Denver Urban Spectrum February 2018

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Volume 31 Number 11 February 2018


Black History Ron Springer: Passing the Torch to New Entrepreneurs....................................4 Dr. Phil S. Hart: Examines 100 Years of Race Relations.........................................6 CCGAA: Looking to Keep the Conversation Going...............................................8 2018 AAWMAD: And the Winners are............................................................15-18 Black Jacks: More than Just African American Sailors........................................22 Ron Springer - Photo by Stunttime Photography

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Akente Express: A Beacon for Blackness By Allan Tellis

Photos by Stunttime Photography

L to R: Michael Durant, Michael Durant, Akilkuumba Kelly, Nina Simone and.Ron Springer Photo by Stunttime Photography

The early 90’s were a special time

in Black history. Fresh out of the 80’s, a

decade that brought Reaganomics, crack and a doubling in the Black male mur-

der rate, the 90’s offered a chance to do

things differently. The new decade offered fresh and creative artists, bold fashion, bright colors and a renewed sense of Black heritage pride – identified as Afrocentrism. Afrocentric roots can be traced to the 1960’s revolutionary movement. The 90’s, however, reinvigorated the sentiment and proliferated Afrocentric culture in urban communities. Events such as the National Black Expo exploded onto the scene and helped infuse an entire generation with a renewed sense of pride with their Blackness, and an intense focus on ways to improve Black. Ron Springer, a young and ultratalented Denver resident, fell in love with the essence of the movement.

Afrocentric Movement

“I’m from New York City,” Springer says, “and one day while discussing the Afrocentric movement with my sister she told me that Akente cloth was being sold in New York for a dollar a yard. I said, ‘Wow,’ because what I saw out there was selling for $19 a yard.” After traveling to New York and finding Akente cloth selling for $3 a yard, Springer brought the cloth back to Denver, charging $9 a yard. He also picked up a number of related items and sold everything within two weeks. “I hit a sweet spot,” Springer explains. “The movement was alive and well on the East Coast, and everything was reverberating from Chicago to Indiana where the Black Expo started. Those were the days of the Black Expo in 1990, but it never came to Colorado.”

The Black Expo

Springer attended the event in New York City, which he says was a mindblowing experience. “It was like walking into the Brooklyn Academy of Music, but on a grander scale,” Springer says. “They had a thousand vendors. It was overwhelming, like sensory overload. It was so much Blackness being waved at me; it was like getting caught up in a tsunami.”

Ron Springer and Michael Simmons

Springer says everything was inspiring and unique. Every booth filled with amazing stuff that was African based. “It just scooped right over Denver,” Springer says. “I think it went to parts of Texas, Houston and Atlanta. That was their route, and they were interchanging vendors, and the market was bubbling. It was like walking into heaven on earth as far as Afrocentricity was concerned.” When Springer returned to Denver he saw an Afrocentricity absence – it just hadn’t been introduced in the Mile High City. “I put two and two together, and that’s how it all came together,” Springer explains. “I picked certain pieces and brought them back to Colorado.” The opportunity to fill Denver’s void was both inspirational and daunting to Springer. He dove in headfirst with his partner and college friend Michael Simmons to create a platform for Afrocentric values and goods in the untapped Denver market.

ed seeing people wearing African fabric for the first time in Denver. He saw the proudness in their faces as they said, “This is mine.” And then he noticed the lifestyle that carried – Afrocentricity from births to funerals, and how it all intertwined

Herbologist Akilkuumba Kelly

and how proud people were of their Afrocentricity. “It all kind of came together right then,” Springer says, “and I said what an opportunity, I just pushed and it opened up. The sisters embraced it. They were exposed to African jewelry, fabrics were hot and that intertwined into theater, dance, schools, quilters, just that whole movement along with the Hue-Man bookstore as its leader. Owner Clara Villarosa came to me and asked, ‘Hey you need a building?’ And where would be a better place to get a building than next to the HueMan bookstore.” An African Center, as Springer called it, was born. The movement spread to the corner where there was midnight jazz, Roxy’s doing the catering, Sharell on one corner and also the

Springer Brings Afrocentrism to Denver

Springer says, he tested the market, and after the first two weeks, he start-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Tunsun Art Gallery. The whole block became a beacon for Blackness that was not on Denver’s historic Five Points. The pride that the Afrocentric culture instilled in Springer’s clients kept them coming back and buoyed Simmons and Springer’s shop toward being a prosperous business. “People started coming in saying, ‘I need my Black soap, my shea butter, it work better than the lotions and creams.’ So it rolled into hair and skin care products, and I think that was my saving grace, because when you’re selling artifacts or fabrics, you only need one spool, you only need so much fabric.” Between Ron Springer and Michael Simmons, Akente was ready to hit the ground running. They opened the doors on 919 Park Ave West in the early 1990’s. Simmons, a salesperson, was a very outgoing person in the community, while Springer was running back and forth from New York, Chicago and D.C. sending goods. “You have to have a yin and yang, but you have to have a middle ground,” Springer explains, “Everybody has a certain strength they bring to the table. His was a political and social strength, mine was sourcing and buying.” Although relatively new to the world of business, which came with a fair share of ups and downs, Springer often found himself in oddly fortuitous scenarios. Even with the naming of the store. “The name came from an older African woman who was fussing at me,” Springer recalls. “I had been spending money with her all week, and one day I was saying, ‘I want to get some Kente cloth.’ She became agitated and said, ‘If you’re going to use the name Akente, at least pronounce it correctly.’” Springer smiled at the agitated woman and said, “You just named my business.”

Rise of Akente Express

Springer’s mix of ambition, courage and integrity led him to find great success as he began to further entrench himself into the fabric of Denver’s community. The Akente Express not only became a highly sought after location for its quality goods, but the store also began to take on importance as a cultural hub for like-minded individuals throughout the metro area. “There was a time when I worked 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week for 19 years straight,” Springer says.

“All I knew was coming to work. It was good, but then again, it had its pluses and minuses. Once people try any of the products here, and we only have top-shelf products, they say ‘I’m taking my cologne back to Macy’s or I’m taking my shea butter back to Walgreens. I’m not going to buy this from Whole Foods anymore.’” With such a grasp on the demands for the market, many had no choice but to shop at Akente Express. “The satisfaction of knowing what we started more than 20 years ago is still up and running. I’ve seen 40 of these same businesses in Denver from basement businesses to the corporate level spring up – people in the African marketplace who are just in it for the money. People who say, ‘What are Black people buying now? What is this thing called a Kinara? What’s this essential oil? What’s this and what’s that?’ We looked up one day, and we had a lot of competition.” Springer says anybody who comes into his shop, and does a direct comparison, are going to say, “I’m not going to buy this anywhere else.” “We sell fragrances that you can go downtown and spend $100 on,” Springer says, “but you can get it here at the shop for $6, and it’s a better product. 7-11 was selling incense, but their incense smelled like sawdust. After a while, the whole community gave in and said, instead of spending the money with those people, let me come down to the shop. It was my job to convince them we have the best price, product and best customer service.” One of the great struggles throughout African-American history has been trying to reconnect with more extensive and older Black cultures, as much of that history has been destroyed by the Atlantic slave trade. Afrocentrism, however, gave an opportunity for African-Americans to connect with a history that connects them with the pride and greatness of many African nations. “The most impressive one I think was a three-year-old who walked out of here with African Garb on. Then of course for the sisters it was fashionable, and that’s where again Simmons came in. He transferred the African fabric over to American views, and at that point, it all took off from there.” Unfortunately, often there’s an underlying tension between African and African-American communities, most often due to preconceived notions and hesitations from the respective parties to venture to the other side of the cultural aisle. Fortunately for us, individuals like Springer’s input can empathize equitably with both sides, and serve as a bridge to create unity between different cultures of Black people.

“Being an ambassador,” Springer says. “I take it like Kissinger took it. They had preconceived ideas about what coming to America was like. What they didn’t see on Eddie Murphy, they saw in street crimes and drug selling, the whole gang banging kind of thing. So they had to discern who was who, who was trying to do what. I would see them day after day, month after month and after a while we just formed really good relationships.”

pro-black Afrocentric wave in the heart of one of the largest cities in the country. Springer had the foresight to see what was coming and the benefits of Black ownership. “It gives you a lot of rights,” Springer says, “and no one can tell you your lease is going up. I’ve had days when no money was coming in – it hasn’t been all roses. It’s the roller coaster of business, which everybody has, but with some tenacity and the right timing, things work out for you. If you look at what’s happening on Welton Street, I hate to say it but soon all of the Black businesses will be gone there. The rents are $2,500 a month;

Legacy of Akente

Over the past 30 years, Akente has become much more than a store full of African goods. It has become the essence of a community, the soul of a

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


ownership shields you from that. That’s not unique to Denver. It happened in New York and D.C. and what used to be the ‘chocolate city’ is now the ‘mocha city’.” As the last man standing, in what was once a thriving Black business strip, Springer accredits his tactics of ownership for much of his sustained success. “The main thing was that I bought the building,” he says, “with that, you just have to keep up with your maintenance and your taxes. You don’t have to put up with someone coming along and raising your lease.” Continued on page 29

Denver Welcomes Noel Distinguished Visiting Professor Dr. Phil S. Hart By Laurence Washington Rachel B. Noel

Noel explains that when it comes to who would be among the people they would select as a Noel professor, they have a variety of people they might ask to come talk to the school and the community. “The idea of bringing people from the outside is to expose us to something we ordinarily might not see in a variety of fields and academic disciplines,” Noel says. “So we have a variety of that kind of new information coming to the campus and the community. I think that was what my mother and early developers of the Noel Professorship had in mind.” MSU Denver’s Noel Professorship committee, chaired by Dr. Myron Anderson, consists of MSUD faculty and students and as well as representatives from the Denver Public Schools. Part of its responsibility each year is to select a notable speaker. “They are always searching the internet and watching the news and pulling together names of people we as a committee might consider,” Noel explains. “And we’re always thinking, ‘I saw this, I read that.’ We always have a pool of names that we’re thinking about.” Noel met Hart while attending the famous, and as he puts it, and only the East Denver High School. “The great class of ’64,” he says. “Phil finished at East and went onto play basketball at C.U. and graduate with honors. He then went to Michigan State University and earned Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology. He met his wife Tanya at Michigan State, and the two of them have been extremely active as a couple and individually since and are involved in many things from entertainment to urban planning with people who are active in various communities.”

