for them: The Dance Theatre of Harlem: Ballet for Kidz Sake. “Because of the generosity of our partners at Kaiser Permanente, Delta Eta Boyle,the Denver Links and First Lady Mary Louis Lee's “Bringing Back the Arts” initiative, individual donors and ticket purchasers, we are able to offer this life-affirming experience to students in our local schools” says Ken Johnson, director of business development and community affairs for Lu Vason Presents, Inc. The organization is a leading dance institution of unparalleled global

Tony Todd: Q&A

Continued from previous page backed it up made him a strong role model for African-American young man. Athol Fugard, a South African playwright, was one of my professors at the rep. He was an alcoholic and came to my 9 a.m. class with a bottle. Fifteen years after that, he was recovering and I got to be on stage with him for two years at the Kennedy Center. I just really appreciate his whole perspective and how he tried to expose injustices. That is the core of my political being.

acclaim, encompassing a “Classically American® dance company, a leading arts education center and touring company. Now in its fourth decade, the DTH has grown into a multicultural dance institution with an extraordinary legacy of providing opportunities for creative expression and artistic excellence that continues to set the standard in the performing arts. Both the Ballet for Kidz Sake morning event and the Harlem Returns to Denver evening event are being produced by Lu Vason Presents, Inc.; presented by the Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund in collaboration with The Urban League of Metropolitan Denver and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. Tickets range between $45 and $95. The Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and the Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund will receive a portion of the proceeds from the evening performance. Johnson says, “We are open to working with other local non-profits and community organizations on both events. We look forward to seeing the community support these events as we celebrate Black History Month.” Editor’s note: For more information, visit, email Ken Johnson at or call 303-373-1246.

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Which Black historical events were most memorable for you? I will never forget the night I was 12 when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. I got punished because I wanted to go out in the street. My aunt forbid me and she probably saved my life. Looking back on his peaceful perspective, whether or not he was a flawed character, the inspiration he left was significant. I’ve been to Africa three times including the year Mandela was released. I never saw a sight like that anywhere else. People dressed in white were running down the street, celebrating – it was truly inspiring. 

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Neuromonics Names Eula Adams CEO


Mayor Hancock Is First Mayor Appointed to FAA Management Advisory Council Mayor Michael B. Hancock is among 10 new members to be

appointed by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Administrator Michael Huerta to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Management Advisory Council (“MAC”). Mayor Hancock is the first-ever mayor to be appointed to the MAC, which advises the FAA on management, policy, spending and regulatory matters. He will serve a three-year term on the Council. Created by the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, the MAC meets quarterly to assess and advise the FAA on carrying out its aviation safety and air travel efficiency mission. Panel members serve three-year terms in a volunteer capacity and retain their private sector positions.

CBWPA Elects Maya Wheeler As New Leader

CBWPA kicked off the year under Maya Wheeler administration at its monthly membership meeting on Jan. 27 at the Blair-Caldwell Library with a CBWPA new officer installation ceremony.

Colorado Black Women For Political Action has announced that Maya Wheeler will begin her two-year term in January 2014. Wheeler is a resident of Aurora, Colorado and works as a community outreach liaison for Forest Street Compassionate Care Center. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder and holds three advanced degrees in healthcare administration, business, and information management from Webster University. Wheeler’s vision for the organization include increasing the organization’s membership; inspiring young Black women to become advocates and risk takers for meaningful change in the African American community; supporting current elected officials who make sincere commitments to initiate, support, sustain functions which enhance the economic, social and political status of African Americans in Colorado; and forming coalitions with other organizations that have common goals of effecting change in the status of Black families. For more information on CBWPA or Maya Wheeler, visit or send an email to


Neuromonics, Inc., manufacturer and distributor of clinically proven tinnitus treatment devices, has named Eula Adams CEO. With nearly 40 years of national and international experience in the financial accounting, financial services and technology industries, Adams has most recently served as president of Denver-based Xcore Corporation. The company designs, assembles and markets a line of low-cost, low-maintenance and low-energy netbooks, keyboard and touch-pad computing devices for global distribution. Previously, Adams served as senior vice president of storage sales and services for Sun Microsystems, and as president and senior vice president of First Data Corporation, carrying global responsibilities with both companies. Within First Data, he held the positions of president of Merchant Services, president of Card Issuer Services and president of Teleservices. He also was chief operating officer of Western Union, later acquired by First Data. Earlier in his career, the new

