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Volume 32 Number 10

January 2019


The time is always right to do what is right. And although he has many, that is a powerful quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This month we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and invite you to view DUS’s historical perspective on pages 15-18. We also invite you to visit the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission website ( for upcoming events. Our stories this month is about doing the right thing and how the timing is always right. Ruby Jones talked to five local pastors who shared how they are doing what is right to help heal the masses while seeking personal healing within themselves. The timing was right for the UpNext Program to provide more than 150 high school students the opportunity to see and hear Michelle Obama recent soldout speaking event, “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama.” Melovy Melvin tells how former Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb and former First Lady Wilma J. Webb, and Friends of the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library recently honored Chauncey “Mr. Big Shot” Billups because he has put in the time to doing what is right. And Thomas Holt Russell shares the views of Angela Williams and her time and future plans as a senator. Everyone says timing is everything. But more importantly is what do you do with your time? How do you spend your time? Who do you spend your time with and how? It is a New Year…and the time is always right to do what is right. Take it from Dr. King and remember this as we honor him this month and throughout the year.


Rosalind J. Harris DUS Publisher

FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ruby Jones Melovy Melvin Thomas Holt Russell Jamil Shabazz ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix PHOTOGRAPHERS Lens of Ansar DISTRIBUTION Ed Lynch Lawrence A. James - Manager

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

We dedicate this issue to our DUS family and friends, whose time has ended here on earth: Patsy Ruth Walker, Dr. George Henry Rausch, John Howard McBride and Leon Wilson.

LETTERS , OPINIONS, OPEDS of inclusion. Frankly, it has set back the movement for civil rights and is still felt today. The same problems of Black Americans continue to this day. Distinctions based on color are rampant. Let us not kid ourselves. Many black Americans have joined with the larger middle class to be successful, but they still worry about their kids driving while black and they are warned to get home early and to avoid certain situations. They know that if their kids have a car problem, it may quickly grow into something more serious. From my vantage point, I believe that not only will America not solve its race problems, but the world will not solve its many problems with the economies, the wars, the internal strife of many countries and the severe wealth disparity until we understand the virtues of inclusion and the sin of exclusion. It can’t always be about “I am better because…” or “I got mine now, so I don’t care about you…,” etc. This kind of thinking has held humans back for the whole of

Reflections Of A King Editor: How does one begin to explain the importance of MLK? How does one express the deep emotions and hurt that continue to be felt by those who were influenced by him and followed him when he was alive? Perhaps nothing short of mythical and even superhuman status belongs to him. The fact that he stands out as one of the most influential people of the last few centuries should be enough to put him in a class reserved for only the most outstanding people of all time. When he died I was deeply moved. I wrote an article that was put on the editorial page of the Denver Post. In those days it was standard to use the word Negroes to those darker Americans of African descent. I called it Justice for Negroes. We all felt that the loss of Dr. King would be a severe blow to the desires of African-Americans to be included without distinction or differentiation. It was. It felt like the justice of the world did not include those deep desires

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


recorded history, but now the difficulties caused by this limited thinking, may be what keeps the human race from evolving to what should be its next achievements. Dr. King knew this. Dr. King lived this. Dr. King gave up his young life for this. Dr. King is my hero. I wish he was still here. Mike Sawaya Denver, CO

Denver Urban Spectrum Department E-mail Addresses Denver Urban Spectrum Publisher Editor News & Information Advertising & Marketing Graphics & Design Distribution & Circulation

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everend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered as one of the world’s most iconic social justice leaders. His nonviolent approach to activism prompted extensive media coverage during the height of the civil rights movement, and his leadership ushered in a transformative age of racial reconciliation after nearly 100 years of post-slavery oppression and racial segregation. Though his legacy of humanitarianism will live on forever, King’s desire to serve humanity outweighed a multitude of challenges and controversies that threatened his faith, reputation, and social progress, from his humble beginnings in ministry all the way up to the assassination that ended his life. Before he was killed, King was denounced as an extremist, arrested for civic disobedience, shunned by friends and supporters for speaking out against war, and even surveilled by his own government. His role as a political activist was cemented in his religious upbringing. The church played a monumental role in the Civil Rights era, functioning as an institutional nucleus for Black mobilization and offering respite and meeting places for activists as they fought against social and political atrocities. Yet, with a rapidly changing social landscape, the relationship between the church and the Black community has changed. The Black church is at a crossroads as modern social, philosophical, and technological advancements have created a more secular generation that seems to be moving away from organized religion in favor of alternative spiritual practices. Spiritual leaders in the Metro-Denver area are working to keep young people engaged in the church while trying to find innovative solutions for Colorado’s rapidly evolving

S eeking personal healing while helping to

heal the masses Ruby Jones during the summer, he realized that his purpose involved spiritual leadership. Many of the patients he encountered simply had no anchor for life’s turbulent storms. “With every story, there was a traumatic event and things spiraled out of control; they didn’t have anything to hold on to,” he recalls. “I didn’t know if psychology could fix that, even with medication.” Feeling spiritually convicted, Downing reached out to a mentor who told him that he might be called to ministry. After receiving confirmation through prayer, Downing enrolled at the Virginia Union School of Theology in Richmond, Virginia, now known as the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology. By the end of the first semester, he knew he was in the right place. Downing’s experiences at seminary shaped his understanding of Christian ministry. Samuel Dewitt Proctor, best known for his friendship with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was heavily involved in social activism. By exploring the historical and social realities of liberation theology, Downing’s education positioned him for a career in social activism and engagement. After seminary, Downing remained at First Baptist Church of South Richmond for seven years before accepting a pastorate position at the Sixth Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, PA, where he served for 11 years. He experienced the first major hardships of his career in Pittsburgh. “I thought that as long as the work I was doing was for God, no matter how

social, cultural, and technological landscape, adding another layer of complication to the already burgeoning challenges of social leadership in a spiritually trying time. To commemorate King’s life and contributions to society, Denver Urban Spectrum is highlighting some of Denver’s most respected spiritual leaders who provide hope and healing to those in need. Like King, they have overcome tribulations in their personal lives while upholding pillars of faith for a community that has been traumatized by police brutality, economic inequity, and spiritual warfare. With a steadfast commitment to saving souls, they are working to maximize their impact in the communities where they live, work, worship, and lead.

ctáàÉÜ exäxÜxÇw XâzxÇx WÉãÇ|Çz ]ÜA? New Hope Baptist Church For Reverend Eugene Downing Jr., the desire to serve the community stems from his childhood and extends throughout the entirety of his 24-year career as a spiritual leader. Raised by a teacher and a social worker, he entered the workforce with the idea that a job should involve humanitarian service, a concept that lies at the foundation of his ministry. Downing was called to ministry during his junior year in college. While working as an intern at a mental health facility

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


busy or tired I was, it would work out. One day, it didn’t work out.” Downing learned to prioritize his family and to create boundaries that made him available to his congregation without getting overwhelmed by the immense needs. In 2012, Downing relocated to Denver and assumed the position of pastor at New Hope Baptist Church. He realized that people of color were being pushed out of the community by the prohibitive cost of living, and subsequently redefined the church’s role in the changing community. “Instead of being the center of the community, the church has assumed an advocacy role. We are socially engaged, dealing with grassroots issues and helping the people who are most vulnerable,” he says. Downing tries to engage young people in the operation of the church but has found that they are often unable to commit copious amounts of time to the customary meetings. To keep them engaged, he invites youth to lead ministry groups, mentoring projects, and special events. Downing leads his congregation with the belief that God loves us in our authentic selves, and he creates an environment that welcomes and serves all of God’s people. Under his leadership, New Hope Baptist Church has expanded its ministry, working in partnership with local service agencies and opening the building for afterschool programming and community meetings. In 2019, the church will launch a mentorship-based rites of passage program, in

addition to hosting a summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program for students in grades 9 through 11. For years, community leaders have used New Hope as a site for community dialogue. Downing is continuing the legacy of engagement, opening the doors of the church to various social agencies and working with the city’s gang reduction initiative as a member of the Safe Haven network to help keep the community safe. Additionally, Downing opens its basketball gym to members of the community two times per week. “The conversations that evolve on the court are really encouraging,” Downing says, “They dispel the myths that Black men don’t communicate. There is a transfer of values across generations, we just have to create the environment and encourage it.” Downing is an expressive speaker with a progressive vision for New Hope Baptist Church. He trusts the vision that God has given him and works diligently to help the church attain financial independence and succeed in its mission of embodying Christ’s love in the community.

young people in the church. The United Church of Montbello was founded during a turbulent time in American history, opening its doors for the first time in 1968. For 50 years, it has served as a pillar of faith and support within the culturally diverse community, operating ministries that extend to every area of need; but recent socio-economic changes have created challenges for many of the city’s residents, prompting Fouther to

employ social activism in the course of his ministry. Fouther began his professional career with aspirations of working as a service professional. The Chicago native attended Illinois Wesleyan University, where he studied sociology, but eventually he answered the call to ministry that he’d received as early as his teenage years. He obtained a master’s degree in divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary

exäxÜxÇw WÜA ]tÅxá XÄÄ|á YÉâà{xÜ ]ÜA? United Church of Montbello In December 2018, Reverend Dr. James E. Fouther Jr. celebrated 25 years of service as an ordained minister, and 15 years of leadership at the United Church of Montbello. Throughout the course of his ministry, he has worked to expand the love of God to members of his community, providing help to those in need, and finding ways to engage Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


and a doctorate degree in ministry and pastoral theology from Eden Theological Seminary. After nine years of ministry in Sarasota, Florida, Fouther relocated to Denver, Colorado, with his wife, Angelle, and their two daughters. He immediately got to work, using the example of fellow Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity member, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as a premise for how he would Continued on page 6