Noel Professorship

Dr. Phil S. Hart has joined the

ranks of Princeton Professor Cornel

West, pianist Billy Taylor, actor Ossie

Davis and jazz singer Diane Reeves as the latest recipient of the prestigious

Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting

Professorship at MSU Denver. The Noel Professorship, which began in ’81, is named after Rachel B. Noel, the legendary Denver Public School Board member and MSU Denver professor of sociology and African-American studies. Denverites may recall that Rachel B. Noel was a trailblazer. She was the first African-American elected to the Denver Public School Board in 1965 and was the first African-American women to serve in elected office in Colorado. Three years later she led the charge to integrate the Denver Public Schools – the Noel Resolution passed in 1970 and was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. The program invites celebrated artists, intellectual pioneers and scholars to teach classes, seminars and lectures on the Auraria campus and in the community for students, faculty and Denverites who would like to attend. The program’s hallmark is multiculturalism, diversity and academic excellence. “He’s been a friend since we were kids,” says Edmond Noel Jr., the son of Rachel Noel. “I grew up in Denver and Phil did as well. He was one of those student athletes that I looked up to when I was a kid in high school. He is bright and has gone on to have a multifaceted career.”

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Phil Hart will be presenting on Sunday March 11, for an event at Shorter AME Church, 3100 Richard Allen Court, that begins at 3 p.m., according to Noel. “We’ve recently started in the evening, but we’ve gone back to the original format of a Sunday afternoon address to the community.” Hart was director of the William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture at University of Massachusetts Boston for 28 years, dealing with racial and social justice, community involvement and community improvement. During his tenure at the university in the 70s, Hart was a co-developer of Boston’s 75 acre Crosstown Industrial Park in Roxbury, a black depressed area of the Boston Metropolitan area, which has high technology, biotechnology, office, retail, industrial, textile manufacturing, public utility and hotel tenants and later for BioSquare, that city’s premiere biotech business park at Boston University’s campus. Hart been an urban planner and developer ever since, has written extensively on the impact of urban planning and development on minority communities.

Urban Development

On Monday March 12, Hart will be teaching a morning and afternoon class on the Auraria campus followed by a Tuesday morning lecture. The students attending will be an amalgamation from different courses. “Phil will discuss our theme,” Noel says, “a backward look at race from what would be my mother’s 100th year. She was born in 1918, and here it is 2018. So what has happened in that hundred years from a race lens or perspective? I think if we took the time to look at that, we all would be surprised how little we’ve done, and how much we have done at other times. “We want him to address the overall theme of race in the Century of Rachel Noel from the perspective of the three main areas of his career, aviation, social justice and urban planning and development. The three classes will address those three facets of his career within the over-arching theme - let’s explore race in this century. Let’s see what its impact has been. Let’s see what the impact race has had on minority communities in development. It’s existence, its demise.” Noel says for example, one of Hart’s great interests is aviation, because his great uncle was one of the first Black aviators. “Why did we have early Black aviators?” he asks. “Why did we have Black men and women flying airplanes when they were just being invented? What was it about, the state

100 Year Perspective

of race relations during that time frame to allow people to be making an airplane out of a car engine and putting wings on it, and being flying daredevils? What allowed Black people to be doing that, when we think we have this misguided impression that we went from slavery somehow to 1964.” Noel underlines the point that some African-Americans know that there was a Negro renaissance somewhere in between, but that we are need to know more. Dr. Hart’s address will fill in this large gap in time.

After Slavery

Hart and his wife Tanya developed a documentary movie for the Public Broadcasting System, called Dark Passages, narrated by Tanya Hart, which “tells the story of the Atlantic slave trade beginning at “The Door Of No Return” on Gorée Island in Dakar, Senegal, and concluding with a visit to Alex Haley’s (Roots) ancestral home in The Gambia,” as well as Flyers in Search of a Dream (PBS) about the early black aviators. Hart is the author of 14 books and 100 articles, including several children’s books about Black aviators. Hart is a longtime member of the Urban Land Institute ((ULI) where he served on advisory service panels in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. His most recent book is “African Americans and the Future of New Orleans.” Hart also co-produced and co-wrote the 3-hour syndicated radio documentary Ray Charles: The Music Lives On and the syndicated daily radio feature Hart Moments. Hart resides in Los Angeles with his wife and business partner Tanya Hart and their family. . Editor’s note: For more information, visit the Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship webpage at

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


CCGAA To Host Genocide Slavery Conference

Genocide and its cousin slavery are two of

By Charles Emmons

the most heinous words and practices in the modern world. Most recently genocide has occurred in Burma, and we have earlier examples in Armenia, Darfur, Rwanda, and Bosnia. In the 21st century, after so much history, why are we still talking about eliminating these from our world? After the Holocaust, in which over 6 million Jewish people were executed, the cry against genocide has been “Never Again!” A group in Colorado is intent on keeping this conversation viable and vibrant and they are inviting the participation of all our communities. The Colorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action (CCGAA, soon to be known as the Coalition Against Global Genocide) will hold a conference Genocide and Slavery: Social Death for Economic Gain, on Nov. 14 at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Co-sponsors as of this date for this conference are comprised of academics and community members from Metropolitan State University of Denever’s Office of International Studies and Africana Studies; University of Denver Committee on

impacting living, survival, and mobility. Most of haps the only nation which tried as a matter of America looked the other way, yet this act of national policy to wipe out its indigenous populaindicting America, brought the mistreatment of tion. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed even today we have African Americans to the attention of the rest of the world. not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel America was not the bastion of freedom and remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, democracy, because all of its citizens did not enjoy our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - 2/22/17 post CCGAA equal rights. But the CRC had roots in something perceived as more dangerous to America than Clearly the United States was built at the Black Americans, communism. CRC disbanded in expense of Native Americans and on the backs of 1956 during the McCarthy era. Not much happened Black Americans forcibly brought here as slaves. Not something to glorify, it has been given unspo- as a result of the charge of genocide brought to the U.N., other than the exposure. The mantle of ken approval even by those we might consider progressive, moderate and even heroic. As progress civil rights was taken up by moderate organizations like the NAACP. was made, communities like Rosewood were burnt The vestiges of slavery have impacted our histo the ground by white mobs. It happened. What torical memory, and the conference CCGAA proposes can be done about it? will examine these intersections of slavery and Genocide received a formal definition in the genocide. Major issues it will bring into the conUnited Nations in 1948 as a response to the versation are: Holocaust. 1. What are the Experiences of “Social Death” Genocide in Slavery and Genocide? How do genocide and …Any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part a Slavery rob their victims of full membership in national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: society? How does stripping victims of names, cula). Killing members of the group; tural traditions, and other forms of identity allow b). Causing serious bodily or mental harm to crimes against humanity? 2. What Economic Incentives Link Genocide and members of the group; Slavery? Genocide and Slavery may be seen as sepc). Deliberately inflicting on the group condiarate phenomenon, yet common to both is that tions of life calculated to bring about physical the exclusion of one population from society will destruction in whole or in part; benefit another. What are the theoretical assumpd). Imposing measures intended to prevent tions, and legal or economic practices used to jusbirths within the group; tify these profitable exclusions? e). Forcibly transferring the children of the group to another group; 3. Slavery, Genocide, and the Issue of (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Reparations. The question of reparations is conthe Crime of Genocide, Article 2, 1948) tentious, but in light of the above, we ask: Must Generally, when we think about or discuss reparations be only in the form of financial comgenocide the first point is only considered. This pensation for illicit economic gains, or might repabroad definition developed after the war has rations include social and emotional responses to importance in our history, but it has been easily restore the injuries associated with social death? glossed over and forgotten because of the compliThe pervasive ‘otherism’ that is historically the cated intersection of these acts and politics. Our spark for genocide has been normalized through issues seem to be addressed only when it is politithe current president’s rhetoric and tweets, the cally expedient. We have had several Civil Rights events of Charlottesville, and the tacit acceptance Acts and Amendments to the Constitution but for of praises and cheerleading by people like David decades these lacked enforcement, because even Duke. The social death of African Americans through those government officials we might have considwidespread poverty, mass incarcerations, and the ered allies, were wary of losing the support of the denial of voting and civil rights has the same powerful southern Democrat contingent for other effect of killing us off, because our full participainitiatives. tion and mobility for generations has been Yet this didn’t deter William L. Patterson of the deterred or impeded. If we are to keep moving Civil Rights Congress (CRC) from bringing the forward, we must have these conversations and discharge of genocide against the United States federpel this notion in the marketplace of ideas that al government on the behalf of Black Americans to this practice is either right or tolerable. Join the the United Nations in 1951. The evidence was the conversation.. over 150 murders and lynching that occurred Editor’s note: For more information and/or to partithroughout the nation from 1945-51 in the era of cipate in the conference, email CCGAA Executive Jim Crow, the psychological mental harm that the Director Roz Duman at, call Ku Klux Klan imposed on Black Americans, and a 303-856-7334 or follow CCGAA on Facebook. delineation of the rampant discriminatory practices 8 Stages of Genocide

Human Rights Education (COHRE); Denver African Community Center; Colorado Black Roundtable; City and County of Denver Office of Human Rights and Community Partnerships; Jewish Colorado and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. In a posting on their Facebook page just over a year ago, CCGAA stated: “When we say that we will never forget, we will never make the same mistakes that been made before, that we will protect those who should not have to cry out for safety we should look at our actions today. To know history’s mistakes is nothing if we replicate them. We know better. Turning away refugees out of fear is wrong. #holocaustremembrance - 1/27/17” This was in reaction to the rhetoric, policies and actions of the current administration. We would all agree that the degradation and exploitation of other human beings is wrong. This goes across cultures, yet we still see instances of genocide and slavery today. This broad moral agreement has largely been on paper, and often there is little remorse, regret, let alone enforcement against it. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized this. It’s unfortunately in America’s DNA. “Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy. We are per-

