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Timon Kyle Durrett Photo by Bernard Grant

Summertime In The Rockies

Timon Kyle Durrett: Touched by Queen Mothers of TV….............4 Two Generations: Flying High in the Mile High City......................…9 Dearfield: A Town Gone But Not Forgotten............................................10 The Book of Mormon: The Good, The Bad, The Offensive.....…29


July 2018

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris


EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT Alfonzo Porter MANAGING EDITOR Laurence Washington COLUMNISTS Kim Farmer Theo Wilson FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Thomas Russell Holt Ruby Jones Zilingo Christopher Nwuke Lauren Turner ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix

PUBLISHER/PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Melovy Melvin CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAP HERS Byron Russell Lens of Ansar DISTRIBUTION Dylan James Ed Lynch Lawrence A. James - Manager

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2018 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

rac·ism (rā-siz-m/), noun prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.


Racism, , racism...It doesn’t matter how it is presented. The format may be altered, the description may be skewed, the words maybe hidden – but it’s ALL the same. It’s hitting home in all our communities around the country, as our men of color, young and old, continue to die because of it. Most recently in Pittsburgh, while running from the police, 17 year old Antwon Rose was shot and killed. He looked a lot like my grandsons. The question remains – why are police just shooting to kill? Why is this being allowed to happen in 2018 - in the United States of America? Well, it’s Summertime in the Rockies and its hot! In more way s than one: weather, entertainment and racial tension. Actor Timon Kyle Durrett brought heat to Denver last month and shared with Ruby Jones his journey to Oprah’s very popular new television show, “Queen Sugar.” The elder “flying” Haynes reveals to contributor Zilingo Christopher Nwuke how he overcame racist obstacles in the field of aviation but still passed on lessons learned to his sons who follo wed in his footsteps. Dearfield, a once vibrant all Black community, is revisited by Thomas Russell Holt who educates us on resilience, strength and the audacity of hope from the town’s ancestors. Read how two letters send strong messages to the NFL on lessons they should learn and finding courage on and off the football field. Theater critic Lauren Turner shares her views on the very popular perform ance of The Book of Mormon and why she says the bad overshadowed the good in this award-winning musical production. All these stories and others this month address the ever growing issue of racism. How did our country get here and how will it end? That young man Antwon Rose reminded me of my grandsons, and how much they mean to me. My heart goes out to his family. I just hope and pray that this is the closest it hits home for me. Rosalind J. Harris, DUS publisher


Oops! DUS Misquotes Student

for us. I would like for the aforementioned groups to respond via Denver Urban Spectrum.

Editor: Thank you so much to Ruby Jones on the piece she wrote about the three girls traveling to Japan. Although one of the quotes was incorrectly quoted for my daughter Briana Thomas, it is a wonderful article and I’m glad that the girls were able to share this wonderful program with others and appreciate your covering the story.

John Kaiser Denver, CO

Legislation Needed to Protect Our Democracy

Editor: I am a resident of Denver near the Kennedy Golf Course. I am extremely worried that our Representatives in both houses of Congress do not believe that WE, the people, care about the Mueller investigation. I personally feel that Mueller’s investigation is extremely important to our democracy and the rule of law. I am concerned that Russians and others had undue influence in the 2106 Presidential election and continue to have influence over our democracy. There is a bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee to protect the Mueller investigation and it looks as though Mitch McConnell wants to block this bill. Regardless of whether you are Republican or a Democrat, knowing what happened in the 2016 election is vital to our democracy. President Trump has already tried to fire Robert Mueller and end his investigation. That’s why it is so important that the Senate pass legislation to protect Mueller’s investigation and ensure every American gets the truth. Please, Senator Bennet and Senator Gardner, urge Mitch McConnell to bring this bill to a vote. We must do everything we can to protect our democracy. Go to to get involved.

Shauntae Thomas Denver, CO

Reader to Denver Black Economics

Editor: I was recently looking at website and eventually clicked on the statistics for Colorado. I was shocked to see in Colorado that one in four Black adults has a bachelor’s degree or higher. And given our small population in the state, I thought to myself that Black Coloradans have NO real business presence in the state. What I’m trying to say is that with all this education, we still have nothing. We are not recycling our dollars in the Black community nor are we creating jobs for ourselves. Why aren’t these educated Black Coloradans establishing investment groups and creating opportunities for our communities? We have no Black owned Credit Union or Bank, while other ethnic groups are moving ahead. What good is all this education if we can’t even come together and create our own businesses? What are the Black Colorado Chamber of Commerce, NAACP and Urban League doing about this? We’ve had two black Mayors in this city and I don’t believe anything has changed

Ellen Aknin Denver, CO

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Don’t Shortchange Consumers: Copays Count

Editor: A new insurance policy could prove harmful to HIV patients and others living with chronic diseases who need to access and adhere to daily medications. Several insurers and employers are no longer allowing co-pay cards from drug manufacturers, which many patients use to lower their out-ofpocket costs, to count towards a patients’ deductible. Patient cost-sharing has soared in recent years. The average deductible for individuals with employer-sponsored health plans has more than doubled in the past decade, rising from $616 in 2007 to $1,505 in 2017. People who have coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchanges face even higher deductibles – the average exchange-plan enrollee must pay his first $4,000 in health bills completely out of pocket. HIV medications can cost more than $25,000 per year. At the start of the year, patients could easily face out-of-pocket costs of $2,000 or more per month until their deductibles. Fortunately, most drug companies offer coupons, often known as “co-pay cards.” Patients can present the cards to pharmacists, and the pharmacy will bill the drug company for most or all of the co-pay that patients owe their insurers. This effort ensures patients get the medicines they need. It also makes sense for public health. Numerous public health agencies have set ambitious goals to get individuals tested for HIV, on the right treatment, and the viral load under control. These programs help ensure Continued on page 26

Summertime in the Rockies Just



A Candid Conversation with “Queen Sugar’s” Timon Kyle Durrett By Ruby Jones

Hollywood’s new heartthrob

has turned up the heat and is taking television by storm. Timon Kyle Durrett is the definition of a renaissance man, with classic good looks that pale in comparison to his awardwinning personality and the outstanding talent bursting from an impressive repertoire. Move over Morris Chestnut! Step aside Shemar Moore! There’s a new ItMan in town, and he’s taking the sweltering summer heat in Denver to record highs.

Timon Kyle Durrett is a seasoned actor, producer, model and artist who turns every project he touches into gold. Mainstream audiences are finally catching up to Durrett’s whirlwind career as he plays the leading role of Davis West, the basketball superstar husband we hate to love, in Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay’s groundbreaking television series, “Queen Sugar.” The Mile-High City played host to Durrett during his June visit to attend the Colorado Beautillion-Cotillion, Inc.’s eighth annual beau and debutante ball. As the evening’s guest of honor, the Phi Beta Sigma member joined a host of proud African American families in the ceremonious welcome of dashing beaux and stunning debutantes into adulthood. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Durrett to talk Queen Sugar and

discuss his inspirational new book, “Who The Hell Do I Think I Am?” From our first meeting atop the balcony of Denver’s magnificent Union Station, to the star-studded gala, hosted by former Denver Broncos offensive tackle, Ryan Harris, and Phoenix Jackson of the Phoenix Affect, Durrett was refreshingly candid about his success and his commitment to be his best self along with what has been a remarkable journey. An Illinois native, Durrett grew up in Chicago’s southside neighborhood. He was the youngest of eight children, and despite his budding artistic and athletic talent, the strict rules of his religious household limited his involvement in extracurricular activities. In high school, Durrett held his first job alongside childhood friend Jevon Robertson, rehabilitating the interior of a residential community for the elderly. “We were the top artists at our high school and we got hired to paint murals at an elderly home. The walls were drab and beige, so we painted landscapes to give the residents something to look at. Every day after school, we would paint, and the people would sit around and watch us. It was great!” As the years progressed, Durrett’s art and athletic prowess received a great deal of attention, but he refrained from events and activities recognizing his accomplishments until he could no longer deny the passion driving his desire to perform. Durrett’s mother saw that he had extraordinary talent and acting potential; it was her support that catapulted

him into his first professional acting experience. “One day my mother wrote down some information she heard on the radio about a made-for-television movie titled, There Are No Children Here, starring Oprah Winfrey. I auditioned and landed an extra role. Once I made it on set and saw the cameras, lights, and all the people rushing around, I was hooked!” Despite not having an agent or headshots, Durrett’s first acting role alongside the marveled entertainment guru Oprah Winfrey, was followed by several print and commercial advertisements, runway modeling jobs and eye-candy calendar shoots. In the mid1990s, Durrett relocated to Lorman, Mississippi, where he attended Alcorn State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Even as a college student, Durrett, who describes himself as a big nerd, showed great discipline, continuing to build his portfolio with various acting and modeling projects while creating beautiful visual art. He graduated Cum Laude as the number four student in his department. Sadly, Durrett’s mother passed away in 2001, before getting to experience his rise to stardom. “I know she’s watching me right now, but I wish I could give her a hug after receiving an award and say, ‘Hey look Mom, I told you I was going to make it!’ It’s bittersweet.” Thinking back over his unique path to success, Durrett recalls how his mother gave him his name, “She named me Timon, thinking that she’d come up with something original; but one day, it

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


was brought to my attention that my name is actually found in the Bible.” Timon is written in Acts 6:5, as one of the members of a group of men that is full of “faith and the Holy Spirit.” Durrett, drawing the parallel between the book of Acts and his profession as an actor and standing 6-5, continues to feel the angelic presence of his mother’s love and guidance at his side as life is marked by success after serendipitous success. Just two months after his mother’s death, Durrett moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, where his hard work and determination resulted in a hefty collection of notable acting credits. Durrett has appeared in several box office hits, including Like Mike, Heroes, 72 Hours, and Michael D. Lee’s Barbershop: The Next Cut. In 2012, he landed a role on VH1’s highly-rated television series, “Single Ladies;” playing opposite Stacey Dash’s as her coveted boyfriend, Quinn. Following his success in Los Angeles, Durrett decided to move across country to Atlanta. “I had a few credits under my belt, and I believed that I was going to go out there and be a big fish in a small pond, but it didn’t happen that way,” he explained. “My truck was broken into; I had a horrible flea problem in my apartment and I didn’t have any pets. On my way to auditions, my truck would break down and I was constantly losing money. I was really going through it.” What happened next is nothing short of miraculous. Durrett, frustrated by the lack of work and struggling to make ends meet, was ready to quit acting when he got a call that would change his life. “I was in the business center of the leasing office at my apartment complex. I couldn’t afford cable, so I didn’t have Wi-Fi, and my data-plan was limited so I had to go to the office to apply for a job. The online application had all these fields, and each time I would try to submit it, there was an error that kept it from going through. I had to start all over again four times. After the fifth time, I pushed my laptop back in tears thinking, ‘I’m about to get evicted!’ Meanwhile, I was using the Wi-Fi in the office to update

my phone, and when it was finished updating I saw that I had a twominute voicemail from my agent. Twenty-four hours later, I was sitting in a room with Ava DuVernay, test reading for ‘Queen Sugar’.” Based on Natalie Baszile’s novel of the same name, “Queen Sugar” hails as television’s outstanding new drama series; created and executively produced by Oprah Winfrey and renowned filmmaker Ava DuVernay. In a move that Durrett calls “refreshing,” DuVernay defied industry trends and selected a team of all-women directors for the first time in history. Durrett responded to critics who scrutinized the revolutionary decision and wrote it off as a risk or chance. “Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay, Kat Candler, DeMane Davis, all the people who are at the helm of this thing, they didn’t take a chance. Oprah Winfrey doesn’t take chances. Ava DuVernay doesn’t take chances. They took a turn!” “Queen Sugar” premiered in 2017 with enormous success. The series, in its third season on the OWN Network features gorgeous cinematography, emblazoned by delicate traces of femininity, and the soulful essence of a woman’s perspective. Durrett, whose personal ideology recognizes the feminine personification of a God-source, is more than pleased with the directorial cast and praises DuVernay’s selection. “Women are nurturing. Mother Earth is everything! I never liked the idea that women got less pay than men. I never liked the idea that women, especially Black women, were unprotected, unwanted, overlooked and underpaid. I have sisters; I have a mother; I have nieces; I have friends. Men have screwed the world up. There are far more male world leaders than women and look at where we are. There needs to be balance.” “Queen Sugar” is the perfect balance of masculinity and femininity, with Durrett adding his own rugged charm to the evocative cast. “I tell people, a man can build a house, but it takes a woman to make a home. Men can do the heavy lifting, but women bring in the love. Men cannot live without women and women cannot live without men. We have to have each other.” Durrett plays the character of Davis West, the star basketball player of the series’ Los Angeles Gladiators, father of Micah and husband to the beautiful business mogul and youngest Bordelon sibling, Charlie BordelonWest, played by Dawn Lyen-Gardner. “Queen Sugar’s” first season opened with a glimpse into the fairytale marriage of Davis and Charlie, and for a brief time, the West Family’s Black love was the epitome of relationship goals. Fans were devastated to learn of

Davis’ distasteful infidelity and involvement in the catastrophic sexual assault case that would tear his family apart. DuVernay brilliantly links the fictitious world of Queen Sugar to recent entertainment news surrounding sexual misconduct and abuse. As the female-charged #MeToo and #TimesUp movements gain momentum, the campaigns for gender equality are leading

Nicholas Ashe,Timon Kyle Durrett and Dawn Lyen-Gardner

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


a cultural reckoning and giving a collective voice to women who have experienced sexual misconduct or abuse at the hands of powerful entertainers and executives in Hollywood. Durrett calls the recent allegations a wake-up call for men who need to educate themselves on consent. While Davis and Micah are both absolved of their involvement in “Queen Sugar,” power players Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby are among the first bigname celebrities being taken to task and held accountable for the abuse of their power and the violation of dozens of victims. Continued on page 6

Timon Kyle Durrett

Continued from page 5 Despite having been thrust into the international spotlight as the accused perpetrator of sexual assault, Durrett garners more admiration than animosity for his on-screen deeds when he encounters fans in public. “I love that I have the opportunity to pull at the heart strings of “Queen Sugar” fans. When people see me, they always tell me they appreciate what we’re doing. We give a voice to their silent reality. To be chosen to be part of something so artistically robust is very special.” Season two follows Davis and Charlie through a scandalized public divorce, with Davis attempting to repair the strong father-son bond he shared with son Micah, played by Nicholas Ashe. Micah, who must navigate adolescence in the unfamiliar terrain of the Deep South, experiences a traumatic arrest after driving while Black. “Queen Sugar” shines a light on systemic and institutionalized racism, deficiencies within the justice system, and inhumane conditions experienced by youth and adults within Louisiana’s privatized prison system. Durrett draws on his own experiences as a father to portray strength as he supports Micah through the posttraumatic effects of police brutality and family drama. “As a father, I can

Left to right: “Queen Sugar” cast: Dondre Whitfield (Remy Newell), Dawn-Lyen Gardner (Charley Bordelon), Omar Dorsey (Hollywood Desonier), Kofi Siriboe (Ralph Angel Bordelon), Nicholas L. Ashe (Micah West), Rutina Wesley (Nova Bordelon), Timon Kyle Durrett Photo courtesy of OWN (Davis West), Tina Lifford (Violet Bordelon)

imagine the frustration, anger and sorrow of having experienced something like that.” He shares what he has learned about manhood and fatherhood from playing Davis West in words of encouragement for young men struggling to deal with the effects of trauma, “We have to own up to what we’ve done and make peace with who we are, where we are. Sometimes things get broken, but they’re not ruined. We can be flawed but still do what we need to do. We have to move on from the pain because hurt people, hurt people.”