Pastors... Continued from page 5 approach spiritual leadership in a changing climate. Upon arriving at the United Church of Montbello, Fouther was embraced by a thriving community; however, a few years into his ministry, he noticed the landscape of the city changing. In 2014, Montbello was ranked as one of Denver’s most dangerous neighborhoods, a statistic that inaccurately represented the community and significantly limited its growth. The city suffered another devastating blow when its only high school closed its doors, ending a 33-year legacy of athletic and academic dominance. Recognizing hunger as one of the most pressing needs among families in the community, Fouther strengthened the church’s food ministry, partnering with Denver Urban Gardens and Children’s Farms of America to install two community gardens on its property. He also established the

Montbello Cooperative Ministries Food Bank and partnered with Food Bank of the Rockies to maximize food assistance services. Fouther takes a biblical approach to community outreach and social activism. He is passionate about expanding God’s love to people from all walks of life and strives to restore the relationship between young people and the church, finding ways to refresh the message to impact their generation more effectively. Throughout his life and career, Fouther experienced several hardships that impacted his role as a spiritual leader. His father died tragically when he was nine years old, forcing him to enter the workforce at an early age. Remembering early examples of his father’s involvement with the civil rights moment, Fouther says, “My ministry is a reflection of the deep commitment he had to social justice.” Fouther is interested in forg-

ing connections between outreach organizations and religious institutions. He has worked with state leaders to create a dialogue surrounding the changing political culture and he is looking forward to 2019, with plans to expand services established through collaborative partnerships with organizations such as the Montbello Organizing Committee, and various social agencies. In January 2019, Fouther will assume his new role as chairman of the board for Habitat for Humanity Metro Denver. As the city of Montbello is transformed by social, economic, and political changes, Fouther is dedicated to meeting the changing needs of the community through his ministry. Inspired by the leadership and philosophy of Dr. King, he says, “I’m working to help our community show more signs of resilience; to not feel threatened by the winds of change, but to ride those winds of change and adapt.”

ctáàÉÜ exäxÜxÇw `twÄçÇ gÉÅuá? New Life Christian Center After 33 years of leadership, Reverend Madlyn Tombs is stepping down from her role as the senior pastor of New Life Christian Center in Montbello. Known throughout the Denver community as a trailblazer, Tombs is leaving behind a legacy of faithful service as she enters the next chapter of her life. Tombs played a significant role in the integration of New Life, formerly First Christian Assembly of God, breaking down racial barriers and paving the way for women to serve in a leadership capacity. She was the first Black woman to occupy the pulpit of her church, and Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


the first Black woman to hold a position of leadership within the central district of the Assemblies of God, a historically white denomination of American Pentecostals. As a pioneer in the faith community, Tombs has experienced racism and sexism along her spiritual journey. She is no stranger to racial inequity, having participated in student protests at the University of Kansas during the civil rights movement and holding several integrative roles throughout the course of her professional career. Still, she was surprised by the racism, sexism, and ageism that she experienced along her journey. “I wanted to believe that the body of Christ was different. It was not,” she says. Ignoring criticism about her leadership, Tombs remained committed to fulfilling God’s purpose for her life. Tombs studied social work at the University of Kansas, enrolling in elective theology courses at the university’s seminary to find ways to weather the storms that were cropping up in her adult life. After college, Tombs moved to California, where she got married and later divorced. Looking to start over after the end of her marriage, Tombs moved to Denver, where she obtained a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Denver. During her graduate studies, Tombs enrolled in theology courses at the Iliff Theological Seminary and joined the nondenominational congregation of Calvary Temple. “Church became important after my divorce,” she says, “The word of God helped me feel healed and whole.” Tombs began to see life differently; she felt herself becoming more forgiving and more compassionate when God began to speak to her about leadership. Tombs approached leadership as a missionary, starting home cell ministries throughout

the city until receiving her first pastorate at New Life. She prioritized education, operating an affordable daycare, running one of the city’s first and largest early childhood education programs, and opening a school that served children in grades K through 9 for nearly 30 years. Now, after many of Montbello’s original residents have been displaced, New Life has branched out to expand its impact, opening six locations throughout the Metro-Denver area, as well as parent-affiliated churches in senior living communities. New Life thrived under Tombs’ leadership, but at the height of her career, a tragic event shook the congregation and the community. Tombs’ daughter was convicted of firstdegree murder in the killing of a close family friend and given a mandatory life sentence. Tombs was devastated, but she maintained faith in God and leaned on the support of her friends, family, and community to get her through the dark time. “I learned to trust in God and take Him at His word,” she remembers. With negative dispositions toward organized religion amongst younger generations, Tombs is hopeful that technological advancements will help revive the word of God, increasing access for those who do not attend traditional church services. She believes that technology should be used to spread messages of unity and pride that will eventually bring our community closer together. Tombs is grateful for her experiences in ministry. She will graduate with a doctorate degree in ministry from Denver Seminary in 2019, and she looks forward to opportunities to share her testimony, saying, “In order for people to know how good God is, we’ve got to let His light shine. Sometimes that involves sharing our hearts and our pain to show how God brings us through.”

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prognosis was bleak. Gilbert’s wife told doctors, “I believe God can do something,” and prayerfully entrusted his life to God’s care. “I thank God every single day, because I shouldn’t be here,” Gilbert says. The mission of Restoration Christian Ministries is to restore people to Christ by encouraging them to belong to a community group, teaching them to believe in God, and creating opportunities for them to behave like Christ. Gilbert, who believes the church should be holistic, facilitates ministries that target six areas of community life, including where a person lives, learns, works, plays, thrives, and worships. Along with scripture-based messages, Restoration serves members of the surrounding community with several ministries and collaborative partnerships. “When a person becomes a part of the kingdom of God, I believe the kingdom has the answer to whatever problem they have,” Gilbert says. Restoration operates several ministries, including a preschool learning center, before and after-school programs, food outreach ministries, and youth programs such as a free basketball camp hosted in conjunction with Aurora’s Police and Fire Departments. Gilbert works closely with community entities to determine areas of need. “It’s not just about the people on the inside,” he says. With increasingly negative attitudes toward organized religion, Gilbert hopes to see more churches working together to forge culturally relevant connections that can meet the community’s changing needs. Recognizing distrust as one of his greatest challenges, Gilbert incorporates the guidance of a strong board of directors and a mentor team, to which he attributes much of his success as a spiritual leader. “I rely heavily on my faith and on God, but I also believe you have to reach up to get where you need to go.”

Restoration Christian Fellowship When Reverend Dr. Felix Gilbert received a call to preach in 1997, he couldn’t imagine walking away from the financial securities afforded by his successful career in electrical engineering. Unable to deny God’s voice calling out to him, saying, “Leave the world and come follow me,” Gilbert’s obedience resulted in an extraordinary spiritual journey as he set out to actualize his vision. Like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gilbert is working diligently to serve humanity, and his ministry has impacted the city of Aurora in a major way. Gilbert prepared himself for success with the support of his wife, Kotane, and their three children. “My philosophy in life and ministry is that the best response to a call is to prepare, and then God gives the assignment.” Gilbert earned a master’s degree in divinity and a doctorate in ministry from Denver Seminary where he holds a faculty position. Restoration Christian Fellowship was planted in 1999 with 20 members; after 20 years of faithful stewardship, the congregation has grown to more than 700 members and the church has found a home in Aurora where Gilbert plans to create and develop an entire complex of community and church facilities. With 10 years into his ministry, Gilbert encountered a health crisis that would have taken his life if not for God’s divine intervention. He was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and rushed into emergency surgery. And after countless procedures and an 18-day medically induced coma, the

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


Gilbert has great admiration for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s biblical approach to social justice during the civil rights movement, modeling his ministry on some of the same principles of social activism in response to today’s toxic racial climate. He says, “We’re fighting against sin when it comes to issues of racism and social injustice. You don’t fight hate with hate; you don’t fight it with violence. You show love; love conquers everything.” Gilbert is leading an initiative to dedicate the first week of Black History Month to the Black theologians and clergy who paved the way for our freedoms during the Civil Rights era and who are currently impacting culture through their ministries. To increase Christian stewardship and prepare spiritual leaders to answer God’s call to ministry, he has established the Blacks in Theology Scholarship Fund, which will create pathways for Black pastors to obtain a theological education. With a heart for social justice and a vision that serves the entire community, Gilbert is preparing Restoration for a momentous future as a hub for spiritual training, community service, and collaborative success.

exäxÜxÇw WÜA g|ÅÉà{ç XA gçÄxÜ Shorter Community AME Church Reverend Dr. Timothy E. Tyler knew that he was called to minister to God’s people at the age of nine. Throughout his 35-year career as a spiritual leader, Tyler has worked in areas of social justice and community activism. As the pastor of Shorter Community AME Church, he is working to Continued on page 8