1. Classification 2. Symbolization 3. Dehumanization 4. Organization 5. Polarization 6. Preparation 7.Extermination 8. Denial

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Rocky Mountain PBS and the CWHF Premiers Historic, Multi-Episode Series about Great Colorado Women in 2018

The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF) and Rocky Mountain PBS will debut a new broadcast series focusing on historic and contemporary Colorado women and their little known, underreported achievements in a five-episode television on Thursday, February 1.The program is entitled Great Colorado Women and was produced by the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. The multi-season series will feature more than 100 women inducted into the Hall. These stories provide role models to remind women and girls, and men and boys that they can aspire higher to reach their dreams. The series premiers statewide on Thursday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. MT on Rocky Mountain PBS. The premier episode of this five-part Season I features the story of Marion Downs. By simply choosing to stand in the shortest line she could find to register at the University of Denver after WWII, Downs launched an amazing career, pioneered innovations in audiology,

and is institutionalized through the Marion Downs Hearing Center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center on the Anschutz Medical Campus, named in her honor. Throughout her career, Marion Downs fought tirelessly for hearing screening in newborns and for early intervention for those found with hearing problems. She introduced the concept of newborn screening and led the initiative for promoting methodologies of screening and followup. Her story, along with four other CWHF amazing women, will air each Thursday evening for five weeks. The Great Colorado Women on-air line-up air dates are, Thursdays, Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22 from 8 to 8:30 p.m. and March 1 from 8 to 9 p.m. “So many women in the Hall are unsung heroes, hidden figures who have endured with superlative strength, beauty and love. They deserve absolute respect and acknowledgment,” says Betty Heid, CWHF’s producer of the series. “They are shining examples of the potential of all women. Their accomplishments are worthy of being emulated and have shaped history and transformed lives.” Janina Martin, Corporate Sponsorship Manager at Rocky Mountain PBS says, “Rocky Mountain

PBS exists to strengthen the civic fabric of Colorado. This new series is really an eye-opener to the impact women have had on our state, our country, and our world. We think it will have broad audience appeal for Colorado citizens including the general public, historians, elementary through high school students, and college students. “We want to help others to know about those who have gone before us, and in doing so, we believe the stories about the women in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame will inspire women to play a bigger role in shaping Colorado’s history,” she added. History has shown that when women get involved, great things can happen. “A better world happens when women’s contributions are encouraged and recognized,” Heid emphasizes. “Women have been overlooked in history and in the media. The amazing stories of women’s success, leadership, vision, and accomplishments have not been told.” Great Colorado Women draws on the historic, scientific, cultural, public policy, education, agriculture, healthcare, and social justice accomplishments of the current 152 women in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. . Editor’s note: To learn more about the inductees, visit: inductees/women-in-the-hall/

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Air Dates and CWHF Inductee Profiles

Season Premier: Feb. 1, Marion Downs fought tirelessly throughout her career for hearing screening in newborns and the early intervention for those found to have hearing problems. Episode 2: Feb. 8, Dana Crawford is renowned as a historic preservationist and as a developer. Some of Crawford’s most notable projects include: Larimer Square, Union Station, Ice House, and the Oxford Hotel. Episode 3: Feb. 15, Penny Hamilton has been a general aviation pilot for over 25 years. She has worked for decades to encourage women to choose aviation as a career and to break down barriers that keep women from taking the skies. Episode 4: Feb. 22, Jill Tietjen is a professional engineer and has spent over 30 years in the electric utility industry as a consultant and expert witness on behalf of electric utilities before the Federal Energy Commission and state regulatory commissions. Episode 5: March 1, Marilyn Van Derbur Atler was crowned Miss America while attending the University of Colorado. A Denver native, Atler was a motivational speaker who was named “Outstanding Woman Speaker in America” by a poll of over 30,000 business and civic meeting planners.

Alisha Brown Named Senior Vice President of The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities

The Foundation for Sustainable

Urban Communities announced that Alisha Brown has been named senior vice president of the newly renamed organization (formerly Stapleton Foundation). The promotion was announced by Landri Taylor, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer. In her new role, Brown will continue to sup-

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port the community work of The Foundation, while also maintaining oversight of the be well Health and Wellness Initiative. “We are so fortunate to have Alisha’s talent in our organization and we appreciate her willingness to take on more of a leadership role as we continue to expand our reach in the community,” said Taylor. “The impact she and the staff have made in bringing our neighborhoods together in the more than a decade she has led our engagement efforts has been outstanding. We look forward to even more positive growth for The Foundation in future years.” Brown, who previously served as vice president for the organization, is also the founder and director of the be well Health and Wellness Initiative, which utilizes community-based strategies to ensure that all people have an opportunity to live a productive, healthy and prosperous life regardless of social circumstances. The mission of be well is to effect programs, policies and practices to advance health equity. be well’s vision is for a culture in which all people have an equitable opportunity to achieve the health they desire, regardless of their race, income, gender, or location. The Block Captain community-engagement model she created is nationally known and supported by numerous organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through its REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) grant program. Brown is the principal investigator of the be well be EPIC project, which is also funded by REACH, overseeing efforts to increase opportunities for physical activity through community engagement in policies, systems and environmental changes. A respected speaker locally, nationally and internationally about the importance of grassroots involvement, she has raised and/or leveraged more than $30 million to advance equity across the state of Colorado. “It continues to be a pleasure to work for an organization that seeks to support the many members of our community in multifaceted ways,” said Brown. “I appreciate the confidence being placed in my abilities to help move The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities forward. I am truly excited by what we will accomplish in the future under the guidance of our great leadership and committed staff.” Brown earned a master’s degree in nonprofit management at Regis University, where she was a Colorado Trust Fellow, and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism at Langston

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


(Oklahoma) University, a historically black university. She serves on various boards and commissions, including the City of Denver Board of Public Health and Environment as the vice chair and the State of Colorado Health Equity Commission. A member of the Denver Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Brown is active at the Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church, where she serves on the liturgical dance ministry and as a writer for the Christian Scroll newsletter.

Stapleton Foundation Name Change Reflects Expanded Impact in Urban Communities

The Stapleton Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities has dropped “Stapleton” from its name. The foundation will begin doing business as “The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities” effective January 1. Foundation CEO Landri Taylor says, “The Foundation has recognized the value and need for this change for some time. The Foundation thanks local community groups and residents who have brought focus to the Stapleton name and its relationship to the old airport’s namesake, Ben Stapleton, and his connection to the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1920s. “The new name, “The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities,” better reflects the scope of the foundation’s work today. Our function has grown over the past 15 years beyond Stapleton to the adjacent neighborhoods. The Foundation is now active along the I-70 corridor from downtown Denver to DIA, including northeast Denver and northwest Aurora.” The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities was founded in the early 1990s by beloved Denver philanthropist Sam Gary. Its mission was to develop a plan to redevelop the old Stapleton Airport into a new urban project of mixed-use residential, commercial, retail, open space and parks. The plan became known as “The Green Book.” The Foundation, along with the city of Denver, chose Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises (now known as Forest City Realty Trust, Inc.) as the master developer for the project. Forest City Realty Trust, Inc. is a NYSE-listed national real estate company with $8.1 billion in consolidated assets. The company is principally engaged in the ownership, development, management and acquisition of commercial and residential real estate throughout the United States. For more information, visit

February is American Heart Month F

By Kim Farmer

ebruary of each year, we celebrate American Heart Month. The first heart month occurred in February 1964 after it was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Since then, Congress has regulated the President of the United States to make an annual proclamation designating February as American Heart Month. Despite all the advances in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, this organ still is the number one cause of death worldwide. In the US alone the numbers are staggering: •Each year at least 600,000 people die from heart disease. Overall, every one in four deaths is due to some type of heart disorder. •Heart disease does not favor either gender, it is the leading cause of death for both women and men. •The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, which is responsible for about 380,000 deaths each year. •Every year nearly 750,000 Americans have a heart attack and of these nearly 20 percent will go on to develop a second heart attack. And with each heart attack the risk of death is greatly increased. •Worldwide nearly 17.5 million people die from heart disease and countless millions suffer from the symptoms. Heart disease affects people of all ethnicities in the US, with the highest rates of death in American Indians, African Americans and Asians. The one fact that is ignored by the consumer is that unlike many other diseases including cancer, the majority of heart disorders can be prevented. Not only does prevention reduce the costs of healthcare but it significantly improves the quality of life. So in February, consumers are being urged to take steps to improve their heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Fortunately, the prevention of heart disease is not expensive at all- in fact it is 100 percent free. Start by eating healthy: This means eating a diet rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, unsaturated fats, whole wheat,

grains and fish. Limit the intake of meat, saturated fat and simple carbohydrates like sugar. Consuming salty or sugary snacks should be limited and done in moderation; however it is important not to deprive yourself of any one specific food or nutrient. Stop smoking: There is ample evidence to show that smoking not only causes lung cancer but in fact affects every organ in the body. Smoking causes premature wrinkling of skin and enhances atherosclerosis. If people were to stop smoking today, a significant number of healthcare workers would be out of a job. There is no magic bullet to cessation of smoking. While there are many types of medica-

tions available, most do not work. The simple answer is to go cold turkey; it will save you money, aggravation and improve your health. Exercise: The best way to lower the risk of heart disease is by doing some type of physical activity. You don’t have to run a marathon each weekend or go cycling 100 miles every day; even walking is as good as any other exercise. The fact is that exercise should become a part of your lifestyle. If you walk briskly for one hour a day, then you could possibly have a deficit of 300 calories (based on your weight and intensity) and this amount to 2000 calories at the end of the week. In a month you can lose 8,000 calories, which is about 2 pounds of

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


weight. In a year, that is 24 pounds of weight loss without having spent a penny on an exercise machine or joining a gym. Of course exercise has many other benefits; you can the outdoors, breathe in fresh air and reduce stress to name a few. Recognize this special month and start fresh with a new awareness for your heart. Take care of it since you only have one and it needs to last the rest of your life! . Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For info, visit or email

Color Me












Ron Springer

Owner/Operator Akente Express

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 February 28.