“Queen Sugar” is Durrett’s favorite project to-date. “With the show in its third season, you get to see the different layers pulled back from this character who is Davis West; a pretentious, hopefully maturing, loving and doting father, but wayward husband.” Durrett identifies with Davis West and seizes every opportunity to use his platform to encourage and empower men who struggle in their relationships and as fathers. “Davis has a lot of baggage. He represents life in a way that someone out there can relate to. I’ve never been the subject of something as serious as a public rape scandal, but I’ve been vilified for things that I’ve done, and I’ve made mistakes without people forgiving me. I’ve been scorned and scoffed at, but I’ve also been loved and forgiven. I’ve been understood and misunderstood. There’s a balance within my life that I’m able to inject into the life of the character.” Durrett’s acting career has flourished with the support and mentorship of his best friends, former receiver for the Green Bay Packers, Donald Driver, and fellow actor Lamont Thompson. “In this industry, I’m fortunate to have friends who have been at the height of fame and can show me how to conduct myself. Donald is one of the best people and men I’ve met in my life, and Lamont pulls me to the side and shares wisdom without sugarcoating anything. I have a great deal of admiration for both of them.” Going forward, Durrett is excited about his future on-screen and off. He looks forward to acting roles that challenge him physically and allow him to display his magnificent strength and agility, and explore his lifelong interests in science-fiction, action and adventure. “There are a lot of people I want to work with. I would love to do something with Will Smith! I’m a big kid and a prankster. I love making people laugh, and I love to have fun. I will be

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


an action-figure before it’s all said and done!” With confidence, clarity, and a few potential projects in the works, Durrett exemplifies character and integrity as he constantly challenges himself to reach new heights. In his inspirational new book, “Who The Hell Do I Think I Am?,” Durrett outlines the key to his success and encourages readers to be unreservedly honest as they develop greater self-awareness and navigate personal and professional endeavors. “I woke up one morning, and I started thinking, ‘What can I do better?’ I sat down and started writing a list of subjects that were important to my development and I began to expound upon each subject with as much honesty as I could. There’s one person on this planet that you can never lie to: yourself.” Each chapter is a guide that urges readers to undergo self-evaluation, introducing concepts and phrases that can be applied to the pursuit of personal greatness. In the wake of glowing reviews, Durrett is planning to educate and inspire young people and adults with the launch of a motivational speaking tour based on the wisdom offered in the book. “There’s a lot more about me that I want to share,” he says. With a newfound passion for publishing, Durrett anticipates the release of his next literary composition or as he calls it, “The best-selling science fiction novel in history!” Durrett’s inspiring career is the result of passion, preparation and perseverance. As his career continues to soar, he is making his mark and building a legacy of kindness, determination, and truth. Using his platform to live out his purpose, Durrett reminds us, “Be true to yourself, live in your truth, and everything else you do is going to flourish!”. Editor’s note: “Queen Sugar” airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on the OWN Network. Durrett’s book, “Who The Hell Do I Think I Am?” is available for purchase on and

U.S. Dream Academy Receives One Million Dollar Donation at 20th Anniversary Gala From Oprah Winfrey

Washington, DC ( The U.S. Dream Academy hosted an the 17th Annual “Power of A Dream” gala themed, Living the Dream” on May 8 at the Washington, D.C. Marriott Marquis presented by Amway in honor of the organizations 20th Anniversary. The gala fundraising goal of $1 million for the 450 attending guests was exceeded when global media leader Oprah Winfrey had Mpumi Nobiva, an alumna from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy who was being honored at the event with the DreamBlazer Award make a surprise announcement that Winfrey would match all donations made during the gala celebration. “Oprah Winfrey is a long-time supporter of U.S. Dream Academy, but this donation was an incredible surprise! This generous donation from Oprah and our other critical supporters, such as Amway, make our programs to serve children all over the country through our after school tutoring, mentoring and our dream building possible,” said Wintley Phipps, founder and CEO, U.S. Dream Academy. “It was a perfect moment, having one of Oprah’s mentee’s from her Leadership Academy, make the announcement. Nobiva’s accomplishments demonstrate the power of mentoring combined with hard work and

in seven cities across these nations who benefit each day from evidencebased comprehensive youth development programming delivered through Dream Academy Learning Center Communities, including in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Houston, Orlando, Indianapolis and Salt Lake City. Iconic Emmy and Tony winning actress Cicely Tyson was honored with the President’s Award for her tireless work ensuring that the next generation has the tools to succeed. Throughout her career, Tyson has always been an advocate for children and their need for education. A staunch supporter of the fine arts, Cicely co-founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She was honored by having a Performing Arts School named after her, Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts. CEO of MENTOR David Shapiro received the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award for his work in the mentoring field and impacting the future success of our children in underserved communities. MENTOR’s mission is to fuel the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships and ultimately close that gap, to

perseverance to make ‘Dreams’ come true. We were thrilled to honor Mpumi as our DreamBlazer Awardee and then to have her surprise us with this announcement was a great way to end the evening,” said C. Diane Wallace Booker, founding executive director for U.S. Dream Academy. The gala was co-hosted by popular award-winning actor, producer and director Larenz Tate along with WHUR popular radio personality Triscina Grey. This year’s honorees, Cicely Tyson (President’s Award), David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR: National Mentoring Partnership (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award) and Mpumi Nobiva (DreamBlazer Award) are passionate advocates of mentorship, education and philanthropy, working to make a lasting impact in their respective fields, in communities and around the world. For 10 years, Amway has served as the Presenting Sponsor of the gala. Since 2001, the annual Power of a Dream Gala has raised more than $19 million to assist with the provision of high-quality after-school programs specifically tailored for children living in high-risk communities. Today, there are more than 700 young people

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ensure that every young person must have the supportive relationships they need to grow and develop. MENTOR launched In Real Life, a national mentoring public awareness campaign, with the support of the NBA and has worked extensively with the Obama Administration on the mentoring component of My Brother’s Keeper. Honoree Mpumi Nobiva is an International Speaker and Communication Strategist. She has spoken at the White House, congressional fundraisers, corporate functions and nonprofit initiatives in several countries. She excelled in the first class of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, and serves as the first alumna on the board of directors of the Academy. Nobiva is developing the digital infrastructure for Share Your Story African initiative inspired by her advocacy work uniting youth against HIV/AIDS and domestic violence in South Africa. The U.S. Dream Academy honored her with the First ever Dream-Blazer Award for her innovative work. . Editor’s note: For more information about the U.S. Dream Academy, visit

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Kicks Off 48 Years at the 9th Annual Dancing With the Denver Stars Gala

choreography, and commit to a summer of rehearsals in preparation for the gala. Dancers and Stars choose their song from a list of approved artists based on the theme. They rehearse a minimum of four times before the group dress rehearsal in August. Most dancing pairs rehearse at least six times; the process includes discussing their preference for style and creating the storyline for their routine. The Dancers work on costume ideas with the Stars and then present to Cleo Parker Robinson, who attends at least one rehearsal with each pair. “Our 13 Stars demonstrate that dance students start at any point in life…whether at 3 or 93! These new dancers highlight to students, across the spectrum of Denver area schools that our minds grow with our bodies at any age” said Cleo Parker Robinson, founder and artistic director of CPRD. “The DWTDS cast of 2018 is familiar with risk, but they are learning new steps in leadership to support critical arts programs, such as dance. It is a joyful, new, and courageous educational experience in serving our community,” said Malik Robinson, executive director of CPRD. “Each year we are honored and amazed about the community leaders

2018 Cast Includes Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

Supporting a goal to help more

students’ access dance and the arts through Arts-In-Education outreach programs with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD), the 2018 cast of 13 new dance students is learning all the steps that it takes. The 2018 Dancing With The Denver Stars (DWTDS) cast has reached new heights in sharing the news of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper joining the effort. Rehearsals are underway for show time before an audience of 700 peers at the Hilton Denver City Center on August 25. Teamed with professional dancers from the CPRD Ensemble, each “Dancing Star” will select music, learn

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


who courageously volunteer to dance before their peers. The DWTDS cast of 2018 was filled in record time,” said CPRD Board Chair Gwen Brewer. “Nine years ago, it was a wild idea but it has been worth the risk. Thousands of students from all walks of life benefit from CPRD Arts-InEducation programs, and many have written us about how it has changed their lives,” Brewer added. The CPRD 2018 Gala Co-Chairs Dr. Shandra Wilson, the University of Colorado at Denver, and George Sparks, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, welcome the 13-member 2018 DWTDS cast: Kristin Bronson, City and County of Denver; Leslie Eaton, Ballard Spahr; Colleen Faddick, Polsinelli; Tyrone Gant, Vectra Bank; Patrick Heck, DIA ; Governor John Hickenlooper; Joel Hillan, CBS4; Alice Jackson, Xcel Energy for Colorado; Kelli Kelly, Diversity & Inclusion PCL Construction; Gloria Neal, GloKnows Unlimited; Amy Parsons, CSU; Cliff Rigsbee, Safeway; and Murphy Robinson with the City and County of Denver. . Editor’s note: For tickets, tables, sponsorship opportunities or more information, email Hillary Harding at


enverite Elmer Dewitt Haynes Jr. found a way to create success in the world of aviation, aircraft models and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) – despite being raised in an age of intense racism and segregation. Haynes has left his mark in the AMA, and has managed to create a legacy through his son Douglas, who has also succeeded in the world of aviation. Haynes interest in aviation and the AMA developed while in junior high school. He was asked by one of his teachers if he wanted to participate in a current project the U.S. military was offering for schools to participate in.

Shop Class

“In 1939 or 1940,” Haynes says, “I was in junior high school when the war broke out, and the word went out that they wanted to have some sort of way to have mass amounts of model airplanes representing some of the aircrafts that were being used by the enemy.” Haynes explains that in order to get a vast number of models made, the U.S. military contacted schools to see if students taking woodworking class would be willing to make the various airplanes. “They set the specifications out,” Haynes says. “And my teacher interpreted them, and then passed out the projects to various students in the class.” A benefit to participating in the project was a membership into the Academy of Model Aeronautics, according to Haynes. Through the project Haynes became involved with model airplanes and the AMA. He was excluded initially from the project because the AMA requested a roster, and his ethnicity at the time was a roadblock. However, Haynes was allowed to participate by assisting one of his classmates as he made his model aircraft. Haynes learned everything he needed by watching. From there, the majority of Haynes early life was dedicated to his interest in model airplanes, the AMA, and his desire to understand and perfect his craft. Throughout his junior high school and high school years, Haynes relentlessly increased his knowledge of aviation and model aircrafts with the help of many friends.

High-Fly Scouting

He competed in many competitions and developed a name for himself within the AMA, while managing to keep his ethnicity hidden from those with influence in the organization. A big moment in his life was a competition he had competed in while he was in the Boys Scouts.

Flying High Two Generations of By Zilingo Christopher Nwuke Dr. Haynes with his first mode space craft

Elmer Haynes with his first model aircraft

Elmer Haynes with his first model aircraft

The Haynes Family

Photos by Zilingo Christopher Nwuke

“At that point,” Douglas Haynes Naval Aviator Haynes says, “The Boys Haynes’ fascination poses with statue Scouts had a communiof Apollo 13 with model airplanes conty event in downtown astronaut tinued throughout high Denver at the auditoriJohn Swigert school and into the Navy, um called The Boys which he joined in 1946 Scouts Circus. So, with after graduation. During the airplane I was his Navy tenure, Haynes building, I was trying to became a contest director make the team with my in the AMA, and began scoutmaster. We were taking model airplanes standing in the auditoseriously and making a rium with my rubbername for himself. powered aircraft and I Between 1951 and wound it up. Then my 1952 Haynes’ name Scout Master says, became more recog‘Give it a fly.’” nized, and after his picHaynes says the airture was released – troucraft flew into the audible soon followed. He ence and kept going, and eventually had to form going clear to the back of his own club and sancthe auditorium and up tion it himself, because into the balcony. the AMA would not “I was one tickled support his pursuits. He individual because it was able to do this flew farther then because he was a everybody else’s,” contest director. Haynes says. This obstacle didn’t Haynes didn’t keep Haynes win the competidown. He hosted tion, but he gained his own competia lot of confidence. tions and competed It was his first sucin many of them cess in a major AMA competition, giv- until father time slowed him down ing him hope for the future. Haynes with a few surgeries. wanted to prove that he was capable Haynes experience dealing with of doing anything he focused on. model airplanes, the AMA and aviaDenver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


tion has not gone to waste. He passed all of his knowledge to his children. His two sons become members of the AMA and one son, Dr. Douglas Haynes, has turned this family tradition into a career.