CEO spent 19 years with Deloitte, in the greater Atlanta area and in New York City. He was partner in charge of the Atlanta office audit group. Adams holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Morris Brown College (Atlanta) and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard University. He is a licensed certified public accountant in the state of Colorado. Neuromonics’ FDA-cleared devices and treatments help individuals with tinnitus, the condition described as ringing in the ears when no external sounds are present. Globally, tinnitus affects an estimated 10-15 percent of the population. In the United States alone, more than 50 million people suffer from the condition, according to the American Tinnitus Association. Usually brought on by exposure to loud noise, the problem is especially significant in the military, with more than 34 percent of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from the condition.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


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Mayor Hancock Ends ‘Year of the Neighborhood’ with Final Neighborhood Tour for 2013 By Rachel Chaparro

Visit from Mayor Hancock during Denver Days surprises young Washington Park neighbor John Prentice. Picture credit: Evan Semon, Evan Semon Photography

Mayor Michael B. Hancock declared 2013 the “Year of the Neighborhood” and reached thousands of Denverites through his signature outreach programs, including Neighborhood Tours that took him to every quadrant of the city, a brand new celebration of the city called Denver Days and quarterly Cabinet in the Community meetings, where the Mayor and all of his senior team go out to neighborhoods to visit with the neighbors. The Mayor also stopped in at Registered Neighborhood Association meetings and made numerous appearances at community events. “Denver is a collection of diverse, vibrant neighborhoods, and our residents reflect the richness of this great city,” said Mayor Hancock. “Together, we are ensuring my administration understands each neighborhood’s unique opportunities and challenges so our policies and decisions are driven by the people.” With the last neighborhood tour in December, the Mayor made nearly 400 community visits citywide in 2013. To wrap up a year of robust community outreach, the Mayor and

Councilman Albus Brooks met with former Mayor Wellington Webb and the board of directors for the Friends of Caldwell Library to talk about the future of the library and museum. They also visited Whittier Elementary School to learn about their new music program and joined the Five Points Business District for a discussion about the neighborhood’s plans for growth and. “The Mayor’s unmatched commitment to the economic vitality for the Five Points Business District and citywide is putting people back to work and strengthening the fabric of our neighborhoods,” said Tracey Winchester, FPBD Director. “We couldn’t ask for a better partner in the city than the Mayor. He has invested a lot of his time and city resources to ensure Denver has a thriving business community.” The Mayor and the Councilman also met with business owners along Fairfax Street and with leaders of the Colfax and Bluebird Business Improvement Districts to get updates on the economic development happening in those neighborhoods. They also met with Registered Neighborhood Association leaders from Council District 8 to hear firsthand how each group is working to improve their community. “For the first time I got to meet other RNO leaders from neighboring communities,” said Ean Tafoya, president of the West City Park Neighborhood group. “It was great to have the opportunity to talk about how RNOs can work together on mutually shared issues and get updated from the Mayor and Councilman Brooks on the city’s top priorities.” Editor’s note: The Mayor will continue to reach out and listen to the community in 2014. Sign up at MileHighMayor@ with News About Mayor Hancock to stay updated. Follow Mayor Hancock on Facebook at www.facebook. com/5280mayor, on Twitter at www. or on Tumblr at


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Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


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Life of a King

Life of a King



Ex-Con Opens Chess Club for At-Risk Kids in Ghetto-Based Biopic


ugene Brown (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) was so worried about returning to his neighborhood in inner-city Washington, DC after serving 17 years for bank robbery that he shared his concern with his cellmate Searcy (Dennis Haysbert). The wise, old elder responded by making an analogy between life and the game of chess amounting to the simple suggestion “Take care of the king.” He also handed Eugene a chess piece, hoping it might serve as a constant reminder to avoid trouble by employing fundamental game strategy. And that practical piece of advice would come in handy, especially since landing employment would turn out to be quite a challenge, given his criminal record. But rather than break the law again for a quick buck, Eugene displayed the patience to wait until he found a legit job as a janitor. Working at the same high school his children had attended, he was afforded an opportunity to redeem himself when asked by

the principal (LisaGay Hamilton) to monitor detention, too. Instead of just having the students stand at the blackboard and write, “I will not be late for class” or “I will not forget my homework” 50 times, Eugene came up with the inspired idea of teaching them how to play chess each afternoon. Soon, he founded a chess club as a regular afterschool activity and viable alternative to the gangsta ways so many of the troubled youth found attractive. Meanwhile, Eugene needed to mend fences with his estranged offspring, college coed Katrina (Rachae Thomas), and black sheep Marcus (Jordan Calloway), a juvenile jailbird following in his father’s footsteps. That proves easier said than done since the absentee-dad wasn’t around for either’s formative years. Written and directed by Jake Goldberger (Don McKay), Life of a King is a warts-and-all biopic based on the downfall and resurrection of the real Eugene Brown. As raw and realistic as it is predictable and cliché-ridden, this modern morality play does at least drive home a pertinent message for adolescents in the targeted demographic. A Sunday school-style parable which makes very effective use of chess mastery as a metaphor for negotiating the perilous gauntlet of possible ghetto pitfalls.