Inauguration of History and Hope - Inaugural Sculpture Scene of President Barack Obama

By Ed Dwight - Sculptor & Historian

Commissioned by Doug Morton & Marilyn Brown of Denver, CO; this life size memorial to the historic inauguration of the first African American President, is to record and place into our American political landscape this transitional event that is destined to transform our country. It is composed of the President, the First Lady, the First Daughters, and Chief Justice John Roberts administering the Oath of Office. The exhibit was was unveiled at the Colorado History Museum, Denver in 2010 and is anticipated to tour the country in the years to come. For more information, visit

He would like to be remembered as an amazing father, a man of the wilderness, a creative thinker and a helper of human kind.

Angel McKinley-Paige

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 31st year of publishing and based in part on recognition, number of times nominated and questionnaire response we have selected (from 42 nominations) 17 recipients as the 2018 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.

Akilah Graham

Paralegal and Private Investigator, Cleopatra Jones Investigations Mental Health Paraprofessional, Devereux Mental Health

Akilah Graham uses her paralegal skills to support the African American, Latino, and Somalian communities with social service, child support, protection orders, record expungements, divorce issues and other legal matters. As a special education paraprofessional for Devereux Mental Health for youth, she mentors children from foster homes who have been abused and/or neglected. Over the past five years, Akilah has been a board member of the John L. Thompson Dance Ministries where she performs, mentors the junior group, and contributes directly to the community through fundraising efforts to organizations including Urban Peak, the Denver Rescue Mission, The Crossing, The Gathering Place and St. Francis. Akilah says she takes an active role because, “Our children today are being raised by Hollywood, single parents, absent fathers, and grandparents – in a fallen world. I had challenges as a teenager and when things got rough and life went in the wrong direction, I had God and a father to hold me accountable, and to stand by me. I can give them another perspective on how to make good choices

along with unconditional love.” Akilah feels the biggest challenges facing the community are educating the next generation to be self-sufficient business owners and financially savvy. In the future, she would like to start a non-profit organization that will fund paralegal fees for those who lack the resources. She would like to be remembered as a woman who cared deeply for her community, helped the poor and needy, loved children and showed it by her actions.”

Alexander Landau

Co-founder, Denver Justice Project Community Outreach Coordinator, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition

After surviving a near death experience from brutally beaten by Denver Police officers, Alexander Landau is best known for his activism in law enforcement accountability and working to end all levels of misconduct through direct action, policy reform, legislation and community engagement. Last year at CCJRC, he pioneered a program with the Denver Detention Center and Denver county jail to register inmates who were able to vote, and more than 300 voted from Denver jails. Since his racially profiled near death experience, Alex has been on the front lines and uses his narrative of racist violence as a tool for helping others find strength with their own experiences. He has helped many people navigate through the criminal justice system, organized district attorney forums, and facilitated numerous Know Your Rights training sessions in communities impacted by police violence and misconduct. Alex says he is active because, “It was therapeutic for me, but also to help my community, my family and for my sanity and safety.” He feels, “The biggest challenges facing the Black community is a legacy of structural racism that has crippled the mind, body and spirit of Black communities. We need to heal from the historical pains created by colonization and shift the way the rest of the world looks at us, treats us and expect from us while increasing what we expect from ourselves.”

Community Relations Specialist, Kaiser Permanente Colorado

Angel McKinley-Paige, best known for working to promote health, has served the community at nonprofit agencies including Kaiser Permanente, Center for African American Health, Colorado Access and Inner City Health Center. Her primary function has been to connect underserved populations to health care services and resources and to invest capital into the community. Angel serves by giving voice to African Americans who are underserved, live in poverty, experience social injustice and are often overlooked. Her service has been providing healthcare resources and no-cost health screenings predominately for African American church congregations, the uninsured and low-income Medicaid members. “I choose to take an active role in community because it’s my responsibility. I love Black people, our richness and our culture. It’s worth the time and dedication to preserve it and uphold legacy in our community.” Angel says challenges facing the community are internal issues and need to be in the ongoing fight against systemic injustices, such as failing health, lack of education and brokenness of the family unit. Until we address these, we lack the strength, unity and sustainability to deal with systemic social justice issues. Resolution starts with access and education. She would like to be an agent of change and work to create programming and resources targeted toward the needs in the African American community. “My children are my legacy. I loved hard, lived well for my husband, our children, my family, my community and most importantly my God,” she says of her legacy. “To whom much is given, much is required. I’ve been given a lot and much is required. I hope I’m remembered for using what I was blessed with to bless others.”

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Barbara Elaine Goree Retired, Social Service Worker

B arbara Elaine Goree is best known in the Denver community for sharing and caring and providing shelter to homeless people. Her most notable contributions during the past year has been volunteering for community projects, supporting local Black owned businesses in Park Hill and Aurora and helping to decorate and renovate a Black owned building in Park Hill. Over recent years, Barbara has been very active in her church with teaching cooking, provided transportation for homeless people to have lunch at her church, Scott United Methodist Church. Barbara says she takes an active role, “In order to build a social connection in someone’s life. I believe if you see something, say something or do something.” She says the challenge facing the African American community is individuals and families affected by poverty. “Families with low selfesteem or lacking social support feel as if they are being judged and stigmatized. People with low income may have to work more than one job. We can solve these problems by helping them not feel intimidated or excluded because people affected by poverty may have fewer opportunities to build the skills they need. She says, “I have already accomplished what I set out to do at the age of 75 – retiring from Denver Human Services after 30 years and working with families with limited intelligence, ability and emotional difficulties.” Barbara would like to be remembered for bravery and courage and as someone who was caring and nice, but most of all as someone who lived a fulfilled and happy life as a devoted church member, loving wife and mother. Charles Doss Jr.

Certified Line Dancer Instructor, Founder Mr. Charles & The Lets Start Dancing Crew

R ecognized and known as the dancing man, Charles Doss is committed to teaching anyone and everyone to get up and move. He cares about health and wellness, and improving the quality of life through dance and bringing lots of energy and excitement.

Over the past year, he has taught dance and performed at Juneteenth, and many community functions and events. He partnered with the Black Health Collaborative, performing at the African American Health 5k Walk and Run. Charles created a dance for Denver’s City Spirit Month, and the City Spirit Shuffle is taught to city employees and performed every August. He is active because “I have always believed that we need to move our bodies more in a fun and interactive way while improving our health. I love my community and I want to see people get up and walk, run, dance and enjoy themselves. “Health and wellness is a big challenge in our community. If we understand that our body is our temple then we can be at peace within ourselves. Dancing keeps your mind working and thinking about that next step,” he says. “Getting out in the community and being more involved can only strengthen our community.” Future goals are to offer affordable line dance classes all over town and to create greater opportunities for more to participate. Charles says he would like to be remembered as a person that did his best and tried to make a difference in people’s lives, someone who wanted to give back to the community with the gift God gave him and loved what he did – got the community to dance!

Chuck Sagere

Barber/Co-Owner, Montbello Barbers President, Montbello Falcons Youth Organization

Chuck Sagere

is very active in the community and best known as a friend and supporter to the Montbello-Green Valley neighborhoods. He is a mentor for youth, coach for the Montbello Falcons and has strong relationships with his customers that are expressed as friendly and compassionate. His most recognized contribution to the African American community over the past five years has been taking over ownership of the Montbello Barbers and supporting the community by providing space for events like Shop Talk Live. He is most proud of being part of the coaching staff of the two-time national championship youth football team, the Montbello Falcons. They won 35 games straight in 2015 and 2016 and consisted of 12 and 13 years old boys. When asked why he takes an active role, Chuck says, “Following in my Mother’s footsteps Marva Crawford, I

love my community. And one must act in order to create change.” He says, “Getting people to believe they can create positive changes by being active and enjoying what our communities offer is a challenge for the African American community. Loving life in the community we reside in gives us the pride and power we need to create positive change.” Future plans are to get the community to come together and mentor our youth – our future leaders – to be confident, and self-respecting citizens for the rest of their lives. Chuck would like to be remembered as a friend to the community – a coach, a mentor and advisor to all.

Jicelyn Johnson

Director, Black Business Initiative

Jicelyn Johnson is best known as advocate and promoter for Blackowned businesses and wealth building. During the past year, building the Black Business Initiative, an economic revitalization program for the Black community and by the Black community, has been Jicelyn’s most notable and recognized contribution to the African American community. Additionally, she opened a homeschool co-op for Black families. Started in 2014, the Black Business Initiative is a resource and safe space for Black entrepreneurs to work on their business in a community setting. Jicelyn says she is active because, “I have always had a passion to fight injustice. When I learned of the history behind our businesses and the power of the economic attack on our community, I was driven to do something to change our values and change our circumstances.” She says, “Our challenges are so intertwined, deeply rooted and largely structural and systemic that it is difficult to name which is the largest. But, I would assert that having economic leverage would be the cornerstone needed to build in other areas such as employment, housing, education, justice and media.” In the future, Jicelyn would like to work towards a greater spirit of collaboration and resources within the Black community in Metro Denver and * across other metropolitan areas internationally to provide support for equity across the diaspora. “I would first like to be remembered by my family by building generational wealth. I would like to be remembered in my community as a leader who lived with integrity and helped to unite the community,” she says.

Joe Gilliom

President/Founder, Unity in Disasters, Inc.

