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Volume 29 Number 11 February 2016

Celebrating Black History

ANTHONY BROWNLEE RIDING

HIGH IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY...4

Anthony Brownlee - President/Managing Partner/General Manager of Land Rover Denver Photo by Bernard Grant


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MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER Volume 29 Number 11

February 2016

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris

GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James MANAGING EDITOR Angelia D. McGowan

CONTRIBUTING COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNISTS Kim Farmer FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Charles Emmons Melovy Melvin Jamal Mootoo ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert Kolor Graphix

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Melovy Melvin

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Lens of Ansar Bernard Grant DISTRIBUTION Glen Barnes Lawrence A. James Ed Lynch

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2016 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at www.denverurbanspectrum.com.

"Enlightenment cannot be described, only experienced." - Author unknown

Many people talk about items on their bucket list. Well, I share those same intriguing thoughts and recently crossed one off my list on January 5 when I visited D.C. and took a tour of the White House. It was also the day President Obama delivered a tearful and fiery speech on why America needs gun control now. Twenty seven years ago in 1989, we combined and published our January and February publication due to a fire that raged through our offices in Five Points. With this issue, we have combined our January and February issue once again - not to an unforeseen tragedy, but due to a different kind of fire and a season of enlightenment. From our January/Dr. Martin Luther King issue, three African American Chefs talk about how they are living their dream. Our February cover story features Anthony Brownlee as he talks about the driving force behind his success as the president, managing partner and general manager of Land Rover Denver. Twenty years ago, America witnessed the historic Million Man March in D.C., led by Minister Farrakhan. During that time, DUS featured Denver representative of the Nation of Islam, Jamal X, as a cover story. The Million Man March 20th anniversary, Justice or Else, was held this past October. Read why Jamal X did not participate and how his life has changed after the Nation of Islam. Also,like in past years, this month in honor of Black Hisory, we are featuring our “quiet movers and shakers,” who were selected by the community as African Americans Who Make A Difference. I hope you will be enlightened by all the stories in “these” issues. President Barack Obama; Chefs Scott Durrah, Daniel Young and Donald James; Anthony Brownlee; Jamal X; and African Americans Who Make A Difference – all embody enlightenment. But more so this month, so do our loyal readers who called, requested and queried about the Denver Urban Spectrum on its whereabouts on January 1. We thank you for our patience and for reminding us that “You Don’t Miss Your Water Til The Well Runs Dry.” Thank you for the love and enlightening US. Rosalind “Bee” Harris DUS Publisher

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Criminal Justice Reform

President Obama’s plan to expand background checks. This type of vast support, in both Colorado and the nation as a whole, demands action on behalf of our congressmen, senators, and most importantly, our president. While President Obama has taken the first step in pushing criminal justice reform and expanded background checks for guns to the forefront of the national conversation, most of the implementation of these reforms may well lie with the next president. Hillary Clinton has been at the forefront in the fight for criminal justice reforms and been a staunch advocate for reducing disparate sentencing measures. Early in her career, Hillary fought for juvenile offenders at the Children’s Defense Fund and advocated for inmates at the legal aid clinic at the University of Arkansas’ School of Law. In the Senate, she cosponsored legislation to eliminate mandatory minimums for first-time possessors of crack-cocaine. And, more recently, she unveiled key components of her criminal justice platform—including proposed laws to end racial profiling, reclassify marijuana, and shorten mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenders. That work and those reforms go a long way to helping reunite families. And they make room for research-backed programs that treat substance abuse for what it is, rather than punish people for punishment’s sake. There are few candidates, in my opinion, who have been as forceful and forthright about the necessity of reducing gun violence. She has put out a robust plan that not only includes expanding background checks, but it also closes the “Charleston Loophole” and repeals the gun industry’s immunity protec-

Op-Ed by Wellington Webb

As we enter a new year, it is abundantly clear that two things must be on top of our nation’s agenda: reforming our broken criminal justice system and reducing gun violence. As Mayor of Denver, I did my best to bring our local crime rate down by 40 percent while also combatting racial injustice, and as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I called for a nationwide rally to press for stricter gun control following the Columbine shootings in April of 1999. Both sentencing reform and expanded background checks are of utmost necessity for Colorado moving forward. Our prison population was recently estimated to stop dropping and start rising by 4 percent by next year. The general public might associate Colorado with the Supermax in Florence and its collection of truly horrifying newsmakers, but most of our prisons are in fact state run, and the vast majority of our prisoners will reenter society. Colorado, and the country as a whole, deserves a system that fights crime while respecting justice. Colorado is no stranger to mass shootings: from Columbine to Aurora to the shooting at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Coloradans are sick of seeing its own as victims of tragic gun violence and overwhelmingly support reform. Over 80 percent of Coloradans support background checks required on all gun sales and the national electorate shows similar support, with over twothirds of all Americans favoring

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tion, an NRA-influenced measure that has held Congress hostage for decades. Clinton’s plan has been hailed by gun safety advocates everywhere, and she was recently endorsed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who hailed her “demonstrated commitment” to end gun violence, and Gabby Giffords, who cited her drive to “never, ever shy away from a tough fight” as reasons they support her for president. Hillary Clinton also recently met with the families of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner to express sympathy for the unjust killings of their sons and open up a discussion about how to reduce gun violence so more mothers don’t have to go through the loss they’ve experienced. Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, in her recent endorsement of Clinton, said Hillary “truly heard [her], and understood the depth of [her] loss.” She declared that Clinton was “tough enough to wage this fight” against the NRA and Republicans “who refuse to acknowledge the problem of senseless gun violence.” And after the horrific dashcam video was released showing Laquan McDonald’s tragic death in Chicago, Clinton called for a full investigation by the Department of Justice, saying McDonald’s family “deserves justice and accountability” for the senseless killing and reaffirmed her commitment to “ensuring that all our citizens and communities are protected and respected.” The next president of the United States can take a leading role in repairing a broken criminal justice system and implementing strong, commonsense gun safety laws. These issues are urgent matters for Republicans Continued on page 5


Anthony Brownlee

His Story of Learning and Leading By Charles Emmons

When we reflect on the impact

of history, we may not consider the importance of our own stories. But, everyone’s story is significant. We know that everyone is not going to have their 15 minutes of fame, nor should we think this is an ultimate goal. There are no magic bullets to attain success. Hard work and belief in yourself are unmatched in getting there. Along the way it helps to have mentors who believe in you as well, and these mentors can be family, friends or business colleagues. Mentors need not look like us, and learning life’s lessons is not culturally dependent. As we go through rites of passage anyone can show us the way. Reaching our goals requires risk, drive as well as guidance. Sometimes the end isn’t clear and we just hang on and go for the ride. Anthony Brownlee is riding high in the automotive industry. As the president, managing partner and general manager of Land Rover Denver he and his team of more than 70 people are a significant piece of Vancouver, Wash.-based Kuni Automotive, one of the most successful auto sales groups in the country. Kuni dealerships employ nearly 1,000 people in 14 dealer stores in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, and their “rooftops” as Brownlee calls them, cover the gamut of domestic and luxury vehicles, including Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Lexus and Porsche. With 10 years in the business in Colorado, Brownlee has made his mark. He was brought to Colorado in 2006 by Lithia Motors as a general manager of multiple locations, included the Volkswagen dealership on 104th Avenue as well as three other stores in other states. He started his career in California at a now defunct Saturn dealer in Cerritos and also worked at a Land Rover dealer in Orange County. Cars have always been in his blood. He learned to drive in the parking lot of the Forum in Inglewood, Cali. “I enjoyed the freedom aspect. Getting

Photos by Bernard Grant

my driver’s license my 16th birthday, pushing for it and saving as much money as you can in order to get your first vehicle,” says Brownlee. “That was kind of the drive.” But the auto industry was not Brownlee’s first venture. After two years at the University of Minnesota, he became an entrepreneur in the mortgage business and returned to his home state. Selling is selling right? Not quite. Brownlee’s success hasn’t necessarily come from classic selling, and he believes his mortgage business experience informs his business acumen in the auto industry. Both are major purchases in the journey and require similar tools. “A lot of people think that selling is persuading others to do something to buy your product or service. I’ve always been of the opinion that selling is listening and trying to meet or solve a particular problem or take care of someone’s needs. I’ve always had that

outlook on selling,” says Brownlee. He has brought that vision to Land Rover Denver, imparting his knowledge to his staff. “It starts with constant training and we are all trying to improve our skillset daily, but if you treat each potential customer as if they are a family member I think that sets the tone for doing the right thing and listening more than classic selling.” No one wants to be blindsided or talked into something that they don’t want or need especially on a major purchase like an automobile. Brownlee insists that his team has transparent conversations and resultant transactions. Every question and option should be explained and answered. “Any successful interaction, any meaningful interaction starts with listening. Any meaningful relationship starts with listening,’ says Brownlee. “We hope that everyone chooses to do business with us, but