Second Flowering

Douglas’ success in aviation is attributed to his father’s passion for airplane models. At 5-years-old, Douglas devoted his life to getting his own airline started after being forced to learn aviation at a young age. “I would not be in aviation or even know about it if it wasn’t for my dad,” Douglas explains. “When I was born, all of my brothers ahead of me were doing their aviation thing. I learned from them at the age of one or two. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I’d be out here flying in space like I am.” Dr. Douglas Haynes impressive list of achievements include: graduating from East High School in 1975 and attending Spartan College of Aeronautics where he became a pilot and a mechanic. From Spartan, Douglas attended Metropolitan State University of Denver in 1986 where he studied Aerospace Management. Douglas has three doctorates in Aeronautical Engineering, Business Management and Education. In 1995, Douglas received his first airline certification as DEHAS Inc. He also developed 3rd Wave Airlines; a new generation of fuel used to power airplanes, and has written six books on the topic. Douglas certified his second airline in 2004, which was expanded into a space line in 2009 with Front Range Airport. In 2015 he changed the name to Blue Ridge Star Line.

To Infinity and Beyond

Douglas’ current project is a space shuttle or a flying saucer. “The features of the spaceship are pretty neat,” he says. “We need to have gravity to go to space. My ship does that. It has anti-gravity with electrical power, so that you can get around what’s called the ‘Rocky Equation.’ It uses electrical power to go the speed of light. You don’t have to carry all of that fuel and at the same time it becomes more efficient. Then it rotates. It creates enough centripetal force to produce gravity and become a 3rd wave airline. Those are the big advantages of a flying saucer versus a regular rocket.” Douglas says he uses Star Trek technology configuration. “When you look at my ship,” he says (, and YouTube Channel dehas77), “you’ll see it looks like the Star Trek configuration.” The knowledge passed down from Haynes Jr. to his son Douglas has really helped him get his airline on track and begin his space line. .

A Lesson in



office of the Secretary of State, a state Supreme Court judgeship, seven benches on Denver District Court, and the mayor of Denver and the Governor of Colorado were Klan members. In the shadow of this institutional racism and violence directed

Dearfield and professor of African American studies at the University of Northern Colorado, “It was the most successful, best known African American farming community in the United States at that time.”

towards African Americans, a group of determined and hard-working African Americans forged ahead, building a community based on business, determination and a dream of selfreliant independence. The first year was tough, according to Oliver Toussaint Jackson, only two of the seven families that lived there…“had wooden houses and the suffering was intense…buffalo chips and sagebrush was our chief fuel. Three of our horses died from starvation and the other three were too weak to pull the empty wagon.” But the people persevered. By 1921, 700 people lived in Dearfield and the town had a net worth of over a million dollars. The residents learned the techniques of dry farming, a way to grow crops in regions of limited rainfall and moisture, something Native Americans had done for hundreds of years. With this technique, the colonist, as Oliver Toussaint Jackson called the Black settlers, grew a host of crops such as corn, alfalfa, beets and strawberries and they also raised livestock such as hogs, chickens and turkeys. They built two churches, a school, a blacksmith shop, dancehall, restaurant, grocery store, boarding house and a gas station. The vision and promise Jackson had for the community was coming to life. According to George Junne, an expert on

Things were going well until the rain stopped. The dust bowl conditions of the early 1930’s combined with the great depression conspired to halt the success of the community. Creeks and wells dried up. Without water rights and a dependence on natural rainfall that was not forthcoming, people started to seek better opportunities and left the settlement in search of a decent living. By 1940, only 12 residents lived in Dearfield. Jackson died there in 1948 and his niece Jenny Jackson was the last known full time resident who lived there. She died there in 1973. The morning my wife and I drove to Dearfield, the mountains in the west could barely be seen because of the low hanging clouds. We exited the main road, went under a one-way underpass, and ended up on a dirt road driving for five miles and wondering if we made the right exit. But finally, we saw a little sign that read “Dearfield” and if we would have blinked, we would have missed it.

By Thomas Holt Russell

istory is littered with stories of people overcoming great odds and becoming successful. African American history can be used as an example of what can be accomplished when a dream is driven to reality by passion and dedication. Oliver Toussaint Jackson, an African American businessman originally from Ohio, had a dream of creating a self-sufficient farming community for African Americans on the high, dry plains of northeast Colorado. Making this a reality is a difficult task

in the best of times, but attempting to do this in 1910 would seem impossible. Jim Crow was alive and strong; several dozens of African American people were still being lynched annually. In 1920’s, the Ku Klux Klan controlled the Colorado House and Senate, the

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Just like all the descriptions online, Dearfield is a small patch of land surrounded by vast, open, and seemingly barren plains. I had three cameras with me; my digital Nikon 7100 and

two film cameras—a Minolta SR T101 and a Pentax K1000. As luck would have it, my digital camera malfunctioned and I was unable to use it. I had my film cameras but since I would not know how the photographs came out until I developed the film, I had to use my old trusty back-up: my

cell phone camera. So these photos were taken with my cell phone. No one else was there. Another car showed-up briefly with another Black couple. A guy came out to take a few pictures and then left quickly. So the entire time, I was alone to go through the dilapidated wooden structures. I walked through the former house of Jackson. Melancholia is the word that comes to mind but that feeling is tempered because I think about the resilience of this structure and that it is the physical manifestation of an outrageous (for its time) dream. Time had beat these structures down, with

wind, snow, heat and rain, but the structured stood defiant against those elements and it made me think of the people who built those structures and their determination to overcome the obstacles that hindered them. After I snapped the photos, we left and continued driving west toward the mountains and Greeley, Colorado, and forgetting it was St. Patrick’s Day, we inadvertently walked into a big celebration of parades, kilts and green beer. But, as I watched those barren plains that

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stretched for miles, I imagined the fortitude required to live in what many considered an inhospitable wasteland. The lack of resources, little support, cold winters and miles away from the rest of civilization is enough to turn most people off. Exactly what type of person would take this on? I think the type of person that would do whatever it takes for a chance at dignity in the face of overwhelming odds. People who would do the hard work needed for a chance at self-reliant independence. For these colonists, freedom and independence was better than a pile of gold. In these challenging times, we can always look at the past and our history for strength. No matter how awful things are now, our ancestors had it much worse, and yet they persevered. We would all do well to remember those African Americans, and adopt their resiliency. . Editor’s note: Thomas Holt Russell is a teacher, writer, and photographer. For more information, visit www.thomasholtrussell.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Tanya Ishikawa 303-819-7784

Four Lessons the NFL Could Learn from ABC Following

By Terrance Woodbury

Roseanne Barr’s obscenely offensive comments about former Obama Senior Advisor, Valerie Jarrett, and ABC took immediate and decisive action to demonstrate that her words describing an accomplished Black woman as an ape did not reflect the networks values. The network’s cancellation of its highest rated show - a move that prioritized integrity and a commitment to decency over money, ratings, and even political expediency - surprised many. The NFL, as it faces continual media and public scrutiny, could stand to take a knee and learn a lesson from ABC.

To be fair, ABC faced welldeserved scrutiny regarding its decision to reboot Roseanne in the first place, given Barr’s previous divisive and racist comments. The cancellation, nonetheless, has been generally wellreceived by the public, or at least Black Twitter, as a bold and affirming commitment to the diverse audience that ABC serves. ABC and NFL – both massive media corporations - are at two ends of a spectrum with handling racism in the Trump era. Under pressure from President Trump and donors, the NFL recently decided to censor its players’ peaceful protest by forcing them to stand for the National Anthem or to invisibly protest in the locker room. The new policy, set to go into effect in the upcoming NFL season, poses a serious question: How will this decision affect players who feel silenced and fans who feel ignored by the League’s aggressive stance against such a pervasive social justice issue. A poll that I conducted earlier this year on behalf of BlackPAC, an organization committed to increasing political participation of Black voters, showed that in the previous NFL season, 21 percent of Black consumers watched less football and 14 percent stopped watching football all together

due to the treatment of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest. This downtick in viewership should’ve served as a warning to the NFL. Instead, the League decided to censor the peaceful protest of every single player. Many spectators, me included, are waiting with baited breath to see how this decision will affect NFL ratings in the upcoming football season. But while we wait, there are a few lessons the NFL should have learned from ABC’s decisive response to bias and racism. 1. Do not mistake the aggressive banter of a few loud racists as an erosion of American ideals and values. ABC understood the Barr-fiasco for what it was: an opportunity to declare that the normalization of hateful and divisive language does not reflect the values of this nation, no matter who they come from or how loudly they are tweeted. The NFL had an opportunity to make a similar declaration about American values. Despite the feeble attempt of some to co-opt a movement about justice and dignity into a debate about white nationalism thinly veiled as patriotism…we still hold some truths to be self-evident. That freedom of both speech and protest are inextricably woven into the fabric of our nation. In the coming season, athletes that choose to accept punishment over censorship, as many undoubtedly shall, will be remembered on the right side of history and justice, just as Muhammed Ali has been honored for protesting the Vietnam draft. 2. Stand up for and defend the dignity of the people responsible for making your brand among the most valuable in the world. ABC built one of the most diverse audiences in entertainment by ushering in content that is created by, starred in, and catered to minority audiences. Blackish, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and Grey’s Anatomy - successful shows created and produced by women of color whose appearance Barr presumably equates to apes. ABC made the bold, or maybe just fiscally prudent, decision to stand in solidarity with its diverse audience and talent pool. However, after multiple demands and complaints from Donald Trump, including that the “ungrateful son of a bitch” should be forced off the field, the NFL acquiesced and forced every player off the field or to their feet. Adding insult to censorship, they did so without condemnation of the President or the resentful fans that have used racial epithets in reference to protesting players. The NFL demonstrated zero allegiance to the players that made it the most profitable athletic enterprise in America.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Not exactly the best way to inspire morale and loyalty. 3. Do not capitulate to a tyrannical President’s attempts to use his political pulpit to bend the private sector to his will. Prior to Barr’s insidious remarks, Trump raved about her ratings and boasted about their close relationship. Naturally, following her departure he did what we all expected…defended Barr and attacked ABC for previous statements made towards him. Many expect Trump’s attacks toward ABC to continue and possibly escalate, but the network has remained unwavering, and I sure hope they continue to. The NFL failed to demonstrate the same fortitude toward sustained attacks from Donald Trump, who has had the League in his crosshairs since they blocked him from buying an NFL team over a decade ago. Following sustained attacks against the players and encouraging fans to boycott professional football, the NFL commissioner and team owners (a group of all white men with one single exception) made a unanimous decision to comply with Trump’s demands. This leads me into the final lesson the NFL could learn from ABC. 4. Put some women of color in charge at the NFL front office. It took less than 3 hours for ABC President Channing Dungey, a Black woman, to cancel the highest rated show on her network following Barr’s comments. In today’s atmosphere of heightened expectations of corporate responsibility many enterprises can learn from such decisive action. There is simply a greater social consciousness, sensitivity, and responsibility amongst communities that are most affected by oppression. And in American society, over the longest sustainable time, that community has been women of color. A League that spent decades covering up irreparable physical and psychological trauma to its players, that shows more contempt toward peaceful protest then it does toward domestic violence, and that is more concerned with white comfort then it is with Black lives, is a League that can take notes from an institution that was bold enough to get it right…despite what it might cost. . Editor’s note: Terrance Woodbury is a senior analyst at Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies where he conducts market research, including focus groups and public polling, that help candidates and companies target and communicate with diverse audiences. His research focuses on people of color and millennials who have become the driving force of rapidly evolving consumer and electoral trends in both the United States and abroad.

Actor and Proud Father Omar Epps Releases Inspirational and Moving Memoir “From Fatherless to Fatherhood” be present in their child’s life and come to terms with their own issues surrounding their fathers. Being raised by a strong and hardworking single mother and married to his loving and accepting wife, Epps also praises women for the powerful strength they possess through motherhood and empowers them to foster healthy coparenting relationships and gracefully navigate complex parenting roles. In “From Fatherless to Fatherhood,” Epps reflects on his early

acting days, delving into personal stories about the decisions he made that set him on the path to career success and the friends who inspired and encouraged him along the way. Through honest work and determination, he was able to create and maintain a flourishing career and provide for his family while finding a work-life balance. “Fatherhood is about much more than providing food and shelter for a


ctor Omar Epps, who has

starred in films such as Juice, Higher

Learning and Love and Basketball as

well as the television series “House,” released his new memoir “From

Fatherless to Fatherhood.” Epps, with more than 30 years in the entertain-

ment industry and is also a writer,

producer and entrepreneur, writes intimately and earnestly about his

journey from humble beginnings in

Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was raised

in a single-parent household, through his rise in the entertainment industry and ultimate success as an actor and

family man. Detailing his own experience of growing up without his biological father and then becoming a father himself, Epps illuminates how the power of choice and the decisions dads make have a lifelong impact on their children while also providing a call to action to readers. “I wrote this book so that my personal story can be an inspiration to others and spark an engaged societal conversation about issues related to fatherhood,” says Epps who has been married to wife, Keisha, for more than decade and is a dedicated father to his three children. “I was able to break the cycle of fatherlessness in my own family, and I’m an advocate for other men to make this important change as well.” Sharing his story of pain, triumph and forgiveness in a unique and visceral way, Epps is encouraging men to Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


child and cutting a check to cross off a list,” says Epps. “Fatherhood is about being active in a child’s life and cultivating those sacred bonds of family while guiding and teaching them how to be a loving, honest, respectful individual who will radiate goodness to all they encounter.”. Editor’s note: “From Fatherless to Fatherhood” by Omar Epps is available through Lulu Publishing. For more information, visit

PCs for People Donates the Gift of Technology to Teen Mothers at Florence Crittenton High School in Denver By Kelie Kyser

In today’s technology-driven climate, society has become dependent on computers to connect to the world. The significance of a subject is contingent on whether it’s trending, and every resource we seek is just a click, swipe, or tap away. People access the Internet to find answers and solve problems; therefore, the penalty for being disconnected is being left behind. The leadership team behind PCs for People recognizes this verity; hence, the nonprofit organization’s mission is to bridge the digital divide by providing technology to underserved populations.