Joe Gilliom is best known as goodwill ambassador from Georgia. During the past year, his most notable contribution to African American communities was providing relief supplies to more than 150 churches for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston, Texas. From 2014 to 2016, Unity in Disasters provided food and supplies to an estimated 5,414 families and relief supplies for more than 3,000 flood survivors in the Houston African American Community. The Mayor of Houston presented Gilliom with a proclamation making December 14, 2017 Unity in Disasters Day. Joe says he takes an active role because, “While going through the bible study guide from the book “Purpose Driven Life” in 2006, helping victims of disasters became my calling that turned into my passion. As a result of the ministry, finding ways to help during non-disasters was birthed such as in-kind donations from our network of donors.” Joe says the challenge facing the African-American community is not having a seat at the table during planning and think tanks. He says the solution is to insist that elected officials help to be placed on the invite list. Joe would like to open at least one Unity in Disasters chapter in 10 states across the U.S. He would like to help more than 4,000 families annually with food and supplies within those states. In the past nine years he has received more than $1,000,000 of inkind donations with the one chapter. Joe says, “I would like to be remembered as a person who cared more about helping people in need than making money and paying huge salaries.” Leonard “Graffiti” Johnson

Visual Designer, Social Influencer, Podcast Personality

L eonard “Graffiti” Johnson is a known for his visual design work, social influence and host of the “Life is Dope” Podcast. This year, “Graffiti” was awarded the National Association of Black Journalism 2017 Social Influencer of the Year award for his ability to gather peers, challenge

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


them to unite, speak out and open their hearts and minds to the perspectives and opinions of others to collectively create active change in communities. Over the past few years, he has received several “Graphic Designer of the Year” awards and numerous certificates from nonprofit organizations for charitable contributions for design services. Graffiti says, “I choose to be active and give back because it is my obligation as a young Black male. I was raised by a single mother in Montbello and fought every day not to become a product of the negative side of my environment. If I do not use my God given artistic and social talents to help unite and better my community, then I am only contributing to the problems.” He feels the biggest challenges facing the African-American community are financial illiteracy, lack of Black ownership, lack of trust and respect amongst our peers, fear of change, and disconnect between the elders and the youth. These challenges can be resolved by creating conversation and open dialogue without judgement, ridicule or aggressive behaviors. In the future he would like to build and maintain media companies that will provide jobs and services for the urban community. He would like to be remembered as a man of genuine love, honesty and passion; a solid father, husband and friend. And someone who has positively inspired everyone he has come in contact with.

Leslie L. Juniel

Senior Program Manager, Equity Initiatives Culture, Denver Public Schools Equity and Leadership Team

L eslie Juniel is best known for being committed, reliable and willing to support the endeavors of others. While she has led several large-scale events, lending her support to the efforts of others is what she says she is most proud of. Over the last 20 years, her primary focus has been on educating and empowering young people to make smart choices and decisions, and to be their best selves. For the past year, Leslie has been leading efforts to improve the experiences of African-American students, staff and families in DPS. Leslie says, “I never do things for recognition. I am driven to make contributions to my community because it’s the right thing to do. For the last five years my primary focus has been advocating for students to ensure they

have access to the resources and supports they need.” Leslie says, “Self-identify, which includes knowing our history and where we come from, is a big challenge for African-Americans. This foundational understanding is the precursor to all of our lived experiences. We build self-identify by first doing our own work, and then teaching our children about themselves and empowering them to be proud and confident. In the near future, Leslie would like to do work that challenges and disrupts systems that rely on racism, prejudice, injustice, intolerance and inequity in ways that make high achievement and excellence the expectation, and a reality, for every student to exist and survive. I want to inspire young people to be proud and confident in whom they are, to be life-long learners and to know the power of their voice! Leslie says, “I will be blessed to leave a legacy of having inspired and challenged myself, my family and the community, and as someone who did not squander the gifts and talents given to me by God, and who never settled or became complacent falsely believing I had arrived!”

Reverend Dr. Michael A. Williams

Pastor, Professional Musician, Professor, Producer and Performer

D r. Michael Williams is best known as serving the Denver Community through music performances and Biblical teaching. Over the past five years, Dr. Williams has been organizing and pastoring a new church called the Ministry Christian Fellowship which hosts classes, a variety of fests and services to empower the African American community to attain their God given ability, identity and destiny through the power of God and His word. When asked why he takes an active role, he says, “I felt called by God to make a difference in the lives of others by utilizing the gifts that He has given me to teach, encourage and uplift those in need.” Dr. Williams believes the biggest challenges facing the African American community are feelings of lack of identity, inferiority and insignificance. He says, “This can only be resolved through empower-

ment, encouragement, edification and education.” In the future, he plans to create and cultivate a career in coaching others to become their best in their God-given calling. Dr. Williams says he would like to be remembered “As one who enjoyed serving others through music, ministry and motivation.

Monique Johnson

Program Officer, The Colorado Health Foundation Vice President, Mile High Bulldog Youth Association

I n her career with the City, Monique Johnson works in housing and community development and support of programs and services to assist with community and economic growth for low to moderate income residents of Denver. Over the past five years, her most recognized contribution to community has been working with African American boys in both Denver and Aurora through her non-profit organization by keeping them engaged and involved in positive activities with the activities they love. Monique says, “There is no choice to taking an active role. My village/community has been essential in raising me and supporting me in raising my family. Our culture is so rich we have to educate and support our village on our history to help create history. So many lessons have been taught to me I feel it is my duty to do the same.” She says, “The African American youth are facing many challenges. They are turning to gangs, not meeting their full potential and becoming more disconnected from their history. They are losing their voice. We as a community need to own and develop our own programs and if they fail we need to keep trying.” Future plans include reorganizing her non-profit to focus more on the health of the whole child educating African American youth on cultural history to understand how they too can contribute to our culture in a positive and effective manner. Monique would like to be remembered as an African American who simply cared about people, who not only believed in the power of a village/community but was a village for many.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Nadine Roberts Cornish Caregiver Coach & Consultant

N adine Cornish is best known in Denver as a pioneer for caregiving related issues, a dedicated volunteer to the Alzheimer’s Association and the Colorado Black Health Collaborative (CBHC). She is the founder of The Caregivers’ Guardian, and coordinator of caregiving symposiums for area churches. During the past year she authored Tears In My Gumbo, The Caregiver’s Recipe for Resilience and launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the caregiving pandemic called, “Care-ocity” and co-founded with CBHC, the inaugural women’s health and empowerment event, Sistas Soaring. Over the past five years, Nadine has been providing education and consulting services to family caregivers; educating and raising awareness about dementia; and working with the CBHC on eliminating health disparities. Nadine says, “Being inactive is not an option. The path was laid for me by my ancestors and my amazing grandfather, Edmond St. Cyr. I have a responsibility to insure that I do my part and lead by example for those who will follow, for those who are watching.” “In the future, I’d like to educate and raise awareness around the world about the challenges faced by caregivers, the need for everyone to support the caregiver and for everyone to know the joy in the caregiving journey because sooner or later, we are all caregivers,” she says. She would like to be remembered as a woman who lived her life on purpose, with intention and passion. “I sought to identify a need and created avenues to meet those needs. And that I sparked a flame and illuminated light and love with every encounter.” Dr. Rhonda M. Coleman

Licensed Acupuncturist, WaterMama Acupuncture

Dr. Rhonda Coleman is a holistic health and well wellness education professional at the Healing Garden where she heal patients with acupuncture, herbs and massage. Her most notable contribution to the African American community over the last year has been the creation of a center for holistic health care and education, for us and by us, with a collective of professionals of color serving

people of color and the greater Denver community. During her five years of living in Denver, Rhonda’s practice is only two years old and her nonprofit has been active less than one year. She says, “I am a purpose-driven individual. I believe that I have been called to serve my community as a healer and educator, so my action is in obedience to that calling.” Rhonda says the biggest challenge facing the African American community is health – physical, emotional, mental and financial. “To resolve the issues related to our total health, we must change our lifestyles and our understanding of and around the topic. If we understand what it means to be healthy and what we need to do to be healthy, the improvements in ourselves will lead to family, community and social impacts on a grand scale.” In the future, Rhonda would like to see the model of The Healing Garden expand in other cities and communities across the U.S. She would like to change the statistics around the state of Blackness in this country. She would love to be remembered as a pioneer * in the return of our ancestral healing practices and someone who helped to uplift the Black community by promoting a culture of health. (271)

Shalonda Haggerty

Chief Executive Director, STAR Girlz Empowerment, Inc.

Shalonda Haggerty mentors, empowers and transforms the lives of female youth and over the last years has been providing a low cost after school empowerment program that supports the needs of young ladies emotionally, personally, mentally, physically and academically. Shalonda says “My passion is to see youth and families overcome obstacles that try to detour them from shining in their most vulnerable stage of development. By giving from the heart, I am able to be a positive role model, and assist in changing mindsets, revealing capabilities and stimulating visions and dreams.” She feels the biggest challenge for African Americans is we have moved away from the value of family. Our youth are growing up through the teachings of self, peers, and social media. They are crying out for stability and structure. They are seeking healing from trauma, abuse, and other issues that are causing a rise in mental health problems. Education is unimportant and they are in survival mode. We can fix these issues by supporting

one another through investing time, skills, and money into the present and future success of our youth, family, and community. In the not so distant future she says, “I would love to accomplish three things. 1) Being accepted and completing a doctorate program as a behavioral analysis 2) Open up a teen enrichment center that offers group and transitional housing to female youth who are victims of human trafficking, homelessness, or runaways 3) An opportunity to spend a day with Oprah Winfrey.” Shalonda says, “I would like to be remembered by the “family” legacy and the impact I leave my children and those who come after I am long gone.”

