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MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR

Volume 28 Number 10

We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 2015

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris

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

CONTRIBUTING COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNISTS Earl Ofari Hutchinson Wanda James Cleo Manago K. Gerald Torrence FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Charles Emmons Ann Marie Figueroa Charles Guy Angelia D. McGowan Chandra Thomas Whitfield ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Cecile Perrin

This month we mark the birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a time when citizens across the country are checking the progress or lack thereof when it comes to race relations in America. The death of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police officers in 2014 brought underlying tensions regarding race to the surface. As 2014 came to an end, emotions could not help but to flow. Riots, die-ins, student walkouts, marches and discussions spread like wildfire. “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” became the catch phrase to capsulize what appears to be the start of a new civil rights movement. This movement does not negate the fact that we all have individual challenges that we must meet to make it to the next level of our lives. In that vein, our cover story by Charles Emmons reveals how one of Denver’s most popular and successful event planners lost 193 pounds over a 15-month period in the fight for his life. Through his experiences, Duane Taylor has committed to helping others be healthy. Chandra Thomas Whitfield shines the light on Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), a nonprofit organization that focuses on teaching kids of color and at-risk youth about science, nature and social justice through hands-on fun activities such as fishing, hiking and camping. We also highlight one of the many discussions held in the city to address tensions between the police and the African American community, but this time from the voice of attorneys. This issue also provides perspective on the crisis surrounding actor and comedian Bill Cosby. On a final note, we like to believe we know all there is to know about Dr. King, but historian Charles Guy provides us some known and little-known facts in this issue. Please take a moment to review the milestones that formed the man we celebrate today. Angelia D. McGowan Managing Editor

In memory0Emmett Till... Amadou-Diallo...Trayvon Martin...Michael Brown...Tamir Rice...Eric Garner...

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Lorenzo Dawkins Lens of Ansar

ADVERTISING SALES CONSULTANT Robin James Byron T. Robinson DISTRIBUTION Glen Barnes Lawrence A. James Ed Lynch

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2015 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at www.denverurbanspectrum.com.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

I Can’t Breathe

More recently the decision by a New York grand jury to not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his chokehold of Eric Garner that resulted in Mr. Garner’s death has caused universal outrage. Rightly so in my opinion-the incident was caught on video and you can clearly hear Mr. Garner, who was being arrested for selling single, individual cigarettes, saying he cannot breathe. How can an infraction as minor as selling loose cigarettes result in the unnecessary use of a chokehold that killed a citizen the police are meant to protect? Even in a case where the event was captured on camera and the excessive use of force seems clear, justice was still not served. While these events are tragic, they offer us a chance to re-evaluate our laws and policies and to begin to restore trust between police officers and citizens. I am planning to host town halls in the greater metro area to

Editor: Recent grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York have raised troubling questions. It is time to have a serious conversation to address the mistrust felt by communities of color towards police departments, not just in other states, but right here in Colorado. The decision by a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo. not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was controversial. While I understand there was conflicting testimony, I was disappointed with the decision and sympathize with those who feel justice was not served. I wonder what policies local authorities can put in place or change so that terrible tragedies like this can be avoided in the future.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – July 2014

3

continue this dialogue after the beginning of the year. It’s critical that we have a conversation to ensure our justice system protects all people including communities of color.

State Rep. Rhonda Fields House District 42 in North Aurora

Editor’s note: On Dec. 29, 2014 Rep. Fields held a round table discussion at the State Capitol with other community leaders. For information about that community conversation, visit www.rhondafields.com.

Now Is The TimeC

Editor: We have all, by now have either read or heard that a Grand Jury declined to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. A Grand Jury of 9 white and 3 African Americans came to the conclusion that not enough evidence was presented to indict the offiContinued on page 30


Duane Taylor,

I

t’s resolution time. Get off the

couch! Usually the New Year is a time of reflection. More often than not we

Saved For The Next Level By Charles Emmons

Photos by Lorenzo Dawkins

Entertainment. He told me he has close to 8,000 connections online. Since moving to Denver from Atlanta to manage the call center for the security company ADT, he has been living the dream, sometimes by choice, other times having to adapt. Two years after his relocation, the company downsized and he lost his job, and it was then that he started Duane Taylor Entertainment, a successful promotions company. He subsequently started a business as a corporate recruiter. “Who is Duane Taylor? From a professional standpoint, I am a corporate employment recruiter by day, a professional event planner by night and a dynamic motivational speaker by nature,” he says.

focus on what we could have done

better, and what we are going to do about it in the coming year. We

resolve to make our lives better. Resolutions are goals for our immediate future. We use them as guideposts to move us along as we progress throughout the year. As we go along, we are happy when we reach a goal, and perhaps indifferent when we do not. But 2014 woke us up. The tragic shootings in Ferguson, New York and Cleveland were a stark reminder that life is precious and can be snatched away at any moment. For most, there are no second chances. When they come along, we must maximize them to the fullest. Duane Taylor believes in second chances. Just over a year ago on New Year’s Eve, Taylor went to a doctor’s office and was told he would be able to lighten his burden, and no longer needed the wound vac medical apparatus that had been keeping him alive. It was the best New Year’s present he could have imagined, and from that point forward he resolved to live and to help others live. Taylor is well known in the community, mostly for Duane Taylor

Philadelphia as an only child, he was the fat kid who was teased and picked on, as well as the focal point of his parents’ love. “I think that contributed to my obesity as well,” says Taylor. His father would pick him up at the bus stop and they would go to the corner drugstore for what Taylor referred to as one junk, a candy bar or potato chips. “And of course, me being an only child and being the focal point of my parents’ love, sometimes that one junk became two junks, because I would ask for two. And he would say, alright son, you’ve made good grades today – go ahead and get two things.” Taylor’s football playing weight in high school was 255 pounds. In his freshman year at the University of Florida, he put on another 100 pounds. He was unfortunately placed in Hume Hall, the dorm that housed the only all-you-can-eat cafeteria. With his meal plan, he took full advantage. His weight began to take its toll. One roommate moved out after one semester because of Taylor’s excessive snoring, a consequence of his obesity.

He became aware of his God-given gifts and talents 20 years ago, but it took a life-changing event to urge him into full commitment to use them. Despite his success, his lifestyle was not perfect as he struggled with obesity even as a child. After deciding to have elective bariatric surgery and changing his nutrition and mindset, Taylor has shed 193 pounds in the past 15 months. Growing up in

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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After graduating from college with a bachelor’s in communications, Taylor lived in Florida for several years before moving to Atlanta where he met his wife Zena. “I thought I would be in Atlanta all my life. But apparently that wasn’t God’s plan,” he says. “I have struggled with obesity all my life,” says Taylor. “I have done what I call the Oprah and Luther Vandross syndrome, where you have seen them gain weight…lose weight…gain weight…lose weight…gain weight… lose weight. “ Taylor has been a living statistic. Data from the Health, United States, 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics report shows that 38 percent of African American men are obese, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. The rate for African American women is even higher at 57 percent. Obesity has been classified as a preventable disease, but according to the personalhealthinsurance.com website it is exempt as a pre-existing condition under the Affordable Care Act. Economic status and education have some but little impact. Obesity rates among African Americans who have college degrees and higher incomes still hover around 25 percent. It’s fortunate to be able to address it with bariatric surgery, but Taylor is quick to comment that this is by no means a silver bullet. We seem to be enamored with quick fixes. Taylor had developed many of the ailments associated with obesity – shortness of breath, knee pain, and hypertension, and he struggled to get out of his car because of his weight. It took breaking the driver seat in his crossover vehicle to get him to consider doing something different. It was common to consume 30 chicken wings in a sitting while watching a football game and he drank a 2-liter bottle of diet soda a day. By the time he started considering bariatric surgery, he tipped the scale at nearly 400 pounds. That was about three years ago. Taylor had the bariatric sleeve surgery in 2013. “But what I didn’t anticipate was that nine days after my sur Continued on page 6


Business Conference to Feature People Magazine’s Marijuana Millionaires

O

ver 200 Expected to Transact Quarter Million in MJ Business Deals Fresh off the success of last month’s Cannabis Business Awards, Clover Leaf Consulting is bringing People Magazine’s “Marijuana Millionaires” to Colorado to teach other budding cannabis entrepreneurs how to make their fortunes, too (see People Magazine July issue). The Cannabis Business Investment Conference will be held Jan. 17 to 19 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and will pair serious investors with Colorado’s rapidly growing number of cannabis business owners. More than 200 are expected to attend with at least a quarter million dollars in business deals expected to be made during a two-day period. For those looking to make their mark in this industry, attendees will be schooled on the art of making marijuana deals, absorb sage advice and presentations from the Marijuana Millionaires, and participate in a “Shark Tank” style investment panel of vetted and qualified investors and cannabis business owners. As an added, but important bonus, “budding” entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to earn approved education certifications in the cannabis business industry from Clover Leaf University. To top things off, participants will have the opportunity to rally at the Auraria campus on the last day of the conference to promote peace, social justice, higher education and peace to commemorate the MLK holiday. “Now that vertical integration has ended, this event marks a turning point in Colorado cannabis industry growth,” says Chloe Villano, CEO of Clover Leaf Consulting and the Cannabis Business Exchange. “With more than 75 established businesses, hundreds of savvy investors worth over $35 million, and multiple opportunities to meet and network, the opportunities and possibilities are enormous. We’re basically capitalizing on the first wholesale market in history.” Key speakers will include: • Dr. Lakisha Jenkins, Founder/CEO, Kiona’s Farm’acy • Robert Kane, CFO and Director, Cannabis Science, Inc. • Chloe Villano, Clover Leaf Consulting / Clover Leaf University • Tripp Keber, Managing Director /Owner, Dixie Elixirs •Brooke Gehring, Managing

Member /Owner, Colorado 7 Investment •Hank Borunda, CEO & Founder, Greener Side Dispensary •Scott Reach, Master Grower, Breeder, and CEO of Rare Dankness Seeds •Wanda James, Cannabis Global Initiative, Cannabis-Focused Public Relations and Marketing, AND Simply Pure Edibles •Rachel Gilette, Attorney at Law Specializing in Tax Law for Cannabis Companies •Warren Edson, Attorney at Law Specializing in Marijuana Law •Jim Marty, Marty and Associates, C.P.A. and Expert Tax Accountant for

Cannabis Companies •Jordan Wellington, Vicente Sederberg LLC, Cannabis Regulatory Expert •Dina Browner, Medical Marijuana Industry Expert and California Collective Owner There will also be a four-hour (2–6 p.m.) networking hour/open house for attendees to discuss investment and partnership opportunities. Editor’s note: To register, purchase exhibit booths, review sponsorship options, or view additional pricing packages, visit http://www.eventbrite.com/e/cannabisbusiness-conference-tickets9327247047?aff=es2&rank=1 

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

5


Duane Taylor

Continued from page 4 gery, I was sitting on that couch and I became sick,” he says. “Now it is yet to be determined whether or not my subsequent illness was the result of my weight loss surgery or not. I ended up in the hospital for two months.” Those two months were the most challenging days of his life. Two additional surgeries were performed. In the eight weeks spent in the hospital between September and November, he was in intensive care for three of them. Taylor recalls little about the whole experience, but pictures his wife took show he was hooked up to every type of medical machine imaginable. He is emotional and often tearful when he talks about it. “But she wouldn’t share those with me until she knew that I was ready to see them, and I appreciate her for that,” he says. After being discharged from SkyRidge Hospital, he checked into a specialty hospital where after an initial assessment, doctors determined that he was too sick to be there and he was sent to another acute care hospital. There the prognosis was for additional surgeries. But Taylor’s wife and mother knew he would not be up for further time under the knife. “I had already had three surgeries within a week. I had my weight loss surgery on Sept. 10, another surgery around the 20, two surgeries, so if I had been taken under that

knife again, I may not have lived. So I had what is called internal wound therapy. I had a hole in my stomach the size of a football and as deep as…probably three inches deep,” he says. The therapy worked, and Taylor was discharged on Nov. 14, but relegated to carrying the eight-pound wound vac until he got the word on New Year’s Eve that he no longer needed it. “The only time I could disconnect it was when I took a shower. I would disconnect it take a shower and then reconnect it and it was a mess. But I thank God for the wound vac, because it helped me to not have to have another surgery,” he tearfully says. Few of us have such a transformational experience that slaps us in the face. Taylor is determined to turn this dark period into a lighting path for others faced with obesity. He elected to have the bariatric procedure, but he knows even with this physical fix, there is the danger of reverting to old habits. “I try to let people know that bariatric surgery is a choice. And that it is not just the solution. Your change has to come really from your mental adjustment. Biblically, we call it the renewing of the mind. You have to have a renewed mind and make the decision that you are going to think differently, be differently, and eat differently. One of the things I plan to do is write a book, and one of the chap-

ters is going to be ‘All I do is think about food.’ The biggest challenge has been to shed the old Duane. “It is kind of ironic because when I was morbidly obese, all I would do was think about food. And that meant where was I going to go? What was I going to eat?” He met his goal of shedding at least 140 pounds with the surgery. But when he looked in the mirror, he still saw the old Duane. He had lived so long as an obese man, that he had difficulty seeing himself as slim. Could he embrace this new person? Following his surgeries, Taylor was fed intravenously and took nothing through his mouth for weeks. When he was encouraged to start eating, he found it difficult to wrap his mind around eating food again. The old Duane loomed in the back of his mind. But his mental fortitude got him through the pain and anguish. “Babe, I’m tired,” he told his wife one evening over the phone. “We need you,” she tearfully replied. He decided that night in his hospital bed he was going to fight to live his life to the fullest. Today, Taylor exercises in the gym working out six days a week. He fervently works with a dietician and is focused on constantly improving his nutrition. He is coming into his own, comfortable in his own skin as an “agent of encouragement.” “I would say that my escalated level of success with this bariatric surgery is because of my mindset change and my rigorous exercise, which is one thing that I will tell people all over the world as I go out and help people change their mindset. If you have the surgery, that is a choice. But even if you don’t have the surgery, you’ve got to implement exercise into your