Pains of our Pastors Continued from page 7 support his congregation and meet the growing needs of Denver’s community. Tyler’s upbringing gave him a unique perspective on the connection between ministry and social justice. His mother was the second woman to be elected bishop in the 235-year history of the African Methodist Episcopal church. She and Tyler’s father raised him with a foundation of faithful service, teaching him the importance of entrusting his life to the Lord and providing examples of community involvement upon which he would base his life and ministry. Born in the racially-oppressive Mississippi Delta, Tyler’s father worked as a mechanic and cement layer. He was born during the Summer of Freedom, a massive voter registration campaign in Mississippi that resulted in the murders of three activists and, with the help of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the eventual

passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Tyler’s parents were heavily involved in social activism, working with civil rights leader Medgar Evers until the very night of his assassination. Eight months after his birth, Tyler’s family moved away from the racially segregated south, relocating to Los Angeles, California just ahead of the Watts Rebellion. Tyler’s early introduction to social activism had a major impact on his role as a spiritual leader. He says, “In today’s climate, I feel like I have a responsibility to be proactive in helping people see that issues of race, inclusion, diversity, and equity are not fringe issues that we deal with aside from religion, but they are core values of who we are as God’s people.” Tyler obtained a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and journalism from Morris Brown College, then went on to earn a master’s degree in divinity from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, and a doctorate degree in ministry from the United

Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He received his first appointment as a pastor at age 24 and led congregations in several U.S. cities. Having experienced a great deal of cultural diversity throughout his career, Tyler takes a proactive approach when dealing with issues caused by Denver’s changing socio-political climate. Moving to Denver at the height of the 2008 economic recession, Tyler has experienced vast changes in Denver’s socioeconomic landscape. He immediately engaged the church in community outreach, employing various ministries to serve people experiencing homelessness, the sick and shut in, and families affected by the rising costs of housing. Since his arrival, Tyler has learned a hard lesson about changing neighborhoods and gentrification. Tyler is hopeful that city leaders can find a way to relieve the suffering of Denver’s most vulnerable residents and remains committed to building his ministry around social justice and advocacy. “We’re a church born out of a social justice ethic,” he explains, sharing the story of how donations from drunks and gamblers were used to start the church. “We were born out of the community. We have a responsibility to stay connected to that which we were born from.” Tyler is looking forward to the Shorter AME’s 2019 programming, including the launch of two social justice programs that will train participants to discuss issues of race and progressive resistance to solve social and political problems within the community. He says, “The church should be actively working to change the community and the world, as well as training people to respond to the hate that is permeating our society.” Tyler’s success as a spiritual leader is a result of the application of faith throughout his journey and the support of his wife, Nita, and their children during particularly challenging

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


times. He has learned to remain calm under pressure, trusting that God’s grace is sufficient even at the most turbulent times in his ministry. Having completed 11 years of leadership at Shorter AME, Tyler remains dedicated to the task of forging relationships between the church and the community and working to protect the civil rights and freedoms of God’s people. When he made the decision to speak against social injustice, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. set a precedent for the Black church, highlighting the effectiveness of social activism from a biblical perspective. By approaching racial inequity and social injustice from a position of forgiveness and love in hopes of reconciliation, King’s nonviolent methods played a key role in establishing the rights and freedoms we enjoy today. While economic, social and political changes have changed the relationship between the Black church and the Black community, Denver’s spiritual leaders are using King’s example to reestablish trust, maximize the impact of their ministries, and create lasting change. They are committed to transforming negative perspectives on the church, finding innovative ways to engage a younger generation and strengthening communities with the love of God. .

For more information call, 303-292-6446

DPS StudentsDPS Students Given Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity to Hear From Michelle Obama UpNext Partnership Encourages College Persistence

More than 150 Denver Public Schools (DPS) high school students and family members were awarded tickets to the sold-out speaking event “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama” Thursday, Dec. 13. The opportunity was made possible thanks to many partnerships and donors, including the former first lady’s UpNext Campaign. UpNext is a platform that helps historically underrepresented students matriculate and persist through college during critical stages: applications, financial aid, enrollment and transition semesters. Parents and students who opt-in to the UpNext texting platform receive text messages from licensed college and career

counselors who guide and support them with helpful college information and detailed recommendations. “With a lot of hard work and education, anything is possible,” said Mrs. Obama. Students were thrilled to hear from the former first lady: “When I was seven, I heard Michelle and Barack Obama speak in Denver on the cam-

paign trail. Being here tonight reminded me that she’s not so different from us. She grew up like the rest of us did. No matter what you look like, you can do anything,” said Kyla, a senior at Emily Griffith High School. Dr. Samantha Haviland, DPS Director of Counseling Services added: “Mrs. Obama is a

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


female leader who has created a lot of change for school counselors and students across the nation. She’s helped kids to be healthy, happy and confident in every aspect of their lives. We want our DPS students to understand that their brilliance and resilience can lead them to where they are also a national leader, making changes.” The UpNext Program is one of the many college and career readiness supports available to DPS students led by school counselors. Students receive guidance around career exploration, paying for college, preparing for college entrance exams and more along with the social and emotional support.. Editor’s note: For more information around college and career readiness programs and services, visit

The play at a glance:

When Monique and her 10year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it shakes up Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly New York lifestyle in this poetic, powerful and remarkably touching drama.


laywright and R&B slow jam aficionado Donnetta Lavinia Grays brings her Southern charmed, poetic and love steeped style of writing to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts with the world premiere of her newest play Last Night and the Night Before. Denver Urban Spectrum had a chance to talk with the Columbia, S.C., raised and Brooklyn-based actor and playwright, in advance of the show’s January 2019 debut. Denver Urban Spectrum: Can you speak about how the play was developed? Donnetta Lavinia Grays: I did the first draft a little over four years ago. On the heels of completing a separate play I just started writing [Last Night and the Night Before] and I just kept writing myself into a corner, and was excited about it. I was like, oh, I don’t know what they’re gonna do. Now, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. And that was enjoyable to me. And so I figured that out. And then I wrote myself into another corner. And I figured that out. So the it sort of came to bear that this sort of mystery started to unfold. DUS: Music is essential and often inspirational, while writing this play, what songs/music inspired you? DLG: Well, I’ll give you a little inside information here. All of my plays have soundtracks to them. I have a soundtrack of about 20 songs on Spotify for this particular play. But for me, I listen to all kinds of music, and I try to find inspiration anywhere. But my number one favorite kind of music is R&B slow jams. I have a slow jam

Last Night and the Night Before make its World Premiere at Denver Center for the Performing Arts...By Jamil Shabazz collection of about 36 hours of slow jams. But I’m also influenced by country music, by folk music, gospel, and jazz, anything that’s rooted in the Black musical experience. People are surprised I like country, but when you grew up in the south there’s gonna be some country jams that you like, you know what I mean? And I trend toward storytelling singers. So if you have a compelling story, I’m always willing to listen – it doesn’t matter the genre. DUS: For this play, do you have a favorite character or a character that’s just been fun to write for? DLG: I kind of hesitate on that word favorite. But I will tell you who was fun to write for; Nadima. She disrupts the sort of “romantic notion” of the family. She has a great perspective and she calls it like she sees it – and brings light to the way the family structure is operating; and the fact that the structure is not particularly healthy. Nadima has really sharp wit, she’s very passionate, and she has a kind of love that’s rooted in practicality. She’s also just really taught, and she doesn’t take too much BS. DUS: Can you tell us about the cast that has been chosen for the play? DLG: I will definitely say that the actors we’ve casted are

Playwright D. Lavina Grays Director V. Curtis-Newton

absolutely gorgeous and they do all of the heavy lifting out of my imagination and into their bodies. I’m excited to see what they do on stage. I’m really excited I think we have a tremendous cast and crew! DUS: What is your character relationship with Sam? Because we know sometimes that kids are often at the mercy of the adults around them, and that’s not always good. DLG: And that is absolutely the root of what it is. This child is interesting because she makes decisions about her existence before anybody realizes it. But she is at the mercy of these adults – and that’s frustrating for her. I’m often curious as to what point did we forget that we were children, you know? I wonder when do we start believing that children don’t see or hear certain things. That they won’t imitate us; that they don’t pick up things like a sponge. In

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


this play I’m asking “like, is anybody seeing this child?” Because, she’s definitely seeing the world around her. DUS: How do you develop/nurture an environment to get the best performance from the cast? DLG: I’ll tell you, we have a really exciting leader in Valerie Curtis Newton, our director. She creates. I’ve worked with her since the 2017 New Play Summit and I just think that she is just an incredible human. She’s exact, and has a calming presence. And she is also really generous, and just a wonderful artist in her own right. I think the room takes on the energy the leader has. And we’re going to follow her lead in that. We’ve assembled such a positive cast, crew and designers and the hope is that everyone will be open to what this play is presenting. DUS: What should the audience expect from Last Night and the Night Before? DLG: I really hope that audiences come ready to see what the work of love looks like. This is a play that does not turn away from that – it is a hard earned kind of love inside of this play. I want people to come see what that looks like.. About the playwright: Donnetta Lavinia Grays, born in Panama and raised in Columbia, S.C., is a Brooklyn-based actor and playwright whose plays have been staged, read or developed at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, National Playwrights Conference, the New York Theater Workshop, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Portland (Maine) Stage Company, Classical Theater of Harlem and more. She is the inaugural recipient of the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. . Editor’s note: Last Night and the Night Before performs Jan. 18 to Feb. 24 (Opens Jan. 25) at the Ricketson Theatre. For more information or tickets visit,

Denver Community Unveils Portrait of “Mr. Big Shot” By Melovy Melvin

Chauncey Billups is a

family man, friend, a wellknown NBA Champion, NBA Finals MVP, NBA All-Star and an NBA Analyst for ESPN. On Dec. 4, Billups was recognized for this achievement on the court at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. Formers Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb and First Lady Wilma J. Webb, along with co-chairs of the Friends of the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library hosted a reception recognizing Denver native and former NBA star Billups, aka “Mr. Big Shot,” with the unveiling of his portrait. Commissioned by the Friends of the BCAARL, the portrait will join the ranks of other Denver notable African Americans and will be displayed in the library’s museum for his illustrious basketball career and ongoing community service in Denver and statewide. “This is really, really humbling,” Billups told the crowd with his wife Piper standing by his side. Before becoming a five-time NBA All-Star, the Denver-born and Denver-raised athlete was shooting hoops in Park Hill at Skyland Rec Center. The George Washington High School graduate-turnedUniversity of Colorado Buff-

Photo by Lens of Ansar

turned-Denver Nugget quickly became a Mile High City standout. “I always just wanted to make my family proud,” Billups said giving credit to family members who were in attendance for the occasion. “My grandparents, my parents, the people who helped raise me and the community.” On and off the court, Billups always keeps his hometown in mind. He helped launch the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy, a program that provides academic and leadership training to at-risk, inner city kids in the Denver metro area. He also started the Chauncey Billups Elite Basketball Academy for young athletes in Colorado. Billups is actively involved in his hometown community. “He’s a role model for young people and he’s the kind of son that parents can be very proud of,” said former Mayor Wellington Webb said. A legendary role model who never forgot where he came from. “Everybody always says what I mean to this city, but I look at it the other way,” Billups said. “What the city means to me; it means everything to me.” Billups’ portrait hangs alongside other prominent African American leaders in Denver, including Webb.

