Page 1

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Stephanie O’Malley: A New Direction Page 4

50 Years of Dance….14 Colorful Stories… 16, 17

Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame…7, 8, 9

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Election Day in Colorado is Tuesday, March 3rd.

MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women - Maya Angelou Volume 33

Number 12

March 2020

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alfonzo Porter PUBLISHER ASSISTANT Melovy Melvin COPY EDITOR Ruby Jones COLUMNISTS Dr. Erynn M. Burks Kim Farmer FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Daryn Alexander Fouther Alfonzo Porter Lauren Turner ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris MARKETING AND ADVERTISER Lorenzo Middleton GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix PHOTOGRAPHERS Lens of Ansar Bernard Grant MSU INTERN Ashton Brown DISTRIBUTION Ed Lynch Lawrence A. James - Manager

Member 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 2020 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303292-6543 or visit the Web site at

It’s Women’s History month and this issue features women who are standing up for themselves and others. Our cover story features Stephanie O’Malley who has been standing up for herself and the community for decades – from serving as the executive director of the Department of Public Safety to the head of Denver’s office of equity policy and operations. She has been selected as the new associate vice chancellor for government and community relations at DU. Cleo Parker Robinson has been standing up and dancing, and lifting up and cultivating others for 50 years. Read about her inspiring journey and how she plans to celebrate this year. Chalkbeat contributor Erica Meltzer talks about how several women, community members and civic leaders, stood up and testified in support of the Colorado Crown Act, which banned discrimination against natural hairstyles at work and in school. MSU Intern Ashton Brown shares how and why four African American women choose and direct their theatrical performances. Every two years the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame inducts 10 women who have inspired and elevated the status of women and helped open new frontiers for women and society. The next group of Colorado women will be inducted on March 18. In May, DUS will present Colorful Stories, See Me Hear Me luncheon, with five women who have overcome obstacles and challenges, triumphantly beating the odds. Lauren Turner tells the compelling stories of Rose Andom and Rep. Janet Buckner. As we move forward in 2020, there are important issues we all must consider - Census 2020 and the November 2020 Presidential Election. This is a reminder, to stand up for yourself and be counted, and remember to vote in November for who is standing up for you! Rosalind “Bee Harris DUS Publisher

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR turn. His city led the nation in job creation for 12 years. He increased graduation rates, and the Black- white achievement gap shrank to a record low. For centuries, Black Americans have endured enslavement, violence and government actions that have denied them liberty, prosperity and even their lives. Mike has shown both the aptitude and the willingness to confront this subject with actionable policy proposals in a way no other candidate has. While recently visiting Tulsa, Mike announced the Greenwood Initiative to address systemic bias that has kept many Black Americans from building wealth. He spoke not only about Tulsa’s horrific Greenwood massacre in 1921, when more than 200 Black residents were murdered, but also how, from 1917 through 1923, more than 1,000 Black Americans lost their lives in cities like East St. Louis (1917); Elaine, Arkansas (1919); and Rosewood, Florida (1923). Mike understands that these events were part of a long history of violence, sharecropping and redlining that kept families from building wealth. He has seen how discrimination in education and employment has

Mike Bloomberg Is The Best Candidate To Beat Trump Op-Ed by Brandon Lloyd We’ve all watched as Donald Trump is running America’s credibility worldwide and increasing division at home. Though Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire have spoken, it’s still not clear the winning candidates can accomplish their most important task: beating Donald Trump. We need a uniter, not a divider. It’s time for Democrats to get serious and put our best candidate forward — the one who can win. That candidate is Mike Bloomberg. Few can rival his strong record on critical issues such as gun safety, climate change and health care or his executive experience and success in both the public and private sectors. I played 11 seasons in the NFL and I know what it takes to fight. Every day of training, I prepared for the personal challenge of facing the most formidable athletes on the planet. Mike doesn’t just talk the talk, or tweet the tweet. He gets it done. As the first mayor elected in New York City after 9/11, he took on tough fights at every