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even if you don’t, in all of our interactions we want to make sure we treat everyone with respect and give them a luxury experience.” There are numerous ways and places to acquire an automobile in the metro area. South Broadway, Denver’s motor mile, offers many luxury brands, including the Land Rover Denver store, and Brownlee is comfortable there and welcomes the competition. “From my perspective Land Rover is two extremes. It is extreme luxury and extreme adventure all in one package. Our vehicles are great to drive on the road and in our opinion unbeatable off-road.” Sales of new automobiles were up in 2015, including luxury models like Land Rover. Brownlee is in a good position. African Americans have a long history in the industry. The first documented sale by an African American of automobiles through a dealership arrangement was in 1936, and there was a time when they weren’t allowed to sell on the premises, only out of a briefcase. Over time their numbers have increased, especially in urban areas and the south. But the number of dealerships was reduced by half after the recent recession. As the domestic auto market tanked, many Blacks who had benefited from being in Detroit’s dealer training programs lost their stores. The atmosphere and market are a now a bit more hospitable. A proven leader, in the industry, Brownlee was selected by Kuni to run the Land Rover Denver dealership, which was consolidated in 2011 from a deal with the acquisition of Land Rover Denver East and Land Rover Highlands Ranch. Kuni had an opportunity to build a new flagship store for their Lexus brand, and Land Rover Denver was located on the old Kuni Lexus site. “I couldn’t be prouder of my teams and how they have come together in this location over the last two years,” he says. Brownlee, an equity-managing partner, continues to learn from the Kuni leadership as he leads what is technically the largest stand-alone Land Rover franchise in North America. CEO Greg Goodwin leads the Kuni


Automotive Group, but Brownlee also counts the late Joe Herman as a significant mentor. Herman was Kuni’s executive vice president, with more than 40 years of experience in automobile sales, and prior to his passing in October 2014 had doubled the group’s sales. It was natural for Brownlee to emulate his entrepreneurial example. The biggest changes in the industry are in technology, but the building of relationships with his leadership, employees, and customers remains a key element. “I think the number one thing was they re-affirmed that they were individuals who shared my values when it came to their outlook on business, life and customer service,” says Brownlee of his mentors. “Within Kuni Automotive, Wayne Kuni had a saying. ‘If you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your guests and the rest will take care of itself.’ So we are not perfect, but we always try to improve every single day.” The automobile business is competitive both between manufacturers and internally, and the revenue potential is significant. But in a Kuni dealership the tone is different. Before founder Wayne Kuni passed away in 2006, his stake in the company was earmarked in creating the Wayne Kuni Foundation, which is dedicated to funding cancer research and helping

developmentally disabled adults live semi-independently. “Our facility that was built by the Wayne Kuni Foundation is called Stephen’s Place. It opened its doors a little over a year ago,” says Brownlee. “And so, all of our employees know that they are working in concert to give back to the community on an ongoing basis.” Giving back to the community and being a part of the community is ingrained, because it is the right thing to do. Locally, Brownlee has supported Project Angel Heart, and Wine Women and Football. He is on the Denver board of the American Cancer Society, the board of Colorado Auto Dealers Association and was appointed by the governor to the Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle Dealer Board. Brownlee gives a nod to former two-time Denver mayor, Wellington Webb, who has been an informal mentor. “How he takes care of the community has really inspired me,” says Brownlee, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity since 1991. But with these accolades and being the recipient of the Kuni dealer group award named in honor of his mentor Herman, he is remarkably modest. He has come far from his middle class upbringing in Inglewood and Gardena, Cali. He comes from a family of educators. Both his parents were both public school teachers and his

brother is a teacher and high school basketball coach in Lawndale, Cali. The guidance he received when he was younger stuck with him. “We never believed in limits, and that you could accomplish anything with hard work and dedication,” says Brownlee. Sound advice, but for some it’s daunting to implement. Brownlee imparts his vision throughout his organization. He leads, but everyone represents. “I try to encourage our entire team as individuals, for them each to be the face of our dealership when they are out there in the community interacting with our guests and with each other, to bear in mind that we represent Land Rover Denver.” Brownlee understands that the success of Land Rover Denver is not all about him. Acquiring inventory, managing daily operations, growing the service and parts department, all towards increasing sales is his focus. But none of that is possible without working with a great group of people. “To me it’s really all about my team. You asked about leadership earlier. I think the quality of any organization is about its people. That’s the foundation of it all. As a leader you help your people run faster so that they can achieve what is important to them, and everything else comes together.”

Letters to the Editor

continued from page 3 and Democrats, and for all 50 states. They are issues that deeply affect Denver, and hundreds of other parts of the country, urban and rural alike. Hillary Clinton has a plan, and hers is the best combination of experience and passion to end mass incarceration, restore criminal justice, and reduce the senseless violence that occurs when guns get into the wrong hands. Editor’s note: Wellington E. Webb, the first African American mayor of Denver served 1991 to 2003.

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GUIDE


about to become a part of. I returned the following month to be installed as the minister of Muhammad Mosque 51. Early on, rejection was bountiful on several levels because of my outspokenness and religious status as Muslim – but I was unfazed. Upon arrival I sent out introductory press kits to the media and various organizations including the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, an organization serving the Black community. They outright rejected my assistant’s attempt to join the alliance. Even though to my knowledge, Rabbi Steven Foster, a leader in the Jewish community of Denver was privileged with membership in the ministerial alliance. This same rabbi invited me to discuss current events on his cable TV show on more than one occasion. In addition to my new position being very enjoyable, it was also very educational. I had had plenty of experiences to draw from, including my time in Watts, Inglewood and several other LA neighborhoods as a lieutenant and study group coordinator. But, I had never been the focus of any television or newspaper reporting to the degree that I experienced in Denver. In Los Angeles, I was a teacher, lieutenant and student minister in the mosque, not a public figure as such. I was always wearing too many hats. As a Fruit of Islam officer in LA, I worked airport security detail to secure Minister Farrakhan’s wellbeing many times. I recall one time in particular when my regional minister, Abdul Wazir Muhammad, called me from the side of the car I had driven to the airport to drop off the minister at LAX. Minister Farrakhan came walking back out of the airport terminal by himself towards me. He talked to me and greeted me very warmly and asked me about my family. He told me that Minister Wazir had told him how involved I was in the Los Angeles NOI activities. Praising me playfully and very fatherly, the Minister said that I was following his path and becoming like him. I was very active in LA. It was an honor to me and it was really a great honor to be around the minister. I remember

A Caribbean Brother Regrets Nothing,

Looks Forward By Jamal Mootoo “The stone that the builders refuse shall become the head corner stone.” Psalms 118:22

In March 1996, I awoke one Friday

morning, after speaking at East High School the night before, to find my image on the front page of both the Denver Post and the now defunct Rocky Mountain News. The headlines read something like, “Jamal X did not apologize.” I didn’t apologize for critical remarks about racism and white supremacy in my presentations at local high schools and colleges. At the time, I was the Denver, Colorado representative of Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam (NOI). I was known first as Jamal X and then as Jamal Muhammad. That was approximately 20 years ago. Before my arrival to the Mile High City, I taught at the University of Islam, an elementary and middle school in South Central Los Angeles dedicated to teaching youth to be academically competent with the LA Unified School District and to also

train them in self- knowledge and organization. Many of our students came from the “killing fields” of LA schools to our mosque school where they experienced positive changes in their academic levels and general behavior. I was the former first lieutenant of the FOI (Fruit of Islam) of Muhammad Mosque 27, one of the NOI satellites favored by Minister Louis Farrakhan for its great support of his directives and program. I didn’t sit on my hands at the LA mosque and complain about what was wrong. I was known as a worker who would roll up his sleeves and get down and dirty if needed. The first time I came to Denver was in June 1994 with two or three NOI security officers to deliver a lecture at the local mosque in the old Dahlia Shopping Center. I had to hold back tears as I saw the condition of my brothers and sisters in the local mosque. There was a lot of infighting and disagreements before I arrived and this was the scene that I was

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being in charge of the post, directly behind his back, at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1990. I remember many things. And, even though many times I felt like an outsider in the midst of the Nation of Islam, I regret nothing. Denver’s African-American community was quite different from what I was accustomed to. It was not as confrontational and tended to be less outwardly aggressive as their Los Angeles and East Coast counterparts. There definitely was more apathy and passivity than you might find in any major city but Denver Black people also had their first Black mayor – the mayor nationally known for putting on his tennis shoes and hitting the pavement – the Honorable Wellington E. Webb. He had much love and support for and from the “hood” but there was also mixed feelings and some resentment from the community. It seemed that Black lives really didn’t matter as much as other lives in the city of Denver, even though it was a fast growing city with many opportunities for educated Blacks. During that time, I had heard a speech by Mayor Webb about Denver and how it was a growing city and I thought that Black people including myself should be growing with it. But I kept reading about crimes committed against Black women and Black people in general and it bothered me a lot. It was just like in South Central Los Angeles where numerous Black women were killed. They were under-investigated and under-reported in the LA law enforcement and media for almost 30 years and were the subject of a 2014 Lifetime channel movie, “Tales of the Grim Sleeper.” Margaret Prescod, KPFK radio host of the “Sojourner Truth” morning show out of Los Angeles kept this issue front and center on her show for the past three decades. In a Denver Post article, writer Chuck Green lamented on the noninvolvement of Denver’s Blacks in a recent killing of a young African American female who was found close to Grape Street near where I lived and not too far from where the NOI weekly meetings were held. I was sensitive to this issue from my South Central LA background. That incident sparked an exchange between Green and me about how media ignored Black suffering and used appropriated images of dark humanity to scare voters like what George Bush Sr. did in his Willie Horton ad against Democrat candidate George Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election. I agreed with Green that Black people weren’t outraged enough at many negative things in the communities of color. I challenged the media to report more accurate facts about cocaine arrests in the Black com-