“You talk about people who impacted me as a kid?” Billups said. “Having Mayor Webb being a Black mayor from the neighborhood instilled in us kids we could do anything,” as ceremonies master of ceremonies Dr. Ryan Ross introduced Webb as the “undisputed heavyweight champion of politics.” Referring to Mr. Big Shot, the name Billups picked up at CU, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said “Tonight we are here to celebrate a big shot, one of our very own. Before there was Phillip Lindsay there was Chauncey Billups,” referring to the Broncos hot running back. “He has been a smart, brilliant and thoughtful businessman and has taken care of his family. With the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy, he has touched some of the most vulnerable kids in our city, the same neighborhoods that he came from.” Billups plans to bring his daughters to the library when

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


they are home from college for the holidays and he urged others to visit the library located in the historic Five Points community. “My great great grandkids are going to be able to come here and see their old, old man,” Billups said jokingly. “I never dreamed this big, to have something like this. … I’m so proud of where I’m from and who raised me. I appreciate you all supporting me over the years and I love you back.” He also thanked Webb and Wilma Webb (who was unable to attend), for their efforts in pushing for the construction of the library. Billups said he is a “mirror reflection” of his parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, rec center staffers, coaches and more, and God’s influence in his life. “Oh, man, not many times am I speechless like this,” he said, “but this is really humbling for me.”.

Looking Back and Talking Forward With

A Senator By Thomas Holt Russell


he 2018 midterm elections were one of the most closely watched and highly anticipated off year election in American history. The Trump administration’s divisive policies and rhetoric has awakened and stirred both parties to become politically active and this resulted in the highest midterm voter turnout in history. Colorado had the nation’s second highest turnout rate during the 2018 midterm elections with a 61.9 percent turnout for eligible voters. This rate was second only to Minnesota, with a 64.3 percent rate. Colorado rode high on the predicted blue wave by winning the governorship, house and senate. The increase in democratic power means that right-leaning conservative groups will have a tougher time advancing their agendas. So, the question for most is “What’s next and where do we go from here?” In late November, after the election results marinated in our minds, I sat and spoke with Senator Angela Williams at her State Capitol office in Denver. Senator Williams serves on the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee as well as the Joint Technology Committee and is the Chairperson of the Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus.

Denver Urban Spectrum: Now that the election is over, what is your assessment of Colorado’s local election? Senator Angela Williams: I think it’s a clear sign that the voters have spoken. They understand that the policies of the President of the United States and the values he represents do not reflect the values of Colorado. They sent a big message that we are Colorado, and we will work to protect our fellow Coloradans. We are ready to protect immigrants, we are going to protect the underserved, and we are going to fight for the values that Coloradans represent. So, I think we did experience a blue wave. But I also believe that there are still some voters out there looking for smart ways to advance these priorities, as you will notice that voters did not pass any tax increases, so we are going to have to be smart about how we govern. DUS: Now that you have won the trifecta; the house, senate and governorship, is there anything we can expect soon, or are there any issues that are going to be at the top of your agenda? SAW: I am excited that Democrats have achieved a trifecta at the Capitol. But what we have to be smart about is that we don’t swing too far left too soon. I do believe that

Coloradans have an expectation that we’ll look at legislation like the Red Flag Bill, all day kindergarten, and we still have not solved $9B in transportation needs and health care coverage for all. I think we are going to have to look at the Family and Medical Leave Act (FAMLI), which I am playing a major part in. It has not had my support in the past simply because it did not take small business owners and low wage earners into consideration. I’m taking the lead on conversations with small business owns to ensure passage, but we must come to a compromise and find a solution, that the small business owners can live with so that these are not too impactful to small businesses and law wage earners. DUS: So, the Red Flag Gun Bill, which was rejected by the republicans in May, will come back up. SAW: I expect it will and will pass the legislature. DUS: One thing I know that is important to you is the skyrocketing cost of living in Colorado and the Denver area as far as rent and housing cost. You introduced a bill that required landlords to give receipts after tenants payed rent. If someone does not have money in the first place, they still may end up on the wrong end of the exchange. Is there anything else long that line that you will introduce that may help some of those people? SAW: SB 18-010 Residential Lease Copy and Rent Receipt bill was successful by working with industries, with a lot of different organizations and the Colorado Apartment Association, is just good common sense business. If you pay for something, you go to the grocery store and get a receipt. If you sign a lease, you get a copy of that document. That’s common business sense to me. I believe that we still have challenges around housing. Housing costs continue to rise, but our wages are not

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


keeping up with those cost, so my biggest concern is how do we create a fair system? Most families are living paycheck to paycheck. Minimum wage right now in Colorado is $10.20 an hour, and that’s not enough to make it in Colorado. I did introduce Right to Cure legislation last year but unfortunately it failed. I will introduce legislation in the 2019 session that prevents people from being kicked out of their apartments and or their homes that they are renting due to a hardship. We need to be able to keep people in their homes if we can, that’s what we need to be able to do, it the right thing to do. We do not need more people on the streets homeless. That creates more issues. This will come with good fair policies that also protect the landlord. DUS: You along with Kent Lambert co-sponsored Senate Bill 86, Cyber Coding Cryptology for State Records, which encourages state agencies to research the use of blockchain technology. Are we going to try to get blockchain technology incorporated in Colorado for future state records protection? SAW: SB 18-084 came about because I heard from my constituents, “What are we doing to protect our personal information?” We’ve had compromises of information with Wells Fargo, and with Equifax. We are concerned about protecting personal information. So why would we not address protections (blockchain technology) into a government environment? That’s what the Cyber Coding and Cryptology Bill will do for Coloradans. There will be a Blockchain ledger technology that we’ll start to implement in the state of Colorado. If you think about it, we handle a lot or personal information; Department of Human Services, Motor Vehicles – that’s private information and sensitive information! We’ll look at how the college systems will be able to help us research and implement programs that will help us protect government

records. I think what you’ll see in 2019 is how we are moving toward blockchain technology for other uses including crypto currency and bitcoin. During Denver Startup Week, I actually went downtown and worked with a lot of those blockchain crypto currency companies that actually use the crypto currency in financial transactions. I loaded software on my mobile phone and loaded crypto currency onto the application. Then I went to a money machine to cash $5.00 and then loaded the money onto my phone and then I went to purchase something with it. I think that’s what we are going to be moving towards. How does the state approach crypto currency? How do we regulate it? We need to look at how the federal government is doing around this new crypto currency. I think you’ll see a lot of conversation around crypto currency in the next session, a conversation which I am thrilled to be a part of. DUS: There’s a shortage of African Americans majoring in computer science. The NCC (National Cybersecurity Center) in Colorado Springs is trying to make some progress in exposing more people to STEM technologies and cybersecurity. Do you foresee doing anything to make sure African Americans and other underrepresented groups are exposed to this technology? SAW: I think it starts with our education system. We have quite a few schools in our state that focuses on STEM technology. It starts there. And I think as you move up to secondary education and college, we do need to look at program support for people of color to be exposed to technology. We have to create a pipeline. Right now, I’m working with Reverend Downing of the New Hope Baptist Church. They have a technology program that they run for our young people every summer. And I’m working

the Colorado Technology Association on how we partner to bring more exposure to African Americans in technology. We have to close that digital divide very early in life. DUS: Are there special challenges of being one of the women of color in the state legislature? SAW: There are challenges of being one of the few African American women at the state house. The challenges are having others understand that African American women are leaders, they represent all communities, all issues, and I don’t think there’s only one issue for women, but to bring the perspective of an African American Woman’s input is very important. And I think that’s a lot of what I work on. The other challenges I face are bringing other women to see other views and that we all are women and our issues don’t change. What changes is how it affects our communities. And that’s what I always said since I’ve been elected at the time in which we weren’t going to have any African Americans in the (indiscernible 12:50) back in 2009. It’s about African American women being recognized as leaders and as being as important as our peers and other women in the state house. DUS: One of the hot potato items was the house bill 1256. The agreement changes the makeup of the seven-person, governorappointed body to mandate that it comprise three Democrats, three Republicans and one unaffiliated member. Three of the members will have to represent business interests, as well, and the commission will now be subject to legislative audit. Also if the senate rejects one of the governor’s appointees, the governor will not be able to reappoint that person for two years. Are you satisfied with the outcome of that bill? You stated that the “bipartisan compromise changes the trajectory, but not the mission of the (Colorado Civil Rights Division)” Can you clarify what you mean by that statement?