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


resulted in awful wealth gaps that feed into the inequality and racism that plagues our country and has only become worse under Trump. As President, Mike will add 1 million more Black homeowners, creating new hope for building generational wealth, counteracting lingering effects of redlining and the subprime mortgage crisis. He will expand mentorships and incubators for new business owners and increase access to capital, growing Black-owned businesses and revitalizing the country’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Mike has an extensive record of improving outcomes for Black Americans. Under his leadership, New York City became an incubator for social programs that have since been adopted nationwide. Centers for Financial Empowerment became Cities for Financial Empowerment, $aveNYC morphed into SaveUSA, The Young Men’s Initiative blossomed into President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper. Other municipal and educational programs are gaining momentum, like Local Law 129, which broadens access to city contracts for women- and minority-owned businesses. Continued on page 28

New Direction for Seasoned Executive

O’Malley Joins Leadership Team at DU By Alfonzo Porter

Stephanie O’Malley is joined by parents Wellington E. and Wilma J. Webb at her swearing in ceremony as executive director of the Department of Safety.

Stephanie O’Malley


tephanie O’Malley, a long-time staple among Denver’s leadership corps, has been selected as the new associate vice chancellor for government and community relations at the University of Denver. A 1989 graduate with a Jurist Doctorate degree from DU’s Sturm College of Law, she will assume her new role at her alma mater on March 2. In the role of associate vice chancellor for government and community relations she will be charged with building upon and bringing fresh, new perspectives to the position. Primarily, however, her major task will be to promote the institution’s mission for its commitment to building partnerships — locally, nationally and globally — to contribute to a sustainable common good. She will also work to deepen the university’s relationship with the city of Denver and the broader region and state. This, while maintaining and developing relationships with communities and stakeholders, including government entities, elected and appointed officials, local civic leaders and community groups, other academic and research institutions, and nonprofits.

O’Malley hails from one of Colorado’s most venerable, iconic families. She is the daughter of former Denver Mayor Wellington and former state representative Wilma Webb and says her parents were, and still are, a central driving force behind her success; adding that her children have also been a huge part of her keeping her feet firmly on the ground. “Hands down, unequivocally, I credit my parents and my sons for my success. My parents taught me values such as compassion, tenacity, and selflessness - values that most certainly have been a part of my success,” she says. “My sons have taught me purpose and continue to humble me by reminding me of work that is yet to be accomplished. They are my biggest champions.” Growing up in the Webb household, she was constantly encouraged and groomed to achieve and make a difference in her community. She believed that by becoming an attorney, she could leverage her skills to do just that. “As a child, my dream career was always to become a lawyer.

I dreamed to be like many dynamic and prolific lawyers and advocates like Irving Andrews, Dan Muse, and Barbara Kelly,” O’Malley said. “These lawyers were championing causes and helping others through their varying practices. I found their work and willingness to fight for human mankind admirable.”   She began her career as a law clerk for the now retired District Court Judge R. Michael Mullins. Once passing the Colorado State Bar, she practiced law as an assistant district attorney in the First Judicial District for about four years. Thereafter, she practiced law in two separate law firms for another four years before beginning her more than 16 year career with the City and County of Denver.   “Before beginning with the city, I had an honest conversation with myself and concluded that billing hours was best suited for someone else and that my calling was in a space where I could lead to make a difference,” she said.   Prior to attending DU, O’Malley received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