munity. Subsequently, the Denver Post printed a whole section of a San Jose Mercury News expose of U.S. government officials conspiring with Central American nationalists under President Ronald Reagan to bring cocaine into South Central Los Angeles to fund illegal activities in the Iran-Contra affair. The story is featured in the film “Kill The Messenger.” The story of Gary Webb, the reporter who uncovered these facts, was found dead allegedly from several self-inflicted wounds to the head. I had been feeling anxious and concerned about what I was seeing around Five Points and Aurora. The local newspapers published ongoing articles about the “negative population growth” emanating from Los Angeles almost like it was a plague. I saw and heard the concerns of Denver residents in general. Urban growth can be problematic but it reminded me of a question by the great W.E.B. Du Bois: “How does it feel to be a problem?” It sounded like African-Americans and Latinos were being blamed for whatever increase in crime and stress on state and city services. I wanted to help bring fire to the consciousness of the people in Northeast Denver and spread it throughout the state. None of this is to say that before arriving in 1994, there was not a history of resistance and progressive political movement among Denver’s Black community. But I didn’t come here asking anyone for permission to do anything either. My attitude was: “Don’t ask what you can do? Just do something.” I just wanted to put into practice all of what I learned during my time at Los Angeles Mosque 27 and contribute to the community I was sent to live and work in. I lived in the late Councilman Hiawatha Davis’s District 8 who was a great mentor, good friend and supporter of me as well. Davis has a special place in my heart for his example and manner of going about helping his community. I was and am inspired by his humble service to his district. My relationship with the west coast NOI leadership was confrontational most of the time. I met the new regional head chosen by Minister Farrakhan, Tony Muhammad, in Phoenix, Arizona in June, 1995. He tapped me as I was sitting on the dais behind the minister as he concluded a lecture at the convention center. He instructed me to drive to Farrakhan’s Phoenix home for a meeting with him later that evening. The new regional representative seemed sincere and straight forward at first but turned out, in my opinion, to be a petty tyrant flying off into macho man rages, yet

not offering any good advice to me on how to be successful in my endeavors. I was on my own in Denver with no family, no friends and no help from the Los Angeles Nation of Islam leadership. But I was eager to work the program and I have always loved reaching out with positive vibes towards my people even when we act negative towards each other. I had paid my own way to Denver to minister and never looked back to smoggy LA for anything but a good kick in the ass. I found that Black people in Denver were just as down for the cause as Black people anywhere. Just as real and full of heart - just the same. With just a small crew of good brothers and sisters from our local mosque membership, I had to promote the national Million Man March in Denver. The first Million Man March event that I participated in was a forum sponsored by Brother Jeff in Five Points. It was an open discussion between different segments of Black men around some of the problems Minister Farrakhan was targeting for his October 16, 1995 march in Washington, D.C. The meeting had a good spirit and was well attended and Brother Jeff continued with spreading the word throughout the Five Points community and greater Denver. Earlier in 1995, I was on the West Coast for a few days visiting my ailing mother. Whenever I checked in with my staff, the Mosque secretary and captain would tell me that this “brother” named Alvertis kept calling and leaving messages for me. When I arrived back in Denver later that week, we met and agreed to work together to promote the Million Man March across the state of Colorado or as far as we could reach. He came to my home and presented it to me from the standpoint of a Black Baptist and a Muslim working towards the same goal, similar to Minister Farrakhan and Benjamin Chavis Jr. but on a local level. We didn’t always agree on tactics but we agreed that time was critical and we had to get the message out to as many Black men as possible. When we returned from the national march in Washington D.C., we hit the ground running. I fondly remember one meeting hosted by Rev. Dr. Paul Martin at the Macedonia Baptist Church in Park Hill. It was attended by more than 1,100 Black men who were passionate about creating change in the community. Actor Pam Grier was in attendance giving us her blessings and support simply by just being there. Rev. Dr. Paul Martin offered priceless and spiritual advice. 1996 blew in like a hurricane and we set to make the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) a chapter dedicated Continued on page 6

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Jamal X and son Kaliq are pictured on the cover of the September 1997 for the cover story “Meet the Man Behind the Mosque.”

Jamal X

Continued from page 5 to the MMM objectives. While connected to the national committee which was headed by Minister Farrakhan and Rev. Benjamin Chavis Jr., we tried to follow their timelines and directives. I was attempting to hold it all together but it was like herding fleas. I was still the minister of the local NOI mosque and my plate was full just from the ministry. In addition to the many fundraising, teaching and training duties, I still had

to conduct weekly mosque meetings and promote the sales of Final Call newspapers, one of the main programs of the NOI. I didn’t get a lot of sleep in those days because of my work schedule and duties. Up very early and late to bed. I remember some of my neighbors not speaking to me because people were parked around at night watching my house. I don’t know who was watching but my neighbors seemed to think that it was me because of who or what I represented. I never lost sleep over that. One day, a brother who attended mosque meetings regularly called me out of the blue and asked: “What would you do if a child was killed in your neighborhood as a minister of the Nation of Islam?” We spoke for a few minutes and I immediately called Alvertis Simmons and we went around asking local leaders of a few organizations to help us and put a spotlight on the shooting of a threeyear-old by alleged gang members. We went door to door passing out flyers asking the neighbors to speak up and speak out. Later that week I saw Denver Police Chief David Michaud and Mayor Wellington Webb on the nightly news at the scene of the child’s murder. Because of our activism, the spotlight was put on Denver’s Local Organizing Committee. It wasn’t the

only one. We were also criticized for a George Washington High School student “walk-out” and a few other incidents around Denver. In 1996, I was banned from appearing at Denver schools. The American Civil Liberties Union lawyers took my case to court and had the decision reversed. In July 1997, I was suspended from the post as the minister at which time an investigation ensued. Several months passed and I called the regional minister since I hadn’t heard anything and he told me that I was “relieved of duty.” Just like that. No warning. No explanation. And, no communication from Minister Farrakhan. Interestingly enough, I was relieved. When I stopped associating with the NOI, I ventured back into two of my favorite passions – books and music. I broadened my reading list and bought my share of books from the Hue-Man Bookstore. I applied for a job at the bookstore and the owner, Clara Villarosa, who had seen me around town, said that she would hire me, but had been warned not to because I was a “troublemaker.” I am grateful that she hired me with a few warnings. The Quran says that Allah tries believers once a year very severely because He loves them. So Allah purifies them this way. I was going on about four or five years of trials and tribulations non-stop. The Most High must love me if we use that rule. At least, that’s what I think sometimes. I kept a guitar around the house for years even as an NOI member but hardly played it. It was eventually pawned in LA along with a nice Music Man bass I had kept for a while. A friend gave me an acoustic guitar of which I started playing after work to relax. I enjoyed old country blues songs by Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. Music became a great

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2016

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focus for me again. I dove into it with a hunger. I went into my innermost being and grounded myself through ritual, dance and music. I began playing in funk and reggae groups and moving around different parts of the country – playing and hustling. I am from Panama and I speak Spanish and several other languages with fluency. I am also what you call a “Caribbean brother.” There is a saying by the NOI Muslims that when you leave the mosque, you go back to what you were doing before. Well, I fast-forwarded to my Caribbean roots and never looked back. The dreads I wear are not a fashion statement. The dreads that crown my head mean that I received a great blessing. I have been asked if I am Rasta now. I was always Rastafari even when I was clean shaven and give the greetings of “As salaam alaikum.” If I am Rasta it is because I am living in the moment with my sights aimed forward – a vision to look forward without fear and to learn and grow. And I don’t need a dogma or religion to do that. Rasta is not a religion but a culture of divine elevation and resistance which has spread across the earth from the tiny island of Jamaica where three of my grandparents come from. My mother’s father was from Bangladesh and came to the Caribbean looking for work and business opportunities so I have plenty to celebrate about my heritage. Really, as I see it, all religions and dogmas and doctrines belong to me. I don’t belong to a church or mosque or temple. I don’t belong to none of them because they all belong to me. I don’t deal as much with dogma and doctrine. I am like a bee buzzing around the garden of life in search of that deep, sweet honey which is the bounties of Jah. I just deal with life. What are you dealing with? Editor’s note: Jamal Mootoo returned to Denver to pursue his creative skills in writing, music and public speaking. He can be reached at Jamal@urbanspectrum.net or 303-292-6446.