Education is an example of an environment where access to technology is necessary to enhance the learning process, and vital to the success of students. In fact, a recent report from the Alliance of Excellent Education and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education determined that technology has a positive impact on the learning outcomes of students at risk of dropping out of school or failing courses. Accordingly, for the third consecutive year, PCs for People presented refurbished laptops and Internet access to the teen moms of Florence

Crittenton Services, a Denver nonprofit partnered with Denver Public Schools that enables teen mothers to complete high school and pursue postsecondary options. On May 30, 2018, 30 young women graduated from Florence Crittenton High School with a strong foundation. These young women are headed toward their future armed with knowledge and the gift of technology underwritten by Colleen Abdoulah, past chair/president of WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone. “The use of technology in school is pervasive. Students are at a great disadvantage if they don’t have a computer in the classroom and at home,” said Julie Seltz, executive director, PCs for People. “Without the Internet, students are limited in their ability to fairly compete with their peers. It is our mission to provide equitable access to technology. In this case, we want to close the educational achievement gap.” On the topic of technological advantage, Julia Goodman, marketing and communications coordinator at Florence Crittenton, recalled, “Last year we had girls telling us they were writing their papers for school on their phones. They were also using their data because they didn’t have WIFI at home.” Noting that students at the high school utilize computers to apply to college, look for jobs, and research the details of various trades, she added, “Our goal is for 100 percent of our seniors to have post-secondary plans. The idea is that we will be able to send them off to college, trade school, or career with a laptop because without that they are really at a disadvantage.” It seems fitting that Stephanie M., a recent graduate from this year’s cohort, has plans to pursue a career in coding. She was introduced to Florence Crittenton by her high school principal, who suggested the resource to the teen after she learned she was pregnant during her senior year. In addition to her mother and other natural supports, Stephanie utilized par-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


enting classes offered by the school. Additionally, she was able to enroll her child in the Early Childhood Education Center available to mothers on campus. She also took advantage of the post-secondary guidance offered at the school to help her focus on her future goals. During a recent small, private ceremony, a few of the graduates who hadn’t benefitted from the laptop distribution the previous year were provided with the asset as a parting gift. The young women have plans to utilize the computers on their journey to future success. “Now that I’ve graduated, I’m going to use the laptop that I received for my GIS (Geographic Information System) classes, and hopefully I can use it for my internship that I am going to get this summer,” said Carmen L. The partnership between PCs for People and Florence Crittenton creates vast opportunities for teen mothers. These young women may have otherwise been faced with the decision to put their education on hold to provide care and financial support to their child. Goodman affirmed, “They come [to Florence Crittenton], and they find their potential. We are supporting women who are going to go out into the workforce here in Denver to make an impact and give back to the community.”.

About PCs for People

PCs for People’s mission is to provide access to technology to underserved populations. Founded in 1998, the nonprofit organization has distributed over 60,000 computers and connected thousands of families to lowcost Internet options. Their services include free end-of-life IT asset management and certified data sanitization, technology refurbishing, computer distribution, computer repair, Internet service, tech education, and free electronic recycling. For more information on PCs for People, visit:

Get Ready for Your First Triathlon

By Kim Farmer

If you are have a competi-

tive streak and want to challenge yourself, a triathlon could be a great choice to take you to the next level. You can do it even if you don’t yet know how to swim and have never run a day in your life. The key is to take in small steps until you can hardly wait to find one in your own neighborhood.

July and August are a great time to start training for your upcoming triathlon. You may have visions of crawling across the finish line while gasping for air, breath, oxygen or

whatever else your mind chooses to call it, by the time you get there. Rest assured that while it will be a challenge, you will also have lots of fun! Just follow these steps to keep you on track. While there are several types of

triathlons, if you are a beginner, you should consider training for a sprint triathlon which is 500 yards of swimming, 11 to 15 miles of biking and 3.1 miles of running. If you don’t yet know how to swim, you can learn in about two months or less if you take lessons (group or private) and practice consistently on your own. Five hundred yards is about 20 laps in a 25 yard pool which may seem daunting right now if you are not a swimmer. However, once you learn the basics of swimming and get comfortable with breathing patterns, you will find that your progress will improve over time. The cliché’ that comes to mind is ‘practice makes perfect’ but please don’t wait until you are perfect or you might be waiting a while! It’s ok to make mistakes and improve as you progress. The next step is to shop around for an event that is local to where you live. Here in Colorado, you will get the opportunity to pick and choose from many local events. A couple of great websites for local triathlons are and Now let’s focus on the time commitment that you can expect to train for your first triathlon. It is a good idea to give yourself 12 weeks to train and get in shape to minimize your chance for injury. If you can train consistently for about five days per week to increase your endurance and train your muscles, ligaments and tendons to withstand the duration, then you will be well on your way. Assuming you are training five days per week, be sure to incorporate strength training in addition to the three main exercises of swimming, biking and running. You will want to build up your endurance over the 12 weeks to be able to do all three endurance activities for a longer duration of time by increasing the time incrementally. There are many sprint triathlon training plans you can follow. One great source is So what equipment will you need? You will want to be prepared and equipped with the right gear: •Swim suit, goggles, and a swim cap •A bicycle that fits you and has all working parts. It can be a road bike, a mountain bike or a hybrid. You don’t need to buy a special time trial bike or triathlon bike unless you really want one.

Making transmissions well since 1983. Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


•Biking shorts with padding is more comfortable to prevent soreness •A good pair of running shoes is a necessity. Proper fitting shoes can help prevent pain and injury in your back and knees. •Cycling shoes are optional Triathlons boasted more than four million registrants last year in the US with more than 37 percent of those being females. It certainly is not only for athletes, and is a great way to lose weight and increase your endurance. Nutrition is also important when training for an athletic event, and the same basic rules apply: Portion control, balanced macronutrients, small ‘meals’ throughout the day and a keen awareness of which nutrients your body is needing is in order. If you feel that triathlons are more than you can handle, I challenge you to challenge yourself and do something outside of your comfort zone to improve your endurance, strengthen your heart and lungs and overcome any self-limiting beliefs you may have. Anyone can complete a triathlon and you can too! . Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit or email

Ground Rules

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

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

Oceans 8


Oceans 8 lll

By Jon Rutledge

e have been short on good Heist films and Ocean’s 8 fills that void. Fairly new write Olivia Milch (Dude) and Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Big) use the classic heist format and bring a new chapter to the Ocean’s Franchise. The best part of this is viewers do not need to watch any of the previous films to enjoy it. This film stands strong on its own. With only touches from the original trilogy, as a wink to the fans, they bring us more content in the Oceans universe. Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) fresh out of prison gets to work on a plan she worked on while serving time for a previous grift gone wrong. Once out she seeks her trusted partner Lou (Cate Blanchett) who has her finger on the pulse of all the “Professionals” they need for this job. This is where we get the hiring montage. First, we meet the mark, Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) an actress who is hosting the Met Gala while wearing the Cartier necklace known as the Toussaint with a price tag of $100 to $150 million. They bring in a clothing designer, Rose (Helena Bonham Carter) a computer expert called Nine Ball (Rihanna) a jeweler, Amita (Mindy Kaling) and a pickpocket, Constance (Awkwafina). Also, you can’t forget the fence, Tammy (Sarah Paulson). Together they attempt an incredible and funny heist.


Everyone is absolutely outstanding in their roles – well cast and well performed. The on-screen chemistry with expert pace and timing of the film make it a joy to watch. This spinoff absolutely has the strength to launch another three films. My fear is the studio will learn the wrong lesson. The take away from this movie needs to be there is a hunger for female-driven films. We have seen record box office returns on films like Wonder Woman and Girls Trip. Original content written and directed by women will provide an honest voice and a gateway to more great films. I fear they will learn gimmick movies starring all women will work. They make think Ghostbusters reboot was a failed attempt and this one has the formula right. If you think about Ghostbusters and Ocean’s 8 are in the same category you would be wrong. The whole misogynistic backlash aside, Ghostbusters was a complete reboot of the original film. Fans took it personally like something as being taken from them. Many did not see Ghostbusters but made a judgment on it. Ocean’s 8 is a spinoff, so it does nothing to the original content. If viewers dismiss this film as women taking something away from the Oceans movie they are completely wrong. Go see this film then decide. I was trying to write this review without mention the gender swapping aspect because it’s a great movie all on its own. To make this style and form of a film we have to stop looking at it from a gender perspective and look at each film on its own merits and measure it against other films of the same genres without thinking of gender, race or anything other than “is this a good movie or not.” Only then will we be free from stereotypes and start watching great films from everyone.


Incredibles 2 lll

By Khaleel Herbert

icking up where The Incredibles left off in 2004, the Parr Family tangoes with the Underminer and saves the city from utter destruction…sort of. Part of City Hall was damaged by the Underminer’s runaway drill and he got away. After brash repercussions from the city and the termination of supers once again, the Parrs are forced to live in a motel to contemplate their next move. But their old friend Lucius a.k.a. Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson), wants them to meet up with Winston Deavor (voice of Bob Odenkirk).

Incredibles 2

Deavor loves supers because his dad loved supers and when they disappeared, it broke his heart. Since then, Deavor and his sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener), took over his father’s communications company to get supers back in the limelight. Their first step is recruiting Elastigirl, because unlike Mr. Incredible, she doesn’t make a mess of things when saving the world. Mr. Incredible is now in charge of taking care of the kids in a new home, leant by Deavor. Incredibles 2, like its predecessor, is a great family flick. The animation looks cleaner and there’s a great balance of comic relief and action, especially with Jack-Jack roughing up a raccoon in the backyard. The film also aligns with today’s views of feminism and the MeToo Movement. Elastigirl, unlike the last film, gets the spotlight and recognition female superheroes deserve, similar to last year’s Wonder Woman. The cast holds most of the same players from the original film including Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sarah Vowell, giving a great balance with newcomers Phil LaMarr, Huck Milner, Bob Odenkirk and Sophia Bush. The idea of mind control and hypnotism is nothing new in the superhero genre from Spider-Man to Batman and Robin. But Brad Bird puts his own spin on it, with the Screen Slaver as a worthy foe. Although Incredibles 2 was worth the 14-year stint, it may have been too long for some Incredibles fans to wait. Disney and Pixar’s scheme was probably to wait until the original audiences grew up so they could make money on nostalgia, just like with the new Star Wars films. If you ask me, they need to follow under the lead of DreamWorks. We didn’t have to wait 10 years for another Shrek or Kung Fu Panda movie. Twentieth Century Fox didn’t even wait more than five years to make all the Ice Age sequels. Part of me still favors the original Incredibles because it was the first superhero story to address the consequences of acting super. Then came

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Captain America: Civil War. Mr. Incredible was sued by a man who wanted to commit suicide and people on the train he saved sued him for injuries they sustained. There was Syndrome’s Stan story where he was Mr. Incredible’s biggest fan but became a formidable bad guy. Also, the scene where Samuel L. Jackson yells for his super suit is just plain hilarious. Lastly, I don’t approve of the few swear words Evelyn says. I know it’s 2018 but come on! Incredibles 2 gets with the times having Elastigirl at the forefront, especially in this vital time of empowering women and young girls, and has its audiences take a closer look at the heroism and extraordinary powers of good parenting. Maybe Pixar should release a Frozone spinoff movie with Samuel L. Jackson. I bet it’ll rake in dollars and set records like Black Panther did earlier this year. Plus, Pixar’s short film, Dao, was emotionally fulfilling and heartwarming. A great look at family values with an Asian-American family.

Talking 211: “Hostage Situations Create a Lot of Danger,” says Cory Hardrict By Samantha Ofole-Prince

Photos courtesy of Momentum Pictures



eist flicks have thrilled audiences for more than half a century for there’s nothing more engaging than seeing cops and crooks battling on the big screen. Just ask Cory Hardrict who stars in 211, the latest adrenaline drama to hit theaters. “You have two sides fighting each other and with civilians involved, it’s all the makings of a good film. Plus the hostage situation creates a lot of danger and puts you on the edge,” says the actor who plays a cop in the drama, which was inspired by one of the longest and bloodiest events in American police history.

Written and directed by York Shackleton (Kush), 211 is loosely based on a real bank robbery that happened in Los Angeles in 1997 referred to as the Battle of North Hollywood where there was a shootout between two heavily armed bank robbers and the Los Angeles Police Department. In the end, the perpetrators were killed, 12 police officers and eight civilians were injured, and numerous vehicles and property destroyed by the nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition fired by the robbers and police. The film, which uses the events as a backdrop also stars Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) and Michael Rainey Jr. (Power) and for Hardrict, who has played in action movies American Sniper and Battle Los Angeles, was the perfect action vehicle to flex his acting chops. “I have a knack for falling into doing action movies dealing with shooting a firearm and wearing a uniform,” he shares. “My character Hanson is one of the officers who tackles the criminals and what’s cool about it is that they changed his race to African-American. York [director] had an open mind about adding diversity to the film, which I thought was kinda of cool,” adds the actor who says he heavily researched the lives of cops to get a sense of his character. “Tactical training is vital because you want to make sure you’re representing officers accurately. We have to look and act like real police officers, or the movie won’t resonate as powerfully as it should.” Not every heist goes off without a hitch and Shackleton’s movie addresses racial elements and bias by also adding Rainey Jr.’s character who plays Kenny, an African-American teenager forced to go on a courtordered police ride-along as punishment for defending himself against school bullies. Kenny becomes the young civilian passenger who gets caught in the middle of the massive shootout as the film delves into what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer on the streets.