Rated: PG-13 for drug use, violent images and mature themes Running Time: 100 minutes Distributor: Millennium Entertainment To see a trailer for Life of a King, visit: Black Coffee 

Fired and Dumped Dude Finds Soul Mate on Rebound in Faith-Based Romantic Romp


obert’s (Darrin Dewitt Henson) whole world collapses the day he’s fired from the business founded by his late father only to come home to an unsympathetic girlfriend (Erica Hubbard) who has decided to dump him because he can’t afford to take care of her. To add insult to injury, Mita drops the bomb that she’s been cheating on him with Nate (Josh Ventura), the guy who just terminated him. But the jilted housepainter isn’t down in the dumps for long, since he soon crosses paths with Morgan (Gabrielle Dennis), a gorgeous attorney he falls head-over-heels for at first sight. The available divorcee happens to be moving into a drab office that’s

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Black Coffee

crying out for a makeover, a condition which conveniently dovetails with housepainter Robert’s need for a job. He closes the deal by offering the “pretty woman discount,” so it looks like clear sailing at first blush. Not so fast, Kimosabe, since the tired-andtrue modus operandi of the stock romantic comedy is to keep the leading man and woman apart until the very end when they disappear into the sunset together. Such is the case with Black Coffee, a pleasant, if predictable affair written and directed by Mark Harris (Black Butterfly). For, every time Robert and Morgan appear ready to take the relationship to a deeper level, a monkey wrench is thrown into the works, like the return of her ex-husband (Lamman Rucker) who wants to reconcile. Too bad much of the dialogue strains credulity here, such as Morgan’s cruel cross-examination of Robert when she asks whether he can read, why black people always have to talk while they’re working, and whether he’s a man of God. Of course, the perfect gentleman passes the test with flying colors, but isn’t there a less antagonistic method for a sister to find her soul mate? A pat, if unconvincing, romantic romp determined to march inexorably to an implausible, happily ever after finale, whether you like it or not.

Rated: PG for mild epithets, sexual references and mature themes Running Time: 85 minutes Distributor: RLJ Entertainment To see a trailer for Black Coffee, visit: Jamesy Boy 

Troubled Teen Transforms behind Bars in True Tale of Redemption


ames Burns (Spencer Lofranco) ended up behind bars in spite of his frustrated mother’s (Mary-Louise


Jamesy Boy

Parker) best efforts to keep him on the straight and narrow path. When he was 14, she took him down to the police station for a good talking to after she found a pistol in his possession. But that early intervention failed to scare the cocky juvenile straight, and he would join a street gang setting up shop in his suburban Denver neighborhood. Eventually, the law caught up with James and, tried as an adult, he was convicted of vandalism, robbery and assault before being shipped off to a maximum security penitentiary where he immediately found his manhood being challenged at every turn. He soon landed in trouble with a security guard (James Woods) for coming to the assistance of another newcomer (Ben Rosenfield) being picked on by a hardened con (Taboo) looking for trouble. And he was warned that continued fighting was likely to jeopardize his chances of getting off early for good behavior to be reunited with the girl of his dreams (Taissa Farmiga). James finally finds inspiration in an unlikely friendship forged with a fellow inmate (Ving Rhames) doing life for murder. Wise old Conrad takes the kid under his wing, convincing him to find another outlet for the aggressive urge to retaliate. “Keep writing,” he suggests upon learning of James’ love of poetry. “It doesn’t even matter if it’s good or not.” That is the pivotal plot development in Jamesy Boy, a fact-based tale of redemption marking the noteworthy directorial and scriptwriting debut of Trevor White. While the overcomingthe-odds biopic might not break any new ground in terms of the genre, it makes up in earnestness what it might lack in originality, thanks to a talented cast which includes veterans Ving Rhames, Mary-Louise Parker and James Woods as well as fresh faces Spencer Lofranco, Taissa Farmiga (Vera’s sister) and hip-hop star Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas. The picture’s postscript informs