SAW: When I say it changes the trajectory but not the mission, I mean ensuring we have a commission that is representative of the state, where we have people that are democrats, people that are republicans, and people who are unaffiliated. Look at how we passed the redistricting laws on the ballot this year. We have more unaffiliated voters in this state than we have republicans or democrats, and the unaffiliated are represented in the redistricting process. If we want the unaffiliated to have a voice in this state, why wouldn’t we make sure they have a voice on the Civil Rights Division? The goal is to make sure we have all voices there. It’s not necessarily driven by political affiliation but bringing all voices to the (CCRD) Colorado Civil Rights Division and from rural parts of the state. We want to make sure that there’s a broad voice and representation on the CCRD and not just party affiliated.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


DUS: Can kids sell lemonade in your neighborhood? SAW: They can sell lemonade in the City and County of Denver without a permit. Denver City Council has passed legislation where kids under the age of 17 who run an occasional business not be required to obtain a permit. I’m going to bring legislation “Legalizing Minors’ Businesses” in the upcoming session which will be a statewide law that will not require minors to obtain a permit to run an occasional business. Colorado is open for business and we need to be encouraging our children entrepreneurship, not discouraging them. DUS: Is there something that you would like to do now (since the results of the past election) that you have not been able to do in the past? SAW: I would say that there are some policies that we were not able to pass through legislature in the past session that I feel have a greater opportunity Continued on page 14

Senator Angela Williams Continued from page 13 to pass in the upcoming session. One of the bills I’ve been running is a business opportunity bill which would require the Department of Personal and Administration to perform a disparity report in state procurement contracting. We know that there’s millions of dollars being spent on state procurement contracting. However, the number of contracts being awarded to minorities, people of color and women is less than one percent. It is past due for the state to be assuring that communities of color are receiving some of those contracts out there. Economically, when all of our businesses succeed, and black and brown businesses succeed, the state of Colorado succeeds. We know there are disparities. I believe that with the new leadership in the governor’s office and with democrats controlling the senate, we have a greater opportunity to bring some equity around state procurement contracts. This state has never had a disparity report. DPA cannot currently track whom contracts are being awarded to. That’s how old the computer systems are in this state. The legislation will require an outside consultant to conduct this report. The outside consultant will make recommendations on how we rectify this problem to insure there are equitable contracts being awarded.

I will also work on repealing the death penalty. It’s time for Colorado to do this. The three men on death row in Colorado are all African Americans. We know that the death penalty does not deter crime. The amount of money we spend is so exorbitant on the criminal justice system and we know that there are inequities in sentencing, so I believe it’s time for Colorado to repeal the death penalty. Twenty other states have abolished the death penalty, and now it’s time for Colorado to do the same. On two occasions the State Department of Corrections and was asking for $11, $13, and $15 million more dollars to open up CSP II (Colorado State Penitentiary II). We have worked hard to make sure criminal justice reform is addressed in this state and we remain committed to not open additional prisons in our state. I promise you, you’ll hear from me on that one, because the jails will be filled with blacks and Latinos. If you commit a crime and the criminal justice system gives you a full trial and one is found guilty of a crime, they should serve that time. Inequities in sentencing are also a part of this conversation. We continue to evaluate those that have been sentenced for minor offenses, and victims of indiscriminate

sentencing that are filling the jails…there was a CNN series I watched this summer, a whole series on how the criminal justice system is designed to put people in jail because it’s a money making endeavor. We are going to ensure that CSP II in this state will not receive the funding to reopen. Another thing that I’m working on from a business perspective is the cannabis industry. There are huge inequities of African Americans trying to access the cannabis industry. This is over a billion-dollar industry in the state of Colorado. I’m going to be working with the cannabis industry and we are going to create legislation together that will allow access for African Americans to have access to this billion-dollar industry. We are going to work on getting rid of (unwarranted) felony charges that prevents people from getting licenses for the industry. Also, I’m going to be looking at programs where they have more access to microloans. It’s a very expensive business to get into. We have to look at ways to get bring equity to the industry. Maybe some type of mentor program, where they team-up with a current cannabis business. It’s kind of a business to business mentoring so they have someone who is helping them along the way when we

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


remove the barriers into this industry to help them succeed. In Colorado, I only know two African Americans that are in this business and succeeding in it. We only have one African American lobbyist here at the capital who is part of this conversation when we look at legislation. To me it’s about breaking down the barriers and helping our community succeed in bringing equity to the opportunities. Nothing is really easy, but I feel like I’ve been elected because I’m here for the people. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last eight years; removing barriers and creating opportunities, to make sure everyone has an opportunity to succeed in our state, and that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I’m passionate about. After the interview, Senator Williams rose from her chair behind her desk, thanked me, and proceeded to attend to the business of moving to a new office. Most of her belongings were already packed and I may have been holding her up, even though there was no indication she rushed through the interview. I walked away thinking that the people of Colorado were in good hands. Senator Williams is dedicated and passionate about her responsibilities to all Coloradans. In light of our current toxic political environment, speaking with politicians that actually cares for their citizens was a breath of fresh air. .

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019



Murphy Robinson Designated as Deputy Mayor for 2019 Mayor Michael B. Hancock has designated Murphy Robinson, Executive Director for the Department of General Services, as Deputy Mayor for 2019. The Deputy Mayor exercises the duties and responsibilities of the Office of Mayor whenever the mayor is unable, for any cause, to perform the duties of the office. Per § 2.1.2 of the Denver Charter, the mayor shall designate a member of the cabinet as Deputy Mayor, with the designation being valid for one year. Robinson, a Denver native, was appointed Executive Director of General Services in August 2017. Since taking over the department last year, Robinson has streamlined business processes in both the purchasing and facilities divisions in the General Services Department. These improvements have resulted in more engagement with small and women- and minority-owned businesses, and a $1.5 million savings in the utility operating budget. Additionally, Robinson created the citywide Energy Office and Security Office to support the Mayor’s energy initiatives and enhance safety in the city’s facilities. Robinson’s term as Deputy Mayor will take effect on Jan. 1.

Mayor Hancock Shares Letter from his Mom for Denver’s Next 160 At the Wellshire Event Center, as part of a Senior Holiday Luncheon hosted by Councilwoman Kendra Black, Mayor Michael B. Hancock invited attendees to write letters to the people of Denver today and tomorrow with advice on preserving and protecting

Denver’s character, culture and community in the future. The Denver’s Next 160 project commemorates the 160th birthday of Denver’s founding. The project invites grandparents, great-grandparents and senior residents who make up the fabric that binds our great city to share their thoughts and vital wisdom on preserving our way of life in the Mile High City. At the luncheon, Mayor Hancock shared the letter of advice he received from his mother. In her letter, the Mayor’s mom, Scharlyne writes, “My advice to the next generation is to remember that the people have made this city great.  Work to be an asset to Denver by getting the best education you can; be safe and keep your neighbors safe. Keep your health, mind and body strong, and for the good of all of us strive to be the best you can be.” Mayor Hancock believes these perspectives play a pivotal role in informing future generations whose decisions will shape Denver’s next 160 years as a city. Seniors can email their letters to, mail to Mayor’s Office, Attn: Denver’s Next 160, 1437 Bannock St., Denver, CO, 80202 or submit on the Mayor’s social media platforms using #DenversNext160 The Mayor’s Office will share the responses on the city’s website and social media platforms, as well as through events and outreach.

Mayor Moves to Vacate Low-Level Marijuana Convictions in Denver Between 2001 and 2013, more than 10,000 people were convicted of low-level marijuana crimes in Denver that are now legal and eligible for expungement. As part of Denver’s continuing effort to promote inclusion for people and communities disproportionally impacted by the war on drugs, Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced a citywide effort to vacate low-level marijuana convictions that occurred before marijuana legalization. “For too long, the lives of lowincome residents and those living in our communities of color have been negatively affected by lowlevel marijuana convictions,” Mayor Hancock said. “This is an injustice that needs to be corrected, and we are going to provide a pathway to move on from an era of marijuana prohibition that has impacted the lives of thousands of people.”The action follows several months of necessary review by the Office of Marijuana Policy and the City Attorney’s Office who are also working with the District Attorney, Denver County Courts and stakeholders to develop a process for expunging records. In June, at the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Hancock signaled his early support for this policy when he signed a resolution calling for cities to vacate certain marijuana misdemeanors. Denver’s focus is not only on vacating convictions. It includes

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


a multi-pronged approach to ensuring that communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs can benefit from the legalization of marijuana. The city has been exploring a variety of tactics including the continued use of marijuana tax revenue to support low and moderate-income neighborhoods, obtaining data related to the marijuana industry, and identifying areas of need in workforce development and licensing ownership and entrepreneurship. “We need to better understand the obstacles, business conditions and regulatory hurdles preventing individuals from seeking employment or business ownership in the cannabis industry,” said Mayor Hancock. “We believe in equal opportunity for all, and that includes those working in the cannabis industry.” The marijuana market in Denver is prospering with marijuana tax revenue making up 3.41 percent of Denver’s overall revenue in 2017, and that figure is projected to rise to approximately 3.6 percent in 2018. In 2017, an estimated 3,250 jobs in Denver were a direct result of the marijuana industry, with another 6,000 estimated jobs resulting from secondary impacts such as related retail and service activities. Denver’s current total employment totals more than 520,000 jobs, thus direct and indirect marijuana employment accounts for about 2 percent of the total Denver employment. This focus on expunging convictions and improving equity in Denver’s marijuana market also follows the passage in August of Mayor Hancock’s proposal to raise Denver’s special recreational tax to 5.5 percent. These new funds are expected to double the amount of money Denver is dedicating to developing more affordable housing options in the city and create more than 6,000 additional units over the next five years.