When a child is born, parents can

A Harlem Renaissance Romance...By Leta Maat

Having planned and directed weddings previously, this would be a breeze…not! When planning for your own daughter’s wedding everything has to be absolutely perfect. Teresa Franklin-Harvey joined me in coordinating and directing the wedding day. The lovely couple chose to become husband and wife at the beautiful Blackstone Country Club with emerald and pearl, the color scheme selected for Kia and Ron’s birthstones. The bride in a pearl and lace gown, complete with a 1920s headpiece and the groom in an ivory and black tuxedo. Close friends and family were asked to stand at their sides on this joyous occasion with the show stealer Baby Langston, as the Baby of Honor in his adorable tux with tails. The ladies wore gorgeous emerald and black dresses from Bella Bridesmaids in Denver and the gentleman in cutaway tuxedos with top hats and canes to match. Tunes from Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Lena Horne filled the ceremony. The stunning bride was escorted down the aisle to Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable played by the incomparable saxophone player, Jeremy Wendelin. The couple chose to embrace the historical tradition of jumping the broom before starting their new life together as husband and wife. Kia and her siblings share a close bond so it was only fitting that her sister stand as her maid of honor and her brother and best friend as her best man. Avid fans of the sibling tap dancing duo, the Nicholas Brothers, the bride and her best man took to the dance floor for a surprise tap dance for the groom and guest during the reception. The tables were surrounded with the closest of family and friends with centerpieces to feature iconic members of the Harlem Renaissance like Langston Hughes, Satchel Paige, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington just to name a few. The father and mother dances along with music from DJ Regina Johnson matched the jazz and flare of the Harlem Renaissance period.

only anticipate the sharing of the wondrous milestones from birth to adulthood and beyond. Sometimes fate has a way of stepping in and knocking you off of your feet and lifting you up further than you’d ever imagined and that certainly was the case for these two. Ronald Ray Harris II and Kia Michelle Milan, childhood friends, would come to wed on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 in a lovely ceremony officiated by Pastor Michelle Davis. Upon hearing the news that Ron and Kia were dating I was pleased. Having known his family for several years, I often joke at that fact that I met Ron before I met Kia, since he was born a year prior to my daughter. He is a remarkable young man and they share many interest. They instantly bonded over their love and respect for the Harlem Renaissance period, watching Harlem Nights over and over again. I introduced this magical era to my children at a young age. Kia fell in love with the historic, cultural and artistic impact it has had on the world. It propelled her into her history. She attended The Denver School of Arts for Middle School, as a theater major, acted and danced in the Eulipion‘s Theater’s Black Nativity by Langston Hughes (who happens to be her favorite poet and author) directed by the incredible Jo Button Keel. She became one of the first editors for the Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation paper with her mentor Rosalind “Bee” Harris. Kia is a published writer and recipient of Colorado Association of Black Journalist awards. Ron grew up in baseball and was a very accomplished player right here at Denver’s George Washington High School and went on to play in college. A talented player, his enthusiasm for the sport was garnered by his love and respect for such greats as Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige so it was no surprise when they told me Harlem Renaissance was the theme they had selected for their wedding day and right after they asked me to help plan a magical wedding.

“I have found the one whom my soul loves” Song of Solomon 3:4 Wishing Ron and Kia the best of love, light and happiness!

It’s unity that builds community. Celebrating a great spirit can’t be confined to one day. That’s why McDonald’s® Black Owner/Operators of the Greater Denver Area proudly support our community each day of the year. We work here. We live here. We know the next great leaders and visionaries of our generation are here in our city, and we won’t stop cheering them on. May that spirit live on in all of us.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2016

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Cary Kennedy to Step Down; Mayor Hancock Names Brendan Hanlon as next Chief Financial Officer

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Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced that Cary Kennedy is stepping down from her position as chief financial officer on Feb. 11 to begin a consulting practice. The mayor has named Brendan Hanlon, the current budget director, as the city’s new CFO. Hanlon will manage the Department of Finance’s six divisions and 411 employees as well as oversee the financing of the city’s major projects and initiatives that are set to transform Denver’s future. As one of Mayor Hancock’s first appointments and a senior advisor, Kennedy has served as the city’s CFO and deputy mayor for the past fourand-a-half years. Kennedy, Hanlon and the entire Department of Finance have provided steadfast and professional fiscal management throughout the Hancock administration, including closing a $100 million budget gap, proposing a balanced budget every year and maintaining the city’s AAA bond rating. With a 14-year service to the city, Hanlon has most recently served as the city’s budget director since May 2011, delivering balanced budgets from 2012 through this year. He helped lead the city’s Structural Financial Task Force and guided development of ballot measure 2A in 2012, which eliminated the city’s structural budget deficit. Hanlon, a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a BA in political science and history and a masters of public affairs, concentrating in public budgeting, has spent his financial professional career serving Denver in various roles within the city’s budget and management office. While in the budget office, Hanlon served as a member of the Denver Sheriff Department’s Reform Implementation Committee, responsi-

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2016

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ble for guiding the implementation of Sheriff Department reform proposals, and facilitated a bond team made up of community members to develop a set of recommended safety-related bond projects that would become part of the “Better Denver” bond issuance. Kennedy will continue to serve the city as a strategic advisor on a oneyear, part-time contract to support the financing and implementation of several transformative city projects. She also looks forward to spending more time with her children before they leave for college. During Kennedy’s time as CFO, she led several key initiatives to improve and elevate the quality of life in Denver, including voter-approved ballot Measure 2A in 2012 and the measures approved last November to create the new National Western Center and allow for new business development at Denver International Airport. She also spearheaded efforts to diversify the city’s investment portfolio, organized the city’s first ever and extremely successful online mini-bond sale, and oversaw the financing of several major city projects, such as the 61st and Pena transit-oriented development station, the new Carla Madison Recreation Center and the redevelopment of Brighton Boulevard. She also crafted the city’s first social impact bond program that will fund permanent supportive housing for 250 homeless residents, and posted all city revenues and expenditures on an online searchable database. Kennedy has also served as Denver’s deputy mayor since 2011. Mayor Hancock has tapped Don Mares, executive director of Denver Human Services, to fill the vacancy. Mares will stand second in the mayoral line of succession, acting as chief executive when the mayor is unavailable. A 1991 charter amendment most recently changed the line of succession, allowing the mayor to designate a deputy mayor from among his or her department managers. 


Deaconess Faye Elizabeth Wyatt Gerdine Going Home Faye, along with Frank and her children, all joined New Hope Baptist Church, where they were centered in the Faye Elizabeth Wyatt Gerdine was born on August church for 19 years. They then continued their service 16, 1918, in Ft. Worth, Texas, to the parents of Ed to Christ at Zion Baptist Church. She was a loyal and “Eddie” Wyatt, a railroad employee of The Texas active member of Zion for 56 years. Zephyr, and Louanna Keys, a faithful Christian She served in several missions of the church woman, who dedicated her entire life to her daughincluding president of the deaconess board, a ter, Faye. member and teacher in the Missionary Society, a Faye, an only child born to the loving couple, Sunday school teacher, and a member of the choir, loving the fellowship and kinship of family was just to name a few. extremely close to her mother, whom she called Sister Faye especially loved to welcome the vis“Mother Dear.” She was a very vivacious and itors to Zion in her own unique way as no one else feisty, highly spirited personality who could talk could, which included musical accompaniment and talk and never get tired from talking with from the church’s organ. friends and loved ones. She was an extraordinariSister Faye was, for several years, until she was ly kind and giving lady who gave everything that not able to carry on due to physical illness, a deleshe had to God, her family, and even to people gate to the National Baptist Convention and the whom she did not even know. She was truly a Child National Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training of God. Outspoken and truthful, she always tried to Union Congress, where she enjoyed traveling to several speak with kindness while at the same time being on states across the country, either by plane, through motorsolid ground when she said anything. Always saying ing, or riding on Brother Keesee’s bus with members from what she meant and meaning what she said, you always several other churches in Denver. knew what she meant. She would often open up the doors of her home and take in Accepting Jesus as her personal Saviour, she was baptized in the people who did not have a place to stay. They did not have any creek, in McGregor, Texas. Her mother, Louanna, an industrious woman who strongly believed in education, wanted her to be a foreign missionary for the money, and she did not want any. She took them in anyway, although they were Lord. A young Faye said, “I believe in keeping faith and trusting in the Lord and strangers. She took them in out of the goodness of her heart. She believed throughout her life that a good mother should never forsake her doing good.” She lived this life all of her life. Faye finished high school in Shawnee, Oklahoma, at Dunbar High School, children. She took her children to church all the time. She nurtured and encournear Ada, Oklahoma and then attended Mary Holmes College in West Point, aged her children and taught them to do right. She gave all them music lessons Mississippi, where she earned her Associate Degree in Elementary Education. and tutored them, especially Wilma, in public speaking. She taught her how to She pursued her career as an elementary school teacher in West Point, speak effectively to the public. She also loved her “son” Wellington, whom she supported over the years, not only as a “son” but also as mayor and an elected Mississippi and excelled as a teacher. Later, after she and her husband and family moved to Denver, she held posi- official. She encouraged Louanna to excel in music and in nursing. She supporttions in the health area, where she served at several of Denver’s anchor hospitals. ed Charles as a man of the clergy where he ministers in Michigan. She encourShe received her training in the 1950’s as a Licensed Nursing Assistant at Denver aged Frank Ed, and Kenneth to play musical instruments. She encouraged Sara General Hospital. She worked for the newly-opened Veterans Hospital in to sing and to learn the Bible. She also encouraged her Ronald to push on up in Denver and as one of the first employees of the then newly opened Rose the ministry. And, she encouraged Phillip to play the drums. Wendell was Memorial Hospital during that same time period. After working for 25 years for encouraged to continue his dreams as a gymnastics athlete. She gave the same full potion of love and encouragement to all of her grandPresbyterian Hospital in Denver, she retired with much appreciation from the hospital. While, as an employee of Presbyterian Hospital, she organized and pro- children, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. She fought a valiant and good fight during the twilight years of her life as her vided and delivered clothes and food for health began to fail. She never lost poor families. her faith in Jesus Christ, her Lord and She joined the National Saviour. She kept God first in her Association for the Advancement of Jonathan “J.P.” Parker passed on life, then her church, her family, and Colored People (NAACP), in December 19 at Collier Hospice Center in Wheat her friends. Shawnee, Oklahoma, at the age of Ridge. He was 87 years old and with the time he Deaconess Faye Elizabeth Wyatt 15; having a lifetime membership for had, he left behind a great legacy. Parker was Gerdine went home to be with the 82 years. She belonged to the one of the first African American actors in Denver. Lord on Thursday, January 7, 2016. women’s social and civic organizaHe was co-founder and toured the world with the She passed peacefully with her famition called “The Camelia Mothers” Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre as technily at her bedside. and was also a Delta Mother of Delta cal director. He became the first person of color She leaves to cherish her memory: Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. hired at Bonfils Theatre in 1957. her children Wilma J. Webb In West Point, on May 4, 1941, she He was the technical director that created the (Wellington E. Webb); Luanna F. Slay married Frank Wendell Gerdine, first all-woman tech team at Colorado Women's College and he also ran Principal of Mary Holmes College (Rev. Charles B.T. Slay); Kenneth L. facilities for the University of Denver for 40 years. who was a Tuskegee man Master Gerdine, Sara E. Dickerson (Bishop Parker was a part of many things but mostly he was a symbol of unity and Sergeant in the Army-Air Force. Ronald Dickerson), and Phillip H. a champion of social justice, according to his daughter Cleo Parker Faye and Frank Gerdine moved Gerdine, 32 grandchildren; 69 great Robinson. to Denver where seven children grandchildren, and a host of great"He taught you compassion and kindness and to never give up," she said. were born, Frank Ed, Wilma Jean, great grandchildren, nieces, Parker was an innovative artist that not only had an impact on stage, but also Louanna Faye, Wendell Delano, nephews, cousins, relatives and the city of Denver. Kenneth Lowell, Sara Elizabeth, and friends. She was preceded in death On January 20, the International Black Dance Conference will open in Phillip Howard. Two of her chilby two sons, Frank E. Gerdine and Denver which would have been “J.P.’s” 88th birthday. CPRD will hold a spedren, Frank Ed and Wendell Delano, Wendell D. Gerdine, and one grandcial tribute in his honor. For more information, call 303-295-1759. preceded her in death. son, Keith A. Thomas. Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2016