Tanya Diabagate

Founder and Managing Director, Femi Care Project

T anya Diabagate founded the Femi Care Project (FCP) in 2014. The Femi Care Project provides personal feminine care products and resources to women who are lowincome and living in transition. In September 2017, FCP hosted the Gathering of Her event and distributed new underwear and toiletries to more than 85 low-in-come and homeless women. In 2016, FCP held The Women of Valor fundraiser and provided personal care support for female homeless veterans. Tanya says, “I am a spiritual woman and I believe we all have a responsibility and purpose to aid those who are in need. I understand the feeling of exile of not having a voice and feeling invisible. I am in the business of restoring dignity by empowering women to be heard and seen.” “There are many factors impacting the Black community,” Tanya says. “We need to educate our people on what unity is and how we all can benefit from it today and tomorrow. We are living in the times of segregated nuances within the Black community. Self-preservation and insatiable consumerism is working to destroy our Black communities. It is time to build a unified culture by reaching across the generational and social economic.” Future plans include public speaking engagements, serving on, boards, panels and focus groups to educate and empower women. The Femi Care Project gives me a platform me to reach across color lines because being homeless or living in transition is not a Black thing but a human thing. “I want the Femi Care Project to be a house hold name.” Tanya says, “I

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


would like to leave a legacy of servitude done right. Tanya completed her assignment…Well done…”

Tasha L. Jones

Director of Marketing, Forest City

T asha Jones is best known as being a consummate go-giver and connector. “I’m drawn to helping people, non-profits, and businesses build relationships within the Denver community,” she says. During the past year, she has placed increasing emphasis on introducing communities of color to housing opportunities in Denver’s 80238 zip code via community partnerships; providing MBEs with an overview of office space locations and redevelopment opportunities; and inviting high school students to participate in mock demonstrations. From 2009-2016, Tasha mentored a young, African-American girl named Shayna Tillmon through The Challenge Foundation program. During their seven-year journey, she helped Shayna navigate the dichotomy experiences of growing up in North Aurora and attending school at St. Mary’s Academy in Greenwood Village. The ultimate end goal was a path toward college, which she has achieved. Tasha says she takes an active role because, “I’m passionate about lifting people up along their journeys and I regard myself as a consummate connector. Always concerning myself with how I can help people get that much closer to their dream job, navigating their career path, continuing their education, or engaging in the community.” Opportunities for professional advancement and inclusion are the biggest challenges facing the African American communities. AfricanAmerican business leaders and community advocates should seize the opportunity to support each other in introducing opportunities for advancement, and not just keeping this exposure to growth opportunities to themselves. She believes in sharing these networking and professional development strategies. About her future she says, “After the Stapleton redevelopment is complete, and my role at Forest City expires, “I’d like to work for another local corporation that has a vested interest in community engagement and civic leadership.” About her legacy she says, “Tasha says, “I’d like to be remembered for how I listened and for my efforts to help people move in the direction of their dreams.” .





Dr. King Social Responsibility Luncheon

Photos by Benard Grant

Dr. MLK Humanitarian Awards at the Colorado Symphony Photos by Lens of Ansar

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Inter-Faith Service Photos by Lens of Ansar

2018 MLK Marade Photos by Lens of Ansar Brother Jeff

MLK Jr. Rodeo of Champions

MLK Jr. Rodeo Welcome Reception at the Kasbah

Photos by Stunttime Photography

Four year old June Bug

“Because of their mobility, Black sailors

or Blackjacks were the eyes and ears to worlds

beyond the limited horizons of most African-

American communities on shore and thus; were a

unique conduit for news and information.”

Few Americans, Black or white, recognize the level of involvement by African Americans in America’s Maritime and War History. Seafaring or sailing became one of the more significant occupations for both enslaved and free Black males. Between 1740 and 1865, tens of thousands of Black seamen sailed on clippers, coasters, privateers, whalers and warships. Some were free men and others were slaves, forced to work at sea. By the 1800’s most were free men, seeking liberty and economic opportunity aboard ship. Because of their mobility, Black sailors were the eyes and ears to worlds beyond the limited horizon of most African American communities on shore and thus; were a unique conduit for news and information. Black sailors also assisted in the effort to smuggle slaves to freedom. Despite its opportunities, life at sea was difficult and although Blacks actively contributed to the Atlantic Maritime culture shared by all seamen, they were often considered outsiders within it. There were numerous roles for Black mariners in the age of sail. Once the colonies and their commerce were well established in the new world, Black men were put into service roles aboard ship. At first they served primarily as cooks, cabin boys, stewards, drummers and fifers. Early in the slave trade Blacks and Africans were used, as translators or linguists aboard slave ships. Blacks also became buccaneers. Many of the pirate crews in the latter 17th century were heavily composed of Africans and AfricanAmericans. Around the time of the American Revolution, Blacks became involved in shipping and established a transition away from slave to free and from less skilled to more skilled. Twenty-five percent of the mariners on these ships were Black. Federal crew lists for the US from ports in Providence, Rhode Island, Baltimore, Maryland, and others from the 1790s to the 1830s show that 15 to 20, and in some places 30 percent of the men sailing in a given year were African or African-American. For most African-Americans, the memories of going to sea have been lost. Jim Crow unions in the early 20th century prohibited Black men from involvement in shipping. Additionally, many of the present-day 20th century Maritime History Museums were created by well-to-do, white easterners, wishing to capture a certain vision of their past. Blacks in Maritime roles were left out. Men of color working aboard ships in a world still defined by slavery had to be extreme-

Black Jacks: African and African-American Sailors in America’s Sailing Industry

By Russell Shockley B.S. ED., A.E. ly cautious. It was easy for free Black men from the north or England sailing in southern harbors to be captured, kidnapped, and sold into slavery. One of the most famous Black men of his generation, Captain Paul Cuffe, a free Black from Massachusetts, ship builder and owner, sailing primarily with crews composed of African-Americans and Indians, frequently found himself and his crews detained. After 1822, several southern states followed the lead of South Carolina, and began to jail free Blacks arriving in a southern state where slavery still existed. Free Blacks were taken from their ships and put in jail until their ships sailed. Many free Blacks were jailed seven or eight times in some southern ports. Despite numerous instances, they kept returning and working aboard ship knowing full well that upon their arrival in Charleston or Louisiana they would be jailed. Most Black communities were not linked together by newspapers, record albums or cassette tapes. Communication between people of color was done by people who continually traveled from one place to another. One of the largest groups who moved repeatedly during the age of slavery, between these dispersed communities was black sailors or “Black Jacks.” There were valets who accompanied their masters on trips and slaves who were sold from place to place. But, in terms of regular and repeated contacts moving between the West Indian Islands, the Carolina low country, urban seaports like New York and Philadelphia and metropolitan capitals like London, the group that

consistently emerged were Black sailors. The first six autobiographies published in English by Blacks were written by mariners. Mariners also disseminated particular forms of African inspired martial arts like stick fighting and head butting. In 1776, as the colonies embarked on the American Revolution of the 22 colonies in the new world of which 13 became the United States, slavery was receding in only two, Nova Scotia and New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, the bulk of slaves were domestic servants working in the mansions of the seacoast elite. Blacks were also gardeners, valets, nurses, seamen and stevedores of a mercantile class. There are additional examples of Black seamen in New Hampshire in the late 18th and early 19th century. There were also dramatic differences between the Army and the Navy in terms of status and treatment of Blacks. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the pervasive slave trade in the American colonies had created a fairly large maritime fleet. Ships of all types sailed the waterways of the colonies carrying tobacco, rice, indigo, wheat, sugar, rum and slaves. Cotton, which ultimately overshadowed the other goods, developed much later as a major crop. When the Revolutionary War erupted between the colonies and Great Britain, many Blacks served in the infant US Navy in non-commissioned ranks. After the Revolutionary War it was decided that, effective January 1, 1808, some 20 years later, there would be an official cessation of

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


the slave trade within the U.S. Seeing an end to their primary labor force in the south and the unavailability of new slaves, caused a feverish attempt to bring more slaves into the United States before the cut-off date. Because of this added incentive, more slaves were brought into the United States during that 20 year period than at any other period of time. With the conclusion of hostilities between the U.S. and Great Britain, many free Blacks who had served in the Navy continued to maintain positions on US ships of war. During the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, free Blacks readily served in the United States Navy in capacities and ranks similar to those of the previous war. One of the causes of the conflict between the nations was the impressment or forced removal of American sailors from their ships, both white and Black, by foreign nations, especially Great Britain, into foreign maritime services. The new American government took measures to remedy this problem with the passage of an act which specified persons who could legally serve:

“That from and after the termination of the

War in which the United States are now engaged

with Great Britain, it shall not be lawful to

employ on board any of the public or private

vessels of the United States any person or per-

sons except citizens of the United States, or per-

sons of colour, natives of the United States.”

A careful reading of the Act provides certain insights that cannot be overlooked. The word “citizens” is used. A Negro at this time, although free, was not considered a citizen with the same rights as a white person. The right to vote or to serve in the Army was only for white citizens although in a few northern states Blacks had suffrage. The expression, “natives of the United States” meant that even free Blacks seeking service in the Navy had to show that their birth occurred in the United States. The Act also limited the number of Blacks allowed employment in each respective crew to five percent. In this way, the management of each crew was controllable, and there would be little public outcry about Blacks taking jobs away from white seamen. Regardless of this discriminatory policy, free Blacks still sought immediate and continuous service in the navy, both merchant and federal fleets. For the next 45 years, the Black seaman’s status remained the same. They served on U.S. warships in the Seminole War, in the War with Mexico, on the majestic merchant clipper ships making trips to China, and on those ships that opened up Japan. The one problem that remained for the Black seaman throughout the period, the problem of rank onboard ship, would take another war to correct the problem. Although the Civil War officially commenced with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, Apr.12, 1861, acts of war had occurred prior to this date. After the secession of South Carolina on Dec. 20, 1860, warlike acts, from both sides, occurred with regularity on land and sea. On January 3, 1861, Georgia state troops seized Fort Pulaski, the U.S. steamer, Star of the West, while flying the U.S. flag was fired upon by Confederate troops as she attempted to enter Charleston harbor and relieve Fort Sumter. U.S. warships were seized by the Confederate Navy and the U.S. Revenue schooner, Henry Dodae, was seized off the coast of Texas as that state joined the Confederacy on Mar. 2, 1861. Prior to the official declaration of war, the role of the U.S. Navy was to protect U.S. interests and citizens abroad. At the same time, U.S. warships were actively seeking to suppress the African slave trade as it affected the United States. The status of “contraband” slaves immediately changed when shots were fired at Fort Sumter. Gideon Wells, President Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, recalled all U.S. warships from foreign ports. Two days after the surrender of Fort Sumter on April 13, 1861, President Lincoln called for the enlistment of 75,000 volunteers, declared a blockade of all southern ports from South Carolina to Texas and shortly thereafter the