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daily lifestyle. You‘ve got to change the way you look at food. You can’t let food control you.” A year ago, Taylor wore size 56 pants. Today, he wears a size 34. But there is more to life than looking good in your clothes. People who knew the old 390-pound Duane look at the new and improved 197-pound Duane sometimes say, “You’re getting too skinny.” He looks them dead in the eye and tells them “Is there any such thing as too healthy? When we are healthy, we feel good and have energy. If we truly want to live our dreams, we are in a better position to accomplish our goals when we are healthy. “You have to make a decision and really be serious about it. You can’t go at it half-heartedly. And that has permeated every other aspects of my life. In my business, if I can’t put on a grand, epic and signature event, I am not going to bother. No more mediocre. I wasn’t saved and given a second chance at life to do stuff on a mediocre level.” As is the case with many, Taylor’s new outlook is borne of adversity; nevertheless it is prudent to borrow a page from his playbook. He reached a plateau after his surgery and was somewhat dismayed. We reach plateaus in all areas of our lives, so focused on results, we think we have faltered, ignoring the lessons in the process. Taylor has developed an aversion to the past tense in relation to his fitness and health. For him being healthy is an ongoing process. And the process must always be progressing. He emphasizes the ‘ing’ as in being and doing. “It’s not time to replay the first part of my life over again and play it the same way as the first part. It’s time for the next level. A much higher level, a much more fulfilling level on all levels physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually. It’s time to go to the next level. And that is one thing I ask when I try to encourage people – friends and strangers – what are you doing to take yourself to the next level?” Taylor’s next level is telling his story from Morbid to Model, his new personal brand. Knowing that people are more receptive to those who have been there and done that, he plans on a documentary, a book, more press, social media and perhaps talk show appearances in modeling for others struggling with obesity. He recently received more than 800 “Likes” on Facebook when posting about his experience and he currently gives weekly lectures to bariatric patients. Editor’s note: For more information on Duane Taylor, visit www.facebook.com/duane.taylor.712.


Up Close and Personal

Goes Country Western with Rudy Grant By Ann Marie Figueroa

In September, Denver Urban

Spectrum debuted Up Close and

Personal, a cabaret style salon event

highlighting local entertainers. So far

the community has been invited to see and get to know The Voice’s Biff Gore,

Denver’s First Lady Mary Louise, guitarist Gregory Goodloe and most

recently Linda Styles, Linda Theus-Lee

and Diana Castro. In January, coinciding with the Dr. Martin Luther King African American Rodeo of Champions, Denver is invited to dress up in their best western gear to hear and meet country western singer Rudy Grant (and the Buffalo Riders) on Sunday, Jan. 18 at 3:30 p.m. A down home country western buffet will be served along with a cash bar at TREA, located at 1599 Dayton St. in Aurora. There will be Q&A time for attendees to ask Grant questions for answers you may not find in this article. Many people are familiar with national recording artist and African American country western singer Charley Pride, but unaware of

Denver’s own country western singer. “The big time doesn’t interest me, but boy do I love the local scene,” says Grant. And the local scene sure loves Grant! His path leading to where his beloved “local scene” is today is much too alluring to ignore. Grant grew up on a farm in northeast Louisiana with 19 brothers and sisters. The family hunted, fished, picked cotton and raised vegetables. At age 14, a pronounced feeling that something bigger was out there for him compelled Grant to pack a bag, and hitchhike to Bastrop, Louisiana. There, he spent the next year and a half earning money by mending cars, stacking shelves, and running errands for the local grocer. Finally, he boarded a bus to Denver where an uncle agreed to take him in and established a home in the foreign place that would later mean so much to him. Although Grant was pretty quick to abandon the farming lifestyle, he sure didn’t shake all of his country roots. He is not only a local sensation, but was recognized nationally by the Nebraska Country Music Foundation as Pro Male Vocalist of the Year-2001 and 2002, by the N.F.N.C. as Country

Music Pioneer King-2001. He also was awarded the America West Paul Stewart Award-2002, the Stars of the Sky Award by United Airlines and for Outstanding Contribution to Country Music, along with others. In addition to this, Grant is internationally recognized, especially by the fans he acquired in 2002 while performing throughout England with his English friend, Dusty Rhodes. His talent proved ubiquitous – he was welcomed back the following year to hold a CD release party. In 2014, Grant was voted Entertainer of the Year and the Buffalo Riders were voted Country Band of the Year by the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame fans and board of directors staff. Many people are quick to recognize his talent and charisma, but what most people don’t know is that Columbia Records offered him an audition back in 1975. Grant was quick to turn them down. He had two young daughters and felt he was obligated to support them with the three jobs he was working at the time. In addition to this, his spare time was already reserved for his love of the

local scene, which he still admits he is most passionate about. Today, retired after 33 years of government service, he stays busy. His band, “Rudy Grant and the Buffalo Riders” perform twice a month at White Fence Farm, once a month at the Blossom in Windsor Gardens, and a dinner show every Friday night at Lupita’s in Aurora. His passion remains marvelously evident in each one of his performances. Rudy Grant, an inspirational man with a unique story consisting of several plot-twists with him gaining fans along the way,. He managed to maintain his humble passion and love for the small local scene – and what a mutual love it is indeed.  Editor’s note: For more information or tickets to Up Close and Personal with Rudy Grant, call 303-292-6446 or visit Instantseats.com. Pre-paid ticket holders will be eligible for door prize giveaways and guarantee buffet ticket. RSVP is strongly requested. For more information on Rudy Grant, visit rudygrant.com.

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The Facts:

The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By Charles Guy was also known for her artistic, entertainment endeavors and public speaking. Martin Luther King III (born October 23, 1957), their eldest son and oldest living child, is an American human rights advocate and community activist. Dexter Scott King (born Jan. 30, 1961) is their second son. Bernice Albertine King (born March 28, 1963), their youngest child, is an American minister.

Photo: Scholastic Incorporated

Birth

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 1929, at the family home at 501 Auburn Avenue in Atlanta. Charles Johnson was the attending physician. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the first son and second child born to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., and Alberta Williams King. Other children born to the Kings were Christine King Farris and the late Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King. Their maternal grandparents were the Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, second pastor of Ebenezer Baptist, and Jenny Parks Williams. His paternal grandparents, James Albert and Delia King, were sharecroppers on a farm in Stockbridge, Georgia.

Education

At the age of five, Martin Luther King, Jr. began school. This was before reaching the legal age of six, at the Yonge Street Elementary School in Atlanta. When his age was discovered, he was not permitted to continue school and did not resume his education until he was six. Following Yonge School he was enrolled in David T. Howard Elementary School. He also attended the Atlanta University Laboratory School and Booker T. Washington High School. Because of his high scores on the college entrance examinations in his junior year of high school, he advanced to Morehouse College without formal graduation from Booker T. Washington. Having skipped both the 9th and 12th grades, he entered Morehouse at the age of 15. In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse College with a B.A. degree

in Sociology. That fall he enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. While attending Crozer, he also studied at the University of Pennsylvania. He was elected president of the Senior Class and delivered the valedictory address. He won the Peral Plafkner Award as the most outstanding student, and he received the J. Lewis Crozer Fellowship for graduate study at a university of his choice. He was awarded a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozer 1951. In September of 1951, he began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University. He also studied at Harvard University. His dissertation, “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman,” was completed in 1955, and the Ph.D. degree was awarded on June 5, 1955. Dr. King was awarded honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities in the United States and several foreign countries.

Career

Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the Christian ministry and was ordained in Feb. 1948 at the age of 19 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Following his ordination, he became assistant pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Upon completion of his studies at Boston University, he accepted the call of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He was the pastor of Dexter Avenue from Sept. 1954 to Nov. 1959, when he resigned to move to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he was co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King is a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement. He was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization responsible for the successful 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott from 1955 to 1956. He was arrested 30 times for his participation in civil rights activities. He was a founder and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1957 to 1968. He was also vice president of the National Sunday School and Baptist Teaching Union Congress of the National Baptist Convention. He was a member of several national and local boards of directors and served on the

Family

While in Boston, King met Coretta Scott, an Alabama native who was studying at the New England Conservatory of Music. They were married in Marion, Alabama on June 18, 1953. The next decade saw the birth of their four children – and Dr. King’s rise to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. Yolanda Denise King (Nov. 17, 1955 – May 15, 2007), their first-born child, was an American activist. She

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

8

boards of trustees of numerous institutions and agencies. Dr. King was elected to membership in several learned societies including the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Achievements

Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington in 1963, his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize, his last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church and his final speech in Memphis are among his most famous utterances (“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”). The “Letter from Birmingham Jail” ranks among the most important American documents. He received numerous awards for his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. Although extremely involved with his family, his church, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, activities for peace and justice, his world travels and his many speaking engagements, Dr. King also wrote six books and numerous articles.

Death

Dr. King was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was in Memphis to help lead sanitation workers in a protest against low wages and intolerable working conditions. James Earl Ray was arrested in London, England on June 8, 1968, and returned to Memphis, Tennessee on July 19, 1969 to stand trial for the assassination of Dr. King. On March 9, 1969 before coming to trial, he entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 99 years in the Tennessee State Penitentiary.  Editor’s Note: Charles H. Guy worked as adjunct associate professor of humanities at Colorado Technical University from 1997 to 2006, while serving the campuses of Denver and Colorado Springs. He also served the University of Phoenix as adjunct professor from 2001-2006. He is semiretired.


It has been more than two years

since Sims-Fayola International Academy opened its doors to meet the educational needs of young boys in the Northeast Denver area. Since that time the first and only all-boys public charter school has been recognized by a number of elected officials and corporations, including Verizon, which presented a $50,000 grant to SimsFayola to help teachers integrate mobile technology to help boost student engagement and learning.

Sims Takes the “SimsFayola” Brand National By Angelia D. McGowan

get opening date is August 2016 – under the Sims brand. The target opening is August 2016. “We’ll also be working to provide more wrap around and support services, including mental health and financial literacy.

tition and engagement. Sims wants parents to know “what to expect with young men at different ages.” Through Sims-Fayola’s consulting arm, Global Student Achievement, Sims and his team will share best practices with schools around the country. Instilling best practices is something that can be applied to most situations, including the recent student walk-outs across the country to protest the killing of African American men and boys by law enforcement. Sims, a gubernatorial appointee on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Council and a former officer in the United States Army, says students need to be aware of how to “fight injustice in a very professional way. Part of my conversation would have been to make sure you understand why you’re walking out. You need to clearly be able to articulate why.” Always keeping next steps on his radar, Sims has his sights set on Detroit for the third academy.

One of two prospective sites for Sims-Fayola International Academy in Atlanta

The impact that the academy model has made in the Denver metro area is only the beginning of the Sims-Fayola brand. Last month, Dedrick Sims, founder of the academy announced that he was stepping away from his day-to-day duties as executive director to begin serving as CEO and president of the Sims-Fayola Foundation. Longtime educator Deborah Blair-Minter has taken on the role of principal. The role of the Sims-Fayola Foundation will be to support the opening of other Sims-Fayola academies by providing leadership development and coaching for those that will open the other campuses. Additionally, the Sims-Fayola Foundation will support existing schools by providing financial and programmatic support for wrap-around services that make each Sims-Fayola International Academy unique in its approach to provide a holistic learning experience for the young men. Sims, who will continue to be a public liaison and spokesman for the Denver campus, says, “The foundation has always been part of grand plan. It’s an exciting time, but also scary to walk away from something more concrete to something more abstract.” But he isn’t leaving the school behind. Instead he’s building the brand. “I’ll still be busy more so than ever. I’ll travel a little more. We’ll be training leaders to go and open more Sims Fayola schools,” says Sims, who has been traveling to Atlanta to work with the board of directors there to help set up the second academy – tar-

The services in and of themselves are not unique, but having one comprehensive piece in one place is, he says. Sims is not only committed to the young men in the academy, but also young men and parents in the communities in which the academies are established. He has made that clear in the foundation’s mission “to develop and support its network of public charter schools serving young men in urban communities in grades 6-12 by securing financial resources to support the wrap-around programming in our schools that contribute to dramatic student growth inside and outside the classroom.” This next phase of the Sims-Fayola brand appears to be a natural step in achieving his life’s mission to help all young men be successful. Sims has been serving urban students since 1999 both as a teacher and a school leader. His career in urban education began in a high school classroom as a substitute and has since served in roles as a high school biology and chemistry teacher, secondary curriculum administrator, master lead teacher, technology coordinator, alternative school teacher, dean of students/assistant principal and principal of both traditional and charter public schools (co-ed and single gender). The foundation’s vision is to raise awareness about issues affecting young men in grades K-12, training educators to be successful with them, and helping parents develop the skills to support them for post-secondary education with an emphasis on global compe-

“This is passion work,” says Sims, who has participated in a number of professional development programs, most recently through the Leadership Denver Program, presented by the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation .Through the program he also participated in the chamber’s Leadership Exchange (LEX) trip to Nashville. From this point forward, Sims may not walk the halls of the academy in Denver every single day, but he expects to be there every now and then providing educational leaders and supporters a tour of where the brand began and continues to grow. 