Jason Mitchell: Having a style with the camera is what Director X is really known for By Samantha Ofole-Prince


Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

ome call them remakes, others call them reboots, but for Director X, his latest spin on Superfly, the 70s Blaxploitation film is simply called a remix. This millennial version of a successful narcotics dealer who decides to


Director X

quit the business puts a brilliant and stylish spin on the 1972 movie directed by Gordon Parks Jr. and made famous by the legendary soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. In this remix, X, who is known for his music videos, trades the original location of New York for Atlanta, throws in some visually stunning scenery, sprinkles in an eclectic sound and adds an exceeding charismatic cast, all while paying homage to the movie many consider a classic in Black film history. With an excellent cast, headed by Trevor Jackson, who plays Youngblood Priest, a stylishly devilish drug dealer in control of his own destiny, the film stars Lex Scott Davis and Andrea Londo as his girlfriends, Michael Kenneth Williams as his dealer and Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton, Mudbound), who rounds off the main as his best friend Eddie and provides the film’s comic relief. “Eddie is the kind of guy that you just hate to love, but you can’t help but love him,” says Mitchell, who like several of the cast members revisited the original film once they signed on to their respective roles. “I am so serious about my craft and had to find the essence of what Eddie was talking about for he couldn’t understand why Priest wanted to quit the business after making four million dollars in two months.” The film really kicks off after Priest gets into an altercation with a member of a Sno Patrol, a competitor in the drug game, outside of a nightclub. An innocent bystander is shot and he decides it may be time to exit the drug trade and ambitiously crafts an intricate plot to get out of the business with one last big score. As he puts his exit strategy into place, he gets pulled back into the business facing further obstacles as he becomes entangled with the Sno Patrol, the Mexican drug kingpin Adalberto Gonzalez (Esai

Morales) and a pair of wickedly crooked cops. Taking its cue from the original, the film maintains that authentic look, keeping some original scenes intact as it takes you from their luxury upscale pads, crowded clubs to downtowns tenements. There are spectacular cars and car chases, carefully choreographed fight sequences, solid cinematography, furs, flashy outfits and sophisticated, fashion-forward pieces from the likes of Phillip Plein, AllSaints, and Burberry. “Having a style with the camera is what Director X is really known for,” says Mitchell. “He has created so many dope music videos and his mind is constantly running and it was good to be able to work with somebody who wasn’t intimated by the situation around him.” Fans of the original will be delighted with X’s spin as the director clearly honors the iconic title. Not only has he retained key characters, he’s also maintained the essence of the story and sprinkled in some millennial swagger.

Why The Original Superfly Is Still Fly By Khaleel Herbert


ith the release of Director X’s new flick, Superfly, it’s set to speak to a new generation. But what most of these youngsters may not know is this Superfly is a remake of the 1972 flick of the same name starring Ron O’Neal, Carl Lee and Shelia Frazier. The story is set in New York with Priest (O’Neal) who’s one of the baddest drug-dealers on the block. He’s one of those guys you don’t want to steal money from because he’ll chase you across town to get it back. With his partner, Eddie (Carl Lee), Priest hopes to sell 30 kilos of cocaine to make a million dollars and leave the drug game for life. But when some crooked cops want in on the deal, Priest must use all of his brawn and Actor Ron O’Neal

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


brains to execute his escape. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Director X’s version is sleek, especially since he’s directed music videos for Usher, Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Ludacris, Drake and more. But he’s got nothing on the classic. First, Superfly was part of the Blaxploitation films of the ‘70s. Along with other classics like Shaft, Blacula, Foxy Brown, The Mack and more, Superfly was one of the first films to portray African-Americans as protagonists, not victims of brutality or sidekicks to White protagonists. Although these films got much backlash for their stereotypical portrayals, they were still popular. Next, Curtis Mayfield made an epic soundtrack for the film. Rolling Stone ranked the soundtrack #72 on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, describing it as “astonishing, marrying lush string parts to deep bass grooves with lots of wah-wah guitar.” The album included the hits, “Pusherman,” “Freddie’s Dead,” Give Me Your Love,” and “Junkie Chase.” Similar to Isaac Hayes’ soundtrack to Shaft, Rolling Stone said Superfly’s soundtrack “packed more drama than the movie.” If you ask me, I’ll take the smooth voice of Mayfield over Future’s auto-tune-heavy mumble-rap any day. Lastly, Eddie has one of the most epic monologues in the whole film. “You know you got this fantasy in your head about getting out of the life and setting that other world on its ear. What the f—k you gonna do except hustle? Besides pimping? You really ain’t got the stomach for that.” Jay-Z used part of this monologue on the first track of his album, Kingdom Come. The majority of the new generation may not give a spit about the original Superfly. They’ll be too engrossed by the music video-esque style of Director X and Future’s mush mouth lyrics. But for those who appreciate the classics and were even alive during that time, will understand and accept that O’Neal’s version is still fly in 2018. .


Langley Scholarship Foundation Presents The 2018 Recipients

Drs. Joseph and Alice Langley hosted an awards reception at the home of the Langley’s on Sunday, May 20. In the presence of their parents, Michaela Conway and Austen Yarosh were the recipients of 2018 Langley Scholarship Foundation and were presented a $1,000 scholarship to be used at the University of their choosing.

Mustang Sally and Musie Yonas Selected To Attend Summer Business Institutes Mustang Sally, a member of Project Greer Street, has been selected to attend the 2018 Summer Business Institute of the prestigious Leadership, Education and

Development (“LEAD”) program at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The Ross School of Business is one of the premier business schools in America. The national competition included more than 1,000 applicants for the program. The Institute exposes the chosen high school juniors to business principles and skill sets required for successful business careers. Students reside and attend classes on campus with the opportunity to explore a variety of business sectors including finance, entrepreneurship, accounting and marketing. Musie Yonas, a junior member of Project Greer Street, has been selected from a national pool of students to attend the prestigious MEET Kelley Summer Business Program at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University @ Bloomington. The chosen students will compete in a business case competition, learn practical business and marketing skills make connections with members of the School of Business faculty, and experience life on the beautiful campus.

Dr. James Cone: His Faith Gave Rise to Hope A Tribute to Dr. James Cone

Dr. James Cone

Dr. Dante James

The passing of Dr. James Cone on Saturday, April 28, 2018 has resulted in a rollercoaster of emotions for me. I became aware of his transition while driving through the mountains of West Virginia. Driving with tears in my eyes and streaming down my face was not safe so I took the first exit I could. Dr. Cone also had that effect on me while he was alive. He stirred a range of human emotions including pain, joy, pride and determination. His writings, his sermons, the professional relationship and friendship I was fortunate to share with Dr. Cone are influences I will carry in my heart, my spiritual journey, and my work for the rest of my life. My company, Black Pearl Media Works, is working on an independent feature-length documentary on Black Liberation Theology. Clearly, this film could not be made without the guidance, participation and support of Dr. Cone. He and I started working on the film in March of 2017. After reviewing a three-page synopsis, Dr. Cone and I with guidance from Fred Davie, executive director of Union Theological Seminary, and Dr. Cone’s special assistant, Victoria Furio, developed a plan, schedule and found resources to film an interview with Dr. Cone. Concurrently, Dr. Cone also committed to reading the treatment I was writing for the film. I requested that he mark it up the way he did his student’s papers. He laughed and said, “Be careful what you ask for.” The interview took place on July 18, 2017 in Lampman Chapel at Union Theological Seminary. The crew set up the preceding evening. It was imperative that we be ready as soon as Dr. Cone arrived. He and I developed a great relationship when I executive produced, This Far by Faith, the final series for Blackside Films. It is ironic that my mentor, Henry Hampton, the founder and executive producer of Blackside Films, never saw the series

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


he conceived, and Dr. Cone will not see my film entitled God of the Oppressed. He graciously granted permission to use his book title as the title of the film. I was honored that he made time for my film project. His plan for the summer was to do nothing but work on what he referred to as his final book. Leading up to the interview when he had time we would chat about writing; how difficult it was and how it can always be better and improved. While preparing for the interview and researching the film, I read “Black Liberation and Black Power,” “The Spirituals and the Blues: An Interpretation,” “God of the Oppressed,” “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” and many of his essays and articles. In all of his work, Dr. Cone argues for a theology constructed from the experiences of Black people who understand God’s role in liberating those crying for the pain to end. I wanted him to know I studied his work and was prepared. Consequently, a couple of times I framed questions with quotes from his books. Finally, he said, “I know what I wrote, just ask your questions and I’m going to say what I want to say.” He was pushing me to think about my film and what I wanted it to say. My final question for him was, “If God is a god of the oppressed why are Black people still oppressed?” As written in “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” he said “Suffering naturally gives rise to doubt. How can one believe in God in the face of such horrendous suffering as slavery, segregation, and the lynching tree? Under these circumstances, doubt is not a denial but an integral part of faith. It keeps faith from being sure of itself. But doubt does not have the final word. The final word is faith giving rise to hope.” The entire interview was incredible and the crew was infused with emotion and spirituality. Afterword he signed copies of his books. My final word to him as we embraced was, “Thank you, Dr. Cone, we have great love and respect for you, and we appreciate your many contributions to the spiritual journey of Black people.” He thanked the crew and me and walked away in his quiet dignified manner. Physically he walked away but spiritually and through his incredible body of work he will be with me always.

Dante James Black Pearl Media Works

Editor’s note: Dante James is an awardwinning independent filmmaker and educator. For more information on upcoming projects including, God of the Oppressed, visit

It’s Time to Find Your Courage

An Open Letter to National Football League (NFL) Players By Kaia Wright

Photo by Angelo Cozzi

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear NFL Players,

It’s time to find your courage.

National Football League owners have thrown down the gauntlet in their decision to compel standing for the national anthem and left you with two options: embrace your power as nearly 70 percent of the sports league that is the world’s most profitable as a direct result of your talent and labor; or bow to a provocative display of authoritarianism intended to crush peaceful, powerful opposition to centuries of systemic racism. The NFL’s new national anthem

policy reflects not only a complete disregard for the humanity and autonomy of Black people, but the apparent belief the title “owner” conveys literal ownership of your Black bodies. It is also the latest in a long list of similarly abhorrent actions by the NFL in service to racism and white supremacy. From overtly excluding Black players from its ranks; to restricting access to positions based upon presumed intellectual inferiority; to maintaining a system of inequity where the overwhelming majority of leadership positions are held by whites while you comprise most of the labor pool. Like our ancestors, your primary value to NFL ownership appears to be the degree to which they may continue to use your body, with little to no regard for the effects on your physical and personal well-being, to make exorbitant profits. Based upon the NFL’s adoption of this dishonorable policy and the associated deliberate exclusion from the league of your brothers Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, I respectfully recommend you consider engaging in one or more of the following methods of protest during the 2018 season: 1) Refuse to play football, akin to a holdout (#NationalAnthemHoldout); 2) Refuse to stand for the national anthem (#MyNameIsNotToby); or 3) Raise a “power to the people” fist clad in a black glove during the national anthem (#TooBlackTooStrong)

It’s time to find your courage.

The core basis for the NFL’s national anthem policy is the contention that failing to stand for the national anthem is disrespectful to veterans and the flag. This argument is illogical. A nation’s anthem and flag’s primary purpose is to represent the entirety of its citizenry; and participation in the anthem ceremony is a private decision every American is entitled to make. Any other symbology attached to the anthem or flag related to subgroups such as veterans, police,

and civil servants must be subordinate or secondary to its primary representation. Further, as veterans take an oath to support and defend the constitution, it is nonsensical to then declare that the actual exercise of those rights is disrespectful to this very group. The military is not a monolith, and our varied opinions on this issue should not be given any more weight than that of any other citizen. Additionally, the statute which delineates actions disrespectful to the flag does not include kneeling or remaining seated during the anthem. Finally, as eloquently stated by the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. Barnette, To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. And while the NFL is a private organization to which the first amendment does not directly apply—its use of taxpayer funds and receipt of tax benefits to build stadiums aside. The Court’s message is a relevant and poignant one.

It’s time to find your courage.

The NFL’s anthem policy was enacted without the consultation of any players or the NFL Players Association. Further, the admonition that you either stand during the anthem or remain out of sight so as not to offend the sensibilities of the NFL’s white fan base harkens back to a time when we were required to remain out of sight by being forced to enter establishments through the back door or sit in separate areas of buses, trains, restaurants, etc. lest white patrons feel uncomfortable. The NFL’s policy is clearly designed to impose upon you owners’ personal political views, as well as those of white fans who believe they are the arbiters of the time, place, and manner Black people should object to racism. You are men descended from an extraordinary, resilient, and courageous people. Those before us endured the most treacherous and inhumane treatment at the hands of people whom history has sanitized as mere patriots seeking better life in a new land, but who in truth were barbarians who perpetuated the genocide of one group of people, and the enslavement, murder, and complete dehumanization of another. Yet our ancestors persevered, rebelled, and survived so that we would have the opportunity to become their wildest dreams. Taking up their mantle, our elders exposed themselves to and suffered enormous physical, economic, and psychological harm marching, demonstrating, sitting in, freedom rid-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


ing, and committing sundry acts of resistance to challenge the same systemic racism faced by those before them. They did so not while making comfortable salaries or with influential platforms, but with everything to lose and only their dignity and a better tomorrow for us to gain. The mantle has now been passed to us.

It’s time to find your courage.

During the 2016 and 2017 seasons, many of you peacefully protested centuries of racism and the continued deprivation of the rights, liberties, and privileges symbolized by the national anthem and the flag. This is evident in everything from housing to the justice system and the unlawful extrajudicial killing of unarmed Black men and women while white mass murderers are brought in peacefully; to whites summoning law enforcement like a personal gang to intimidate and threaten us for [insert doing innocuous activity] While Black. And our socio-economic status, education, sex, or age will not shield us from racism’s pernicious, destructive effects.

It’s time to find your courage.