University, in Washington D.C.—it would prove to be a life-altering experience. “Attending Howard University is by far one of the greatest experiences of my life. My stay at Howard confirmed for me that we, as African-Americans, are strong and intellectual forces who have and who continue to significantly contribute to the fabric of our nation and world,” she asserted.  “Howard University is the Mecca of learning that welcomes thought, knowledge, and perspectives from Black people all over the world. My time at Howard certainly taught me the power of the collective voice of Black people and additionally reinforced the fact that I and each and every student on the campus stood on the shoulders of trailblazers such as Mary McCloud-Bethune, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Charles Drew, George Cook and others.” According to O’Malley, as an African American woman, Howard placed her in the midst of some of the most prolific Black women in the nation, including professors and students. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority Incorporated — who she credits with fortifying her personal growth.   “The wisdom gleaned from them and others on Howard’s campus continues to be woven into my daily walk as a professional, as I give attention to preparedness, creativity, and a sound work ethic,” she expressed.  O'Malley served her last official day as an executive in the Hancock administration on Feb. 14. She completed her appointment as the senior executive

Stephanie O’Malley and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock

officer of equity policy and operations. O’Malley has held several leadership positions including executive director of the Department of Public Safety—the first African American woman to hold that position. She also served as deputy chief of staff and in 2007 was elected as County Clerk and Recorder. She also played a pivotal role in the Hickenlooper administration when he was mayor of Denver. According to a statement released by the University of Denver, “O’Malley’s deep knowledge of, and relationships within the Denver region, will no doubt prove an asset to DU as we continue to position ourselves as “Denver’s University.” Her experience in developing and implementing strategy, community building, advocacy and outreach, and expertly managing a wide and diverse set of partners and constituents, will be invaluable.” Apparently, she welcomes the challenge. “I am extremely excited to become an integral part of the DU community,” says O’Malley. “As an alumna and someone who understands the importance of engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders, I look forward to fully supporting the University of Denver in its quest to further build partnerships.” Clearly, given her long record of accomplishments, O’Malley will undoubtedly prove to be a significant asset to the university—her central management philosophy is to take what she finds and improve upon it. “I always simply set out to

leave an environment better than I found it,” she says. “I believe that I have accomplished this throughout my career.” As the city’s first ever AfricanAmerican woman to serve as the executive director of the Department of Public Safety, she is proud to have played a key role in bridging the gap between the community and law-enforcement officials by supporting measures and policy that speak

Stephanie O’Malley and former Denver Police Chief Robert C. White

to de-escalation, minimizing the use of force, and community policing.

“While I am proud of these specific accomplishments, I would additionally share that my proudest accomplishment is that through each and every turn of my professional career, I have established relationships with a wide variety of people who each, for different reasons, have taught me a heck of a lot,” O’Malley said. Those who have worked with her in the past tend to agree. Continued on page 6





JULY 27 - AUGUST 4, 2020



Next 400 Years: Season of Action #Shift2GreatSubstance



Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Stephanie O’Malley

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Continued from page 5 At a recent meeting of the Colorado Black Roundtable, Denver’s current Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez, paid homage to O’Malley and her leadership acumen. “Stephanie was a game changer,” Lopez said. “She set the stage for Denver to become a national model for how elections should be conducted.” Although under her leadership, she transformed both the Department of Excise and Licenses and the Clerk and Recorders offices, O’Malley humbly suggested that it was her team that made it all possible. “While serving as the city’s first elected clerk and recorder, we eliminated a backlog of foreclosure actions during the height of the national foreclosure crisis and successfully restored the faith in Denver’s election environment, an environment that previous to my leadership lent to disenfranchising thousands of Denver voters,” she said. “Today Denver’s election environment still remains a national model of how to properly administer fair, accurate, secure, and transparent elections.”   As a senior advisor to Mayor Hancock, she advised him on a myriad of issues over a span of almost nine years.  During his first term in 2012, Hancock was confronted with the decision whether to refer a ballot measure that would provide for the city to eliminate its budget deficit and restore essential services.  She advised the Mayor to move forward.   “Ballot measure 2A, as it was referred to, was overwhelmingly passed and allowed for service investments concerning after school programs, library hours, and parks maintenance to name a few,” she said. “Most recently, the mayor directed me to take the lead, on his behalf, to increase opportunities for Denver’s certified small, minority, and women owned busi-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