Design ffor or Equity Denv er Public Schools is excited excited to to introduce introduce our first first Denver Design Challeng Challenge, e, an event event open tto o any anyone one int interested erested in #edT #edTech, ech, #st #startups, artups, and #designthinking! Calling all Denv Denver er tteachers, eachers, st students udents ttech ech entr entrepreneurs, epreneurs, designers, designer s, startups, startups, and community community leaders leaders to to build inno vative ideas ideas that transform transform tteaching eaching and le arning innovative learning in DP DPS. S. Teams Teams will be ccompeting ompeting for for up to to $50,000! All ar aree w welcome! elcome! Friday, January Friday, Januar 16 Opening Night and Design Pit ches Pitches 6PM tto o 8PM Special Guest Guest:: Denver’s Mayor Denv er’s May or Hancock Michael B. Hanc ock ffor or special closing rremarks emarks

Saturday, Satur day, January January 17 Team T eam Design Day 8AM tto o 6PM

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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King Center To Honor President Bill Clinton With 2015 Salute To Greatness Award

The King Center will recognize President Bill Clinton for his extraordi-

nary work with The Clinton Foundation, including his bi-partisan efforts with the Clinton Global Initiative, by presenting him with one of the center’s highest honors, the Salute to Greatness Awards. The award is given during the Annual Salute to Greatness Awards dinner. The dinner will take place on Saturday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in Atlanta’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. For more information concerning the Salute to Greatness Award Dinner, visit The King Center’s website at www.thekingcenter.org or call 404526-8911.

First Female President Of Alabama State University To Deliver King Holiday Address Gwendolyn E. Boyd, the first female president of Alabama State University, will be the keynote speaker at The King Center’s 47th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative

Service recently announced by King Center C.E. O., Dr. Bernice A. King. The service, commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th birthday anniversary and the 29th holiday observance in his honor, will be held at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church Horizon Sanctuary on Monday, Jan. 19 beginning at 10 a.m. Dr. Boyd is an engaging speaker with oratorical abilities that are surpassed only by her passion for social justice and equality. For more information, please call 404-526-8961.

2015 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Colorado Holiday Celebration Events “Remember! Celebrate! Act! - A Day On Not A Day Off” - “It’s My Right to Vote”

Sunday, January 11

(All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.)

Dr. MLK Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission’s Scholarship & Awards Dinner - 6:30 PM Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library - 9898 E. Colfax Ave. in Aurora Info: Vern L. Howard 720-971-1329, Terry Nelson 720-865-2404 $20 per Person

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Concert - 4 PM, Colorado Community Church 2220 South Chambers Road, Aurora, CO 80014 A performance by multi Grammy and Dove & Spirit Award winner CeCe Winans

Monday, January 12

MLK Marshall Training for Marade -10 AM Info: Silke Hansen 303-308-1969 (Lunch will be served)

Aurora Kickoff Festivities and Press Conference - 10 AM Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway

Sunday, January 18

30th Annual Interfaith Service – 4 PM Temple Emanuel (Temple & Synagogue), 51 Grape St. in Denver Guest - Timothy Tyler

Praise, Prayer, Supper, and Proclamation - 6 PM City Café 2nd Floor, Aurora Municipal Center 15151 E. Alameda Parkway Aurora CO 80012

Tuesday, January 13

Highlands Ranch, Community 2011 Unity Walk and Reception – 2 PM Fox Creek Elementary School, 6585 Collegiate Drive in Highlands Ranch, CO

Annual MLK, Jr. Humanitarian & Lifetime Achievement Awards – 6 to 9 PM Colorado Symphony Orchestra - King Celebration Concert Boettcher Concert Hall Denver Performing Arts Complex Info: Vern L. Howard 720-971-1329, Terry Nelson 720-865-2404

Monday, January 19

MLK, Jr. Breakfast Celebration – 9 to 11 AM Arapahoe Community College, 5900 South Santa Fe Drive in Littleton Info: Jamie Crisp 303-797-5881 Tickets $15 for Adults, $5 for children 12 and under

Multicultural Showcase Event – 6 PM Aurora Fox Theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. in Aurora

Wednesday, January 14 - Noon

Grand Design Inc. & Cleo Parker Robinson - Noon Aurora Fox Theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. in Aurora

Thursday, January 15

“Should I Have A Dream: The Purpose Of Education” - 6:30 to 8:30 PM Omar D. Blair Charter, 4905 Cathay St. in Denver Community Activist and Leaders Panel with Theo Wilson Info: Quincy Hines 720-269-9239 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Public Forum – 6 PM Aurora Fox Theater, 9900 E. Colfax in Aurora

Marade - Aurora Motorcade - 7:30 AM East side Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Pkwy. (Lying of the wreath ceremony, dedication of Dream Tree, and breakfast. 10 AM).

30th Annual MLK Marade – 9 AM program starts at 9:30 a.m. I Have a Dream Monument, Denver City Park “Get to Cleanin’, Remembering Memphis” (Day of Service Community Project) Info: Jacqui Shumway 303-744-7676, Silke Hansen 303-308-1969, Shyretta Hudnall 303-468-3228 or Vern L. Howard 720-971-1329 drmlkingjrchc@aol.com & vernlh@comcast.net Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast – 8 to 10 AM Colorado State University Pueblo OUC Ballroom

Annual “Dinner for Those Who Hunger – 3 to 6 PM Volunteers of America, Sunset Park, 1865 Larimer in Denver Info: Jim White, 303-297-0408 cell 720-299-0222

Friday, January 16

Annual MLK Peace Awards & Breakfast – 8 AM Tivoli Turn Hall Auraria Campus Info: Alton Clark 303-556-3947 or clarka@mscd.edu) $7 for students, $14 for adults

MLK Jr. Feed the Hungry - Noon MLK Museum 2713 North Grand) Pueblo, CO

African American Heritage Rodeo of Champions – 6 PM National Western Stock Show Coliseum, 4655 Humboldt St. in Denver Info: Lu Vason 303-373-1246 or Vern L. Howard 720-971-1329

Aurora Community of Faith Annual Breakfast – 8 AM Aurora Municipal Center 15151 E. Alameda Parkway in Aurora MLK Social Responsibility Awards Luncheon - 11:45 a.m. Marriott City Center Downtown Denver - Individual seating $75 Info: Stephen Straight 720- 323-3333 or 980-468-1488

Loveland Dr. MLK, Jr., Commission for MLK “The Dream Lives On” - 6:30 to 8 PM Mountain View High School, 3500 Mountain Lion Drive, Loveland, CO Info: Franklin Jefferson, 970-667-1871 or www.mlkloveland.org

Saturday, January 17

Tuesday, January 20

Dr. MLK Touch Run & Proclamation – 7 AM From mile marker 104 to MLK Museum 2713 North Grand) Pueblo, CO Dr. MLK March – 11 AM 26th & Elisabeth Veteran Memorial Wall (Pueblo, CO)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Community Leader Salute – 2 to 3:30 PM Honorees - Dr. Evie Dennis and Dr. Nita Mosby Henry Auraria Campus @ Saint Cajetan’s Center, 1190 9th St. in Denver Info: Dr. Ryan Ross, 303-556-9605

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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Make (and Keep!) Smart Fitness Resolutions The best fit-

By Kim Farmer

ness resolution that will work for you this year is one that you will do consistently. The bottom line is that the best ways to make the fitness gains you want is to be honest with yourself when thinking about frequency, intensity, the types of training you will undertake, and the fitness goals you are hoping to achieve. There are many reasons that people have not been able to adhere to an exercise program, read on to see if they sound familiar: Not getting results? One of the most common reasons people find it hard to stick to their fitness-related

resolutions is because they aren’t seeing the results they want even though they are sticking to their program 100 percent. You may make a goal to “lose weight” but often times this goal can be a misnomer. Skeletal muscle tissue is denser than fatty tissue, so as a person exercises, they may gain muscle mass while losing fat mass resulting in either slower weight loss, or even weight gain in some cases. Instead of making resolutions based off of simple weight, make your goals based off of values like decreasing body fat percentage, clothing sizes, or create an exercise benchmark like completing a half marathon or improving a competitive score. Unrealistic timing. Another reason people might not shed the pounds or make other physical changes as quickly as they would like (and often times quit their program early) is because scientific research shows it can take as much as six weeks for your body to start making adaptations to your exercise program at the cellular level. It is at this point where dramatic changes in your metabolism, blood flow, and exercise capacity take place and fitness gains will begin to develop, so stick with your program for 6-8 weeks before making any major alterations to your program. Your body needs time

to adapt to your new habit of maintaining a physically active lifestyle. Additionally, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and other organizations recommend a weight loss rate of two pounds per week for individuals that are not under medically supervised weight-loss programs. Adjust Your Schedule! One of the main reasons you may find it difficult to adopt a physically active lifestyle is because you have a hard time fitting it into your schedule of other daily activities. Avoid this is by making physical activity as important of a commitment as a shift at work, dropping the kids off at practice or going grocery shopping. You may find it easier to wake up an hour earlier and exercise before heading off to work. By making it the first item on your daily to-do list, not only do you boost your energy higher than a double shot of espresso, but you no longer have to worry about having enough energy to work out at the end of a long day. When it comes to which time of day is ideal, the scientific research is currently inconclusive, so go with what works best for you. Pick a time and stick to it. Take Small Steps. Lastly, do not take on more than you can handle. Make small steps and gradually build

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your program. Not only will it be easier to comply with your program, but you’ll be less likely to injure yourself. Remember that exercise does not follow an all-or-nothing principal. Even the smallest of workouts is better than nothing, so don’t give up an entire week’s worth of training because of one bad day. You must have complete buy-in from yourself with your fitness program. If you’re not giving it an honest effort, reassess and try to find the reasoning behind your lack of dedication. Usually one of the three main reasons listed above is halting your progress, so try to apply the principles given. If you think you need help, speak with a fitness professional and try to rework your program in a way that will better serve your needs and abilities. And remember that some exercise is always better than none so if your schedule is full, start with 15 minutes of consistent physical activity and work your way up. Plan, progress and repeat! Thanks for reading! Happy New Year!  Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness offers in-home personal training and corporate fitness solutions. Visit www.milehighfitness.com or email inquires@milehighfitness.com

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11


Attorneys Address Race Relations By Angelia D. McGowan

A host of discussions have been

held in the city in light of the recent marches, die-ins, student walkouts and general protest to the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York with seemingly no accountability. “Waiting to Exhale: Race and Our Justice System” is the title of a community conversation and panel discussion held on Dec. 18 at Blair Caldwell African American Research Library. The panel, moderated by child abuse attorney Terraine Bailey, included eight attorneys: Alvin LaCabe, Charles Garcia, Lisa Moses, Michael Royster, Phil Cherner, Scott Martinez, Skeet “Lurix” Johnson and Stephanie Y. O’Malley. This panel addressed a number of issues, including the relationship between police officers and the Black community as well as the recruitment and retention of Black police officers. Phil Cherner, adjunct professor at University of Denver Law School, asked members of the judicial system who were in the audience to consider how they sentence African Americans, “We got to stop sending so many young black men to jail. If you gotta’ send them, don’t send them for so long,” he said. “Ask yourself, ‘What is the alternative to sending them to jail?’” It’s a question that resonated with the panel, particularly criminal defense attorney Lisa Moses, who pointed out the significance of a fight at school – something we all did. “We have over criminalized youthful behavior. A fight on a school ground and you are charged with assault. (It’s too) extreme.” Garcia, president of the Colorado Bar Association, said, “It’s a good time for society to take a hard look at why we are doing this?” Johnson, a former public defender and current volunteer basketball coach at Smiley Elementary, said he has observed how few students have someone in their lives. He says parents need to “take ownership for issues our children are facing, especially African American and Latino males when it comes to negotiating

the labyrinth that exist out there.” It’s a tricky one to navigate according to members of the audience. One person asked Denver Police Department Commander of Internal Affairs Ron Thompson how police address threats. He said officers are trained to “identify the threat and stop the threat.” Follow up questions

said it’s an “important conversation to have about checks and balances and who scrutinizes who.” A lot of attention was directed to how police officers could better engage with the communities in which they serve, including initiatives that incentivize officers to live or volunteer in those communities.

included: “Are they trained to shoot to kill?” and “Can you define a threat?” Parents in the audience wanted to know so they could in turn teach their children, specifically their sons, about what police consider a threat in hopes of saving their lives in case they are face to face with an officer. Royster, a deputy district attorney, said “the elephant in the room is that the country has not addressed the fear associated with African American males. Until we get over the fear” by fellowship and training that these stereotypes will persist. He added he has to tell his teenage son to be “respectful, but don’t show too much aggression.” Showing respect may not be enough. There’s a notion that youth from higher income or two-parent homes may not run into a negative situation with an officer. Audience member Elizabeth Epps said she and her husband have law credentials, but “none of them matter when my son is getting pulled over.” She added that a lot of police officers are guilty of condoning a culture that breeds bad behavior by other police officers by choosing not to turn them in. Moses said that it is a crime for an officer to not report excessive force. Getting a police officer to “snitch” on another officer is a tall challenge according to LaCabe, former manager of safety for the City and County of Denver. “They depend on each other for their lives,” he said. In reaction to a discussion about having third parties conduct investigations, Denver City Attorney Martinez