Refusing to play, especially if executed by multiple teams, is by far the most powerful action you could take and the stance likely to yield results most quickly. It is analogous to a holdout, except with a far more noble foundation. Your brothers on the University of Missouri football team— young men who had not yet entered the work force and thus had precious little to fall back on should their scholarships be revoked—demonstrated how effective such a protest could be. The decision may be a difficult one; but our ancestors and elders made difficult decisions as well. There hasn’t been a single substantive shift regarding racism in this country that did not involve acts of enormous courage, bravery, and willingness to sacrifice for a greater cause. Refusing to stand for the national anthem is also a very strong response. Participation in the national anthem ceremony is essentially a personal invitation extended to every United States citizen. It is comparable to attending a non-religious event in which attendees are invited to pray. The decision not to participate is an individual one that is not anyone’s prerogative to even question, let alone either demand an explanation, or, worse, attempt to compel participation. Raising a fist during the national anthem is yet another strong symbol of resistance, the most vivid example being the iconic image of John Carlos and Tommie Smith with their black glove clad fists held high in a “power to the people” salute during the 1968

Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. Though one is generally standing for the anthem while doing so, it is imbued with the powerful statement that you will not be compelled into subordinated obedience.

It’s time to find your courage.

There will be consequences regardless of the stance you take or which method you and your brothers, individually or collectively, settle upon. Even doing nothing opens the door to further abuses by the owners as this anthem policy inescapably probes what level of racist maltreatment you are willing to accept, and presents you with your Toby moment. Additionally, what’s to stop the NFL from making you recite a loyalty oath or perform some other gesture such as saluting to show your “respect for the flag?” And here is a hard truth. As with any group of oppressed people, there will be those among you for who lack of intestinal fortitude, fear of not being liked or adverse consequences, and resigned subservience are guiding life principles. This is so despite their status as professional football players and, as such, among the strongest, most talented, intelligent, hard-working, and gifted men on Earth. But there will also be those of you who are willing to accept our ancestors’ and elders’ mantle of fortitude, resilience, and bravery; face and conquer the natural fear associated with doing what is difficult but right; and reject this draconian attempt to suppress Black dissent regarding our racist mistreatment in this country. Those of you who choose to step up to this line of scrimmage will not be without protection and support. There are various legal theories and analyses which representatives and counsel may explore to support your refusal to play or stand during the anthem, or to raise a fist during the anthem. Also, the NFLPA has demonstrated a willingness to stand by you, and protect the exercise of your rights. Further, know that we the people are with you. We the people who are football fans that unflinchingly support your decision to protest; we the people who are not football fans, but who detest the existence of systemic racism; and we the people, your fellow Black brothers and sisters, who too are intimately familiar with the scourge of racism, and thus understand that we are you and you are us. We are one.

will of 32 owners, nearly all of whom are white, onto Black men challenging sustained persistent racism. Cowardice – in its spineless capitulation to Donald Trump’s vacuous criticisms and the racist sensibilities of white fans who object to players straying from their designated role as entertainers who should “shut up and play football.” This policy, coupled with the ongoing exclusion of Kaepernick and Reid, while not violent like Bull Connor’s attack dogs and fire hoses, are no less racist and repugnant in their intention – to punish Black people who dare to stand against this country’s unabated refusal

to extend to its Black citizens the full panoply of freedoms guaranteed by our founding documents here in the purported land of the free and home of the brave.

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Because if not now, when? Editor’s note: Kaia Wright is an attorney, activist, and retired U.S. Army officer. She is the founder and editor of Courage Under Fire, the nation’s only website dedicated to the national anthem protests against racism, at For more information, visit or email

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It’s time to find your courage.

It’s time to find your courage.

This abuse of authority by the NFL as reflected in the promulgation of this policy is simultaneously an act of dominance and an act of cowardice. Dominance in its intent to impose the

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Serving: Jollof Rice, African Beer and, Specialty Dishes from Africa 720-949-0784 or 303-375-7835

What Is “Next” For CU? By James Michael Brodie

I recently attended the

University of Colorado’s outreach

program called “CU Next” when it stopped in Washington, DC. I was inspired by the stories shared and

the conversations held. It warmed my heart to hear about CU President George Norlin, who

defied the Ku Klux Klan and refused to fire CU’s Jewish faculty and staff even when faced with a loss of state funding from a Klan-run legislature. I took great joy in speaking with our young DACA student, who overcame much just to get to CU. I was impressed with the perseverance of a young woman who overcame financial hardship. I was proud of a Black student athlete who was supported by our university in the face of racial bigotry from Southern schools that would play us only if he was not on the field. But I was torn by the story of Lucile Berkeley Buchanan, a Black woman once denied the privilege to walk with her graduating class in 1918, and how, a century later, she was now being honored. I was torn because I still had the fresh memory of walking across the lovely Boulder campus in September and counted the number of Black faces there on one hand with fingers left over. It bothered me because image of those wonderful CU Next stories were the exception, not the rule. In an April 4, 2018 New York Times article, “Colleges Recruit at Richer, Whiter High Schools,” shed some light on the gap between what has been said and what has been done. Researchers Ozan Jaquette, an assistant professor at UCLA, and Karina Salazar, a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona, debunked many of the excuses colleges give when deciding who to recruit. What they found was that colleges like CU sought out students from high schools in more affluent and White neighborhoods while ignoring those in less affluent, less White areas. The study found that many public universities tended to target wealthy out-of-state high schools because states had cut higher education funding, forcing universities use tuition to generate revenue. By enrolling richer out-of-state students, who pay two to three times more than state residents, the colleges effectively shut the door on the less affluent. The universities also shied away from poor students — particularly students of color — because college recruiters believed those students had lower grades or lower standardized test scores. But they avoided visiting less affluent schools even when those schools had large numbers who met the academic criteria. According to the study, CU was no different from other universities in visiting richer high schools in or near major cities while ignoring poorer schools, even when those schools had higher numbers of students who met admission standards. This left gifted but ignore students with community college as the only option.

Case-in-point: CU went to Boston’s Dover-Sherborn Regional High School, (88 percent White, about 150 students with proficient math scores, according to the US Department of Education). But CU passed over nearby Brockton High School (21 percent white, about 620 students meeting math standards). Similar patterns showed up in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, St. Louis, Detroit, and Los Angeles, to name a few, where recruiters targeted schools that were richer and Whiter, while bypassing schools were poorer and darker. In fact, Denver was the only city that hosted CU visits at high schools across the economic and racial spectrum. Student enrollment has nearly doubled at my Alma Mater since my freshman year in 1975, but the number of African American students is roughly the same or less than it was then. Current CU enrollment is more than 33,000 students. Black CU students climbed back to about 800 (2.5 percent). At one point in 1991, there were fewer than 400. We can do better. Current Chancellor Phil DiStefano, whom I had the honor of meeting in Washington, challenged his administration in 2014 to make the campus more reflective of Colorado’s population by 2020. We can meet, if not exceed, the chancellor’s call to provide young people of all backgrounds the opportunity to show what they can do, an opportunity to be the rule and not the exception. We can do better. . .

CU Grad Brodie Collecting Narratives of Black Alumni

Author James Michael Brodie is creating a book of memories of African Americans who attended and worked at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus. Brodie’s book, tentatively titled The CU Black and Gold Project, is a collection of personal narratives, images, detailing lives lived before, during, and after CU. The book also includes tributes to Black CU alumni, faculty, and staff who are no longer here. “My goal is to tell our stories, stories that often go untold or ignored when they are told,” says Brodie, who graduated with an English degree in 1983 and now lives in Baltimore. Brodie says he is happy with the response he has received thus far, and wants to make room for as many stories as possible. To that end, he has created a questionnaire that asks participants to talk about their entire lives — from childhood, to campus life, to life as an

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


adult. For those averse to writing, he is conducting interviews based on the questionnaire. Brodie’s says a book like his is coming together at a time when universities, including his alma mater, grapple with diversity and inclusion. “For me, telling our stories is not an appeal for diversity,” Brodie says. “It is, and always has been, about finding untapped talent. Brodie argues getting universities to challenge the idea that, for some, “diversity” means accepting students who are not qualified to be on their campuses. “(Former CU President) George Norlin once challenged our university to seek out the talented regardless of where they came from, who their parents were, or how much they could spend. He rejected those who urged discrimination, putting the CU’s very existence on the line. That is the kind of moral courage that we need today,” he says. “He believed that we could be better. I do, too.” Those wishing to participate in the book project can reach out to Brodie by email at to get a copy of the questions and/or to arrange for a phone interview. “This is our time to show who we have always been,” Brodie says. “This is our time to tell our collective story of being Black and golden.”.

Colorado Journalists Matter Every Day By Jerry Raehal


Photo by Thomas Cooper

hen I first started to read the comments, I admit, I was disappointed. “There is no such thing as journalism,” was a common posting. Another was, “All news is fake news.” It seemed to fill the feed of our social media outlets as we promoted the inaugural Colorado Journalism Week, which was April 16-22. That was not the goal, or at least not the response, we had hoped for when we first began working on the project, which the Colorado Press Association worked in partnership with the Colorado Broadcasters Association and Colorado Media Alliance. No, our goal was to celebrate and honor the hard work and ideals of Colorado’s working press. And at first blush, I wondered if all we did was give ammunition to an anti-media, anti-journalism environment. Nearly 60 percent of the comments were critical of journalism and media. But those comments came from a handful of people. Perhaps they were the proverbial “trolls” on the internet looking for confrontation. I hope not. I prefer to believe they are people who will be willing to discuss the state of the industry to move it forward as well as protect our democracy.

Because it’s a dangerous place in which the only truth we have is the truth we already believe. Our forefathers felt so strongly about the press and its role in holding government accountable, they placed the press in with the first amendment as part of the bedrock beliefs of our country, alongside freedom of speech and religion. We have to acknowledge that we are facing a crisis of trust — which I would argue is both false narrative but also some of the media’s own making. But with crisis comes opportunities. “Colorado Journalism Week was never meant to be a landing place. It was always meant to be a launching pad to start a conversation and help us create a better sense of understanding.” I encourage those in the media and those who have a distrust of the media to meet, and have a focus on conversation and not confrontation. Set up meetings. Set up events. Meet with people face to face. And my question for those who state, “All news is fake news,” and “Journalism is dead,” is what steps would you like to see to start to change your mind? Perhaps you, who distrust the media, have some ideas; perhaps not. We would love to have that conversation. As we consider those who think less of the media or journalism, it’s also important to remember those who support those concepts. While the aforementioned comments I saw provided more sting, when I looked at the whole picture, more than 95 percent of the people on the social media promotions targeted at Colorado residents liked, shared and commented positively on what we did. When I looked at it closely, the 60 percent of negative comments accounted for less than 3 percent of overall response (the other 2 percent of negative response being angry emojis). I’m not saying 95 percent of people support what we do, but I think it’s misleading for us to fall into the narrative that the majority of people think all news is fake. We need to realize

there is more trust and more desire for journalism than we sometimes think due to the current culture. The real crisis is not one of trust, but one of understanding. But again, with crisis comes opportunities. We must continue to tell our story. We’re great at telling other’s stories, but not our own. And that’s a shame, because what Colorado journalists do matters. We need to promote the importance of the work of the journalists in Pueblo, who listened to staffers at the Colorado Mental Health Institute who were saying that the facility had become dangerously understaffed. Or those in Glenwood Springs, who found a way for immigrants, who make up a third of the population in the county, to become engaged via “Common Ground” stories and community forums. Or those in Colorado Springs, who shared the story of a Marine with PTSD who ended his life and exemplified some failures by the military to take care of its own. Our job is to build on that momentum. Colorado Journalism Week was never meant to be a landing place. It was always meant to be a launching pad to start a conversation and help us create a better sense of understanding.

From the big to the small — such as listing community calendars — newspaper media and journalistic-inclined media organizations have helped improve communities. And that’s what good journalism does: holds government and business accountable but also tells its community’s story. And I would argue in today’s climate, good media companies need to ensure they’re in conversations with their communities. We’re proud to support Colorado journalism, not just one week a year. We’re proud to support it every week. Because every week – and every day – it matters.. Editor’s note: Jerry Raehal, CEO of Colorado Press Association and Colorado Press Network

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LOU DONALDSON Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Lenny Kravitz

On Race, God & Spreading Love Through Music By Allison Kugel

Photo Credits: Mathieu Bitton, Mark Seliger

Twenty-nine years after releasing

his debut album, Lenny Kravitz is still letting love rule, but with an eye towards societal strife that continues to go unchecked. The multi-Grammy award winning musician brings forth a conscious body of work with Raise Vibration, his 11th studio album, out Sept. 7. The first single off the Raise Vibration album, “It’s Enough” is a battle cry against corporate greed, political corruption and racism. Kravitz switches gears with his follow up single, “Low” exploring the perils of his near-mythical sensuality with intonations alluding to his past intimate relationships. For Kravitz, the art of the story is paramount, while pop music trends are immaterial. He tells stories through his writing, vocals, and the multitude of instruments he has mastered over the years. Musically, Raise Vibration is an eclectic blend of the kind of stylistic rock n’ roll-funk sound that Kravitz is known for, with subtle nods to vintage R&B and choruses that sway towards pop appeal. His music puts you in a trance-like groove and defies all genres. Lenny Kravitz the man is a veritable roadmap of his past experiences. From making his way in an industry that doesn’t always value individuality, to making his way in a world that begged to define and categorize him by race and ethnicity in his formative

years, he wears his memories on his sleeve and they inform much of his artistic expression. Our conversation surprised me as it took a more intimate turn. He and I delved into matters of spirituality, racial identity, family and the rituals that aide him in creating his eclectic sound. We were very much on the same page as he shared his feelings about everything from racism and societal injustice to his personal spiritual journey, his family and his music. Allison Kugel: You’ve said you were born to make music. Can you share your earliest memory where you became aware that music was going to be your life? Lenny Kravitz: For me the pivotal moment was going to see The Jackson 5, live at Madison Square Garden, when I was six years old. I was in the first grade. I had already been intently listening to their record. But I went to the show, and the next morning that was it! I was completely sold. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Allison Kugel: What was it about The Jackson 5 that resonated with you? Lenny Kravitz: Number one was the music. The music was incredible. The music that was made by these kids was not elementary; it wasn’t bubble gum as they used to say back then about young artists. This was very sophisticated, high-level music with the best musicians, the best producers, and Michael was one of the best singers who ever lived and who ever will live. The level of interpretation and feeling and vocal range… it was a perfect storm for me, the way everything came together. On top of the music, the presentation and the showmanship were top level and soulful, and these were people that I could identify with. They looked like me. I had the same hair… there were so many things that came together in my mind. Allison Kugel: It’s interesting to hear you say that. My son is half Jewish and half Jamaican, and he does the same thing. He tends to gravitate

towards people he sees on television, in film, and with music, who have his skin tone and his hair. Lenny Kravitz: Yup! I have the same background, except I’m Jewish and Bahamian. Allison Kugel: When and where do you feel most creative and musical? Lenny Kravitz: It could be anywhere, but it’s in the studio, so wherever that may be. My studio is in the Bahamas. It’s my favorite place to work; it’s my workshop. When I’m in the studio and I’ve got all my equipment and all my instruments, and everything is set up, that’s the magical place for me. It’s where I’m comfortable and where I can flow. When I’m inspired and in that flow, I can move. I jump around from instrument to instrument, and it’s wonderful. Allison Kugel: You are such a true musician in every sense of the word. Aside from singing, you play several instruments, and you write and produce. When you record your music, is it all you doing everything in the studio? Are you recording all of the instrumentals in addition to doing your vocals and producing? Lenny Kravitz: Yes, I start on drums normally and then I go to a guitar, a bass, another guitar, keyboard, percussion… I keep layering as though I was painting, until my picture is complete. Allison Kugel: Your upcoming album is called Raise Vibration and the first single, “It’s Enough,” is a callto-action anthem about political corruption and social and racial injustice. Was writing “It’s Enough” a form of therapy for you, and a way of turning hopelessness into empowerment? For example, I live part of the year in Florida, not too far from Parkland. When the Parkland school shooting happened, I went into a depression where I was feeling helpless as a parent. Then I thought, “I’m a writer. I can contribute something by writing a piece about this.” Was it a similar process for you?