nesses. By working with industry stakeholders, implementing a master small business equity plan, and holding city department and program leaders accountable for their efforts towards this goal, we have been able to restore confidence in Denver’s construction, goods and services, and professional service programs.” As she makes her transition to the field of education, O’Malley is confident that her background has more than prepared her for the new role as associate vice chancellor of Denver’s premier institution of higher learning. “The University of Denver stands on a long tradition of higher education. It stands ready to put in additional work needed to deepen its relationship with the city of Denver and the broader region and state,” O’Malley says. “DU has placed priority on this task in its strategic plan, DU Impact 2025. My role as the associate vice chancellor for government and community relations is to play an integral part in the University’s goal to best connect to local, state, and federal governments, non-profits, and internal and external community advocates and representatives, to generate support for the University’s interests. I will aid to build relationships with diverse constituent groups, create authentic, deep, and lasting partnerships with community and neighborhood leaders, and exhibit an awareness of, and sensitivity, to cultivating diverse and inclusive community building.”     She is the recipient of many awards, including a 2016 Women Making a Difference Award from Denver Nuggets Basketball and a 2009 Lawyer of the Year award from Law Week Colorado. Last month, O'Malley was recognized by the Hispanic Contractors of Colorado for her work in the area of equity and diversity for minority, women, and small business enterprises..

The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame will induct the next group of extraordinary contemporary and historical Colorado women, who have made enduring and exemplary contributions to their fields. These 10 women who have inspired and elevated the status of women and helped open new frontiers for women and society will be inducted on March 18. The 2020 Colorado Hall of Fame Inductees include Katherine Archuleta, former head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; civil rights activists Guadalupe Briseño; Denver Urban Spectrum Publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris; Attorney Velveta Howell; physician and educator Marianne Neifert, MD, MTS; and Gale Norton, former Secretary of the Interior and Colorado State Attorney General. Historical Inductees

Denver Urban Spectrum Highlights 2020 Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Inductees are Mary Lou Anderson, a community builder; frontier physician Dr. Alida Cornelia Avery; educator, political activist, and suffragist Elizabeth Piper Ensley and restaurant owner Carolina Gonzalez. In January, Denver Urban Spectrum highlighted historical inductees and last month three of the contemporary Colorado women. This month, DUS highlights the last three contemporary Colorado women. people of color has been its mission since inception and through informative and entertaining articles; Denver Urban Spectrum grew into a thirtythree-year-old institution that went beyond merely delivering information to showcase voices not heard in the mainstream media.

Rosalind “Bee” Harris Rosalind “Bee” Harris has dedicated her career to elevating communities of color by providing a platform for voices to be heard and stories to be told with the founding of the Denver Urban Spectrum in 1987. Spreading the news about

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Harris has not only facilitated communication and advocated for people of color, but she has also been a cultural ambassador, historian, and advisor on local, national, and international levels; and has established lifetime business and personal relationships in many parts of Africa. Locally and over the years, she has served on many diverse and community boards as a director or an advisor. Her desire to uplift youth, especially young girls, was conveyed in 2000 with the development of the Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation, a mentoring program that trained youth ages 11 to 17 in the field of journalism. More than 250 youth participated in the award-winning program that produced multiple publications over the six years in operation with many who have pursued careers in journalism. Her passion for and commitment to empowering women to

reach new frontiers is seen in every issue of the publication and every event she supports. By dedicating her life’s work to the empowerment of others, Harris’ dedication to elevating the status of women is indispensable. Katherine Archuleta Growing up in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, Katherine Archuleta has had an extraordinary and influential career that has changed the landscape for what is possible for women and, specifically, Latina women. Her work has allowed her to guide policy at the state and national level on significant issues that impact all Americans. She is an exceptional role model for what it takes to be successful in the public and private sectors, with an unwavering commitment to justice and equality. Her core values have led her to provide women, especially women of color, with opportunities we might not have imagined for ourselves. In 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Archuleta to be the first Latina to lead the U.S. Office of Personnel Management with a budget of approximately $250 million. In this role, she had the enormous job of managing human resources for the federal government’s 2 million employees. Archuleta also served as Chief of Staff for two U.S. Cabinet members, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena. In one of the most important and influential roles in government, she was responsible for providing direct policy, program, and managerial support and served as the designated liaison between the Secretary,

the White House, and other Federal departments and agencies. When Federico Pena became the Secretary of Energy, Katherine transitioned to his senior policy advisor.