O’Malley, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Safety, addressed the hiring process which includes a psychological background investigation, a lengthy questionnaire and self-admit components. She also addressed the fact that officers have good intentions and resiliency. Psychologist Robert L. Atwell, a member of the audience, addressed toxic relationships that can develop as a result of their professional roles. “We’ve got to come up with a way that we detoxify people working with defenders/deviants on a daily basis.” O’Malley, who touted Denver’s Citizen Oversight Board as a model for other cities, said, “We need to make sure they don’t’ get to the point where they are snapping. They are human and have stressors in their lives. We have terminated law enforcement officials. We want fairness in the process.” She noted areas for growth in recruiting within the African American community. They’ve had challenges with recruitment and retention. Instead of starting them out with the idea of joining law enforcement in their mid-20s it should be in their teens, she said. But that could be a problem for those who have had negative encounters with the police as early as a playground fight. She adds that these scenarios can follow them the rest of their life and prevent them from doing thing such as applying and being accepted to the police force.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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Black Lives Truly Matter

Editor’s note: Tanya Russell, Ph.D., participated in a protest and also took her sons (ages eight and nine) to the “Black Lives, White Allies: What Can We Learn from RACE?” discussion hosted by Jeff “Brother Jeff” Fard at History Colorado Center to explore historical similarities between the Freedom Riders of 1961 and the multiracial alliance from Colorado that recently traveled to Ferguson. On Dec. 19, medical students at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus staged a “die-in” in solidarity with 70 other medical schools around the nation to ‘protest systemic racism and police brutality.’ I decided to support and attend this particular demonstration because I had an intimate relationship with this university and campus. I am a CU Boulder alumna, and worked as a research assistant for many years and eventually received my Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular genetics from the Anschutz Medical Campus. Courageous speakers began with stories of their truths, and honest feelings of fear and guilt without using attention-seeking jargon. As the group of protestors comprised of various ethnic groups, ages and genders began to proclaim, “Black lives matter!” tears began to well in my eyes. I was reminded of my struggles as a Black woman with lack of encouragement and support from the university. Then I thought about my two beautiful, brilliant Black sons, who I am raising alone as a widow. I know that many of these protests are about recent killings of Black boys and men, but my mind couldn’t help going back to Emmett Till and George Stinney, Jr. 14 year-old black boys tortured/murdered and executed in the 1940s and 1950s. As I laid on the ground for 4.5 minutes to represent the 4.5 hours Michael Brown’s body laid in the street, I began to call on the name of my Black male ancestors for guidance, strength and courage. At the end of the demonstration, one of the organizers, choked up with impending tears, said that as a Black woman on this campus she wants to make sure her future Black sons won’t have to deal with these issues. I heard her, hugged her and left empowered with an urgency to change the system. My Black life matters. My sons’ Black lives matter. As their mother, I want to be a system of change for them by exposing them to sources that will teach them how to think. I decided to take my sons to the “Black Lives, White Allies” discussion


at the History Colorado Center on Dec. 20. The initial idea was to go the “RACE” exhibit while we were there, but we ended up staying at the panel discussions. We had just left my youngest son’s birthday party so I knew they were tired. My oldest whispered to me, “Why are we here?” I responded, “Just listen.” Toward the end of the program, Brother Jeff replaced the adult panelists with an impromptu youth panel of children from the audience. He asked for my two sons to sit on the panel. He began by asking them what they thought was being discussed. My youngest spoke up first and said, ‘Black people’ and that ‘they were getting killed by police officers’ and he thought that needed to stop now. When asked about how we can stop that from happening, the answers ranged from writing letters and having discussions with our family members at the dinner table, to ‘calling out’ schoolmates when they say something racist because it may affect them both in the present and in the future. My oldest son gave his analysis of the Michael Brown situation by stating that his choice to rob a store without a weapon may not have been wise, but the police should have ‘calmed down’ after he put his hands up and had no weapon. I was overcome with pride and fear as I heard my sons speak. Proud that they actually heard what was being said and was not afraid to speak up. Scared because they are two young Black boys not afraid to speak up and what the system usually does to their kind. As the conversation continued, another mother in the audience asked for the voice of Black teenage male to speak on behalf of her son who is already being targeted and experiencing the system’s chokehold. Many young Black men who are currently spearheading this new movement were called to the stage, sitting in front of the young panelists. That visual gave me hope that my two Black sons will not have to be afraid to speak their truths and that their Black lives truly matter.

Top 10 Scholarships For Black and Minority Students For 2015

2015 is expected to be a great year for students because a record-number of foundations and organizations are planning to give away billions of dollars in legit scholarships. These scholarships usually have different criteria to qualify, but once obtained can be used to pay for college tuition, books, and room and board. Here are the top 2015 scholarship programs for African American and minority students with upcoming deadlines in January: #1 - Tom Joyner Foundation “Full Ride” Scholarship: Awards a full scholarship to one student to attend a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). The scholarship is open to graduating high school seniors with high academic records. #2 - The Gates Millennium Scholars Program (The Bill Gates Scholarship): Awards scholarships each year to African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American or Hispanic American students who plan to enroll full-time in a two-year or four-year college or university program. #3 - Burger King Scholars Program: Designed to help high-school seniors who are looking to start college next year. Annually, the program awards

more than $1.4 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 students. Applicants must be residents of the United States or Canada, and must be graduating high school seniors. The deadline to apply is in December 2014. #4 - Go Red Multicultural Scholarship Fund For Women: Aims to ease the financial burden to students and increase the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine. Also, champions greater inclusion of multicultural women in the nursing and medical industries. The deadline to apply is in December 2014. #5 - Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Program: Gives high school students who are active it sports and in their communities, as well as outstanding students, an opportunity to win a $20,000 college scholarship. Students must be planning to attend a four-year college. The deadline to apply is in December 2014. #6 - Ron Brown Scholar Program: Provides scholarship awards to African-American high school seniors who are excelling in their academics, exhibiting exceptional leadership potential, and actively serving in community service activities. #7 - Dell Scholars Program: Recognizes students who have overcome significant obstacles to pursue their educations, and are now serving as positive

role models in their communities. Awards hundreds of scholarships each year annually, and since 2004, has given away more than $31 million in college funding. #8 - Generation Google Scholarship For Minorities, Women and Disabled Students: Helps minority students who plan to attend college and study computer science and technology. Eligible students must be African American, Hispanic, American Indian, female or one who has a disability. #9 - United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Scholarships: Provides extraordinary amounts of scholarship opportunities for minority students with financial need. Scholarships include educational assistance for students attending participating Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCU) and other colleges as well. The deadlines to apply varies. #10 - Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholarships For Minority Students: Gives financial aid awards to Black, Hispanic and Asian eligible high school students with high academic performance and community service as well as financial need. The deadline to apply is in January 2015. Editor’s note: All of these scholarships plus hundreds of others can be found online at www.ScholarshipsOnline.org.

Save The Dates!

ME & THE DREAM...Inventing the Dream

February 2-15, 2015

Cherry Creek Shopping Center For information or to participate, email tanya@batpr.com or angelia@batpr. For sponsorship opportunities email bee@batpr.com or call 720-849-4197.

2014 DUS African Americans Who Make A Difference

Youth panel at “Black Lives, White Allies” discussion at History Colorado Center.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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Phenomenal Hope for the Future “P

By Norma Paige

henomenal is the only way to describe this year’s Asfaw Family Foundation International’s Arches of Hope Bicycle Give-A-Way and Aim High Scholarship Program. The entertainment by Kent Denver School’s Jazz band was great, the speakers insightful, and the children that were recognized are outstanding,� said Geta Asfaw, AFFI founder. Asfaw and his wife Janice established their family foundation several years ago to serve as the umbrella for their various philanthropic efforts. This year marked the 9th year the organization has given bicycles to deserving youth in the communities served by their McDonald’s restaurants. To date the foundation has given over 2,000 new bikes and helmets to 5th and 6th grade boys and girls. The students are selected based on school performance, good citizenship, financial need, physical/emotional challenges such as chronic illnesses, or being a child of military serving parents. This year also marked the 7th year the foundation has given African American male high school seniors college scholarships and new laptop computers. The Aim High Scholarship was established to increase the number of African American males attending college. “Each year we are equally impressed by the young men that apply for our scholarship,� said Janice Asfaw. “They are so deserving of the support.� In addition to meeting certain criteria, the young men are also asked to answer three essay questions: 1. What does it mean to you to be

an African American Man? 2. How do you feel your college education will make an impact on society? 3. How will you give back to your community? Following are excerpts from two of the Aim High Scholars. “I will strive to promote the principles of our democracy and articulate the needs of African American people in a way that gains everyone’s respect. I will foster positive examples of African Americans men to help eliminate stereotypes and negative images which give people license to treat us with disrespect. I will un-compromise in my conviction to encourage participation in the political system and equal protection for all people under the law.�

-Emmanuel Adjei

“As soon as I get out of college, I am going to start a Male Mentoring program for troubled African-American youth. External and Internal factors have helped shaped my identity; my dual race as a Jamaican and African American has significantly impacted my selfhood. In turn, I have realized people look at me as a leader and I am ready to embrace this identity. Maya Angelou once said, “I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.� My pitch back is one that is represented by a proud Jamaican, African American male who is ready to continue further my education and impact on society.�

-Ricardo Joshua Bambury

2014 Aim High Scholars

Emmanuel Adjei, Aurora Central High School Ricardo Joshua Bambury, Rangeview High School Keyin Christopher Burrell, East High School Julian R. Carey, East High School Malik Hakin Craven, Denver School of Science and Technology, GVR Jeremiah Josiah Aaron Hodges, Cherokee Trail High School Roger K. Keeler III, East High School Romel Minassie, East High School Rayvon Solomon, Regis Jesuit High School Keenan Rashad Wright, Harrison High School

This year more than 1,000 people were in attendance for the program at Manual High Schools. In addition to the bikes, goodie bags, scholarships and laptops, the students enjoyed lunch, and inspirational remarks from Cody Teets Vice President and General Manager, McDonald’s Corp. Rocky Mountain Region; Dr. Ryan Ross, dean of Student Development and Retention at Community College of Denver; and keynote speaker, Omar Montgomery, director of Black Student Services and adjunct professor, University of Colorado at Denver. The Arches of Hope Aim High Program strives to highlight the value of education and positive behavior by recognizing youth in the community for their achievements and good citizenship. “Colorado Access joined us again this year as a major sponsor. Our volunteer force keeps growing. These visible acts of kindness on

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

14

behalf of the students demonstrates to young people the value of giving your time and resources back to the community where you live and do business,� added Asfaw. 

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Chef Scott Durrah Launches The World’s First Cannabis Culinary Excursion To The Caribbean

By Wanda James

hef Scott Durrah has been a trailblazer in the world of cannabis culinary techniques for more than seven years. He created Simply Pure, the first edible company in Colorado to actually infuse food (not just candy and baked goods) and has held his own on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show up against Jason Jones and has appeared on Fusion, Univision, CBS and MSNBC. Durrah is the embodiment of cannabis pop culture. Not only is he a cannabis chef, Durrah is an accomplished restaurateur. He currently owns Jezebel’s Southern Bistro, in Denver’s hip LoHi

C

neighborhood. However his passion is the flavor of the Caribbean. He has owned three Jamaican and Caribbean inspired restaurants from Santa Monica to Denver. His restaurants have attracted Hollywood actors and professional athletes. He has catered for actors Michael Keaton and Keenan Ivory Wayans, The Director’s Guild, and has served as a personal chef for numerous Denver Broncos. He is now ready to share some of his best recipes and techniques, up close and personal, on a private resort in Negril, Jamaica. For four days and three nights, Durrah is hosting the world’s first cannabis culinary excursion to the birthplace of modern ganja and reggae. “I love Jamaica” states Durrah. “Having the opportunity to share my love of the island, and all of her fla-

vors, is an honor.” This inaugural event will take place Jan. 26 to 29 on the cliffs of Negril. There are 12 rooms available, most double occupancy, with two suites for four people. There will be three cannabis cooking classes per day, along with catamaran sailing, tours to organic farms, a VIP cocktail hour and a private reggae concert. The resort chosen for its exclusivity is known around the world as the playground of such celebrities as Brad Pitt, Jimmy Fallon, and Jay-Z and Beyoncé. “I have been planning this trip for almost two decades,” says Durrah. “Watching the world change its attitude toward the healing powers of cannabis and the amazing ways it works with food has been a dream of mine since I first lived on the island over 25 years ago.” Joining Durrah is Chef Justin Langer of San Francisco, who specializes in organic farm to table fare.

Save the Date!

Justin is committed to the health of his patrons and his Marin County community. A dedicated proponent of farm-to-table cuisine, Justin uses the freshest local, organically grown ingredients whenever possible – supporting local farms and the local economy. He has worked with more than 50 of the most recognized cannabis clubs in California, providing highend edibles, and can offer any service related to Medical Cannabis cuisine Each morning will begin with yoga and a question and answer session with the chefs, followed by an authentic Caribbean breakfast. Each day will present the opportunity for private classes and group activities. Cocktail hour will be followed by dinner with Jamaican celebrities and VIPs and dessert each night will be served in a candle lit cave at the water’s edge.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit SimplyPureEvents.com. Call Wanda at (720) 987-5160, or email her at wanda@simplypure.com for access to the private event.