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Lenny Kravitz: I react to the world. Just as you say you did, I have a reaction. I actually recorded the song twice. I was trying to find the direction for the record. The way the song started, the first version of “It’s Enough” was a full-on guitar, bass, drum, punk rock song. It had an angry tone to it, because that felt like the proper reaction. And then I thought about it and ended up changing it and finding this groove, which is the polar opposite of what it started out as. I found that by being calm and by being centered and by being quiet, it was more effective. It brought out a whole new feeling in the song, and I think it enables the listener to hear the lyrics even better. Allison Kugel: And you feel it brings more of a positive energy, as opposed to the original version, which would have brought forth anger. Lenny Kravitz: Absolutely. I’m all about positive energy. I’m stating the facts, but in the end, I always take an optimistic and positive tone that, “People, we can do this!” We can do it. It’s just a matter of waking up. Allison Kugel: What does the title of your album, Raise Vibration, mean to you? And how do you raise your vibration? Do you meditate? Do you pray? Lenny Kravitz: It means exactly that; waking up. I meditate, I pray, I try to be still, I try to be quiet… and

listen. It means having the desire to learn, to improve, and to face my faults and learn from them. I’m always looking to go higher – and taking as much ego out of myself as possible. Allison Kugel: How do you define God? Lenny Kravitz: I believe that God is my creator, our creator. Whether we realize it or not, I believe we are all created by the same God. I believe we are all one creation, we are all connected, and I believe that God is the ultimate source of love and all we are looking for. Allison Kugel: Do you consider yourself an activist? Lenny Kravitz: That’s a difficult one. I use my music to express myself, and if it inspires others then that’s a beautiful thing. I don’t know that I’m initially doing it for any other reason than to express myself. But I do see myself going more in that direction where you could call it that. Allison Kugel: I ask because when I listened to “It’s Enough,” your first single off this new album, I could tell you’re at a point in your life, and in your career, where you have no problem stating your opinions on societal issues. Lenny Kravitz: Right, but for instance, from my first album, Let Love Rule up until now, I haven’t had that problem. It’s always been within me to express myself truthfully. Allison Kugel: I always say that when I enter a room, or wherever I may be, that I never walk alone because I can feel the presence of God beside me, as well as my great grandparents, my grandparents, my parents, siblings and my son. I walk into a space with the energy of those who made me who I am, walking beside me. When you enter a space, who walks beside you? Lenny Kravitz: God is with me at all times which I am always aware of; and the energy of my mother, of my grandmother, of my grandfather. My daughter (actress, Zoe Kravitz), who is here with me on this earth, is always with me. And like you said, knowing that and feeling that, and knowing that spirit is far superior to anything here. The physical presence is wonderful, and something that we require and crave as human beings. We’re spiritual beings living a physical experience, but as you say, you recognize that you have these people with you and it just shows how strong spirit is and how strong energy is. My mother’s (the late actress, Roxie Roker) been gone for 20 plus years, and I can still feel her every day. I can still sense her presence because the energy she left is so powerful. That’s an awesome thing.

Allison Kugel: Your music really transcends any one genre. It’s a blend of rock, punk, blues, soul, pop; it’s really everything. You can’t categorize your music. And I remember seeing a clip of you, I believe it was on Oprah’s Master Class, where you tell the story of sitting in a classroom as a young boy and you didn’t know which box to check off on a piece of paper asking you to identify your race. Everyone’s life has a theme, and that theme repeats itself over and over again because it’s tied to something we’re supposed to learn while we’re here. In your case it seems to be this ongoing theme where people want to put you in a box and label you, and you rail against that. Lenny Kravitz: People love a box (laughs)! And they want to put you right in it, so they can easily define, for their own comfort, what you are. I’ve been fighting against that from day one in my life, and in my musical life. Like with radio stations, this one only plays this, and that one only plays that. This fits here, and that fits there, and you don’t fit here. It’s like, “Shit, that’s not what art is about!” But, unfortunately, that’s not what the business is, which is very frustrating. Going back to that time in school, I knew I was Black, but I knew that wasn’t all I was. I knew I was also Russian Jewish and I knew that my great grandmother was full blooded

Cherokee Indian. My mother always taught me, “Yes, you’re Black, but you’re just as much this and you’re just as much that and you don’t discount that.” If you’re mixed like me and like your son, you don’t discount one of your parents. You’re just as much one as the other. But, what my mother did say to me when I was a child that I think was very smart, and I didn’t realize it until I got older, was, “Even though you’re mixed, society only wants to see you as Black.” I didn’t understand that at age seven. Allison Kugel: Did you feel diminished by it, at that time, at age seven? Lenny Kravitz: I remember her saying it, but I don’t remember exactly how I felt when she said it. From what I recall, I remember thinking, “What does that mean?” Of course, as I grew and went through life, I understood what that meant. People aren’t going to see all the complexities and the differences. People are going to see what they see, and that is the color of your skin. Not all people, but a lot of people. That was a very good lesson once it kicked in. I was like, “Okay, people don’t see everything for what it is.” People see what they want to see. They judge it how they want to judge it, based upon their pre-conceived ideas of what that is. Allison Kugel: It’s a tough conversation to have with a child.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Lenny Kravitz: But kids know from what I see are not tripping on the race thing like generations before, are they? Allison Kugel: There is a difference from generations ago, and my son has several multiracial friends. Recently, he said, “Mom, what does Black mean? My skin is brown.” Part of my response in explaining it was that “black” is a political term and a societal designation, as is “white.” Of course, that will also make more sense as he gets older. Lenny Kravitz: You have to explain to kids people’s fucked up attitudes about race. That’s really what you’re doing. You have to break down the judgment and short sightedness, and peoples’ hang ups, and the history of people screwing over other people because they were different. Allison Kugel: Speaking of kids, how would your daughter Zoe describe you, both as a man and as an artist? Lenny Kravitz: Oh wow! We’re very, very close. I think she would say that I have respect and integrity, and love in my heart. I think as a musician, she respects what I do. She’s grown up around it. She grew up seeing it her whole life. This is hard because if I say, “She thinks I’m amazing,” then it sounds like I’m complimenting myself. She respects the craft, what it takes and what I put into it, which is everything. Allison Kugel: On Sept. 7, the day the new album, Raise Vibration, is released, what are those days like for you, when a new album drops? Lenny Kravitz: When I’m finished with an album, I’m at that place where I let go and I’m excited that I’m finished. It’s always exciting getting a new project out. I hope the people who enjoy my music will get something beautiful from it and will relate to it. As far as the rest, in terms of how well it does, sales and all of that, that’s all great, but the main thing for me is that I expressed myself authentically to who I am, who I was at that moment in time, and that it represents me well. That to me is everything. That’s a success.. Editor’s note: Allison Kugel is a syndicated entertainment and pop culture journalist, and author of the book, Journaling Fame: A memoir of a life unhinged and on the record. Follow her on Instagram @theallisonkugel and visit Editor’s note: 3X Platinum Lenny Kravitz GREATEST HITS album is now available on vinyl as a 2 LP set via Virgin/Ume at uDiscoverMusic. His 11th studio album Raise Vibration is set for release September 7th via BMG. Pre-order at The album’s debut track, “It’s Enough” is available to stream at iTunes.

Letters, continued from page 3 patients can afford the medicine they need to control the virus. Traditionally, insurers have counted co-pays and co-insurance payments towards patients’ deductibles, regardless of whether the patients paid out of their own pockets or used coupons. As a result, patients would reach their deductibles relatively quickly. Insurers pay the lion’s share of bills once patients hit their deductibles. Recently, insurers have changed these policies. They’ve rolled out “accumulator adjustment programs,” which don’t count coupons towards a person’s deductible. Some health plans flat-out refuse to accept co-pay cards. This significantly increases out-of-pocket costs. Consider a 25-year-old gay man earning $35,000 per year. With a “bronze” plan, his deductible is $6,500. Since his partner is HIV-positive, he’s prescribed a “pre-exposure prophylaxis” – or PrEP – to prevent him from contracting the virus. These drugs are highly effective and innovative. When taken consistently, they almost eliminate the risk of HIV infection. The medication would normally cost $538 per month. Imagine that last year; he qualified for a co-pay card, which covered six months of his medication with a $0 co-pay. But this January, his insurance company stopped accepting co-pay

cards. Now, he has to pay $538 out-ofpocket every month until he reaches his $6,500 annual deductible, which he may not hit until November. Such expenditure could prove catastrophic – and preclude him from taking PrEP. High out-of-pocket costs prevent many patients from following their prescription regimens. Half of chronic disease medications, from HIV treatments to diabetes drugs, are not taken as directed. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania confirms high costsharing is to blame for this non-adherence. As out-of-pocket costs for oral cancer medicines increased, patients’ adherence rates dropped. When patients don’t take their medicines, they get sicker. Each year, non-adherence is linked to about 125,000 deaths and up to 20 percent of hospital and nursing home admissions. For those living with HIV, skipping just 2 to 6 days of medicine can boost virus loads by 25 percent. Accumulator adjustment programs hurt patients and drive up healthcare costs. It’s harmful and counterproductive to block patients from using outof-pocket assistance.

Michael Beyer Denver

Editor’s note: Michael Beyer is the Advocacy Manager at the National Coalition for LGBT Health.


Watch Me Read! Watch Me Succeed! Early Literacy Boot Camp Underway In July

National Black Child Development Institute Denver Affiliate (BCDIDenver) and Project Proud Fatherhood, LLC will host the 3rd annual Early Literacy Boot Camp, “Watch Me Read! Watch Me Succeed” for African American boys and girls ages 3 to 8 years old. Watch me read! Watch me succeed! Early Literacy Boot Camp was created by the Denver Affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute (BCDI-Denver) and Project Proud Fatherhood, LLC in 2016 for African American boys ages 3 to 8 years old. Ran by African American adult and young adult male figures including fathers, uncles, older siblings, high school students, community partner organizations and educators, the camp was made possible through initial grant funding from the Denver African American Philanthropist Group (DAAP), Hope Center’s Early Childhood Program and volunteer support from several community organizations and individuals. The camp aligns with BCDIDenver’s Early Care and Education Initiative; focusing on strength-based supports in early literacy for African American children to address inequitable gaps across subgroups for reading deficiencies. Research and experience indicates that reading proficiently by third grade is one of the strongest predictors of a child’s lifelong achievement and is correlated with higher high school graduation rates and low levels of incarceration. Early literacy is also crucial for the success of society as a whole; whereas, 43 percent of those with lowest literacy skills live in poverty. The camp was specifically designed to equip Black male role models with the knowledge, tools, and skills need-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


ed to serve as positive reading mentors in their homes and communities. In 2017, a second camp was added for African American girls of the same age range. The emphasis on parent engagement is also reflected in the camp, which works with families to develop at-home reading routines. July was strategically selected to combat statistics associated with a child’s learning loss during the summer months. The camp includes family dinner before each camp session. This year’s theme is “Building Wakanda,” designed to engage the entire family, is geared toward promoting positive early literacy experiences for both young Black boys and girls. Camp activities are scheduled for Thursdays, July 12, 19, and 26 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Dinner starts promptly at 6 p.m. Early literacy activities include M’Baku’s Kingdom, Shuri’s Science Lab, and T’Challa’s Rite of Passage. Children will be exposed to mirror books that reflect characters that look like them and are reflective of their culture. In conjunction with the early literacy camp, “Watch Me Read, Watch Me Succeed” will host Sankofa Women’s Circle series that will engage mothers in a book club providing stimulating conversations, building bonds to create a support systems, as well as, other stimulating activities and topics for discussion. A key component of the camp will be engaging fathers and male role models as strong supporters to lead the children’s activities. Each camp has 75 slots for African American boys and 75 slots for African American girls. Recruitment efforts to fill those slots are encouraged from the Green Valley Ranch, Montbello, North Park Hill, and Northeast Denver areas. The free camp will take place at Hope Center, 3400 Elizabeth St., in Denver. . Editor’s note: For more information, email and to register, visit

Eric Williams, Former FBI Agent and U.S. Navy Veteran, Named As Deputy Director of the Department of Public Safety

Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced the appointment of Eric Williams as Denver’s new Deputy Director of the Department of Public Safety. Coming to Denver from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Washington D.C., Williams served as an advisor to FBI Directors James B. Comey and Christopher A. Wray as well as Bureau executive management. In the Deputy role, Williams will continue the Department’s critical work to strengthen the public’s confidence and trust in Denver’s safety agencies. He will focus on fortifying important relationships with the community and stakeholders in order to improve processes and, in turn, improve safety in Denver. “Keeping Denver’s communities’ safe and protected is some of the hardest, but most important, work we do in the city,” Mayor Hancock said. “Bringing in Eric, a homegrown guy who has a national record for managing law enforcement and strengthening ties with community advocates and lawmakers will directly advance our safety departments. With his experience handling high-level criminal and national security investigations, I am confident that his knowledge and wisdom will continue to strengthen and build up our safety agencies.” As Deputy Director, Williams will advance initiatives, goals and objectives for the Department that foster innovation and a culture of inclusivity, accountability and ethical behavior. As a vital resource to the safety staff, he will work closely with the executive leadership, making sure that both public input and mayoral objectives are successfully implemented. He will also have a focus on coordinated activities between first responders across Denver’s emergency response system to support collaboration and efficient operations. “I am honored to join the men and women who serve within Denver’s Department of Public Safety and to serve in the Hancock administration,” Williams said. “I very much look forward to having a positive impact on the people who live and work in this


amazing city and continuing the important work of strengthening our 21st Century safety departments.” Williams most recently served as a Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI, where he worked to advise international law enforcement partners on significant investigations concerning the United Sates and West African Countries. Prior to this assignment, he spent over a decade in various roles at the FBI. From managing the FBI’s relationship with the U.S. House Judiciary Committee as the Unit Chief in the Office of Congressional Affairs to handling high priority FBI investigations and oversight, Williams has been instrumental in protecting and defending our country at one of the top federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. “Eric is a valuable addition to Safety’s executive leadership team who will help advance the vision Mayor Hancock and I have for the future of public safety in Denver,” Executive Director Troy Riggs said. “We must work closely with our internal and external stakeholders, community, business and non-profit organizations, and faith-based partners to take an active role in identifying opportunities to enhance public safety and our residents’ quality of life. Eric will play a key role in those efforts.” Williams is a Colorado native who grew up in Denver and the metro area. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado, School of Law, Boulder, and a B.S. in Criminology and Political Science from Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is also a U.S. Navy veteran.

Denver Heats Up with Summer Opportunities for Youth to Eat Healthy, Learn, Play and Work

Summer is here, and the City and County of Denver wants to ensure families are informed about opportunities available for children and youth to remain healthy, safe, engaged in the community and continue to learn while school is out. “Providing these resources to our young people, especially activities that help them stay active mentally, physically and intellectually during the summer months, is critical to supporting their growth and success,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “Through these programs, Denver families have access to a variety of opportunities across the city that connects their kids to summer activities that support their health, education and positive development.” “During the summer, children and

youth, at every age, are at risk of learning loss and disengagement,” said Erin Brown, Executive Director of the Office of Children’s Affairs. “City agencies are intentional in working together to create opportunities that will lead youth to stretch their imagination, embrace exploratory learning, and build a sense of independence and competence while out of school – ultimately preparing them to be successful in the upcoming school year.” Summer opportunities available through the Office of Children’s Affairs, Denver Parks and Recreation, Office of Economic Development, and the Denver Public Library are comprised of activities related to healthy eating, educational and cultural experiences, enrichment programs and employment. They include: Free Healthy Meals - The Summer Food Service program provides free meals through August 18 for all youth, ages 18 and younger, at various Denver recreation centers, libraries, schools and more. Dates, times and types of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack) may vary at each location. Meal sites are open to the public. Documentation and proof of income or residency are not required. For a complete list of meal sites, menus and more food resources, call the toll-free, bilingual Food Resource Hotline at 855-855-4626, visit ee or visit Summer Learning Opportunities Youth who Youth who attend summer learning programs are better prepared for the school year. Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put youth at risk for falling behind, a leading contributor to the achievement gap. Summer learning programs are proven to maintain and advance students’ social and emotional skills and academic growth, keep children safe and healthy during the summer, and send young people back to school ready to learn. The Denver Afterschool Alliance is partnering with Blueprint4SummerCO to provide families with access to summer program information. To learn more and find a program that meets your family’s needs, visit Take an adventure with the Denver Public Library - The Summer of Adventure program aims to help children improve literacy and learning skills through reading and experiential learning. The program is divided into three agreement groups: •Children in preschool or younger are encouraged to read, participate in

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


nature walks, dance parties and can earn free books. •Kids in grades K - 5 can complete reading challenges or attend programs that focus on science, technology, math and engineering skills (STEM). •Teens in grades 6 - 12 can also complete STEM activities, create items for the maker challenge or take part in exciting technology-based summer camps. All participants are entered into drawings to win family passes to popular Denver cultural institutions. The program runs through August 11 at all Denver Public Library locations. Participants must register by July 28. To learn more, visit Free Access to Recreation Centers and Swimming Pools – With the MY Denver Card, youth ages 5 to 18, who live in the City and County of Denver or attend Denver Public Schools can have the “Key to the City!” It serves as both a Denver recreation center and library card. Recreation centers offer structured and drop-in activities for cardholders, including sports and fitness, urban arts and culture, and science and technology. MY Denver Cardholders can also get limited, free access to various educational and cultural facilities across the city. To learn more, visit The Governor’s Summer Job Hunt – Denver Workforce Services reminds young adults, ages 16 to 24, to participate in the 2018 Governor’s Summer Job Hunt. There are no limiting qualifications, and economic circumstances are not a consideration for participation. This is a free referral service to young adults and employers with ongoing virtual job fairs. For more information, including dates, visit

DUS 30th Anniversary Theme Song Available on CD Baby

The Colorado Black Arts Festival Presents “The Art of Knowing” The Colorado Black Arts Festival (CBAF) presents “The Art of Knowing,” on Friday, July 13 from noon to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Youth Fest featuring fun-filled entertainment, art design and artwork activities will open the festival on Friday for youth ages 12 to 26. On Saturday, the festival will kick-off with the “Boogaloo Celebration Parade” at 10 a.m. Nations of the African diaspora will be represented in the “Parade of Nation,” starting at 22nd and Downing St. and ending at the Colorado Black Arts Festival grounds entrance at the 21st Avenue gate. The Food Court will provide an assortment of delicious African and American cuisine and the Opalanga D. Pugh Children’s Pavilion for Art and Learning, Film Pavilion, Health Highway, Drum & Drill Team Exhibition and Art Garden will showcase various activities. The Saturday Kuumba Stage performances will begin at 12:30 and end at 8 p.m. with a host of urban, R&B, neo-soul, jazz and blues artists.


On Sunday, gospel performances will be from 2:30 to 7 p.m. on the Kuumba Stage. The Colorado Black Arts Festival (CBAF) was founded in 1986 to develop, promote and celebrate African arts and culture in Colorado. The festival draws an audience of more than 50,000 guests each year. The Colorado Black Arts Festival, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become the fifth largest event of its kind in the United States. The CBAF is a family oriented event that is free and open to the entire Colorado community. The CBAF offers its guests the opportunity to explore African culture through the visual arts, music, dance, hands-on arts activities, a people’s market place, and ethnic foods to delight the palate. For more information visit,

22nd Annual Cancer League of Colorado Race for Research

The Cancer League of Colorado present Race for Research, a 5K run/walk will be held on Sunday, August 19 in Denver’s Washington Park. The Race for Research is held every year in memory of Michele PlachyRubin, a young wife, mother and

kindergarten teacher who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1996. Michele’s family and friends founded the Race for Research in an effort to raise money for cancer research. Michele lost her fight with cancer in 1998, but the race lives on as an opportunity for people of all ages to celebrate her legacy and to fight cancer in Colorado. The Race for Research is one of four annual fundraisers for the Cancer League of Colorado, a volunteer-run non-profit organization that funnels all of its fundraising proceeds to cancer research and patient support organizations in Colorado. The 2018 Race for Research Honoree is Stephen Estrada, a colorectal cancer survivor. Race-day registration in Washington will open at 8 a.m. and the race will begin at 9 a.m. For more information or to register, visit

DMNS Invites Public To Participate in Archaeological Excavation Project

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) invites members of the public to be a part of an excavation project at the Magic Mountain archaeological site, located near Apex Park

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


just outside of Golden, Colo. Free public tours and excavation opportunities with professional archaeologists will be offered between June 20 – 27 and July 5 – 13. The tours are made possible by a grant from the History Colorado State Historical Society. The Museum began excavation at the site in 2017, focused on areas of interest identified in geophysical surveys. The research team is working to better understand mobility patterns, seasonal use, and site activities during the Early Ceramic Period (200–1000 CE). In the off-season, Koons and a group of interns have been cleaning, sorting, cataloging and analyzing the collected material. Research indicates that hunter-gatherers camped in the area as long as 7,000 years ago. Analyses of the excavated objects will ultimately contribute to the larger picture of what life was like at Magic Mountain long ago. Reservations for the free tours and excavation opportunities at Magic Mountain are available on a first come, first served basis. For more information, visit


“When Bad Overshadows Good” The Book of Mormon:

By Lauren Turner

There are certain songs that are

scientifically designed to stay in your head for far longer than you want them to. What many refer to as an ‘earworm,’ scientists from Durham University now know the exact reasons those songs loop in your head repeatedly. It’s all about starting with an upbeat tempo, a familiar melody, and what the Washington Post calls a ‘unique interval pattern.’ Although I didn’t know this information when I went into a Saturday night showing of Book of Mormon, I sure left with a few of the songs stuck in my head days later. Brought to the Ellie Caulkins Opera Theater at the Denver Center for Performing Arts by producers Robert Lopez, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone, the criticallyacclaimed Broadway musical is chalk full of magnificent numbers that often had me nodding along to the beat. From the first song which introduced the audience to the sprightly bunch of Mormon elder’s as they go door to door on their ventures to spread the Mormon faith (‘Hello’), I was full of excitement—and danced in my stiff seats, as best I could. Book of Mormon tells the tale of two eager Mormon boys who get sent to Uganda to do their missionary work. Navigating the complexities within the community leads the duo on a world-wind of a journey made up of religious queries, love affairs, and the trials of friendship. All in all, the basis

of the production is something that I can’t help but stand by. That was, until, I started paying attention to what exactly they were singing and carrying on about. The vulgarity behind such charming storylines made itself quite clear, which made it harder for me to enjoy the roles played by the diverse company of performers. From digs at any form of religion to topics that I can’t even mention here, the content was raw, and more prominent than the phenomenal performing. And this is coming from a religious skeptic who was raised in a Catholic home, but who has been faced with numerous trials that have tested my ‘faith.’ Despite all of that, I was still shocked by how far the jokes were taken. I was left stuck, sitting with a rumble in belly. That rumble, I knew wasn’t coming from hunger since it was full of duck confit, goat cheese fritters, and red wine. That rumble was the beginning of a long night, that ended with tears and questions about the direction of performance art and whether or not the audience understood the predicaments presented by the South Park sister show. Based on what has now become a long-standing satirical joke involving the Mormon faith, the musical follows young elders on their journey of preaching the faith. After mastering the art of pitching at the training center, the young Mormon teens are paired up and shipped out.With big dreams of taking his religious aspira-

tions to Orlando, Elder Price (Kevin Clay) is the star pupil ready to serve his faith the only way he knows how: With wide-eyes and a big smile. But when he is paired with the runt of the group, Elder Cunningham (Conner Peirson), and headed to Africa to preach, the dysfunctional pair stumble quickly. And rightfully so: For the task at hand in Uganda is harder than expected. All signs of religion have been overshadowed by the warlords, AIDS, and an overall negative opinion of God’s will. If it ended there, and didn’t push any more buttons, my opinion of the production would’ve been more positive. But because throughout the musical, the list of disrespect continued. I tried to focus on the tap segment that left me wanting to take a class, or the beautiful voice of Nabulungi (Kayla Pecchioni) as she gracefully butchered the pronunciation of ‘Salt Lake City,’ leaving us with something a little less clear. Nothing the ensemble did rid my mouth of the bad taste left by poor attempts at humour doused in profanity. I thought someone else would be upset. I thought someone else would notice. I thought someone else would feel the same way I was feeling.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


But as I looked around, the packed crowd laughed on and on, masking their misery in laughter, while I sat still, counting down the minutes until I would get to leave. I wondered how much everyone else spent on these tickets, and whether or not they were laughing because they didn’t know what else to do with the blatant stereotypes. I couldn’t tell if the audience felt like me—since no one looked like me—and if they understood the satirical spin that the South Park creators sewed into the fabric of what otherwise would’ve been a stellar musical. I wondered how many other people of color were in the audience, and whether they too sat confused and ready to leave. I counted five, during the intermission that made me doubt if I should go back in to my uncomfortable seat in that hot theater. If you’re reading this wondering if it’s worth the praise (and cost) to see Book of Mormon on one of the last nights, let me give you this note of warming: See at your own risk, for if you have any affiliations that are near and dear to your heart, they will be persecuted during the production. Don’t bring the kids and don’t even think about bringing your church-loving relative or else your relationship might be damaged by intermission. .





Photos by Lens of Ansar

Juneteenth Music Festival 2018 • The Wakanda Experience •Saturday, June 16 - Historic 5 Points

Five Points Jazz Festival

• Saturday, May 19, 2018 • 27th and Welton St. in Five Points

Photos by Lens of Ansar

Denver Urban Spectrum — – July 2018


Denver Urban Spectrum July 2018  

Well, it’s Summertime in the Rockies and its hot! In more ways than one: weather, entertainment and racial tension. Actor Timon Kyle Durrett...

Denver Urban Spectrum July 2018  

Well, it’s Summertime in the Rockies and its hot! In more ways than one: weather, entertainment and racial tension. Actor Timon Kyle Durrett...