Colorado and California, launched her water initiative to address western-water challenges and championed the creation of two crucial Colorado conservation areas: the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. In 2011, she established the Norton Regulatory Strategies, where she provides policy advice to companies and organizations. She remains active representing the public interests in

Gale Norton Gale Norton was the first woman Colorado Attorney General (1991-99) and the first woman to be appointed as Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (2001-06). On behalf of Colorado and 45 other states as Colorado Attorney General, Norton helped negotiate the most extensive legal settlement in history: a $206 billion national tobacco settlement, the benefits of which continue to accrue. Gale is an exceptional role model for all women, but in particular those interested in pursuing careers in the law and public policy advocacy. Norton pursued and won the suit against the Canadian mines speculator responsible for the environmental disaster at Summitville, caused by leakage of mining by-products into local waterways. She also won a significant court victory against the federal government, requiring the government to clean up hazardous waste at Rocky Flats and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. During her time as Secretary of the Interior, the US faced an energy crisis, and Norton introduced and diversified new domestic energy supplies. Among other initiatives, she worked closely with Congress to enact the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which set a 10-year goal for 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy from public sources. Norton also resolved a 70-year water dispute between

environmental policy and the protection of our natural resources, having chaired the National Park Foundation and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. . Editor’s note: The Colorado Hall of Fame Induction is proudly sponsored this year by Colorado Public Radio, 5280 Magazine, Denver Channel 7, La Voz, and Denver Urban Spectrum. For more information on the induction ceremony, email

The Coalition Against Global Genocide congratulates Rosalind “Bee” Harris for this great honor of being inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame for her tireless commitment to our entire community and for all she has done to further the discussions concerning Genocide and Slavery

Thank you, Bee, for all you do. Roz Duman, Founder and Executive Director Linda Farb, Chair/ Board of Directors For more information on upcoming discussions and the CoAGG 2020 fall conference, call visit 303-856-7334 or visit

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


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SPIN Welcomes New Members To Giving Circle

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The Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs (SPIN) added seven new members to its giving circle of African American women. Founded in 2014, SPIN leverages its collective strengths in order to empower and positively impact marginalized women and girls. Since inception, SPIN has granted more than $30,000 to communitybased organizations who are aligned with its mission. Grantmaking comes from a donor-advised fund housed and stewarded by the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, an integral partner in its work. SPIN received approximately 50 applications from women interested in joining their philanthropic efforts. After

reviewing, SPIN members voted to accept the following women based on their diverse backgrounds and skillsets. Monica Suzanne Badgett is a training and development professional with more than 25 years of experience working with individuals on public assistance, co-occurring mental health disorders, national and local committees and private professionals. Trinity Bailey is co-director of Music Is Unity (MIU) Foundation, a non-profit that help young people transition out of the foster care system. Sade Cooper is the founder and executive director of Collaborative Healing Initiatives within Communities (CHIC), which offers youtheducational programming in four DPS schools focused on mindfulness, positive identity, self-efficacy and increased school engagement among students of color.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Dr. Odessia Knowles is a licensed psychologist with more than 15 years of experience who works at a local community mental health center and operates her private practice, Knowles Consulting and Psychological Services. Ona Luistro is a 7th grade math teacher at Infinity Middle School with an educational background and passion in criminal and juvenile justice. Catrina Mays is a systems engineer from originally from Houston who works on weather satellite programs Raytheon. Dr. Aisha Rousseau is director of the Division of Disability Rights for the City and County of Denver who oversees more than $600 million in projects and programs ensuring equitable access for individuals living with disabilities . Editor’s note: For more information or to support SPIN, visit their Facebook page at SPIN – Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs or email