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15


Montbello Couple’s ‘ELK’ Opens Doors To The Outdoors To Youth of Color, Girls By Chandra Thomas Whitfield

T

he year was 1994. She was armed with a bachelor’s degree in zoology and chemistry. He was leading a summer youth fishing program for Colorado’s Division of Parks and Wildlife at Denver’s Washington Park. He thought she was cute, so he’d ask her out almost every time they worked together. She’d always politely decline. After all she was betrothed to her high school sweetheart. Eventually she gave in and agreed to a date. They clicked over chilled beers and stimulating conversation. She eventually ended things with her fiancé and before long the fellow wildlife biologists were officially an item. Fast-forward two years later in 1996; Scott and Stacie Gilmore were married and expecting their first child. They’d always planned on having a family together, but they had no idea they were also about to give birth to what would become their own Denver-based environmental education movement. The longtime esteemed members of Northeast Denver’s Montbello community, co-founded the urban youth focused Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK). Scott, a Denver native of African-American and Japanese heritage and Stacie, a Latina, says they felt impelled to create a non profit that reached out to students who are “traditionally overlooked and under-encouraged” in science and science-related careers, including: urban youth, youth of color, girls and young people with limited academic opportunities.

Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) with Scott and Stacie Gilmore

ELK, as the name suggests, focuses on teaching kids of color and at-risk youth about science, nature and social justice through hands-on fun activities such as fishing, hiking and camping. For example, each year youth in the

ships to ensure graduates accomplish their college goals. But the Gilmores insist that the learning doesn’t stop with environmental education. “We also assist young people in developing internal values from which they and their community will benefit,” says Scott, who now serves a deputy manager of parks and recreation for the City of Denver. He contends that they are very hands-on, treating all of the ELK kids like their own children. “Through leadership development, meaningful mentorship and long-term relationships, we help students to become educated, active participants in their communities,” he says. “ELK has established strong partnerships with community-based programs, foundations, government agencies and individual donors, which has created a sustainable organization in ELK.” Program alum Nicole Jackson says the program helped her secure her current position as an Irrigation Technician and Horticulturist Assistant for Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department. “I’m convinced that if I hadn’t joined ELK I probably would not be where I am today; I would not be as outgoing and active in the community,” she says.

“ELK provides young people with an opportunity to not be a stereotype. Instead of feeling like, ‘hey, I’m going to go rob that store,’ ELK teaches you instead to be that person who is at the store helping that old lady put her groceries in her car.” - ELK alum, Dwane Matthews, 27

ELK program camp in Rocky Mountain National Park to experience the natural world, volunteer in the park and learn about careers in the park service. Other regular activities include a day of service on the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday and overnight camping at the Denver Aquarium and Denver Zoo. By all accounts their nearly 20-yearold mission appears to have been accomplished; and there are no signs of ELK efforts slowing down anytime soon. The organization reportedly serves more than 14,000 underserved, urban youth ranging in age from 5 to 25 each year through year-round intensive programs and in-school/after-school programs in Denver, Adams and Arapahoe counties. The Gilmores regularly recruit youth for ELK’s free programming at local schools and at community events. The program currently boasts a 100 percent high school graduation rate among participants. ELK also has raised more than $757,000 in scholar-

Jackson, who is African American, says it was so rare to see a person of color in her position that when she first started some park visitors wrongly assumed that she was a juvenile offender working off a community service obligation. “They assumed I was a criminal, so they asked me, ‘what did you do to get in trouble,’” recalls Jackson, with a

laugh. “I was like, ‘no, I get paid to do this. This is my job.” The ELK staff includes educators, scientists, conservationists, nonprofit administrators and others who are passionate about the environment and the outdoors. Under Stacie’s direction as executive director since its inception, ELK has helped expose thousands of youth to environmental education through science education, stewardship projects and outdoor experiences. ELK, says Stacie, is an extension of her lifelong dedication to educate youth through science and conservation experiences. And she says she’s proudly done it with her husband at her side the whole way. Now parents of three children (Sterling, 18, Samantha, 15, Serenity, 10) along with Hino Sato, 17, an exchange student from Japan, they have earned a reputation as experts at teaching kids about science, nature and social justice through the fun of fishing, hiking and camping. Many participants from the program end up with part-time jobs and eventually full-time permanent positions in the areas of natural resources and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). “It’s so much more than what we learned about nature and the environment; there’s a family aspect of it too,” says ELK alum Dwane Matthews, 27. “Once you’re in the program you become a part of this family.” Fellow alum Chiquita Sanders agrees: “It’s like a mentoring program to keep you off the streets and introducing you to new things,” says Sanders, who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in speech pathology. “I was an inner city kid, before ELK I didn’t know that people went to the mountains and lived in the mountains and that there was so much to do outside of the city. I had no idea that I could come from where I come from and do the things that I did with ELK.” The Gilmores say they also seek to transform the lives of the young people in the program by empowering

Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) celebrate Earth Day with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

16


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SERVICE

them to improve their academic skills, the City of Denver and the Trust for inspiring them to pursue civic and Public Land to work collaboratively to community leadership opportunities create 5.5 acres of green space and an and encouraging them to pursue envi- education center in Montbello. The ronmental stewardship. effort, according to Mayor Hancock, “We don’t just try to get them will help to, “improve the quality of engaged with the outdoors, we also life for all residents in far Northeast try to get them inspired to do well in Denver.” So far ELK has raised 60 perschool and to graduate from high cent of the estimated $6.2 million school and colleges,” needed for the projnotes Stacie. ect. ELK and key Alum Matthews partners plan to “It is vital that we support complete fundraisinsists that there’s a organizations like ELK to ing for the campaign great need for similar programs for inner in the next 12-18 educate the next city youth. “ELK promonths, begin the generation about the land restoration in vides young people with an opportunity to importance of maintaining 2015 and open the not be a stereotype,” center no later than a safe and clean he says. “Instead of the 2016-2017 school environment for our feeling like, ‘hey, I’m year. going to go rob that “We still have future.” store,’ ELK teaches $2.5 million left to - Denver Mayor you instead to be that raise, but we’re so person who is at the excited to see the Michael B. Hancock store helping that old progress made so lady put her groceries in her car.” far,” says Stacie of what she hopes will Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, a be named the ELK Educational longtime supporter, agrees with his Center, located off Peoria Street in point. “It is vital that we support organi- Montbello. “We’re going to provide zations like ELK to educate the next educational programs, tutoring, homegeneration about the importance of work help and a host of other environmaintaining a safe and clean environmental programming,” she adds. “The ment for our future,” says Hancock. best part is we’re going to be able to It seems that many others have do all of this right here in our own heeded the mayor’s call. The year 2014 neighborhood. We will no longer have was quite prosperous for ELK. Stacie to go across town to access these types was among fourteen others from of important opportunities.” across the nation honored at a White This year [cq 2015] also promises to be House ceremony as a “Champion of one of groundbreaking milestones in Change” for her efforts engaging that Stacie plans to pursue public “communities and youth in environoffice, a coveted District 11 seat on the mental stewardship and conservaDenver City Council. The election is tion.” In November well-known May 5. She plans to hand over ELK’s “preppy” clothier L.L. Bean gifted a executive director reigns for the first charitable donation of $15,000 and a time ever if she wins. variety of L.L. Bean Outdoor gear to “It’s going to be a lot of work, but I the organization. The company also am up for the challenge,” she says. helped establish a scholarship with “I’m just excited about the potential ELK aimed at helping to get more opportunity to continue to serve the Denver-area youth engaged in the community, but in a new way.” outdoors and enjoying Colorado’s ELK participants, adds Stacie, will wealth of recreational resources. also kick off 2015 with ice fishing and Though deeply honored by those snowshoeing excursions. accolades, the Gilmores admit that “We’re just doing our part trying to they’re most excited about 2015. ELK get kids engaged in the outdoors.”  has entered into a partnership with

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

17


What’s Really Behind Obama’s Cuba Move? There were two big takeaways

from President Obama’s Cuban open-

ing. The first is obvious. After 55 years

of U.S.-backed invasions, covert efforts to sabotage and overthrow Fidel

Castro, an embargo, and a Cold War

freeze in diplomatic relations, the U.S.

policy toward Cuba has been an abject failure. Raul Castro remains the official government head, and Fidel, is

still a presence in Cuban life and a big-

ger than ever figure internationally. Obama took the logical step that

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almost certainly

would have been taken years ago,

except for a politi-

cally retrograde GOP and older, politically connected Cuban Americans,

and that is to normalize relations with

the island. Obama pointed to the obvious when he said the old policies, meaning containment and subversion, didn’t “make sense.” More Cubans are travelling to wherever they can get a visa, political dissent and expression is more open than ever, and there are more private owned businesses and farms in Cuba. While Cuba is still officially a one party-state, Cuban leaders have repeatedly made clear they are committed to real reforms. In an extended visit to Cuba a decade ago, I saw firsthand the changes in tourism, trade, and people-friendly relations in Havana and other cities that I visited. Given that, and the polls that show that a majority of Americans want an end to the embargo, Obama’s move was more a pragmatic than a bold step. Still, the devil is in the details about how quickly there will be full official diplomatic relations, free trade and free exchange of goods, services and technology, a formal lifting of the embargo, foreign investment, travel, and family relations restored between Cubans in the island and those living here. But the commonsense move to normalize relations is less important than the timing of the move and the domestic political consequences of it. The prolonged and outdated battering of Cuba was never because it posed any real military or economic threat to the U.S. It was about U.S. domestic politics. Ten presidents before Obama were held hostage to the GOP-Cuban lobby and the fear of being branded soft on Cuba. This was tossed at any president and seen as the political death knell for Democratic presidential contenders. This unremitting hostility has not

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

18

abated. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, have repeatedly spoken out against any normalization of relations. Rubio was even more strident on the pending thaw, calling it “disgraceful.” All have their eye on a 2016 White House bid. All, as in the past, were playing the anti-Castro card, to the conservative GOP base. Obama’s Cuba initiative can’t be separated from his escalating defiance of the GOP. In the aftermath of its November mid-term election shellacking, the Democratic Party has been in a desperate search to find its legs. It has been denounced for not fighting back harder on issues from opposition to the Keystone pipeline, the relentless GOP assaults on the Affordable Care Act and the recent budget deal that was stuffed with financial giveaway goodies to Wall Street. With the White House and even more Senate and Congressional seats on the line in 2016, Obama is still the key to Democratic hopes for a strong comeback. Obama’s willingness to weld the executive pen on immigration reform and a defiant promise to use it whenever and wherever he can to push initiatives that a GOP -controlled House has stymied at every turn is crucial to the party. Possible 2016 Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders were quick to pick up on the significance of Obama’s Cuba normalization proposals and applaud them. It puts the Democratic Party firmly on record as reversing a failed, flawed policy that’s been an albatross around its neck for decades. Clinton, the presumptive favorite for the Democratic nomination, would be the first official presidential candidate to call for full normalization. Obama’s Cuba move can’t be considered on the groundbreaking magnitude of Nixon’s China opening or Reagan’s working both sides of the street with the Soviet Union, promoting exchanges between students, scientists, artists, and local officials while proclaiming the avowed intent to bring down the “evil empire.” But it sent a welcome signal that on a thorny foreign policy issue such as Cuba, Obama will not succumb to GOP mania and intimidation. This makes his Cuba opening more than just about Cuba.  Editor’s note: Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: twitter.com/earlhutchinson


Bill Cosby

Guilty Until Proven Guilty.

Ask A Black Man

P

By Cleo Manago

eople tend to view reality through the lens of their personal experience or biases, even when completely irrelevant to a particular issue or incident. Yet, sometimes one’s personal experience and knowledge – with investigation – can bring relevant insight or contemplation to a given situation. I raise this inspired by increasingly disturbing developments in the Bill Cosby rape scandal. Particularly since Black former model Beverly Johnson darkened (with her complexion) the bevy of still mostly white female Cosby rape accusers. After watching Johnson’s recent interview about an alleged drugging and attempted rape by Cosby, something about it appeared contrived and opportunistic to me. It was difficult for me to believe her. Concerned about my reaction, amidst an accusation as horrible as attempted rape, I was led to evaluate myself and check what my reaction might be about. At 17 years old, during my first venture onto a college campus – Cal State Long Beach, to be exact – I heard about the Men Against Rape movement. I resonated with its mission to raise awareness among males about the problem of rape, in an effort to reduce incidences and potential rape tendencies in men; and, to influence more respect and protection of women and girls at-risk. For reasons relevant to my personal development and related horrors witnessed as a child, I have been actively against rape, and concerned about the lack of focus on this epidemic in media and society atlarge. Rape, including recent acknowledgements that boys and young men also face high levels of rape and molestation is a frequent and still relatively under-addressed societal scourge. While still in my teens, I began a stint in the entertainment business,

witnessing first-hand how powerful and manipulative celebrities can be over an often naive, gullible and unfortunately star-struck society. I thought about this when Cosby accusers explained their alleged initial silence. I would also learn and experience (as I still do) how effortlessly simple it can be to defame a Black man’s reputation. We live in a society that makes it extremely easy for Black men to endure what I call Guilty Until Proven Guilty’ syndrome. The killings of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown and so many Black males, undeniably indicates how deadly and pervasive that syndrome is. The top five accusations that stick to Black males like glue, without interrogation or proof needed, are, “He raped, robbed, physically assaulted or lied to someone and generally cannot be trusted.” After a Black male, especially dark-skinned, is accused of one of these, a response of “It figures” can be much more rampant than “Let me check this out for myself.” I personally have been successfully accused of all five, when all five were completely untrue. In most cases, like with Bill Cosby, more than one person was willing to repeat the same accusation. That’s the power of rumor, racism, including internalized racism, in the U.S. After the accusation was made, almost no one cared to look into it, or address me directly. The dye was simply caste. I am still shaking off damaging misinformation and lies. Finally, I have also directly witnessed people among Black people whose life experiences and influences resulted in them having great contempt for Black people, and being ambitiously opportunistic – to points of being diabolical – to receive White favor and attention. This came to mind regarding Beverly Johnson. I’m not saying it’s true. Again, that it came to mind. These experiences and phenomena emerged as I reviewed what was possibly informing my reactions to