Denver Preschool Program To Host Seventh Annual Preschool Showcase For Families In January Free event offers Denver parents of 4-year-olds expert advice and access to financial resources to help them find the best preschool for their children The Denver Preschool Program (DPP) will host its seventh annual Preschool Showcase at the Denver Zoo’s Norgren Hall on Saturday, Jan. 12 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Preschool Showcase is a free, one-stop opportunity for Denver parents and caregivers to meet with staff from local preschools to ask questions and gather information that will help them make an informed decision about enrolling their child in a preschool next fall. Part of the DPP’s ongoing effort to promote greater access to quality early education in Denver, the Preschool Showcase will feature more than 50 preschools, including early childhood education programs from Denver Public Schools; private, community-based schools; and in-home child care programs. Spanish translators will also be available. “By talking with parents and caregivers of young children, especially those exploring preschool for the first time, we identified a need for an event that offer personalized guidance,” said Jennifer Landrum, president and CEO of DPP. “Not only does the Preschool Showcase bring together wonderfully supportive resources, but it also shows Denver’s special commitment to helping its youngest citizens prepare for kindergarten.” Preschool Tuition Assistance The Preschool Showcase is also an opportunity for families Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


to learn how to sign up for tuition support through DPP. Unlike other early child care assistance programs, any family with a 4-year-old who is enrolled and in their year before kindergarten at a participating preschool – regardless of household income – can participate. Tuition credits are distributed on a sliding scale based on household income, the program’s quality rating and the length of the child’s school day. “Our vision is for every child in Denver to enter kindergarten ready to reach their full potential and making tuition credits available to every Denver family with a 4-year-old is a key part of our strategy,” Landrum continued. Families are encouraged to use DPP’s “Find a Preschool” tool on its website to search for nearby programs. Also available on DPP’s website is a “Tuition Credit Calculator,” which allows parents and caregivers to estimate the monthly tuition credit they may be eligible to receive to lower the cost of preschool. This is the first year that the Preschool Showcase will take place at the Denver Zoo, a longtime partner of DPP. As a result, participating families will enjoy free admission to the zoo, along with the Showcase’s fun children’s activities, photo ops with Minion characters and free food.. Editor’s note: For more information about the 2019 Preschool Showcase, visit or call 303-595-4DPP (4377). About Denver Preschool Program The Denver Preschool Program makes quality preschool possible for all Denver families with 4-year-old children through a dedicated sales tax first approved by Denver voters. More information about the Denver Preschool Program and its participating preschools is available at

5 Ways To Get Fit For The New Year And Stay Fit!

By Kim Farmer


fter all the holidays have passed, most of us might experience a little guilt or regret after eating all those yummy deserts and buttered rolls. No worries! Now is the perfect time to make a resolution to GET in shape and STAY in shape. Most of us have no problem starting an exercise regimen, but very few of us have the discipline or drive to make it a lifetime habit. Here are a few tips to help you do just that: Get Motivated! At times, we all need a little help getting started or sticking with our exercise routines. It is reasonable to enlist a friend to work out with you, or to hire a trainer to get you started or keep you going. Consistency and accountability are two of the most important parts of sticking with an exercise or nutrition regimen and another person (or group of people) can be very beneficial and motivating. If you do choose to work with a personal trainer, make sure that the trainer is certified from a nationally recognized organization such as AFAA, A.C.E or ACSM. First Things First! Most people have tremendous success with sticking to their exercise routines if they do it first thing in the morning. For people with small children, this time is usually before the kids are awake which makes for pre-

cious, uninterrupted time for parents. You are more likely to stick with it if it your time for exercise is at the same time every day. Have Fun! It is easy to get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing every time you decide to exercise. Try to get creative and have fun doing the things you like to do. If you like running or walking, then it makes sense to use a treadmill or walk/run outside. Perhaps swimming is your pleasure? Find a local pool and dive in! It is important that you change your routine and add new activities to keep it fresh. Make it Convenient! Does your apartment complex have a fitness center that you’ve never seen? Is your treadmill collecting dust or being used as a coat hanger? If so, it’s time to make a change and form a new habit! There’s no excuse for not exercising regularly if it is convenient for you to do it. If necessary, join a gym nearby so that you can visit it on your way to or from work. Make a Commitment! It is easier to stick with a commitment if the goal is written in a clear and precise format. For example, “I will lose 5 pounds by the end of February” or “I will drop a dress size by March 1st”. With a combination of good nutritional habits and regular exercise, you can achieve consistent and healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. It usually takes about 3 weeks to form a habit, so start now! It is necessary to exercise and make wise eating choices consistently in order to reap the benefits. If you need motivation to get started, a personal trainer or gym memberships are wise investments in your health. Happy New Year and Happy Exercising! . Contributor: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers inhome personal training and corporate fitness solutions. Visit or email Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


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Representative Leslie Herod was elected by her colleagues to be the next Chair of the Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus, the largest Black Caucus in Colorado’s history.


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Leslie Herod Elected Chair of Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus

Northeast Denver, she has consistently led on tough issues like criminal justice reform, housing, and the reauthorization of the Civil Rights Commission and Division. Her recent leadership in passing the Caring 4 Denver initiative demonstrates Leslie’s commitment and her ability to get things done. I know Representative Herod is the right leader to move the Black Caucus boldly forward.” The Caucus also elected Senator Angela Williams as Vice-Chair and Representative

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“The 2019 legislative session presents a unique opportunity to move bold legislation in many needed areas including paid sick leave, full-day pre-K, affordable housing funding, and creating a fair and humane justice system,” said Representative Herod. “These reforms will improve the lives of Coloradans in every community, but in particular African American communities which are disproportionately impacted in healthcare, education, housing, and criminal justice. I look forward to aggressively tackling these disparities with my colleagues in the upcoming session.” “I want to commend Representative Leslie Herod for being elected by her colleagues to Chair the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus,” said former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb. “Since being elected to represent Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


Tony Exum, Sr. as Secretary. The members of the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus of Colorado are:

•State Representative Leslie Herod, Chair – House District 8 •State Senator Angela Williams, Vice-Chair – Senate District 33 •State Senator Rhonda Fields – Senate District 29 •State Representative Janet Buckner – House District 40 •State Representative James Coleman – House District 7 •State Representative Tony Exum, Sr. – House District 17 •State Representative Dominique Jackson – House District 42 •State Representative Jovan Melton – House District 41




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Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019



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

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


death. Those events have shaped Adonis “Creed” Johnson’s (Michael B. Jordan) life. Losing his father made him who he is. Rocky challenges Ivan in Russia and defeats him. This disgrace causes Ivan to fall out of favor and he loses the status, support and respect being a boxer brought. He has lost everything but his son Victor (Florian Munteanu). He trains his son to be the champion he couldn’t be.

Creed II

Creed II llll By Jon Rutledge Punching well within its weight class, Creed II is a knock out sequel that delivers something for new and old fans. Taking care to respect the source material it continues the story and shows us that everyone has a chance of redemption. If you have been watching Rocky moves since the 70s or only have joined the series in 2015 there is something for all viewers. A bit of a history lesson here. Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) a Russian boxer killed Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in the ring back in 1985, during Rocky IV. Rocky (Sylvester Stalone) has been cursed with the guilt that he could have saved Apollo by throwing in the towel at a critical moment. Against his better judgment, he follows the wishes of his friend and that leads to Apollo’s

The opening scene we see Adonis take on the Champion and win this draws the attention of Ivan who sees his chance to regain everything he lost. This is an incredible story that shows the growth of everyone. It’s not just a boxing sports movie it’s a story about redemption. Its strengths are about the lives of the two people trying to make a life and balance the demands of fame; one man trying to recapture fame and fortune by pushing his son to his limits and another man who is trying to reconcile his past and make a connection with his own family. Adonis and his wife Bianca (Tess Thompson) move to LA to help her career and be closer to Adonis mother, Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad). Their onscreen chemistry is so engaging and wonderful to watch. It is a perfect love story that illustrates a great relationship of

how two people can be a couple and still retain their own identity. The rise and fall of the main character is the formula they use to shape this story around but its underlying theme is that family is the most important thing in our lives. No matter what we do or what we go through having a great support structure supporting you is paramount. It does include the tropes of other boxing movies but it’s not only those it’s so much more. The fight scenes are top notch and the training montage is outstanding but really it’s just frosting on a wellwritten cake. Michael B. Jordan is outstanding in this role he has the range to pull of any role. Tess Thompson also brings her a game to this film as she is a strong character who is also vulnerable and tender. The story takes you by surprise; we have seen this story before but not in this way. I love the fact this is not a reboot or a rehash, it’s a continuation of a story that teaches us to never give up and hold fast to those who truly love us.

evant humor is certain to snag several accolades this award season. Set in the waning years of segregation, it’s an endearing comedy which centers on the relationship between a snobbish black concert pianist (Mahershala Ali) and his crass Italian driver Tony (Viggo Mortensen). Academy Award winning actor Ali, arguably America’s foremost actor, plays the reallife Dr. Don Shirley who in the 60s hired a New York City bouncer from an ItalianAmerican neighborhood in The Bronx, to drive and protect him while on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South. Their relationship is almost adversarial at first from the moment Tony auditions for the eight-week gig, which pays $100 a week, for the idea of catering to a colored man isn’t initially appealing to him. Doc’s not like any of the AfricanAmericans that he has grown up with in New York City, but he takes on the task after the salary is increased. While on the road trip, his constant nattering,