the audience that the real-life James Burns, now 25, lives in New York City where he studied poetry in college. A modern morality play about a young felon who, after paying his debt to society, left the slammer rehabilitated with more of a fondness for rhyme than robbery. Unrated Running Time: 109 minutes Distributor: Phase 4 Films To see a trailer for Jamesy Boy, visit: Frozen

hope of finding her sibling with hopes of not only reversing the curse but of reconciling their differences. En route, Anna and company are afforded ample opportunities to belt out a tune when not proving their mettle in playful plights of peril. The enchanting picture is as memorable for its pleasant luminescence and catchy soundtrack (including the Best Song Oscar-nominated “Let It Go”), as for its unpredictable resolution. To its credit, Frozen puts a novel spin on the hackneyed nursery rhyme plotline which has the prince arriving in the nick of time to save the damselin-distress. A touching tale of sisterhood with a priceless message about blood being thicker than an ill-advised crush.

Rated: PG for action and mild rude humor Running Time: 102 minutes Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures To see a trailer for Frozen, visit:

Lone Survivor


Princess Saves the Day in Musical Adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen Classic


iven the toll the polar vortex has been exacting on the continental U.S. lately, I think plenty of people can relate to the frigid predicament of the people living in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle. Disney’s Frozen is an animated adventure loosely based on “The Snow Queen,” a classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale first published in 1845. This delightful musical stars Kristen Bell as the voice of Anna, the young princess who takes it upon herself to save the day after her sister, recently-crowned Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), inadvertently plunges Arendelle into a permanent winter before disappearing. You see, Elsa was born with a superpower similar to Batman’s adversary Mr. Freeze as well as the character Sub-Zero in Mortal Combat, namely, the ability to freeze things in an instant. Complicating matters is the fact that Elsa, empowered in the wake of their parents’ demise, had just put the kibosh on her sister’s plans to marry handsome Prince Hans (Santino Fontana). So, Anna, accompanied by an anthropomorphic snowman (Josh Gad) and a rugged mountain man (Jonathan Groff) with a trusty reindeer, embarks on an epic journey in

Lone Survivor 

Mark Wahlberg Stars in Adaptation of Memoir about Ambush of Navy SEALs in Afghanistan


n June 28, 2005, a team of Navy SEALs based in Afghanistan were issued orders in accordance with

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


Operation Red Wings to locate and terminate a Taliban leader whose militia had been targeting coalition troops in the Kush Mountains of Kunar Province. The four were then dropped by helicopter line into rugged terrain outside the tiny village suspected of harboring Al-Qaida sympathizers. Soon, the soldiers crossed paths with several shepherds and, against their better judgment, allowed the seemingly innocuous civilians to continue on their way in accordance with the U.S. military’s rules of engagement. Unfortunately, about an hour later, the SEALs found themselves ambushed by over a hundred Taliban fighters who had apparently been tipped off as to their whereabouts. The ensuing, epic battle is the subject of Lone Survivor, a gruesome war flick based on Marcus Luttrell’s (Mark Wahlberg) memoir of the high attrition-rate, harrowing ordeal. Adapted and directed by Peter Berg (Battleship), the picture is most reminiscent of Black Hawk Down, another grim film about an American, overseas helicopter operation gone bad. Given this movie’s title, there isn’t any suspense about how the disastrous misadventure is going to end. Consequently, the viewing experience amounts to little more than squirming in your seat while watching members of Luttrell’s unit perish, as well as over a dozen of the reinforcements sent to try to rescue them. A practically-pornographic tribute to fearless, fallen heroes strictly for patriots with a strong stomach for gratuitous violence, however accurate. Rated: R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity Running Time: 121 minutes Distributor: Universal Pictures To see a trailer for Lone Survivor, visit:

Melissa Harris-Perry Named 2014 Noel Visiting Professor

Education Luminary Pensal McCray Dies

Pensal W. McCray, who along with her husband, Christophe, established The Ethnic College Counseling Center in Denver in 1983, died on Jan. 18, 2014. She was 71. The McCrays, who were named Parents of the Year by the Colorado Parents Day Council in 2007, founded the ECCC more than 20 ago after realizing others could benefit from the information they had learned by helping their own children prepare for college. The ECCC, which bi-annually leads students on a tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, has helped about 3,000 youth apply for college. A Jan. 25, 2014 Denver Post article by Joanne Davidson further captures her dedication through a quote from her daughter, Talia: “Our mother lived a very full life. And she died doing what she loved to do. You just can’t ask for anything better than that.” She was found dead in her bed on Jan. 18, with materials for an upcoming tour of HBCU institutions spread out beside her. McCray is survived by five children: Talia McCray, Ph.D., Monique McCray-Osley, M.D., Christophe L. McCray, Ph.D., Rispba McCrayGarrison, M.D., and Demetrus McCray, A.A. She leaves 11 grandchildren and two brothers, Legrain and Hollies Winston. Her husband preceded her in death in 2007. Her children had posted the following on the ECCC website prior to her passing: “Mom has never sought kudos for being an outstanding mother and wife; rather, she guided her children by example, high standards, enriching experiences, and strict discipline - including a firm hand when necessary. Ever faithful and patient, she reared children any parent would be proud of. Mother, you’re an example of the virtuous woman whose value is indeed above rubies. You love and serve the Lord, your family, and your community with God-given talents for the greater good of humanity.” Editor’s Note: The funeral was held Jan. 28. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions to the Pensal McCray Scholarship Fund be sent in care of the Ethnic College Counseling Center, 2937 S. Ulster St., Denver 80231.

Metropolitan State University of Denver announced Melissa V. HarrisPerry, host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry,” and nationally recognized author of “Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America,” as this year’s Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professor. On Feb. 27, Harris-Perry will give a series of lectures on campus and in the community about her work as professor of political science at Tulane University, where she is the founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. Her academic research is inspired by a desire to investigate the challenges and harmful stereotypes that prevent African Americans - especially women of color - from fully realizing their potential in government and society. Harris-Perry will speak to students in the Tivoli Student Union Multicultural Lounge on the Auraria Campus on Feb. 27 and at the Noel Community Event at Shorter Community AME Church, 3100 Richard Allen Court in Denver, from 6 to 8 p.m. During the evening, Colorado community leaders Wilma Webb, former First Lady of Denver and former Colorado state legislator and Gloria Neal, veteran multi-media broadcast journalist, CBS4/AM760 will be honored with Hope for the Future Noel Awards. Events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

CGMA 43rd Annual Gospel Music Concert And Awards

The Colorado Gospel Music Academy Awards and Hall of Fame’s 43rd Annual Gospel Music Concert and Academy Awards Celebration will be held at New Hope Baptist Church, 3701 Colorado Blvd. in Denver on Sunday, Feb. 9 from 3 to 6 p.m. with special guest Rev. Raymond A. Wise, Ph.D. Early arrivers will receive a gift card from co-sponsor, McDonalds. This event is free to the public. This year’s celebration will also include two workshops on Thursday Feb. 6 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dr. Wise will be the guest director of the Denver Spirituals Project Choir at the University of Denver in the Newman Center on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. For information, call Daryl Walker



Spelman College Glee Club to Perform In Denver

The National Alumnae Association of Spelman College-Denver Chapter, in association with the New Hope Baptist Church Women’s Day Weekend, will present the Spelman College Glee Club in concert at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 9 at New Hope Baptist Church, 3701 Colorado Blvd., in Denver. Spelman, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a historically Black college and global leader in the education of women of African descent. The Spelman College Glee Club has maintained a reputation of choral excellence for more than 50 years. Its repertoire consists of sacred and secular choral literature for women’s voices with special emphasis on traditional spirituals, music by African-American composers, music from many cultures and commissioned works. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the NAASC Denver Chapter scholarship fund for Colorado students attending Spelman. For more information and tickets, call 1-877-389-6555 or visit

Vintage Vegas 2014

Hope center is inviting the public to join in their efforts for a fundraising event and to celebrate their 52nd anniversary. Funds raised from this year’s “Vintage Vegas”… Million Lights of Hope, Casino help to support tuition assistance, school supplies, parent education, children who live below federal poverty guidelines, and staff development. The mistress of ceremony is Gloria Neal, CBS4 commentator/special assignment reporter. The event will be Saturday, March 8 from 7:30 p.m. to midnight at the Sherman Event Center, 1770 Sherman St. in Denver. Tickets are $75 for general admission, $125 for VIP.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


For more information or tickets, call HOPE Center at 303-388-4801 or visit

Skin Care, Smoothies, and Scholarships!