Beverly Johnson, and other Bill Cosby accusers. The “Guilty Until Proven Guilty” killings of a slew of Black males has moved millions of U.S. citizens into the streets to protest. But, has this taught us the importance of not judging a book by its cover, even if it has multiple accusers? Of course people do commit crimes, including Black males. Yet, most others get to be innocent until proven guilty. Comparatively, most whites, Asians and others get to walk away from an accusation, reportedly, even when there is probable guilt. Darren Wilson, George Zimmerman and Daniel Pantaleo did. Another example, and this one involves Beverly Johnson, is Peter Nygard, a white, billionaire fashion designer who lives in the Bahamas. Nygard has been implicated in rape, harassment, conspiracy, human trafficking, human rights abuses, unlawful confinement and essentially “slavery.“ The same Beverly Johnson, who just accused Bill Cosby of drugging and attempting to rape her, dates Nygard. Nygard is still free, lives basically lawlessly, with “a devil may care” reputation, his image unflawed. The next frontier against racism that should result in protest even larger than today’s, is the media. The allwhite run, popular media canvas, world-wide, has created mindsets, leading to the destruction of more Black people than officers Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo could ever compare. More importantly, U.S. citizens must self-evaluate to recognize within us, if our judgments about people, even after being accused, are based on what we feel, think or know. If you don’t know, you really don’t know. No one should be “Guilty Until Proven Guilty.” More often than not, it is racist, destructive and has proven to be deadly.  Editor’s note: Cleo Manago is a political consultant, behaviorist, and film documentarian. Currently, a regular commentator on TVOne’s NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, Manago is community faculty at Charles Drew University of Science and Medicine in Los Angeles and a former doctoral student at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. Contact him at cleomanago2.0@gmail.com or 202695-0636.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

19


Black Male Achievement Is Best Response to Issues of Black Males in America By Phillip Jackson

A

t the exact same moment that 30,000 people were marching in Washington, DC chanting, “No Justice, No Peace” in support of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other victims of police killings, a 15 year-old Black boy, Demario Bailey, was being shot in the chest under a viaduct on the south side of Chicago for his jacket by other Black boys. He died. In 2012, there were at least 313 murders of young Black men and boys by police, security guards and vigilantes, which

pales in comparison to the estimated 15,000 black-on-black murders of mostly young Black men by other young Black men almost every year. Where is their justice? Where is their peace? God bless all of the protestors who have donned “I Can’t Breathe” Tshirts and mimicked, “Hands Up Don’t Shot” scenarios in cities and towns across this country. However, their actions alone will do almost nothing to change the plight of the masses of young Black men in America. Young Black men in America are the most despised, stereotyped, disregarded, and feared people in this country; more likely to be poor, more likely to be undereducated, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to live without their fathers, more likely to be locked up in prisons, and more likely to be murdered than anyone else in America. Unjust incidents that shock our sensibilities are easier to mobilize around than are the all-pervasive, deeply institutionalized, systematic injustices that Black males endure in their lives every day. Usual and easy responses to the plight of Black males in America always include historic indignation, protest and demands that raise public

awareness – the stuff “moments” and not “movements” are made of. However, what is lacking is a comprehensive, well-conceived, sustained response, which requires massive community building efforts, directactions with and on behalf of Black men, and a redirection of dollars from incarcerating Black men to educating and developing Black youth. Together, these actions will develop and support Black men and boys in becoming strong, positive, powerful, contributing, compassionate and courageous American citizens. Even if American police, security guards and vigilantes do not murder another Black man ever, the existing socio-economic, educational and institutional factors in America will continue to destroy young Black men and boys at an ungodly rate. Unless and until these horrendous life-force crushing energies against young Black men and boys are positively transformed, their lives in America will continue to be a hellish catastrophe. Even President Barack Obama got caught up in the symbolic frenzy of responses by requesting congressional support for $263 million to train police forces across America and for body cameras. Yet, the moment-by-moment, spirit-breaking forces nourished by the

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

20

social/economic policies coming out of Washington, DC (and the states) continue to cement Black men’s positions at the bottom of the American social, economic and education structure and at the top of the mortality, incarceration and unemployment indices. It’s a wonder that any Black man can “breathe” in America with these kinds of obstacles to overcome! Black Male Achievement is the much-needed, missing and best response to the issues of Black men and boys in America. On Jan. 19, the Coalition for Black Male Achievement will mentor 50,000 young Black men and boys in 200 cities - towards survival and success in America – as part of the Martin Luther King (MLK) Mentor Day initiative. The mentors are Black men and the curriculum is based on Black Male Achievement and human excellence. The best way to improve the conditions of Black men in America is not simply to protest them, but to change them.  Editor’s note: Phillip Jackson is the founder and executive director of The Black Star Project in Chicago, IL. Contact him at 773285-9600 or Blackstar1000@ameritech.net. To get your city and your young Black men involved or for more information, visit www.blackstarproject.org or call 773-2859600.


The Color of Justice The continuing

By K. Gerald Torrence

aftermath and ongoing discussions about what constitutes justice in the tragic police shootings of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, and the choking death of Eric Garner begs the question of what justice is, and what is its color? The notion of a color blind justice system is not a novel one. Whether African Americans could realistically hope for true equality in this country is a debate that goes back to the earliest black scholars and educators such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. Sadly, this debate still rages over one hundred fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and more than fifty years after Brown v. The Board of Education ostensibly ended racial discrimination in this country. To the vast majority of whites in this country, justice was served by the grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officers responsible for the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. To most African Americans, the police shooting of the unarmed black males smell with the familiar rotten stench of decades-old police inaction to protect the rights and lives of black men, and the almost systematic and endemic brutality by white law enforcement officers against unarmed and defenseless African Americans, which far too often ends in black males being murdered. What’s most telling is the divergence of opinion on whether justice was achieved, depending on the race of whom you ask … white or black. The majority of whites feel that justice was served with the grand jury non-indictments, while blacks overwhelmingly feel that these decisions represent more of the same historic devaluing of black lives in America. Of course this devaluation of black life is nothing new in this country. In fact it dates all the way back to the founding fathers’ drafting of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. In the definitive document of American government, and citizens’ rights, the Negro is only described as chattel or property, devoid of citizenship, representing only 3/5 of a man for purposes of quantification and valuation. With this

ignominious definition of the Negro worth, is it any wonder that even today, centuries later, the value of Negro life is less than that of whites? This should be of surprise to no one. You can’t legislate away centuries of structural racism, and systemic white supremacy with the stroke of a pen or the passing of laws. The bedrock, ingrained attitudes of white superiority run too deep, and are passed down from generation to generation, despite what the politically correct pundits and politicians might mouth when the cameras are rolling. But what do they say amongst themselves, under the cloak of presumed secrecy? Donald Sterling gave the world a peek into the

black polarization is only an indication of the simmering racial tensions that lie just beneath the surface, which have only been exacerbated by the election of President Barak Obama. There is still much resentment and disdain toward blacks in this country by a majority of whites who feel that they are losing control. The failure and unwillingness of white and so called black leaders to face this reality is part and parcel of the problem. We continue to kick this can down the road and pretend that racism doesn’t exist, or that it is not a problem. Yes racism exists, and it’s bad … very bad. It seems the more things have changed, the more they remain the same.

secret thoughts of the rich and powerful white men who run this country, although his racist remarks were dismissed as an anomaly by those media conglomerates who would seek to perpetuate the charade of a color blind, post racial society. The truth is racism in this country is alive and as potent as ever despite and in spite of the election of a socalled “Black President.” The color of justice, just like the color of everything else in America was always intended to be white. From the framers of the Constitution, to the presidents, Congress, judges, prosecutors, juries, police officers, universities, and institutions of finance and commerce, these stewards of justice and liberty have always been white. The integration of a darkie here or there for token appearances, can’t and hasn’t changed the fact that America is a country built and constructed for the benefit of the white race, who at heart, want to perpetuate the privilege passed down from their European ancestors who, through larceny and murder, decimated the Native American population to near extinction. There is no problem as long as those from whom the land was stolen, and those upon whose backs the economy was built, don’t try to upset what they consider the natural order of things. The equation is and always will be, white over nonwhite. The recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and New York is only a symptom of the much larger problem of inequality of the races, and the perpetuation of white supremacy. At the end of the day, any supremacy is always maintained by force. The violence and brutality against blacks in this country dates back to its founding. The latest evidence of white and

Consequently, the question of justice in America as well as its color is still a matter of black and white.  Editor’s note: Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, scholar, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions on TheTruthTeller at the-truthteller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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The NFL’s Latest Assault on Black Athletes T

By K. Gerald Torrence

he NFL’s latest disciplinary action against Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson smacks of institutional and structural racism. Plain and simple, it is a continuing attack on the African American male by the establishment in an attempt to further emasculate and marginalize the Black male’s position as a patriarch of African American families. These attacks on the Black male are nothing new. They date back to the inception of the Transatlantic slave trade in which black males were systematically brutalized and victimized for the purpose of subjugating the

race. White slave holders realized that if the Black male could be reduced to a sniveling, shuffling, head-scratching character, then the entire race of African Americans could be held in check. To accomplish this societal, political and cultural result, a number of insidious but ingenious plans were implemented that would have the effect of reducing the Black male’s standing in the familial structure, and thereby upsetting any type of hierarchical leadership or perceived authority that might normally be associated with the head of family. Peterson, initially charged with felony child abuse after whipping his four-year old boy with a switch, plead no contest recently to a misdemeanor thereby concluding the criminal case pursuant to compliance with community/ public service announcements against domestic violence. While the criminal case played out, Peterson was serving an eight-game suspension from the NFL with pay under a “Commissioner’s exception�. After applying for reinstatement following the conclusion of the criminal matter, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell refused Peterson’s reinstatement request and declared the player ineligible for the remainder of the season, and that the earliest Peterson could return would be April 15, 2015. Goodell, in a letter, further stated that

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the switch Peterson used was “the functional equivalent of a weapon�, and that Peterson’s return to the NFL would depend on Peterson’s actions, after finding that the player showed “no meaningful remorse.� With Peterson’s return contingent on his “understanding the nature of his transgressions,� i.e., learning his lesson, this treatment violates the spirit of the legal concept of double jeopardy which dictates that a man cannot be tried or punished twice for the same offense. All of this for an act of child discipline which for decades has been accepted as part and parcel of black culture. Even the Holy Bible says, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.� Here we have just the latest instance of white folk dictating cultural norms for Black families, to the detriment of African Americans. This attack on the cultural norms of discipline in black families began in the 1960s with the advent of desegregation. Prior to integration, Black children were taught, reared, and disciplined without interference from white folks. During these pre-integration years, Black kids such as myself were the models of decorum and selfcontrol. I believe a main ingredient in the rise of pre- integration African Americans was the rule of corporal punishment at home and in schools. After integration, corporal punishment was disallowed in public schools because white folk didn’t want Black teachers applying physical discipline to white kids. Consequently, what started as a movement against spanking in the schools moved into the homes of Black people, with departments of child and social services becoming the arbiters of what constituted proper discipline of black kids. This intrusion by white folks into the rearing of Bblack children correlates with the endemic rise of Black youth being funneled into the pipeline of the American industrial prison complex, and the criminal justice system. Although Blacks make up

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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a mere 13 percent of the U.S. population, we represent 65 percent of the inmates in American jails and prisons. Is this huge disparity because of Blacks’ innate propensity to crime? I think not! The answer to be sure is multifaceted, but undoubtedly part of the problem is the inability of black families to discipline their children in the time-honored and culturally accepted norm of corporal punishment. Today Black kids grow up in environments where there is a lack of discipline and respect for authority in the home and the schools. The result is the disparate numbers of black kids dropping out of school and being dropped into the increasingly privatized corporate prison system, which rewards private investors based on the number of prison beds that are occupied. As for Adrian Peterson, I applaud him. I applaud him for the courage to stare down Roger Goodell and the lynch mob mentality of the American media which has declared outright war on the black male as illustrated in the recent cases of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and others. To Peterson’s credit, he has stood up and said that he would “not eliminate whipping his kids.� Kudos to you Mr. Peterson! Some things are more important than football, and the fickle perceptions of public opinion endorsed by white America. Let us not be fooled by the Uncle Tom, handkerchief-head, sell out Negroes who mouth whatever is convenient or palatable through the oppressive cable news network conglomerates. These shameless Negroes will curse their own mothers just for a chance to sit at the table with the white news media thereby gaining a distorted sense of credibility, and for a few pieces of silver!  Editor’s note: Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, scholar, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions on TheTruthTeller at the-truthteller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.