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Why We Need Black Doctors

Members of the Mile High Medical Society participate at the Center for African American Health Destination Health Run

In virtually every area of medicine,

By Dr. Johnny Johnson

we as Blacks have the worst outcome. As a young Black doctor starting out in medicine I was offended in the way healthcare was given to Black patients. The statistics about Black patients outcomes that made me upset then are largely the same today. The infant mortality rate is twice among Blacks than that of whites. Black men are more likely than white men to receive a diagnosis of HIV and more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer. Black women have many health challenges including obesity and also breast, colon, bladder and thyroid cancer. And, Black patients have experienced much higher rates of hypertension, diabetes and stroke. The list goes on and on and on. The usual response for these healthcare disparities are poverty, racism, education and unhealthy choices. I agree that these usual responses to address healthcare reform are valid reasons. But a factor less obvious is the heart and soul of

Black doctors. Only five percent of practicing doctors in this country are Black. As a general rule, Black patients are more comfortable with Black doctors taking care of them. Black patients are more likely to seek treatment and report higher satisfaction with their care. As an OB/GYN Doctor, I have seen this up close and in person. I have frequently been the only Black doctor on most hospital’s staff even in a hospital with a large Black patient population. Quite often, patients are asking to see a Black doctor, but I cannot see the sheer volume of people and cannot recruit or find other Black doctors in our present healthcare system.

Black patients, compared to most races, tend to be far less trusting of doctors and their medical adviser. Much is these distrust is deeply rooted in our dark history of experimentation on Black people such as the Tuskegee Syphilis study. Perhaps the most compelling evidence that Black patients are more likely to trust Black doctors comes from the mental health field and women wellness, where a patient’s relationship with his or her provider is very important. Clearly, we need more Black doctors, even though the medical school enrollment is improving with a slight increase of 2.2 percent of the overall total medical student enrollment.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2016

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Although most states have banned race-based admission efforts at public universities and affirmative action is dying but not dead, but it appears to be approaching its twilight years. Now, of course, Black doctors are not the only physicians who can deliver good medical care to Black patients, and believe it or not, every Black doctor is not a good doctor or a good doctor for you. So, as a Black doctor, my particular talent on my part is my willingness to bring up the racial concerns that troubled them – based on TRUST. Only after years of experience and learning from my failed attempts have I been able to consistently do the right thing with my knowledge of healthcare. So now I can take my experience into the exam room, the hospital and into the community. Patients ultimately, still have to take responsibility for their own lives, it is helpful to have a doctor who understand, and don’t dismiss behavior patterns that are often rooted in a cultural history. In an ideal world, the race of the patient or physician wouldn’t matter; we would all treat each other strictly as individuals. But we as a country are still quite a ways from reaching that exalted goal. We have to attack the problem of racial health disparities from every angle. Black doctors are an important part of the mission.


Please Join Us! “Empowering the Community to Live Well”

Saturday, February 27, 2016 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Renaissance Denver Hotel – 3801 Quebec Street Free Self-Parking! (Valet Parking $13)

The Center for African American Health is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the African-American Community.

Take advantage of FREE health screenings!

NEW THIS YEAR: Cavity Free at Three Screenings Pink Lifesaver Mammography Van Learn how small changes can make a big difference in maintaining and improving your health.

Enjoy other FREE activities such as: Interactive Physical Activity Exhibition Q Complete Physical and Medical History Exam Q

Visit with Health Experts Q Medication Consultation QVisit Health Exhibits Q Massage Therapy Q

Cooking Demonstration Q Food Tasting Q

This event made possible with the generous support of our sponsors and community partners.

For more information, please visit our website: www.caahealth.org or call 303-355-3423.


COMMUNITY NOTES

be well Supports Heart Health Month with Free Programs

Dozens of residents and stakeholders – both adults and youth – are Getting in the Zone in Northeast Denver and recently completed the be well Block Captain training program. These new block are now actively out in their be well Zone neighborhoods sharing what they learned, connecting people to the tools they need to be healthy. be well has several additional opportunities for Coloradoans to Get in their Zone. In February, a new series of programming will take place at the be well Centers located at the For a complete schedule of events, to learn more or sign up, visit www.bewellconnect.net.

New Campaign to Educate African-Americans About PrEP

It Takes A Village is launching a new campaign in an effort to end the spread of HIV by 2020. PrEP is PreExposure Prophylaxis that is 92 percent effective in preventing HIV. It is a pill taken once a day for HIV negative people who have sex with someone who is HIV positive or whose status they do not know. It’s been researched and proven effective and safe. It’s a huge breakthrough in the efforts to end the spread of HIV by 2020. The African-American community is behind when it comes to HIV education and, even more so when it comes to trying new preventative measures. For more information, call Imani Latif at 303-367-4747, email ISLAurora@aol.com or visit www.ittakesavillagecolorado.org.

Race In The Military Discussion Planned For March

The issue of race in the military extends from colonial times to the present day will be discussed on Thursday, March 24 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the FordWarren Branch Library Meeting Room 3. The public is invited to join active minds as we explore a chapter of this story from World War II: the Tuskegee Airmen. We will tell their story of struggle and triumph and bring this issue into a current context. This event is free and open to the public. No registration required. For more information, call Jim Ramsey at 720-865-0920 or email jramsey@denverlibrary.org.

Aurora Offers Free Financial Fitness Classes To Residents

The city of Aurora’s Community Development Division and Home Ownership Assistance Program are offering free monthly Financial Fitness Classes throughout 2016. Classes will focus on topics such as

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2016

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Banking and Investments, Financial Goal Setting, Credit and Debt, and Budgeting. More detailed class descriptions are available at www.auroragov.org. Classes will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and be held in the Akron/ Clinton Room at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, 9898 E. Colfax Ave. The class schedule for 2016 is: Banking and Investments – May 17 and Sept. 20; Financial Goal Setting – Feb. 16, June 21 and Oct. 18; Credit and Debt – March 15, July 26 and Nov. 15; and Budgeting – April 19, Aug. 23 and Dec. 6. For questions, or to reserve a spot in any class, call 303-739-7912.

Aurora Residents Asked To Apply For Beautification Grants

Aurora wants to help spruce up neighborhoods and is again offering Neighborhood Beautification Grants of up to $5,000 per neighborhood group in 2016. The grants promote projects that improve the physical condition of a neighborhood, enhance pride and identity, promote self-reliance and increase neighborhood communication. The city has allocated up to $60,000 for grants for 2016, with a maximum of $10,000 for each of the city’s six council wards. Applications are available at www.auroragov.org/keepauroraclean and must be received by March 18. Grant winners will be notified by April 15, and all grant-funded projects must be completed by Oct. 31. For questions, call 303-739-7280.