Green Book

Green Book llll By Samantha Ofole-Prince


nlightening and entertaining, this period piece laced with racial conflict and socially rel-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


crass language and chain smoking irritates Doc and that’s where most of the comedy and humor comes from as both men clash, but as they spend time together in the Cadillac Coupe



De Ville driving through the South in 1962, they begin to reveal themselves to one another. The film primarily chronicles the obstacles the duo face together — institutionalized racism to prejudice to sexuality to stereotypes and the film takes its title from The Negro Motorist Green Book, an annual travel guide that was published annually from 1936 to 1966, which listed businesses and other establishments that served Black customers.  In the U.S, it

performer. Linda Cardellini plays Dolores, Tony’s wife, the bassist, George, and cellist, Oleg, who together with pianist Shirley comprised The Don Shirley Trio are played by Mike Hatton and Dimiter Marinov. A film that will force audiences to confront preconceptions and unexamined prejudices “Green Book” shows us that friendship is forged through small kindnesses, and laughs shared and is a sure bet for awards come next year. 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

became invaluable in the South, where Jim Crow segregation laws varied by county and state, and unofficial rules in “Sundown towns” forbade Black Americans from being out after dark. With fine acting, subtle direction by Peter Farrelly, the period details and dramatic aspects of the story are so well handled.  The infectious humor in the film is organic, generated more out of situations and the contrasts between the characters and every one of these dramatic maelstroms manages to appear fresh.  With dry wit as well as genuine warmth, the movie never resorts to sentimentality and it’s the balance of humor and drama that makes Green Book powerfully authentic. The film also showcases the musical talent of Dr. Donald Walbridge Shirley, the virtuoso pianist, composer, arranger, and

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse llll By Jon Rutledge


t seems old dogs can learn new tricks. Sony has made a move worthy of the Marvel brand. Sony’s past films have been all about how to leverage story to sell products. This time it’s a character-driven story and it’s outstanding. It has a great mix of action, humor, and tenderness. This film is a proper origin story that focuses on the character, not the powers. Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is the new Spider-man but he has to learn what this means for him. We also get to see a glimpse of the origin of other Spider themed heroes as they all get pulled into one dimension. Our hero doesn’t follow the normal origin as both Continued on page 26 Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


REEL ACTION Continued from page 25 of his parents are living but he does have an uncle he looks up to, Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) and he seems to be a normal kid. I think this makes him more identifiable. The filmmakers put their characters in difficult situations with hard choices. Watching Miles navigate this world and become a burgeoning hero is very compelling. Heroes need good villains and this one has brought in some excellent talent to voice King Pin (Liev Schreiber), Tombstone (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III) and Doc Ock (Kathryn Hahn). Villains need to have depth and their motivations need to be logical to be good, I mean a good bad guy. We can see what King Pin is doing and why he is doing it. He needs to be stopped, but his motivations make scenes. This is what completes this film so nicely. All the


characters have clearly defined motivations. Zoë Kravitz gives a memorable performance of Mary Jane. Her eulogy of the fallen hero is one of the reasons Miles feels the need to carry on the name of Spider-man. She inspires the best in all who remember Spider-man. Having Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) in the film as a love interest /mentor to Miles really ties up a lot of the characters we expect to see in a Spider-man film. This is the first film to screen after the death of Stan Lee and I admit, it was hard to watch his cameo without feeling a wave of grief. Stan Lee made the superhero a normal person and therefore made them easy to connect with as if they could be among us. Some believe when you die you will live on in the memories people have of you. If they are right Stan Lee is an immortal and will never be forgotten.

The artwork is outstanding as well. They masterfully use different styles of animation to emphasize a character or show backstory or even to take us out of our normal reality to share in the experiences of the main characters. What stands out is how engaging all of the different spider heroes were, I could stand to see more films of each of them. Yes even Spider-ham, OK maybe a TV show for him. This gives me hope we can see more because I am down for any direction they want to take from this point. This is an outstanding foundation to build a completely new franchise on. Swing by the theater and see this on the big screen, you won’t regret it.


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Motion Picture nod and earned acting nods for its actors Adam Driver and John David Washington. Awkwafina and Laverne Cox announced nominations live from the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood Calif. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris introduced the presenters, who revealed nominations for acting in television and film. Prior to that, SAG Awards committee chair JoBeth Williams and committee member Elizabeth McLaughlin revealed this year’s stunt ensemble nominees. The 25th Annual SAG Awards ceremony will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. 


ominations for the 25th annual SAG Awards were announced on Wednesday with BlacKkKlansman taking home a trio of nods. The Spike Lee directed drama based on the true story of an African-American detective who infiltrated and exposed the Ku Klux Klan earned an Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


Lost Your Joy?


Find it again at the

United Church of Montbello! Come as you are and get connected to your best self through great fellowship and the love of Jesus Christ! Sunday Worship: 8:00am (Traditional) and 10:30am (Gospel) 4VOEBZ4DIPPMBNr8FEOFTEBZ#JCMF4UVEZQN

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

Webbs Spread Holiday Joy For Denver Health Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and his wife, Wilma, presented two checks totaling $30,000 to the Denver Health Foundation to be used to care for the indigent at Denver Health Medical Center. Paula Hertzmark, executive director of the foundation, accepted the donation during a luncheon at The Palm hosted by the couple. More than 40 members of Webb’s administration gathered at the downtown restaurant to celebrate the holiday season. The couple has a long history fighting to keep the hospital viable and thriving. During her 13 years as a Colorado state representative, Wilma Webb added millions of dollars to Denver General, as it was formerly known, through her work on the Joint Budget Committee. Mayor Webb helped save Denver Health Medical Center during his administration (19912003) when he supported a new hospital authority, which financially restructured the hospital. The facility serves as Colorado’s primary safety-net institution for the poor, and has provided billions of dollars in uncompensated medical care for the uninsured, pregnant teens, persons addicted to alcohol and other substances, victims of violence and the homeless. The hospital has become a national model for public hospitals and safety-net facilities since the authority was formed.

Summer Of Violence Recounted Through The Power of Prayer And The Faith Of A Mother Journey with Ollie Marie Phason, mother of Broderick Bill, the six-year-old who was shot between the eyes with a 9 mm gun and returned to school in the second grade just two months later as she shares her story, “Prayers For The Summer of Violence,� about a family with a Godless lifestyle of murder, drive-by shootings, molestation, drugs, and alcohol addiction. This is her family’s journey into finding God and the “power of prayer.� Broderick Bell, who is now 32, survived during Denver’s 1993 summer of violence which left 74 dead. Even though the number of homicides was lower that year than in encompassing years, the outcome was different. People were more frightened. Much of the violence was gang related, and the violence had moved beyond the boundaries of the inner city. During that time, Phason was also suffering from the loss of her father to another senseless act of violence. In her book, Phason shares how the “power of prayer� carried her and her family through this tumultuous time of their lives. Editor’s note: For more information, email Marie Phason at “Prayers for the Summer of Violence� (ISBN: 9781-64349-722-8) is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019



Patsy Ruth Walker Oct. 3, 1942 – Nov. 29, 2018 Patsy Ruth Walker was born October 3, 1942 to Morrell and Leola Stroman in Chatham, Louisiana. Affectionately known as “Pat,” she attended Coleman Elementary School in Gibsland, Louisiana, and graduated with honors from Coleman High School in 1961 where she played the xylophone in the school’s band and played was the point guard for the varsity basketball team. She attended Grambling State University where she majored in business administration. During this time, she and her childhood sweetheart, James “Buster” Walker, Sr., better known in Denver as “Dr. Daddio,” married. Four children were born to their union: Yolanda Marcella, James Frederick, Jr. (“Ricky”), Michael Sean Morrell, and Jasmine Patrice. After graduating college, James and Pat moved to Houston, Texas, where Pat spent her time caring for her growing family. In October 1967, the Walker family moved to Denver, Colorado, joined Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, and Pat worked as a nurse for two years. In April 1969, Pat opened Pat’s Record Parlor which quickly became everyone’s favorite record store. She owned several businesses, including Pat’s Learning Center, Pat’s Transportation Service, and Pat’s Tax Service.

In 1983, the Walkers relocated to Tucson, Arizona, where Pat worked as a full-time elementary school teacher and she and her husband, purchased and became owners of two thriving radio stations. In 1987, the Walkers moved back to Denver and the family became members of Central Baptist Church. Two years later, the duo purchased Power 1510 KDKO Radio and from 19892002, as both co-owner and business manager, Pat was dedicated to its mission of “Unity in the Community.” After retiring in May 2002, James and Pat spent a majority of their free time traveling throughout the United States and joined the Rocky Mountain RV Rollers Denver Chapter of the National African-American RV’ers Association, Inc. (NAARVA). As an active member of NAARVA, Pat served as the financial secretary of the Central Region. She was a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church and served as a deaconess, as well as, chair of the Trustee Board. Whenever she was called, Pat also worked as a substitute teacher in the Aurora Public School District. In her free time, Pat enjoyed spending time with loved ones, watching sports, traveling, shopping, and cooking her family’s favorite recipes. After a long, courageous battle with cancer and surrounded by family, Patsy Ruth Walker peacefully passed away on Nov. 29, 2018. She is survived by her dedicated soulmate of 60 years, James; four children, Yolanda, Ricky, Michael (Jennifer), and Jasmine; seven grandchildren, Lindsay, Alexis, Halle, Tobi, Tori, James, Harris; and greatgrandson, Xavier, all of Denver, CO; sister Lora Dell (Robert) Motley of Phoenix, AZ; sisterin-law Ruby Scott; nieces and nephews Elizabeth, Sullivan, Rosalyn, and John Scott of Los

Angeles, CA; nieces and nephews Warren of Gibsland, LA; Denise and Louis of New Orleans, LA; and Dorothy Jean of Detroit, MI; cousins Leon and Lillie “Beaver” Chatman of Gibsland, LA; and a host of other relatives. Pat was preceded in death by her parents, Morrell and Leola Stroman, and her sister-in-law, Minnie Lee Dawson, of Gibsland, LA. She will be remembered for her infectious smile, quick-wit, sense of humor, warm personality, impeccable style, and her beautiful handwriting that has been imprinted on the students she taught all across the nation.