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DUS Publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris Named Among Most Powerful Women in Denver

The Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CWCC) will honor Rosalind “Bee” Harris, publisher and art director of the Denver Urban Spectrum, as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Denver. Harris is among 25 women leaders whose accomplishments will be celebrated at the CWCC Top 25 Gala: Powerful Women Turning the Tide on Tuesday, Jan. 13 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, 1881 Curtis Street, in Denver. Harris is being recognized for her contributions in turning the tide for women in business, including keeping Colorado’s premier newspaper about people of color operating for 27 years. “My publication is a business. Running a business is work. Add in that I’m a woman and a woman of color, then it can become a very complicated maze of obstacles to keep things running,” says Harris. “Fortunately, I’ve been mentored by a broad range of business leaders. And understanding the importance of mentorship, whenever I get a chance I like to pass those leadership skills on to the next generation so when their opportunity to lead comes along they’ll be ready.” She has been on numerous nonprofit boards over the years, contributing her time to hundreds of events and projects. Most recently, she cofounded BAT PR & Associates with partners Angelia McGowan and Tanya Ishikawa in 2013, as a multicultural, women-led boutique public relations firm. The CWCC Powerful Women Gala is presented by Key Bank. Tickets are available to chamber members for $155 and non-members for $185. Table sponsorships are available for $2,000 and seat 10 people. Additional sponsorships are available as well. For more information, visit www.cwcc.com.

HATS OFF TO...

Webb was nominated for the award by NJC President Jay Lee. Webb attended the college in Sterling, Colo., in the early 1960s and was a standout on the college’s basketball team. “It is our great pleasure to help remind the education community, on a national level, of the tireless work you have done to make very significant contributions to your city, your state, your nation and your world,” Lee wrote. Webb, who moved from Chicago to Denver when he was in junior high school, chose NJC because it had a

reputation of an accepting environment for African American students. “I was the first in my family since my grandparents to attend college and I always felt welcomed at Northeastern and in the community of Sterling,” Webb said. “Basketball coach Roy Edward took me under his wing and we became lifelong friends.” Webb later transferred to the University of Northern Colorado and earned teaching and sociology degrees, and later a master’s degree in sociology at UNC. Lee cited Webb’s work in health

Webb Honored With 2015 AACC Outstanding Alumni Award

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, a Northeastern Junior College alumnus, has been selected as one of six people nationally to receive the 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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and human services, historic preservation, the arts, business and political office. “This is something that Northeastern Junior College, the Colorado Community College System and the state of Colorado can be very proud of in 2015 and beyond,” Lee wrote. Webb and his wife, Wilma, have sponsored a yearly scholarship for NJC male and female athlete students the last few years. The award will be given during the 95th Annual AACC Convention in San Antonio, Texas in April. 


Trumpet Awards Foundation Announces the Sick Transmission? 23rd Annual Trumpet Awards with Hosts Laila Ali and Dolvett Quince We have your

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Jamie Foxx

Laila Ali

Ceremony Takes Place in Atlanta, Saturday, Jan. 24 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

The Trumpet Awards Foundation presents the 23rd Annual Trumpet Awards, a momentous occasion that pays tribute to a group of historymaking honorees who are slated to receive the 2015 prized Trumpet Award. The honorees join a list of some of the most renowned personalities in this nation and abroad. The

The Isley Brothers

23rd Annual Trumpet Awards blacktie ceremony will be hosted by Laila Ali, four-time Boxing World Champion, award-winning TV host, fitness and wellness expert, beauty brand ambassador, and author; and Dolvett Quince, known for his successes now into the fifth season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser;” in addition, he is a celebrity trainer, has made many guest TV appearances, and is a best-selling author. The Trumpet Awards show will be held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta on Saturday, Jan. 24, with the Red Carpet at 2 p.m. and the Awards Show taping at 4 p.m. Other events and activities include the Race Relations Symposium entitled “The Continuing Quest for Equality,” held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in downtown Atlanta, on Friday, Jan. 23 scheduled at 6 p.m. followed by a Sponsor Recognition Tribute reception. The Trumpet Awards festivities close with the Soulful Ending held at the Hyatt Regency hotel (also downtown Atlanta) featuring The Bar-Kays, on Saturday night, Jan. 24, immediately following the Trumpet Awards Ceremony. The television show will air on Saturday, Feb. 21 on TV One. The Annual Trumpet Awards was created to celebrate and honor African American achievers and those who support the African American experience. The Awards honor accomplishments in diverse fields including law, medicine, business, politics, the arts, civil rights, sports, entrepreneurship, entertainment and other careers. The following is a list of the 2015 TRUMPET AWARDS honorees: Lou Brock – Baseball Legend Arnold W. Donald – President and CEO of Carnival Corporation & PLC Jamie Foxx – Academy Awardwinning Actor, Musical Artist and Comedian

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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Dolvett Quince

Janelle Monae

Tommy Hilfiger – Principal Designer, Tommy Hilfiger Guy Vickers – President, PVH Foundation & Senior Vice President, Global Community Relations The Isley Brothers – Recording Artists and Songwriters Janelle Monáe – Singer, Songwriter, Producer and Model Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice – President and Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine Franklyn R. Wilson – Chairman, Sunshine Holdings, Ltd., Bahamas The Trumpet Awards was conceived, founded, and cultivated by Xernona Clayton, who has built the Awards and Awards Foundation into a prestigious testimonial around the world. “We have come far, and labored much, since we started this project in 1993,” says Clayton. “To say that I am thankful and honored to have been at the helm of this dream is putting it mildly. I am extremely obliged to those individuals who saw the vision and who have helped maintain the Trumpet Awards for more than twenty years. We are an integral part of the global community and are most jubilant to bring this event to the world and to celebrate the achievements of those who had an impact on our society.” Corporate support helps to make the production of the Trumpet Awards possible and help provide scholarships to the numerous students in their educational pursuits. Some of the major corporate sponsors include: The Coca-Cola Company, General Motors, Nordstrom, The Home Depot, FedEx, Southwest Airlines, American Family Insurance and others. 


Sean Bradley Announces Candidacy For District 11 City Council Seat

NEWS VIEWS

Sean Bradley, a local businessman, announced at his campaign kickoff event last week that he is running in the May 2015 municipal election for City Council District 11 open seat. Bradley has been a dedicated and vocal member of the Far Northeast Denver neighborhoods. Bradley’s campaign will emphasize the need for open dialogue with the Denver Police Department, supporting teachers and neighborhood schools, stimulating economic growth, as well as transportation and healthy living for Montbello and Green Valley Ranch citizens. Bradley, 38, lives with his wife, Voletha, and two children in Green Valley Ranch. He currently serves on the Green Valley Ranch Advisory Council, High Point Academy Advisory Council and sits on the Board of Directors for Denver City Parks and Recreations. For more information and a complete list of endorsements, visit www.Bradleyfordistrict11.com

Love Beyond The Classroom

Bufford; Second Vice President, Marc Steward; Secretary, Tonia Thompson; Assistant Secretary, Harryete Malone; Treasurer, Portia Malone; Assistant Treasurer, and Valarie Yarbrough. Members of the Executive Committee (Board) are Owetta McNeil, Cleo Smith and Jerome Page For more information, email syoung@naacpdenver.org.

Family of Late Senator Regis Groff Create Foundation

Available for all Holiday Events, Special Occasions and...

The family of Regis F. Groff, former state senator and educator, announced the formation of the Regis F. Groff Foundation. Created to continue the legacy of this well-known and beloved community leader, the Regis F. Groff Foundation will provide funds to Denver Public School (DPS) students who are interested in public policy, government and education. The first scholarship will be the Emerging Leader Award for Public Service for high school seniors with a keen interest in government and public policy. The family is looking for students with an avid interest in public policy and government. Students must be enrolled in a Denver Public School. The second award, the Legacy Award for Future Educators, is targeted specifically towards African American males interested in education and teaching. The applications for the awards will be available Jan.19. For more information and to apply, visit www.regisfgrofffoundation.org.

303.355.4979 P.O. Box 39163 H Denver CO 80239

ArtHaus Gallery Close Doors On Location, But Not Vision

Last month, Lynn Jackson’s second grade class at Marrama Elementary partnered with Struggle of Love Foundation to support those who were less fortunate during the holidays. The students made gift shoe boxes with each box containing various gifts and care package items for boys and girls their age and also wrote friendly letters. Struggle of Love was created to provide community awareness, involvement, and social activities for those in need. For more information, visit www.struggleoflovefoundation.org/.

NAACP Elects New Officers

The Denver Branch of the NAACP held its branch elections Saturday, Nov. 22 and elected new officers and members of the Executive Committee. The following individuals are the new team of the NAACP-Denver Branch: President-Elect, Sondra Young; First Vice President, Donald

After two years on 33rd and Larimer Streets in Denver’s River North (RiNo) Art District, Co-Owners Aliki McCain and Michael Gadlin have shut the doors on ArtHaus Gallery, but not necessary on their vision. As the area has increased in popularity, the rent on their space has increased to a level that cannot be sustained by their business model. In a letter emailed to their patrons and followers, they stated the unit was originally built out by the artists to serve as a flexible creative space and has since hosted many successful art exhibits, classes, photo shoots, fundraisers and private events. It will be a loss to an area has long attracted artists and creatives, and whose reputation has been built on these small businesses. Gadlin and McCain will continue creating their artwork and encourage art lovers to follow them as they decide on the future of their ArtHaus vision. For more information, visit www.michaelgadlin.com or email alikimccain@yahoo.com. Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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Editor’s note: Samantha Ofole-Prince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is Blackflix.com’s Senior Critic-at-Large. J.R. Johnson is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver and Blackflix.com’s intern. Laurence Washington is the creator of BlackFlix.com.

ous heydays. She never got over being booted from C+C Music Factory. One day Annie is rescued from getting knocked over by a van by a germ phobic business tycoon called Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx). Stacks is a New York mayoral candidate whose popularity is waning in the polls. Once a video of the rescue goes viral on social media, he’s advised by his scheming campaign advisor, Guy (Bobby Cannavale) to take Annie in and sway the public’s opinion of him. (“You Annie

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Annie 

By Samantha Ofole-Prince

t’s tough to loathe this family friendly flick especially with its adorable little star Quvenzhané Wallis, but it’s also tough to love it. Simply put, this updated tale of a little girl who comes into good fortune by a twist of fate offers nothing new than a modern stamp. In other words, it’s an unnecessary reboot. This third movie adaptation of Annie which initially ran on Broadway in 1977 before being adapted into a 1982 feature film and again in 1999, comes with all the trappings of the 21st Century – smartphones and social media. Beasts of the Southern Wild Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis who brings such warmth and exuberance to the role has now replaced the curly red haired white orphan kid we’ve been accustomed to seeing in the previous offerings. In this contemporary reboot, Annie isn’t an orphan and is a foster kid who was left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they’d be back for her someday. She lives with four other foster kids in a two-story apartment in Harlem run by her foster mum Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), a washed up alcoholic who spends her days drinking and reminiscing on her glori-

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RM

won’t even know she’s there,” Stacks convinces himself. “It will be like having a turtle.”) Everything changes once Annie arrives at the penthouse and Stacks ends up growing to love her. In the title role, little Wallis excels. She’s cheery, and resourceful as Annie, and her relationship with Foxx appears quite genuine. What gets most of the chuckles is Diaz as the evil, sex-starved, drink-sodden Miss Hannigan who is ever ready with a tale of how she was almost famous. Rose Byrne plays Stack’s personal assistant Grace and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and David Zayas round off the cast in small supporting roles. Directed by Will Gluck and produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, there’s energy, good humor, singalongs and enough fluff to engage the youngsters, which is who, this flick is aimed squarely at.

C

Top Five 

By Laurence Washington

hris Rock has successfully moved from comedic actor to director quite seamlessly I might add. Which punctuates the character he’s portraying in the hilarious Top Five. Rock plays Andre Allen, a comedian who


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Horrible Bosses 2

Top Five



By Samantha Ofole-Prince

during a Charlie Rose interview reveals that he wants to move on from action/comedy pictures starring Hammi The Bear to more serious roles. So much so, that he’s starring in a Haitian slave revolt film titled Uprize! However, Allen’s fans won’t let him move on. They want Hammi Time, all the time and have no qualms about shouting that fact wherever he goes. On Uprize’s opening day, Allen finds himself reluctantly participating in his fiancée’s (Gabrielle Union) reality-show wedding, conducting a oneon-one interview with New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), while trying to promote Uprize! – a picture that nobody wants to see. The enduring thing about Top Five is its blending real and fictional life punctuated with New York City locations and landmarks. Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler have cameos playing themselves, giving the film a sense of authenticity. During the daylong interview with Brown, Rock shows off his acting chops becoming a believable character that the audience cares about. Unlike his two-dimensional characters in previous outings, Rock is three-dimensional hitting all points on the emotional spectrum as a recovering alco-

holic who wants to be taken seriously. That’s not to say that Rock isn’t funny. Raunchy and scathing at times (this isn’t a kid’s movie folks), Rock is smart enough to play the foil when visiting his…let’s us say colorful family in a Manhattan project featuring an over-the-top performance by foulmouth Tracy Morgan. Rock’s writing and directing of Top Five makes you think maybe Andre Allen isn’t somewhat a reflection of himself wanting to move beyond typecast. That’s just a thought.