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coasts of Virginia and North Carolina. The manpower to staff these warships was already in commission. The answer came in the form of “contraband” – freed and runaway slaves that flocked to Union ships in great numbers beginning in 1861 had been immediately employed. On Sept. 20, 1861, Secretary of the Navy Wells declared that “contrabands” could be hired as sailor boys or apprentices and compensated for their labor at a rate of $10 per month and one ration per day. The pay scale and classification applied only to “contrabands” and not to free men. “Boys” or apprentices formed the lowest ranks in the Navy. There were 3rd, 2nd and 1st class boys who received $8, $9 and $10 respectively. Free men could attain any rating short of a commission, there were exceptions. Some free men attained the technical position of pilot - the equivalent of a commissioned officer with a rate of pay of about $250 per month. Black seamen made extremely important contributions to naval intelligence. Charts were changed, naval flotilla formations altered, new areas entered, and assaults postponed on the basis of data supplied by Negro contraband. A major expedition which sought to approach Vicksburg, Mississippi from the rear, in an effort to cut off Confederate supplies, was undertaken as a consequence of information obtained from contraband. This reliance upon contraband information was of extreme importance because of the magnitude of the Union offensive. The success of the Union Army and Navy at Vicksburg would not have been possible without information provided by the Negroes who were members of the crews and who flocked to the Yankee lines. Once the Department of the Navy realized the usefulness of contraband information it rescinded its previous order and allowed them to ship out in ranks as high as “landsman” (just above 1st class boy). They were also eligible for promotion to coalheaver, fireman and seaman. These changes gave contrabands the same status and the same rights as free men in the naval service. Because of the great influx of Blacks into the federal naval service and their contributions to the Union, Congress returned the favor by passing laws to help them and their white compatriots. On July 17, 1862, an act of Congress was established which provided “that every officer, seaman, or marine, disabled in the line of duty, shall be entitled to for life, or during his disability, a pension from the United States, according to the nature and degree of his disability, not exceeding in any case his monthly pay.” The Act automatically granted valid rights to all men who served including free Black sailors and former “contraband.” .

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Ground Rules

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

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

Proud Mary

llll By Khaleel Herbert

Proud Mary is a cross between

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself. Proud Mary


are. She wants a better life for herself and Danny. Benny took in Mary when she was a little girl because she was an orphan like Danny. Also, Mary puts the pedal to the medal when she goes to fight the bad guys like Baby did. Henson intertwines her motherly instincts into Proud Mary. Although Danny isn’t Mary’s son, she treats him like it, mirroring her role as Sherry Parker to Jaden Smith’s Dre in The Karate Kid, Katherine G. Johnson in Hidden Figures and April in I Can Do Bad All By Myself. She brings out her April-side more because she’s all about her hustle. She doesn’t care about raising children. She even says, “What am I gonna do with kids?” in I Can Do Bad All By Myself and a similar line in Proud Mary. But Danny, like Jennifer, Manny and Byron, melts her heart and she would do anything to protect him. Proud Mary has the right amount of action. It may not be like Uma Thurman’s Kill Bill or Angelina Jolie’s Salt, but it’s enough because Henson knows how to handle a gun and give a good ass-beating. We also get a lot of heart in Proud Mary…something a lot of these newer movies are missing.


Taraji P. Henson plays Mary, a hit woman working with a crime mob. Her first hit is a gambling bookie, a man she sees as just another hit until she finds his son, Danny (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) lost in video games blissfully unaware of his father’s murder. A year passes and Danny works as a drug pusher for the head druggie, Uncle (Xander Berkeley), who isn’t pleased with Danny spending some of the drug money to feed himself. Mary finds Danny passed out in an alley from his beating by Uncle. She takes Danny back to her apartment and decides to look after him. Mary goes after Uncle to “teach him some manners,” killing him and his goonies. But complications arise when Benny (Danny Glover), her boss who doesn’t know she killed Uncle, thinks this killing will start a war over territories. Mary works hard to throw Benny off her trail and Danny grows on her, forcing her to contemplate leaving Benny and the crime life for good. Proud Mary drives on action and emotion. Mary resembles Baby in Baby Driver because she’s not the bad guy. Benny and his son, Tom (Billy Brown)

Den of Thieves

llll By Samantha Ofole-Prince

en of Thieves is pure dynamite. A gripping crime caper where the line between cops and criminals are so brilliantly blurred, the film focuses on a group of bank robbers, who plot to pull off the ultimate heist, and the tenacious determination of the Sheriff’s department to bring them to justice. Set in Los Angeles, which the film states is the Bank Robbery Capital of the World, it kicks off with a violent shoot out right outside a Gardena doughnut shop where an empty armored truck is stolen. It’s a pre-job for a den of thieves, headed by Ray Merriman (Pablo Schreiber), a paroled leader of a gang of ex-military men who have bigger aspirations to rob the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles. With several officers shot during the robbery, a crime squad unit headed by “Big Nick” O’Brien (Gerard Butler) is dispatched to the crime scene and it’s not long before Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department zero in on Merriman. That’s when the film goes into high-octane gear and becomes a cat and mouse game between the cops and robbers, which ends with an explosive climactic showdown. With touches of Heist and Heat, Dog Day Afternoon and a little of The French

Den of Thieves

Connection, sprinkled in, it’s a complex heist flick with a fantastic twist and marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Christian Gudegast (Sequestro, London Has Fallen). Each criminal has a likable side, making it easy to root for their success. From the preternaturally calm Ray Merriman (Schreiber), the disciplined family man and Special Forces explosives expert Enson Levoux (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), to the naïve getaway driver Donnie, who is played with perfect pitch by O’Shea Jackson, Jr., it’s an ensemble crime drama which will stand up to repeat viewing. Filled with plot intricacies, an exciting robbery and a thrilling shootout, it’s a smart, tense film, which will stimulate your adrenal gland. The twists, and turns of the plot are tense, while the ending is genuinely satisfying and surprising. This one gets extra points for a strong and unpredicted conclusion.


Paddington 2

lll By Samantha Ofole-Prince

veryone’s favorite bear is back for seconds in this delightful sequel, which follows the marmalade-loving Peruvian bear who can teach us a thing or two about courtesy and kindness. A perennial family classic, Paddington was released in 2014 and followed a young bear who came to London in search of a home and family and touched on ideas of tolerance and acceptance. Fast-forward to this follow-up flick, he’s now happily settled with the Brown family in West London and is a hugely popular member of the local community. But all that soon changes when he is falsely accused of theft and winds up in prison and it becomes a toilsome quest to clear his name. Paul King (Paddington) returns to helm this heartwarming sequel, which once again follows the antics of the lit-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


tle bear whose perfect manners and good intentions frequently lead to comical mishaps and moments of chaos. It’s a funnier and more sophisticated sequel with the addition of the villainous Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), a one-time major stage star who is behind Paddington’s demise and “Knuckles” McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), a crazed and feared inmate Paddington, (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has to charm. Once he’s tried and convicted and lands behind bars, he finds he has his paws full dealing with several eccentric inmates and some of those prison scenes provide the film’s funniest moments. While it is light, fun and entertaining, the storyline never loses sight of its theme of judgment. Once again, there’s a great injection of a West Indian calypso band, which clearly remind us of the immigrants’ experience in London. There are also several moments of unbridled physical comedy. For in one scene, Paddington runs into unforeseen ladder problems while working as a window cleaner and in another, he gives an unsuspecting customer a disastrous haircut while being mistaken for a barber. Much credit is due to the solid, clean and cohesive script, which has the right mix of wit and innocence to appeal to both children and adults. This duffel coat-wearing, marmalade sandwich-loving iconic character, Paddington Bear, was first introduced in Michael Bond’s 1958 book “A Bear Called Paddington” and has been captivating British readers since. Showcasing great London landmarks from Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hyde Park, Windsor Gardens, Paddington Station to Portobello Road, it’s a charming sequel with heart and humor. The cast also includes Richard Ayoade, Joanna Lumley, Peter Capaldi, Tom Conti and Ben Miller and at 105 minutes, it’s not too long, not too short, but just perfectly right.

Paddington 2


DPL Honors African-Americans At Juanita Gray Awards and Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame

Denver Public Library will honor the contributions of African-American leaders on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., at the Juanita Gray Community Service Awards and Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame. The event will be held at the BlairCaldwell African American Research Library, located at 2401 Welton Street. The Community Service award is named after Juanita Ross Gray, a former library staff member and community advocate. The award honors African-American men, women and youth who make outstanding contributions to the Denver Metro area and who exemplify the ideals and spirit represented by Gray’s commitment to the community. The Juanita Gray award winners will be announced at the awards celebration. President and CEO, Denise Burgess, Burgess Services Inc., a Denver-based construction management firm, will be inducted into the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame. The honor is bestowed upon a Coloradan who has been the first AfricanAmerican to accomplish a professional goal in their field and/or who has actively supported the AfricanAmerican community while achieving his or her goal. A community-driven committee works with the library to nominate and select the awardees. Editor’s note: For a list of the 2018 nominees, visit

DMNS Welcomes New VP Gabriela Chavarria

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science announced that Gabriela Chavarria, Ph.D., has been named vice president of research and collections. Dr. Chavarria brings more than 20 years of experience in managing teams of gifted professionals and innovative science programs, influencing policy, developing new scientific collections and leading scientists in research efforts both nationally and internationally. Dr. Chavarria is a recognized visionary leader in the scientific world. Most recently, she was senior science advisor and forensic science

African Bar and Grill Serving: Jollof Rice, African Beer and, Specialty Dishes from Africa

branch chief at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Ore. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and her master’s and Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University, where she studied under E.O. Wilson, the researcher, naturalist, entomologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. She has conducted research in more than 30 countries throughout the world. She serves on a number of boards and advisory councils, including Science Works Museum in Ashland and the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Lost Your Joy?