2016 JRFScholarship Program Now Underway

The Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) Scholarship program is designed to address the financial needs of college students and provide comprehensive mentoring services through its 42 Strategies for Success Curriculum. Throughout the four-year program, JRF also promotes the values and character traits embodied in the heroic life of its namesake. The JRF scholarship is awarded to outstanding high school graduates who plan to earn a baccalaureate degree from an accredited, four-year college or university. Additional fellowships are given to JRF Scholars to pursue opportunities to work and study abroad and for post-graduate education. For more details and/or to apply, visit: ww.scholarshipsonline.org/2012/03/jackie-robinson-foundation-scholarship.html For hundreds of other 2016 scholarships, visit: www.ScholarshipsOnline.org


WWW.DENVERURBANSPECTRUM.COM

- AROUND TOWN IN DENVER - WWW.DENVERURBANSPECTRUM.COM - AROUND TOWN IN DENVER

2016 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Social Responsibility Luncheon Photos by Bernard Grant

2016 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Marade Photos by Bernard Grant

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award Honorees


Home Cooking By Sydney M. Odion-Smith, MSUD Nutrition Major

N

othing is more celebratory of our history, than food. When you envision Black cultural foods -- images of collard greens stewed with ham hocks, caramel cakes, and barbecued ribs may dance around your head. For years, dishes like these have been enjoyed in the Black community. These meals have brought our families comfort, luck, happiness, and most importantly: together. However, these types of food also bring reminiscence of hardship. It is a well-known fact that during slavery, our ancestors were given pathetic leftovers, measly rations, and poor quality meat for nourishment. Making best with what they had, slaves used cooking methods like frying or smoking, and adding plenty of salt, fat, flour, or sugar to their food. This gave slaves the ability and creativity to transform scraps; into edible, flavorful meals. A lot of these common meals made during slavery, con-

tinue to be eaten and loved by our families today. Although there is pride in knowing how perseverant and resilient our ancestors were. We should also be aware that the food they ate was quite unhealthy. “The (slave) diets, high in fat and starch, were not nutritionally sound and could lead to ailments, including scurvy and rickets,” according to a historical overview on slavery from pbs.org. Furthermore, decades of our people eating this way, have cause disturbingly high rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure in the Black community. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show that heart disease and complications from diabetes, are two of the top leading causes of death for African Americans. Another ailment high on the list is stroke. And this is more of a risk to people who are already dealing with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. What Black person today cannot name a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or play cousin that has

not been diagnosed with one or more of these chronic conditions? Unfortunately, many of us cannot; and many of us are struggling with these diseases ourselves. However, this does not have to be our normal. We are descendants of Africa. Our roots are in cultural traditions and foods of the homeland that are as old as time. An organization called Oldways is focused on helping to re-introduce the original African diet, to Black Americans. With the help of experts in African American and African Diaspora history, cuisine, nutrition, and public health – the organization designed an African Heritage and Health program. Oldways states that the program’s goal is, “...to promote the healthy foods and delicious eating traditions of African Heritage for good health and community.” The program has a diet pyramid that is structured from traditional African heritage meals. Oldways explains that these meals contain an abundance of colorful fruits, leafy greens, and a variety of beans, tubers, and whole grains, as well as, an array of spices, and plenty of fish, eggs, and poultry; with a mini-

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – February 2016

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mal consumption of sweets. The program also offers a description of African Diaspora, along with a food glossary, cooking course, and grocery guidelines to help assist with the venture into preparing traditional African cuisine. Starting the first week of February, Oldways will be celebrating their 5th Annual African Heritage and Health Week. From February 1-7, the organization is challenging African Americans to take part of their African heritage by trying at least one dish, at home or at a local restaurant that is inspired by the cuisines of African culture, #EatAfricanHeritage365. Along with this, there are many other ways to be a part of the challenge, or explore the African Heritage and Health program. To learn more, visit the website oldwayspt.org. And remember, home cooking is not just about the foods that taste good; but more about the foods that makes us feel good.


Ground Rules

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

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

Ride Along 2

 By Laurence Washington

REEL ACTION - BLACKFLIX.COM

Ride Along 2 is a mixture of Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour, so the action/comedy covers a lot of familiar territory. It would have been nice to be fooled and shown something new – something we haven’t seen before. Ben, however, picks up a love interest along the way, smoking hot Miami detective Olivia Munn who is Ben’s equal in the ass-kicking department. As a made-for-TV movie or video on demand, Ride Along 2 would have been a much more enjoyable film in the comfort of your home. With obscene ticket prices and braving the crowded theaters, your money would be better spent revisiting Star Wars (assuming you’ve already seen it once.)

Ride Along 2

Admittedly, I didn’t see the first

Ride Along (’14), but I suspect it must have been a pretty good picture since it earned $135 million. However, I can’t recommend spending $10- $14 to see Ride Along 2 – unless you’re willing to contribute to Universal Studios multi billion-dollar empire. To be fair, there are a few chuckles in Ride Along 2, most of which are Ken Jeong as a criminal hacker and Ice Cube’s constant signature scowls at Kevin Hart’s antics. That being said, 30 minutes into the film, Hart’s hyperdriven shenanigans become an overdose, making the cast and the audience desperate to find any semblance of a plot to move the movie forward. The film’s premise has Ben (Kevin Hart) eager to prove that he can be a detective like his soon to be badass brother-in-law James (Ice Cube). The pair travel from Atlanta to Miami to investigate suspected drug trafficker/model businessman Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt). James hopes the intense police work will convince Ben he’s not suited to be on the force. Naturally, James’ plan sets up a series of misadventures, i.e. car chases, explosions and forgettable one-liners.

Concussion

 By Laurence Washington

Will Smith gives and emotional

performance as real-life forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, the doctor who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — the deadly brain trauma football players suffer after receiving years of concussions. However, Smith’s performance isn’t enough to raise the level of this uneven film, which needs a little bit more of a bite. Concussion doesn’t rain on the NFL’s parade – it sprinkles – maybe because like the characters in the film, the filmmakers are too worried about pissing off the NFL. So a good portion of the film focuses on Omalu’s life, instead of bone crushing gridiron action. Much of the film emphasis surrounds Omalu marriage to Prema (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a Kenyan immigrant who appreciates his tenacity and commitment to take on the powerful NFL. That aside, Concussion does cover a serious and important issue, the side effects of brain trauma. To the film’s

credit, the violence happens off camera, as players suffering from CTE commit suicide and die from heart attacks. Omalu publishes his finding in a medical journal after preforming an autopsy on Pittsburg Steeler’s hall of famer “Iron Mike” Webster (David Morse). Omalu suspects after years of head-on collisions during football games, Webster’s neurodegenerative disease brought on his Alzheimer and dementia. Of course the NFL takes issue with Omalu’s article and demands that he publically admits it was false. When that fails, they try to discredit him. But ah, there’s the rub. The NFL knew all along that many former players were suffering from depression, violent mood swings, homelessness and drug addition. Omalu just put a label on it. Omalu is naïve to the fact that the NFL is running a sports entertainment business that yields billions annually, not a healthcare system to save player’s lives. However, Omalu is on a personal crusade with former Steelers’ team physician, Dr. Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin), who insist the NFL Tell The Truth. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Concussion

Concussion comes at a pivotal time in NFL history as the league settled last year with 5,000 former players who have signs of CTE. I addition, the NFL has extended an offer to any NFL player who wants to see the film, can see it for free – which is a move in the right direction.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

S

 By Jon Rutledge

tar Wars is a beloved franchise and this new installment is being looked at as a test to see if the new management can deliver. The franchise has had a rocky existence with many viewers disappointed with the prequels. Some have argued that George Lucas’s total control ruined the collaborative flavor that a good film needs. Episodes IV, V and VI have been the gold standard that has to be met to be considered good. This new installment does just that. Its strength of story, character and dia-


REEL ACTION - BLACKFLIX.COM 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

log make it an excellent foundation to build more stories on. It has touch points to Episodes IV though VI that makes it blend into the franchise seamlessly. The character dialog is great and it has an excellent pace. Without slowing down the explosions and chases we get enough information about what has been going on in the universe. There are a number of parallels to Episode IV but it doesn’t come off as derivative. This story is more of the continuation fans were hoping for. I found myself falling in love with the franchise more now than I did when watching the prequels. I am just as excited as the nine-year old me standing in the huge line trying to get into see Star Was Episode IV: A New Hope. It’s the cyclical struggle of maintaining balance in the Force that is really the underlying theme that drives all of these stories. J.J Abrams has again shown that he has just as much passion and understanding of the characters as the fandom. He’s done a great job of making something new while respecting the source material. At this point there is nothing that he does that would give me pause. He can be trusted with our most beloved stories. They are in good hands. One of the best parts of this move is that you don’t have to be fan to really enjoy it. It’s a perfect movie that can be seen by its self it completes the story it’s trying to tell. Being a fan you get a deeper understanding of the events and you can enjoy it on a much deeper level. All I can say is the Force is strong with this one.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi 1/2 By Jon Rutledge

Attending this screening I was not

expecting much. Michael Bay films are typically 90 percent action, 5 percent story and 5 percent character development. I was also worried this may a politically driven rant. However, I was completely surprised, impressed really, with the way this film was present and the story it tells. This is easily my favorite Michael Bay film; albeit it’s a short list, but this was a solid piece of work. The story focuses on a six-man security team who held their ground at a CIA Annex after the Benghazi terrorist attack. The film shows the number of failures that lead to the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, but it avoids laying blame anywhere specifically. It also highlights the heroism of the security team but not in an (America F—- YEAH! way) overly inyour-face way. This movie shows a timeline of events and highlights the human cost of war. We see both sides of the conflict suffering. Previous films of this nature only paint the Americans as heroes. There were the Libyan casualties and you feel for them just as much as you do for the security team. This Michael Bay film takes a different approach to action. Explosions were muted so you could focus on the humanity of these people defending the CIA operatives. There was far more impact in these scenes than if he ramped up the action to 11. There was just as much care in the construction the scenes in-between each wave of attack. The

down time in-between the fighting is just as engaging as the combat. The performance of John Krasinski is by far the best on the screen. The role is for a departure from his normal fare but he wears this character like body armor. He is a natural and his performance feels as if he has been doing action films his entire career.