On February 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. at United Church of Montbello, 4879 Crown Blvd. in Denver, learn ways to care for your skin that will give you the flawless complexion you seek, and makeup techniques that will make you look runway ready. Professional make-up artist Danon Crawford will share tips and secrets that include many organic items you have already have around the house to help you create a beautiful new look. Smoothies and other goodies will be served. The suggested donation is $60. Proceeds benefit the Iris Thompson Scholarship Fund. For more information, email Mary Etta Curtis at or call 303-373-0070.

African Culture Live: Celebrate Black History Month With BaoBaofest

Now in its 11th year, the BaoBao Festival will have seven performances from Feb. 23 to March 1 in Denver, Centennial, Erie and Boulder. For generations, people in West Africa have gathered under the baobab tree to share stories through singing, dancing and drumming. BaoBao Festival has re-created this tradition in Colorado each year by bringing together professional artists from West Africa to join local artists for a week of workshops and performances. The public is invited to experience the rich culture of West African dance, drumming and storytelling in locations throughout Colorado. Workshops for school groups are also available. For more information, call 303-8820602, email, or visit

Cecile Perrin 720-436-9822


Opening night, black odyssey.

Actor Tony Todd and playright Marcus Garley with DUS publisher, Rosalind “Bee” Harris


Photos by Lens of Ansar and Sweetz Photography

MLK Rodeo

African-American Heritage Rodeo of Champions

Happy Birthday Mr. Pierre @ Randall’s

AROUND TOWN Denver/Aurora January 2014

Congratulations to Stephanie O’Malley as Executive Director of the Department of Safety

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Events Photos by Lens of Ansar and Sweetz Photography

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Continued from page 3 were poor but we would soon find out from Johnson and the national media. At that time, there were no African Americans living in Martin County. From first grade through my senior year in high school, I did not attend school with any African Americans. Occasionally we would play a basketball team that had African American players. The first time I saw African American people was probably on NBC news with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. The first African American I saw in person was in Columbus, Ohio. We would travel there once or twice a year to visit family. I saw people of color passing by in other cars and as a small child I would turn my head to look. What I saw on the evening NBC national news was bewildering to me as a child. There was the violence of the Alabama race riots mixed with the evening reports of Vietnam. As a young elementary child I did not understand what the heck was going on. In the second half of my life some of my best friends are African Americans. I have had opportunities to visit in their homes, have them in my home, speak in their churches and go out to dinner to socialize. I am blessed. I know they are black and they know that I am white but we don’t see color. I thought it was sad that our President stated that he felt some people in America “really dislike” him because he is black. You can find almost any group in America. There are people who don’t like white people, and people who do not like Christians and some people who don’t like Jews and some people who do not like the poor and some who don’t like the rich. Unfortunately, we could say there are “some” for everything. Hate requires a lot of energy. This country needs to use that energy in a more positive way.


If we, as a country, do not work together we are going to fall apart. Nobody can have everything his or her way. America is not here for just one group, one religion or one political party. Our President must remember twice the majority of voters, not just African American voters, elected him. At one time he had a popularity poll of seventy percent. That’s a great number for any politician regardless of race. We have an African American President. We will eventually elect a woman President and soon we will have gay candidates for President. In Washington, Colorado and who knows where else the candidates will probably be handing out Marijuana cigarettes. Red, yellow, black or white we all are precious in God’s sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. God doesn’t see color and hopefully neither do most Americans.

Glenn Mollette Newburgh, IN

Editor’s note: Glenn Mollette is an American columnist read in all 50 states. Contact him at Like his Facebook page at He is the author of American Issues and numerous other books. Denver Urban Spectrum Department E-mail Addresses Denver Urban Spectrum

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


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Saturday, March 15, 2014 Q 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Renaissance Denver Hotel – 3801 Quebec Street Free Self-Parking!

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Food Tasting Cooking Demonstration

This event made possible with the generous support of our community partners. For more information, please visit our website: or call 303-355-3423.

P hysical Activity Exhibitions and Much More! Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014


African Bar and Grill Two Locations: 1010 S. Peoria St. in Aurora 18601 Green Valley Rance Blvd. in Denver Serving Jollof Rice, African Beer and Specialty Dishes from AFrica

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La Femme Naturalle A Poetic Tribute of Love, Romance and Sex

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Valentine’s Day - February 14, 2014 New Climax Lounge and Event Center - 2217 Welton St. Denver, CO Doors open at 8:30 - Admission: $10

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2014





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DUS February 2014  

Denver Urban Spectrum February 2014 Issue

DUS February 2014  

Denver Urban Spectrum February 2014 Issue