18601 Green Valley Ranch Blvd. Denver, CO 80249

720-949-0784 or 303-375-7835

Find it again at the

United Church of Montbello! Come as you are and get connected to your best self through great fellowship and the love of Jesus Christ! Sunday Worship: 8:00am (Traditional) and 10:30am (Gospel) 4VOEBZ 4DIPPM BN r 8FEOFTEBZ #JCMF 4UVEZ QN

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


Colorado Gospel Music Academy & Hall of Fame 2017 Honorees

Rev. Dr. Kraig Burleson Pastor of the Year Parkhill Seventh Day Adventist Church Church of the Year Pastor Reginald Holmes Women at the Cross Series Denver Children’s Choir – Alpine Ensemble Choir of the Year Hosea Cannon Director of the Year Vanette Stewart Soloist of the Year Jarel and Jeremy Ross Musicians of the Year Coterie Group of the Year Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado Leadership Jackson Insurance Business of the Year Dr. Agnes Martin Trailblazer Miller “Ikeâ€? Eickelberger Business Innovator FIT & NU Good Health Leonard Malone Church Layman Donna F. Linda Senior’s Servant Charles “Chuckâ€? Moss Community Service Carol J. Smith Life Coach & Humorist Rev. M. N. Thomas Mission & Community Outreach Frances Jefferson Women’s Advocate Emmitt Searuggs Military Service Hall of Fame Inductees: •Pastor Harrell Alexander •Apostle Ralph Beechum •Pastor Yvonne Emerson

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Crying Wolf...Speaks To The Human Heart

The SOURCE Theatre presents the world premiere Crying Wolf….stories of the Lupus Warriors, an original play written by Rhonda Jackson and directed by Khadija Haynes. Crying Wolf... stories of the Lupus Warriors takes a creative approach to communicating Lupus health awareness and education using theatre as a tool to communicate. Told with humility and humor, the play documents what it’s like to live with a chronic autoimmune disease such as Lupus. Crying Wolf...opens Feb. 8 and runs through Feb. 17 on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., in the Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center at 721 Santa Fe Drive in Denver. Tickets are $20 per person, $15 for students/seniors and can be purchased at the box office, online at or by calling 720-375-0115. Mature audiences recommended.

The Legendary Billy Holiday Memorialized in Lady Day

Vintage Theatre presents Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill by Lanie Robertson and starring Mary Louise Lee. Directed by Betty Hart with music direction and pianist Trent


Hines, performances will run through Feb. 18. Performances are held, Thursday through Sunday. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, the life of the legendary Billie Holiday is told through the songs that made her famous. Performances contain adult language and content. The Vintage Theatre is located at 1468 Dayton St. in Aurora. Tickets are $15 to $34 and available online at or by calling 303-856-7830.

Honoring History Maker Daddy Bruce Randolph

The legacy of Daddy Bruce Randolph and his contributions to the city of Denver will be recognized at the Colorado State Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 20. A complimentary breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and a preview of the Daddy Bruce documentary, Keep a Light in Your Window, will be shown. Rev. Ronald Wooding and the Bruce Randolph family will be honored on both the House and the Senate floor beginning at 9:05 and 9:15 a.m. respectively. The public is invited to this historic occasion. For more information, call Rev. Ronald Wooding at 720-435-5738 or by email

Annual Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala 2018 Planned

The Education Center (TheEduCtr) presents the 9th Annual Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala 2018 on Friday, March 2 at the Doubletree by Hilton 3203 Quebec St. in Denver. This program presents special awards to educators of color in the State of Colorado who are dedicated to education, who exemplify the higher standard of excellence in education, inspire, motivate, innovate and who produce positive results academically. This year’s theme is “Who are the Authentic Educators.” Keynote speak-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


er will be Dr. Anita Fleming-Rife, PhD., from Des Moines, Iowa. For tickets, vendor booth information or sponsorship opportunities, call Dr. Annette Sills-Brown at 720-3265176 or email e-mail or For more information, visit

Colorado Art Tank 2018 Finalists Announced

The Denver Foundation announced that five local arts organizations have been chosen to participate in Colorado Art Tank 2018, a program of the Foundation’s Arts Affinity Group. Control Group Productions, Denver Talent Show Network, ECDC African Community Center of Denver, Phamaly Theatre Company, and The Trust for Public Land were selected from a highly competitive group of applicants from across Metro Denver. The finalists will compete for up to $55,000 in grants during a live, public event on Wednesday, February 21, at Gates Hall in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Denver campus, 6 pm. For more information, visit

Denver Digs Trees Application Available Until February 15

Digs Trees program is providing free and low-cost trees to Denver residents. The entire city and county of Denver is eligible to apply for trees, and people may request as many trees as they have space for. By participating in this unique program, tree recipients can support Denver’s urban forest while improving air and water quality, beautifying neighborhoods, and much more. Applications are available through Feb. 15. For more information or to complete an application, text ‘TREE’ to 797979, visit, or call 303-722-6262 for a paper application.


Vietnam Vet Pens Memoir: “The Truth Behind Going Postal”

Denver Man, Retired Postal Employee Addresses the Popular Phrase


n his memoir, Garland Lewis Sr. talks about the many atrocities he faced while employed with the postal service, including having the police point guns at him and being falsely arrested. Denver, CO ( – When mass shootings happen in the workplace, schools and public settings, the world is left in pain, often wondering why. Although meaningful answers can remain elusive, Garland D. Lewis, Sr. shares some insight in his 326-page memoir, The Truth Behind Going Postal: Surviving the Torture in the United States Postal Service. As a young disabled veteran returning from the war in Vietnam, Garland brought his aspirations for a better life and his personal sense of character and integrity to his first position at the United States Postal Service in Denver, Colorado in May 1980, beginning what would become a 33year career. But Lewis’ plan was

undermined by the realities of the institutional dysfunctions and unusual stress of the U.S. Postal Service work environment. His career path took him through a maze of harsh retributions, intimidation, fear and threats - but Lewis had an abiding belief in justice, so he fought back. In the end he needed a civil attorney, a team of criminal attorneys, a bail bondsman, an employment specialist, the Postal Workers Union, marriage counseling, group therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous and his buddies at the gym to maintain his job and well-being. In the process he came to understand why the phrase going postal has become associated with the U.S. Postal Service, and is more than just a cliché. Lewis’ story shines a light on American society as a whole – with all its pressures, social conflicts and emotional landmines and is relevant to the myriad of questions that arise when so many people seem to be going postal.” Fellow veterans and retired postal workers who have read Lewis’s selfpublished memoir, in paperback and on Kindle, have reached out to him with gratitude for sharing his experiences. “I wouldn’t wish my experiences on my worst enemy, but it’s validating to know that I’m not alone in what I endured. I’m hopeful that more people will share their experience so that in some way we can find solutions in the workplace that are humane and less disruptive to our individual lives and spirit.” Since the book was published on Oct. 27, 2017, Lewis has been speaking to veteran support groups in Denver about how to survive in a hostile work environment while experiencing a number of issues and disabilities, including post-traumatic stress disorder. . Editor’s note: To learn more, visit or email thetruthgdl@gmail. com

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Robert Bullock of

Bullseye Optical

with his 30 years of experience to our team. Monday/Tuesday: 9 to 6 Wednesday: Closed • Thursday:10 to 7 Friday: 9 to 5 • Saturday: 9 to 1:30

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Angel earrings will be available for purchase at the DUS AAWMAD celebration, Sunday, February 11 at Live@Jacks.

(See ad on inside front cover)

2900 S. Peoria St. Unit D1 - Aurora, CO 80014

Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Akente Express

Continued from page 5 Springer says he’s always been into real estate, and has owned a lot of property. However, he became tired of being a landlord, so he consolidated. He figured if he was going to work in the store, he might as well own the building. “That turned out to be a very good move,” he says. “I watched what was going on with the politics of Five Points, and how they were just running people out of there.”


Although many people were disheartened by the news of Springer’s departure from Akente Express, much of that anxiety was relieved when they realized that the store they’ve all grown to know and love will remain. “It was really important to me to make sure there was an Akente Express in Denver,” Springer says. “Where else would Black folks get their shea butter, and that’s just one item. But as you see, it has proliferated itself to a bodega – an African bodega.” Springer says he realized that he needed people around him who could take up the slack. Enter Akeel, a graduate of Boulder Herb ology school, who Springer has been mentoring. “I’ve been introducing him to all the things and all of the resources as far as your medicinal health is concerned,” Springer says, “so he’s running that particular department.” On the administrative side, Springer brought in Michael Durant and Ron Haynes. He adds that his sons have put together the internet portion, which expands the business, and makes it easy for local and national customers to shop in the comfort of their homes or offices. And as far as the new owners, Haynes and Durant, are concerned, “It’s like getting on a bike - you just keep riding and pedaling – the foundation is here,” Springer says. Not only will new ownership allow the Akente Express to continue and thrive for many years, but Springer plans on tapping into Denver’s emerging and untapped international nightlife market. “Being West Indian, I’m going to be in the Caribbean and traveling to South Africa and just gathering music as I go,” he says. “I’m not going to jump into this right away. I have to go sit on the beach and recharge my battery. If I don’t, I’ll lose my mind. Denver is quite ripe for a downtown upscale place; for us, there are no accommodations for Black people downtown at all.”. Editor’s note: Akente Express will change hands this spring. Still visit them at 919 Park Ave. West or call 303-297-8817.

Making transmissions well since 1983.


Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


Sista Love Mentoring Inc., presents

“Sexual Harassment in the work place and keeping the Dream Alive”

Saturday, February 17 from 2 to 4 PM

Cleo Parker Dance Studio - 119 Park Avenue West. - Denver

“Free community event celebrating all facets of the Black experience.”

Invited Special guests: Dr. Terri Richardson, Senator Rhonda Fields, and Professor Richard Jackson Sponsored by: Sista Love Mentoring Inc., and Jackson National Insurance

For more information, call 303-249-2146

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

LOU DONALDSON Denver Urban Spectrum — – February 2018


YOU PASS DOWN THE RECIPES. We provide the fresh ingredients. Friday 2/23 Urban Spectrum (4-Color) 1753_KSURB



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