Dr. George Henry Rausch Aug. 6, 1944 - Dec. 2, 2018 Above all else, Dr. George Henry Rausch was a man of deep, unyielding faith and love for God and Jesus Christ. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the third son born on August 6, 1944 to George Henry Rausch and LaNell Reynolds Rausch. His oldest brother, Ralph (Sonny), second brother, Michael and the fourth child Keith all preceded in him death. George spent his first years in St. Louis until his father passed away from heart problems at age 44 when George was 10. He was then raised by his mother who decided to move to Denver. He went to Denver schools, attending Smiley Jr.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


High and graduating from East High School. He was a good student who loved and excelled in basketball. He attended Mesa State, received his master’s degree from Wayne State University and his Doctorate of Higher Education from the University of Northern Colorado in 1984. George and his first wife, the Carlyn Holmes Prince had three children, Dr. Marcus Karega Rausch, Ph.D. (Michelle), Malaika Evon Turner (Melvin) and Amina Maria Rausch. He is the grandparent of Cyrus, Maliyah, Makayla, Mya and one step grandchild, Mikayla. On May 17, 1997 George married Velois Cary Whiteside becoming the step father Robert (Karen) Whiteside, Wyndy Whiteside Brantley and John (Gina) Whiteside. He has 11 step grandchildren, Randel, Davenport, Kori, Carson, Alana, Robert IV, Maya, Skyler, Logan, Gianna, John Gregory and one step-great grandchild, Vivienne. Papa George was loved and adored by all 16 of his extended family. George began his career at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 1975 in the office of Multicultural Affairs. In 1996, he accepted a position at St. Louis University School of Medicine as Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs and in 2000 he became an Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs. George remained at St. Louis University for 13½ years. Velois worked by his side as the director of Student Services. In 2009, Dr. Rausch became the Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, IN. After living in Indianapolis for 5½ years and until his retirement in, they decided to return home to Denver. In 1975, George and a group of minority medical faculty

REST IN PEACE members from various medical schools around the country founded the organization National Association of Medical Minority Educators to recruit and support students of color and disadvantaged students into medical school. Over his 38 year medical career, Dr. Rausch helped more than 300 students of color successfully become MD’s. George received many awards and honors. His extreme talent in basketball led him to be one DABBO-Denver Area Black Basketball Officials’ top basketball referees Basketball Officials for 18 years. He was also initiated into the BOULE’ (Sigma Pi Phi) ETA Chapter in St. Louis, MO. George succumbed to a massive stroke on Nov. 11, 2018 and surrounded by family and loved ones, on Sunday, December 2, 2018 he went on to be with the Lord,. Dr. Rausch George will be remembered for his knowledge, wisdom, farsightedness and willingness to spend his life working for the people and things he so strongly believed in and loved. He will be forever loved, cherished and sorely missed by his wife, family and friends and the many lives that he has so deeply touched in his dedication to medical education.

John Howard McBride Dec. 26, 1949 - Nov. 24, 2018

John Howard McBride, 68, passed away on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 at his home after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease. A native of Denver, Colorado, John leaves behind his loving wife of 42 years, Marilyn McBride, his four children: Ryan, Marissa, Aaron, and Jason (from his first marriage), four grandchildren: Kush, Sage, Kali and DeShawn, and his oldest sister Marion Francis McBride, living in Dallas, TX. Preceding him in death were his parents Forrest McBride and Mary L. Thompson, and another older sister Kathryn Ann Miller. John attended Annunciation Catholic School, graduating in 1965 and attended Bishop College, Michigan State University and University of Northern Colorado. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in the US Army from January 19, 1971 to January 11, 1973. John was a life-long community organizer and political activist who dedicated his life to empowering disenfranchised and often overlooked communities. He received numerous awards and recognition for his work helping Denver’s youth and other community causes. John was a staunch believer in political reform and strengthening public education, spending many years advocating for education policy. Outside of work, John loved to grill and cook for family and friends. He spent much of his spare time reading, watching western-themed movies, listening to music - especially jazz, and building World War II replicas. A former collegiate football player, John shared his competitive spirit, infectious laugh and his unyielding love of all sports, and especially the Denver Broncos, with his children, family and friends.

Leon Wilson May 12, 1954 – Dec. 6, 2018

On Wednesday morning, May 12, 1954, in Denver, Colorado Eddie B. and Georgia were blessed with baby boy “Leon Wilson, the 4th of four children. He was raised surrounded by his sisters, Ann, Carrie, Barbara and his cousins Richard and David. He received his early and secondary education through the Denver Public School system graduating from East High School. Leon continued his education attending Barber College and became a professional barber. He trained at Bills Barber Shop and Hollywood Barbers, eventually joining his sister Carrie at Hair Reason, then joined his daughter, Eigina on 28th at Fairfax St. He took great pride and loved his work and continued barbering until his health no longer allowed him to do so. He loved his clients and became close to many of them. If they could no longer come to the shop, he was not above going to their home or nursing home. He had a very caring heart and loved people. As a young boy, he joined Union Baptist church and was baptized with his sister Barbara, and cousins Richard and David. He would always say “I just followed them,” so as a man he chose to be baptized again and joined St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church. Leon new and loved the Lord.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


He was proud of his family and knew he was a mama’s boy. He was close to his sisters and had a special bond with his nieces and nephews. But his greatest joy was his children, Morrail A., Anika D., Eigina L., Leon Jr., Jalontee A., and Steven D. They remember their Dad as a man who loved life, who was fun loving and caring. He was later blessed with 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Leon loved to fish, play dominoes and ride around kicking it with his BFF’S, Charles Williams, Chester Brooks, Gerald Lynch, and Sonny House. Truly a Cadillac man and anyone that ever rode with him knew he was speeding if he was doing 20 – earning him the nickname “Lazy Lee.” His favorite quote for everything was “Can you imagine that”. To know Leon was to love him. He touched the hearts of many, he loved people. He lived his life with a place for everything and everything in its place. On Thursday, December 6, 2018, Leon found his place around the heavenly throne. He is preceded in death by a son, Morrail A. Bell; his parents, Eddie B. and Georgia Wilson. Those left to cherish his memory and mourn his loss include daughters, Anika D. (Damond) McCready and Eigina L. Miller; sons Leon Wilson Jr., Jalontee A. Burnett and Steven D. James-Wilson; sisters Martha Ann Bean, Carrie E. McElroy, Barbara J. Vaughn, Sandra K. Phason, and Patricia A. Wilson; brother Eddie H. Wilson; and aunts Virginia Wilson, Lula Jones, Helen Milton all of Denver and Mattie L. Davis of Lanett, AL, 11 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, and many friends.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


100 Men Who Cook 2018 More than 800 guests attended the 6th Annual 100 Men Who Cook Black Tie Fundraiser at the Renaissance Denver Hotel Thanksgiving weekend hosted by Comedian A-Train. The “Party with a Purpose” did not disappoint featuring the Mary Louise Lee Band and DJ KTone. The Casino Royale kept the entertainment going as guests feasted on a variety of award winning dishes by Neb Asfaw, Ethiopian Cabbage; Charles Cox, Rosemary Smoked Brisket; Patrick Firman, Hash Brown Casserole; Joel Mays, Hennessy Strawberry Banana Puddin; Aaron Smith, Chicken Curry Marsala; Nick White, Jambalaya. The mission of the 100 Men Who Cook Inc. is to provide sustaining funds to grassroots organizations serving youth. Major sponsors were, Comcast, University of Colorado, United Airlines, Denver Urban Spectrum, Xcel Energy, Forest City and Asfaw McDonald’s. Photos by Bernard Grant, Reese and Lens of Ansar

13th Annual Arches of Hope and Aim High Scholarship Program The Asfaw Family International hosted the 13th Annual Arches of Hope and Aim High Scholarship Program at Manual High School’s Thunderdome. Eleven African American males were awarded scholarships and laptop computers, and 200 4th and 5th grade students received new bikes and helmets. Speakers included Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Danielle Shoots, VP of Business Operations, Comcast; Omar Montgomery, University of Colorado; Michelle Wherry, DFO Operations, McDonald’s; Alan Smith, Chief, CELT Denver Public Schools, and teen author M. J. Logan. More than 900 guests were served lunch and enjoyed entertainment by PJ the DJ and Kent Denver’s Jazz Band. To date Geta and Janice Asfaw’s Family Foundation has provided more than 3,000 bicycles and 95 scholarships to students. Photos by Lens of Ansar

Denver Urban Spectrum — – January 2019


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Denver Urban Spectrum January 2019  

Our stories this month is about doing the right thing and how the timing is always right. Ruby Jones talked to five local pastors who shared...

Denver Urban Spectrum January 2019  

Our stories this month is about doing the right thing and how the timing is always right. Ruby Jones talked to five local pastors who shared...