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It’s refreshing to watch a film that focuses on the deeds of good men doing their duty without the specter of politics hovering over the film. I am sure that politicians will try and use this to their advantage but that would only cheapen the sacrifice of ones who fell in the defense of their fellow man.


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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 29th year of publishing and based in part on recognition, number of times nominated and questionnaire response we have selected (from 26 nominations) 14 recipients as the 2016 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.

CAROLYN KALASKIE

Outreach Coordinator Penrose Cancer Center

Carolyn Kalaskie is best known for her work promoting health care for disparate populations with the Colorado Cancer Coalition, as a member of the Colorectal Cancer Taskforce, and the Health Chair of the NAACP State Conference CO, WY and MT. This past year, Kalaskie helped develop (and was accepted by the NAACP State Conference) a resolution in support of oral health improvement and community water fluoridation in Colorado. On Oct. 3, 2015, she received the NAACP CO, WY, and MT State Area Conference President’s Award for Civil Rights Excellence for her work providing cancer awareness and wellness education through various workshops, presentations on a one-onone basis to the people of Southern Colorado, and through a weekly newsletter – to people of color in the tri-state area. In the future, she would like to be a catalyst to help create a robust, effective network of businesses, non-profits, faith based and other community organizations working collectively to tackle social and economic ills. When asked how she would like to be remembered, she says, “As one

who genuinely cared for others and strived to make a positive difference. As a follower of Christ and a singer of gospel music, I want people to remember that I lived the life I sang about.”

DAPHNE H. RICE-ALLEN

Helpline Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter Board Chair, Black American West Museum

Daphne H. Rice-Allen is the current chair of the board for the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center of which she has been an active volunteer since 2011. Over the past years, Allen worked and has been a volunteer and board member of the former Denver Black Arts Festival, now known as the Colorado Black Arts Festival, and also was a part-time arts coordinator for the Art Reach after school program. This past year, she was elected to serve as the current chair of the board for the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center and was also inducted into the Circle of Wisdom by the Colorado Kwanzaa Committee. For her goals towards the future, she wants to grow the Museum’s volunteer and membership base, as well as secure exhibit sponsorship. As the Helpline coordinator for the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, she would like to see new socio-civic organizations and religious health ministries add Alzheimer’s and other dementias to their community outreach programs. When asked how she would like to be remembered, she says, “As the person anyone could talk to. The person you knew you could trust to be honest, fair and hard working. As well as the person that was honest about her limitations.”

DR. COBINA LARTSON, PHD

Founder & CEO, Afrikmall Science Educator George Washington High School

Dr. Cobina Lartson is known for developing an African mall and cofounding the African Chamber of Commerce of Colorado, USA and serving as its founding chairperson. He is also known for his leadership in the Ghanaian community for the last four years as president of the Rocky Mountain Ghana Council. He is a science educator at George Washington High School where he teaches predominantly Black students chemistry and earth science while also initiating health and educational initiatives in the Ghanaian community. He chooses to take an active role because, “It feels like a calling, everything I have been working on has been so because I keep getting this strong urge to continue.” I also strongly believe that the skills of individuals should be felt in the larger community for the common good, for we are not here just for ourselves. All the ancestors we remember today remind us of this great responsibility not only by their words but also by their works.” When asked how he would like to be remembered, he says, “for taking concrete actions towards unifying the African diaspora to drive economic transformation and a collective sense of responsibility.”

DAVAUGHN THORNTON

Language Arts Teacher Pioneer Charter School

Congratulations! from Denver Urban Spectrum

DaVaughn Thornton, a graduate of Denver East High School is a Language Arts teacher at Pioneer Charter School in the Denver Public School District. He is known for being the first African American from Denver East to attend the University of Colorado on a full athletic (football)

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scholarship and for taking about 50 student athletes to college campuses across the country such as Florida A&M, Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of South Florida, and many others in the summer. He has become a mentor who gives back to youth through sports and encourages them by taking them on college trips. Thornton chooses to take an active role because “that is exactly what the African American community is lacking, action. We have a lot of dialogue and conversations, but not a lot of action is taking place. So, I believe the word “action” is essential to improving our lives individually and collectively. Action is especially necessary when you are trying to teach young African American men and woman.” In the future, Thornton would like to become a principal, superintendent, and ultimately create his own middle school and high school. When asked how he would like to be remembered, he says, “As a person who helped change the public schooling system.”

GERRI GOMEZ HOWARD

Principal, Gerri Gomez Howard Group

In addition to excelling at community outreach and project management, Gerri Gomez Howard has learned media and social media strategies that have consistently resulted in measurable outcomes for her clients and is proud to say her track record in conducting media outreach locally has played an integral role in increasing awareness of important programs that positively affect the African American community. She has lead the 2011 Destination Health 5K marketing and media efforts as well as assisted with sponsorship support and event oversight, joined the be well Health and Wellness Initiative team and its be EPIC program to address the challenges associated health disparities in the African American community. When asked why she chooses to take an active role, she says, “I believe in successfully completing projects and providing services that help to reinforce my client’s roots in the community while providing wings for them to soar. I am fueled by passion and driven by purpose to transform the community for good. I work collaboratively with key stakeholders in the community to create, promote and support


sustainable initiatives and programs that leave a lasting legacy locally, nationally and internationally. Helping change the community through the promotion of good works is my passion.” In the future, Howard would like to continue working with nonprofit organizations and causes to help elevate issues and bring awareness to the needs, as well as the resources, which exist in the community and make an impact globally – especially around the issue of hunger.

JOHN-CLAUDE FUTRELL

Career Advisor and Job Developer Denver Housing Authority's Youth Employment Academy

John-Claude Futrell is known as a youth mentor and instructor, having over 20-plus years of work experience in the non-profit sector and has worked for such organizations as The Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, The Salvation Army, The Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (of which he now is a sitting board member) and Metropolitan State College of Denver's Center for the Visual Arts. This past year, through Denver Housing Authority's Youth Employment Academy, Futrell has helped high school students in encouraging them in pursuing a college education by taking them to college campus trips, building resumes for the workforce, and internships throughout the Denver Metro Area. He does his best in working to point young people who need guidance in the right direction either professionally or academically and says that his greatest inspiration comes from the lives of his beloved grandparents, Edna and John Mosley, whom spent their lives in the service of others. Futrell is also known as a creative in both the Slam poetry and Hip Hop scene. His many goals consist of to one day walk the sands of Sierra Leone, get published, own a boat and sail the world, take care of loved ones both emotionally and financially, make more music, draw and read more, and smile a few more times before he is called home. Futrell would like to be remembered simply “as a man who knew nothing and everything at once. Memorials are only good for those who grieve, when I pass, I pray my deeds will live through the generosity of those whom I have touched.”

ty for ministering the love of Jesus Christ holistically to hurting and broken families by empowering others in church to serve one another both locally and globally all to the glory of God. He also reaches to the elderly in the church seeking to meet their needs, mentor, advise and coach for young men, and continues to serve on a the boards for American Pathways University and Whiz Kids, an after school tutoring program which targets inner city youth. Over the past five years, Roberts has sought to encourage youth to get a college education, of which a number of them have successfully completed their schooling. His church now has a scholarship program to support the youth in their efforts to continue their schooling. In the future, he hopes to see churches and other institutions to do even a better job of creating boys to men relationships, with an emphasis of reaching out to impoverished, at risk young men. He believes one-on- one mentoring relationships are vitally necessary for our young men’s survival and the Black family’s stability. Over the years, Pastor Roberts has personally been involved in fostering such relationships in the church as well as in the community and he would like to do even a better job as facilitator in the upcoming years. He would like to be remembered for his love for God, his family, his church family, and his love for all people in general. He would like to be remembered for caring very much about people.