There’s a steady stream of funny obscenities in this film, which follows three buddies plotting to recoup money from a failed business venture. The follow-up to the 2011 comedy Horrible Bosses reunites Jason Bateman (Nick), Charlie Day (Dale) and Jason Sudeikis (Kurt) as mistreated employees who decide to become their own bosses. They’ve invented the Shower Buddy, a contraption of tubes and containers that fits over a person’s head and dispenses soap, water and shampoo, but after an investor (Christoph Waltz) pulls the rug out from under them, the would-be entrepreneurs hatch a plan to kidnap the investor’s adult son Rex (Chris Pine) to regain control of their company. Things take a turn when Rex decides to go along with the plan with a suggestion to increase and split their ransom A light-hearted film that’s extremely raunchy. It’s a sequel that’s far fun-

nier than the first film thanks to strong comic performances from a superb ensemble cast that includes the filmstealing Jamie Foxx who returns as a hot-tempered ‘freelance crime consultant’ named Motherfucker Jones. Also returning from the first film is Jennifer Aniston who takes her portrayal of the sex-addicted dentist Julia Harris to another level. An enjoyable comedy that works, Horrible Bosses 2 is far-fetched and filthy-minded and although it’s littered with references to sexual organs, intercourse and sexual deviancy, it’s just all for laughs. The bumbling buddies are far from intelligent enough to commit the crime and it’s the banter between Bateman, Sudeikis and Day while they are planning and plotting that gets the extra humor mileage. Pine’s and Foxx’s comical expressions will have you bursting in several fits of laughter throughout the film, while Aniston’s funny situations and snappy one-liners will have you cringing. It’s even great to see Waltz let his hair down a tad as the quintessential villain. There are fistfights and sucker punches, break-ins, gunplay and a hilarious pursuit through downtown Los Angeles. Directed by Sean Anders (That’s My Boy), It’s lewd, profane with wildly inappropriate content, but with so much humor it’s bound to keep you laughing in your seat until the very end.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

I

1/2

By Laurence Washington

haven’t read The Hobbit, so I really can’t speak with authority on the wonderful job director Peter Jackson did stretching a slim book into a trilogy. However, word on the street Continued on page 28

Horrible Bosses 2

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

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The Hobbit

Continued from page 27 is, he did a pretty good job extending the material. I can tell you Jackson honed a wonderful movie into our last journey into Middle-Earth. The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies is more direct and linear than the previous pictures. Armies picks up where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug leaves off. Because the dwarfs and sawed-off Bilbo (Martin Freeman) are after the gold in Erebor, Smaug the dragon, is pissed off and quickly lets the villagers know what it feels like to become a charcoal briquette. But at last, Smaug gets “the point” so to speak and the mountains of gold coins and baubles the dragon was guarding are up for grabs attracting every greedy elf, dwarf, and of course, orc in the vicinity. After all, what would a Hobbit movie be without orcs? You know what a fun-loving, head-chopping group of misfits orcs are. They just raise the whole level of the film. Taking a cue from Bogey in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage) becomes blinded by greed and refuses to share the gold with the elves and the homeless villagers who are burned out by Smaug. The CGI is spectacular, and Jackson never lets the technology upstage the humor and humanity of the story. If left in lesser hands, the results might have been the opposite. Jackson directs the traffic so well, Armies ending dovetails nicely into Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. As with all the Jackson MiddleEarth films, Armies runs a tad too long with the usual false endings that might chafe the casual movie-goer squirming in their seat. In fact, Jackson lets you out 30 minutes earlier than his other films, which is good news. Maybe that’s why Armies is probably my favorite Middle-Earth movie.

I

Into The Woods 

By Laurence Washington

had high hopes for Into The Woods. But they were quickly dashed five minutes into the picture as I seriously considered excusing myself and heading towards the nearest exit.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

28

Instead of a musical reimaging of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Rapunzel, Into The Woods is a failed attempt to spin four beloved Brothers Grimm classics together. The story’s premise follows a village baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who are unable to conceive, because the neighborhood witch (Meryl Streep) placed a curse upon them. Years ago, the baker’s father had stolen some magic beans from the witch’s garden – thus the curse. The witch sets the couple upon a series of task to lift the hex. They must find: 1.) a cow as white as milk (From Jack), 2.) a cape as red as blood (From Red Riding Hood), 3.) hair as yellow as corn (From Rapunzel), 4.) a slipper as pure as gold (From Cinderella). However, there’s no explanation whatsoever why the witch didn’t add a much needed coherent script to the baker’s scavenger hunt. It would have been a better movie. Granted, Into The Woods is a show stopping Stephen Sondheim Broadway classic, that offers a few chuckles as the baker and his wife set about their task. However, the stage magic just doesn’t transfer onto the silver screen. Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf is a hoot and Chris Pine as the morally challenged Prince Charming adds an entertaining take to the two characters. But that’s all folks. The songs are unmemorable, so forget about walking out of the theatre humming any catchy show tunes – something you’d expect from Disney. The songs just don’t stay with you. And the lavish set designs are just a distraction from the makeshift script. However, my thoughts on this uneven film don’t add up to a hill of beans (forgive the pun) because the theatre audience during the screening applauded during the end credits. Having being said, I will admit seeing The End appear across the screen was my favorite part of the film.

Into The Woods


Opera Jazz presents Soprano Angela Brown

COMMUNITY NOTES

Internationallyacclaimed soprano Angela Brown headlines “Opera . . . From a Sistah’s Point of View” at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 14 in the June Swaner Gates Concert Hall at the University of Denver Newman Center. Filled with show-stopping arias, poignant art songs and moving spirituals, the show is interspersed with Brown’s hilarious, educational narrative as she dispels the myths of opera with humor and charm. Brown personifies the ideal soprano: sheer vocal power, luxurious finesse, and shimmering, high pianissimos. While opera is the main catalyst for her career, her performance experience unites opera, pops and gospel in one sensational voice. Her highly successful Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Aida catapulted her onto the world’s prestigious opera and symphonic stages. Presented by Opera Jazz and supported by Opera Colorado and Central City Opera, the February 14 evening of entertainment will also feature well-known Denver artists, including saxophonist Nelson Rangell, bass-baritone Robert Johnson and the Kenny Walker Quartet. Tickets (balcony $35, mezzanine $45, parterre $55) are available at the Newman box office (303-871-7720 or online at www.newmantix.com). Proceeds from the event will benefit the Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund, along with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Zeta Zeta Zeta Chapter, Denver. For more information, visit www.operajazz.org or call 303-373-1246.

Community Invited To MLK Jr. Day Celebrations At CC

Colorado College will host a variety of events on Jan. 19 in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Events kick off at 8 a.m. with the All-People’s Breakfast and continue throughout the day, culminating with a performance by the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. The Colorado Springs community is invited to join all the events. Rev. Benjamin Reynolds, director of the LGBTQ Religious Studies Center at Chicago Theological Seminary, will be the keynote speaker at the breakfast. Reynolds served as senior pastor for nearly 16 years at a Colorado Springs church. After coming out to his congregation, his interest in inclusive theology and continuing education led him to the Chicago Theological Seminary, where he is cur-

rently a Ph.D. candidate in theology, ethics and human science. The Martin Luther King Jr. day events will be located at Colorado College, 14 East Cache La Poudre St. in Colorado Springs. For a full schedule of events, visit www.coloradocollege.edu/newsevent s/calendar/. For more information, call Paul Buckley at 719-389-6338.

Let the Music Stir Your Soul

The Soul Diva Revue coming in January will present the soulful sounds of Patti Labelle, Tina Turner, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, and others performed by Denver’s own, Mary Louise Lee, Coco Brown, Diana Castro and Melody Renique. Presented by Renique, the debut presentation of the Soul Diva Revue will be Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret in downtown Denver. For tickets and more information, visit www.lannies.com or call 303-293-0075.

Planting The Seed Weekend Slated for January

The Planting the Seed weekend will be complete with events on Jan. 16 and 17. The Planting The Seed Youth Summit on Jan. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is a half-day conference designed to enhance the leadership skills of high schools students within the Denver Metro area. The Z Place “Hall of Heroes” Appreciation Luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. honors those whose efforts and support have allowed for Z Place to continually serve the people of Far Northeast Denver. The Z Place “Hall of Heroes” second birthday party will be from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. There will be food, games, and live entertainment. Families will have an opportunity to see the collaborative work that is being presented in the community, as well as ways they can get connected to resources and services. The Planting the Seed Conference on Jan. 17 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. is a free conference where attendees will be able to hear firsthand from CEOs, community leaders, and elected officials about policies and issues that affecting the community and engage in dialogue about proactive strategies to create a world-class neighborhood. For more information and to register, visit www.yapacolorado.org/planting-theseed-conference. The Young adults for Positive Action networking event will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Those in attendance will be able to continue the conversation on building a sustainable community. For more information and a full schedule, visit ww.yapacolorado.org/ planting-the-seed-weekend.

Music by henry Krieger Directed by Keith Rabin Jr.

Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen Music Direction by Trent Hines

December 27, 2014 - January 18, 2015

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

29


Letters to the Editor

Continued from page 3 cer. Regardless of the decision, we obviously have a strong divide in our country and it’s a tragedy that has rocked the core of our nation. I am deeply concerned at the alarming number of young African Americans; particularly, males who tragically lose their lives at the hands of police officers. In addition, the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row in our country should cause pause. We cannot afford to lose another young African American at the hands of the police nor can we afford to lose another at the hands of a sanctioned execution. There is a problem. According to USA Today, nearly two times a week in the United States, a white police officer killed a Black person from 2005-2012 and during that same period 18 percent of the persons killed were 21 years of age or younger. Does this sound familiar? That’s nearly 315 people in a seven year period. We have no other choice but pull together and admit we have a problem and offer solutions that will prevent situations that happened in August 2014. As a father of two young boys (4 years old and 18 months), it is my responsibility to teach my boys the difference between right and wrong

and that there are consequences to your actions. Would we be having this conversation today if Michael Brown had not gone into that convenience store and allegedly shoved the store clerk? Or with a police officer, already on edge in an intense driven day at work, have pulled that trigger? My brother, who works in a small town sheriff’s office, knows only too well that any day he leaves his home, it could be his last. We don’t want that for our families. We will never know because a young man, 18 years old, will never have a chance to vote in an election, finish college, date and marry his college sweetheart, start his own business or come back to Ferguson and run for mayor or even serve as attorney general for the state of Missouri. We’ll never know but regardless, we do know that no one should lose their life in situations like these. I desperately want my family to grow up in a safe and vibrant community; where my son should not be gunned down because he’s walking home in his own neighborhood or shot by a police officer. I think Mayor Michael B. Hancock has done a tremendous job as mayor and has worked hard to keep our neighborhoods safe. But, the distrust between community and the police is real and much work needs to be done.

One, our community must come together and have productive quarterly meetings with the police. We have to make sure voices are heard and issues are resolved exponentially. Two, the Office of Independent Monitor is a citizen driven agency designed for citizens to make complaints against the police. We should take advantage of this office and utilize it; proactively, as we can. Three, the city of Denver should consider having our officers wear cameras to provide clarity of incidents. If Kearney Nebraska Police Department can consider this as a tool to protect its citizens, surely, the best city in America should consider this as well. And finally, we must provide the best education systems in the world. Education is our passport to the future but we have to prepare our kids now. We cannot rest on our laurels and hope that our kids can read, write, add, subtract, or know our history. We should be willing to fight for them regardless of the politic ramifications. Put them first and allow them to achieve their God-given dreams. We have a chance now to learn from this together and make strides towards making our community a safe place to live, work, and grow a business or raise a family.

Sean Bradley Candidate for City Council District 11

Social Justice; What Is It And Whose Responsibility Is It To Ensure?

Editor: The short answer is this; social justice is equality for all regardless of our backgrounds or our differences. As far as responsibility, that’s even easier, it’s something we all share and therefore have an obligation to study it, talk about it and ultimately ensure it by whatever means necessary. The long answer is obviously much more complicated, will take time, effort and communication. However, it is both obtainable and worthy of our efforts. I say “our” because it is a word that speaks to the essence of “equality.” I’ll give you a small example that speaks to our randomness on this planet versus our preordained right to something we have. I might be writing this from a fully charged MacBook Air or I could be writing it on the back of a borrowed receipt in a land far away from where I had the luck to be born into. My point is this; while my geographical bearings could be different, I’d still be your fellow human being and hoping for the same opportunities we should all enjoy. When I started writing this piece my thoughts ran from my childhood experiences, to the Trayvon Martin case, the Michael Brown case and Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

30

beyond. What I’ve arrived at is the idea that “equality” in our society has become so obscured by “inequality” that seeing the difference has become almost unobtainable in our current environment. What’s the answer? Well, I wish I had them all, but my thoughts run toward communication, sharing our experiences and by extension, changing the outcome. For the record, my numerous calls, voice mails, etc. to Ed Magee, the executive assistant to prosecutor, Robert McCulloch ultimately went suspiciously unreturned. On a more positive note, I recently had the good fortune of attending the “Race: Are We So Different” exhibition at the History Colorado Center. While I was more or less aware of the disparities in opportunity, the visuals were quite astounding and I would encourage everyone to attend this or a similar exhibition. In equality opportunity is the key; if we don’t all have it the result will look different for all of us. The high school graduation rate and the access to healthcare best represent this inference. As a writer I use words every day, and believe me when I say, “Words matter,” however, with that said, sometimes the truth is that simplicity clarifies. You either believe we are all created equally or you don’t. You either believe in helping others or you don’t! There really is no in between when it comes to some issues. “Do you want your kids to come home safely?” Me too! See what I mean? I feel privileged to be a contributor in the debate. Believe me when I tell you, “We need you all!” The real question is where do we go from here? It starts with communication and compassion; it ends where the sky ends, wherever that it is! Let’s all come together and say, “No More”! The essence of equality is inclusion; therefore if we are all welcome, we all belong.

Stephen Shelley Denver, CO

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Photos by Sweetz Photography and Lens of Ansar

100 Men Who Cook Black Tie Gala

Asfaw Foundation Bicycle Give Away

Honoring Mr. Pierre

Hangingout with Tommy Davidson

Up Close and Personal with Linda, Linda and Diana! Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – January 2015

31


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Denver Urban Spectrum January 2015  

A monthly publication that has been spreading the news about people of color since 1987 features businessman and entertainment promoter Duan...

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