JONATHAN MCMILLAN

Founder Director, Be Better than Average

Jonathan McMillan is best known for working towards reducing gang involvement by teaching personal development/success skills workshops and mentoring young men of color throughout the metro area. He is also an activist for criminal justice reform, particularly in the juvenile justice system. Over the past five years, McMillan has been volunteering with Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives and mentoring African American children through his work with the Denver My Brother's Keeper Initiative. He has seen how social, economic and political manipulations have created the defeatist mentality/inferiority complex that has destroyed many African Americans people’s hope thus allowed their communities to be destroyed through drugs, gangs and worse apathy and says, “It’s up to us to teach our community the same principles that successful people use to avoid and overcome the obstacles they face.” McMillan’s ultimate goal is to have success skills/personal development courses mandatory in every elementary, middle and high school in America and to pass legislation which mandates that restorative justice practices are mandatory in every school in Colorado to stop the school to prison pipeline. When asked how he would like to be remembered, McMillan states, “I want my legacy to be known as a beacon of inspiration for what is possible when you choose to live a better than average life. Even if I’m not specifically remembered for doing it, I want to restore hope to our community for generations and generations to come.”

KHADIJA HAYNES

President and CEO K-Solutions

Khadija Haynes is best known for her lifelong work as a community activist and political strategist and advisor and for her work in Denver’s arts world. In addition to her ongoing work as a lobbyist and political advisor for many community organizations and a wide variety of corporate clients, her work over the past year has centered around economic development and transportation justice in Far Northeast Denver. Haynes is also a co-founder of Colorado Black Arts Movement, an organization that supports AfricanAmerican artists in Colorado. Her community activities over the years

PASTOR KENNETH E. ROBERTS

Pastor (Retired), Anchor of Hope Church

Pastor Kenneth E. Roberts is best known as a retired senior pastor of Anchor of Hope Church in Denver. He is best known in the Denver communi-

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include member and past president of the Colorado Black Women for Political Action; past national board member of Victory Fund; member of Zoning and Planning Committee with Stapleton Development Corporation; Board of Directors for the National Western Stock Show; Board of Directors of Colorado Horse Council, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and many more. She has also received many awards including Maverick Thinkers Award from Urban Peak, Torch of Liberty Award from AntiDefamation League, and the Political Award from the Colorado Black Women for Political Action. Haynes would like to be remembered as a creative problem solver; a person who laughed, sang, cared deeply, loved fully, embraced challenges and made an earnest effort to make life better for her family and community

NADINE BRIDGES, MSW

Director of Youth Service/Rainbow Alley GLBT Center of Colorado Adjunct Professor/Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver

Nadine Bridges is best known for her commitment to youth development, supporting marginalized communities and her dedication to social justice issues. During the past year, she marched with Black Lives Matter, educated others on the murders of Transgender woman of color, and facilitated trainings for community members serving LGBTQ Black youth. She educates others on understanding and disrupting their privileged identities to do authentic work in the fight for social justice including racial and gender equality. Over the years, Bridges has fought against the inequities that continue to harm and damage African American communities through education, facilitations, and mentoring. She has supported youth to be courageous, understanding their history, and find the power in their voices and minds to dismantle this institution and continue to rise. When asked why Bridges chooses to take an active role, she said, “My father raised me to be a strong Black queer female. He taught me and my siblings to demand respect and never allow anyone to get in the way of success. He educated us on the stereo-


types and inequities placed upon us based on the color of our skin and the importance of deconstructing them. Because of this, I have always been committed to serving our communities and believe that it is important to combat this harmful system set up to see us fail by all means necessary.” Bridges says she does not have to be remembered but, “I hope that the work I do leaves footprints for others to follow in the fight for equality and social justice.”

and Excellence, will become the “go to” organization for all trainings to reduce bias, ensure equity, and promote excellence for people of color. Allen would like to be remembered “as a champion for social justice, as one who challenged others to face their biases, grow and change organizations, systems, and institutions. I would like to be remembered as a gentle warrior for social justice.”

and economic development. Boughknight would like to be remembered as “a father, brother, leader, pioneer and dedicated businessman with a vision to succeed, hardworking and focused on providing the community with the best he can.

TROY GRIMES

STEPHAN GATER

Grant Specialist, Schwab Charitable

ROSEMARIE ALLEN

Professor Metropolitan State University of Denver

Rosemarie Allen is known as an advocate for young children and families of color, ensuring equitable discipline practices and reducing the number of Black and Brown children suspended/expelled from early childhood programs. She is also known for conducting life changing workshops for educators, legislators, and other professionals on cultural competence and implicit bias. Allen’s most notable contributions this year is serving on President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Early Childhood Task Force where she created an online course speaking on the need for educators to address their unconscious biases to improve outcomes for children of color to promote the course. She also served on the national task force headed by the Department of Health and Human Services and the American Psychological Association to address Racial Disproportionality in Preschool Suspensions and is recognized as the federal expert on implicit bias in early childhood programs. Allen’s greatest contribution to the African American community over the past five years has been training hundreds of predominantly white, middle-class teachers to meet the needs of African American children and families by creating teacher preparation courses. In 2011, she had the distinct honor of being selected to represent the United States of America as a Global Leader for Young Children at the World Forums across the globe. Of the 55 Global Leaders selected since 2005, she was only the 4th American selected from over 80 countries. Allen’s dream for the future is that her new organization IREE, Institute for Racial Equity

SHELTON BOUGKNIGHT

President/CEO, Boulevard Knights Inc. Owner/Operator The Kasbah/Diego's Restaurant

Shelton Boughknight is best known for owning The Kasbah nightclub, one of the longest running Black-owned establishments in the Denver Area. The Kasbah started out as a dream and prayer of Shelton’s and has grown to international recognition with its recent airing on the television series “Bar Rescue.” Boughknight has hosted and showcased some of the top entertainers in the music industry such as Howard Hewitt, Freddie Jackson, Alexander O’Neal, Midnight Star, and Atlantic Star. He has been an ongoing and active sponsor and contributor to many community based organizations this past year including; The Aurora Lions Club, The Aspire Educational Foundation, The Fields Foundation, 100 Men who Cook, East High School Basketball Team, A Taste of Education, Aurora Central Athletics Dept., and the American Cancer Society. He has also hosted fundraisers for Rep. Rhonda Fields. Over the past years, besides his philanthropy to community based organizations, Boughknight’s venue, The Kasbah has provided the African American community a safe, clean, positive, and first class environment for mature individuals to eat and have fun and be entertained. His venue has been a mainstay and place of choice for special events, birthday parties and the like for years and his presence has only elevated as the area’s top choice. As an African American entrepreneur, he is dedicated to developing his business into a successful one with longevity and setting a standard for future generations and to inspiring others to follow the path of Black business owners and to invest in building the community for job opportunities

Stephan Gater is very proud to be one of the founding members of the Denver African American Philanthropist which is a group of African-American men dedicated to giving time, talent and treasure to making a difference in the Denver communities. He says, “I am proud to work with youth through programs like the Colorado Beautillion Cotillion and College Track Colorado.” Gater has been blessed to work with the kids at the Colorado Beautillion since inception of the program. He says his most recognized contribution to the African American community over the past five years is witnessing the first group graduated from college. He chooses to take an active role, “Because there are so many in need. As an AfricanAmerican male, it is very important to see successful role models that look like you and are doing great things. A lot of young people grow up in singleparent homes and I want to do whatever I can to help them realize the potential that they have to effect the world and make significant contributions to society.” He feels the biggest challenges facing the AfricanAmerican community are the need for stronger education opportunities and schools in our communities. And to resolve those issues, he says, “We need to invest more in the schools in our community because stronger schools will help our kids to be stronger and able to compete in society as they get older. We need to make sure that we are pushing those in the position to make decisions to do everything they can to make sure that we have the best schools which are very important.” When asked how he would like to be remembered, “as someone who is humble and a servant in the community who had a heart for people – one who served not to be seen but because the work needed to be done.”

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Owner, Project PROUD Fatherhood Program LLC Program Coordinator, Goodwill Denver Assistant Manager Parkhill Falcons Youth Organization

Troy Grimes has served more than 100 men and families a year for the past several years providing human services. He has also been a partnered every year to host a Father’s Day Picnic which offers the community a free celebration of peace and awarding a Father of the Year award to someone from the community. He is also known as a coach and manager with the Falcons Youth Organization. He has interacted with several ‘half way houses’ transitional facilities and supporting the residents as well as facilitating healthy relationship education and fatherhood education and support. Grimes was recognized in 2008 when by receiving the Outstanding Individual of the Year for his work in fatherhood from the State of Colorado, Human Services Division. He has been working with families, facilitating classes, navigating systems for families to reunite and assisting adults with finding employment. He has been court appointed as a child and family investigator to assist the court with best interest of children resolutions in domestic cases and even training practitioners on best practices when working with fathers and families in terms of reunification. He was also honored to be a speaker/facilitator at this year’s National Prisoners’ Family Conference in Dallas, TX. When asked how Grimes would like to be remembered, he says, “I just want my kids to say ‘Dad stood for something and he loved unconditionally!’ I want my parents to know their son, far from perfect, still managed to try and do as they taught me by giving of myself to others. That’s All!”

Congratulations from DUS!


Denver Urban Spectrum February 2016  

Denver Urban Spectrum has been spreading the news about people of color since 1987.

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