Impressions of the Womxn’s March Denver 2020 By Lauren Turner


n a chilly Saturday morning in January, the McNichols Building in Downtown Denver buzzed with the energy of 5,000 people. There were some wearing hats and some hoisting signs, while others huddled together trying to keep warm. Some were young and some were old, but the collective sense was that they were stronger together – differences aside. A scan of the crowd made their cause unknown, but then a single pink pussy hat crept into view. These were “Women’s March people.” Except, something was different about this group. Firstly, it wasn’t as homogenized as the previous three years have been. Alongside the male partners who marched in solidarity with their wives, a diverse array of brown and black faces were scattered in the crowd. There was a feeling of unity and inclusion that had been lacking in previous years.  Many see this development as a response to the work done by the Womxn’s March Denver team. Using their platform to ignite real change in the community, Womxn’s March Denver has made a commitment to amplifying marginalized voices.  To do this, the first step is to bring more of those voices to the table – or into the room. “Following the 2020 march, we invited everyone inside McNichols for our Impact Expo,” explained Angela Astle, the head of the leadership team. “A key goal of the expo was to uplift the voices of those who are predominantly underrepre-

sented and organizations supporting womxn and/or led by womxn of color.” Each floor of McNichols housed more than 50 organizations working with a variety of topics including reproductive rights, climate change, gun safety, voting, domestic violence/sexual assault, and arts Photo by Aaron Chavez 2020

and activism. As attendees moved through the maze-like setup, organizations were provided space to interact with them. “These are 100 percent our people. They are eager and revved up,” commented a representative of New Era Colorado, a Denver organization leading the charge in youth civic engagement. “Instead of just marching and holding up your signs in the cold, you can come inside and find real organizations and ways to help,” commented a representative from the Molly Brown House. If you were angry about politicians challenging your reproductive rights, you could connect with Planned Parenthood or Period Kits Denver. If you felt sad about our environment and the encroaching damage of climate change, you could talk with something from the Sierra Club or Mother’s Out Front. “This is such a great way to spend our time and get some actual face-time with the people in our community,” said a member of the Women’s Centennial Vote project.

Meanwhile, on the main floor, attendees took part in the taping of the Dear White Women podcast to talk about the issues faced by women of color versus those faced by white women. Yes, that’s correct: the Womxn’s March Denver supports a podcast that basically calls out white women and explains their privilege, microaggressions, and the power they hold to make a change. And if you know anything about the national women’s marches, this sentiment isn’t often seconded. But that’s because this march isn’t associated with the national marches. Despite starting that way, the Womxn’s March Denver is a grassroots, volunteer-run effort to end sexism, oppression, and injustice through community engagement, protest, education, and leadership. . Editor’s note: For more information, visit

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020



LANGLEY FOUNDATION The Langley Family Charitable Trust is accepting scholarship applications for high school seniors. For more information, call 303-694-3126 or visit Deadline is April 24.

NCNW AND BCAARL The National Council of Negro Women, Inc. and the African-American Research Library will present the annual Living Portraits of AfricanAmerican Women on Saturday, March 21 at the Denver Central Library. For more information, email

THE CAAH The Center for African American Health has two job openings for A Peer Recovery Navigator.To view the full job description at visit and click on Careers at CAA Health

Milani Cook remembers

sitting between her mother’s

legs as a little girl, wincing at each tug as her mother ran a comb through her hair. When it was all over, Milani was so proud of the afro she saw in the mirror. But when she went to school, her white classmates would reach out to touch it. She felt like a pet dog, and she would return home with her hair and her spirit deflated. In middle school, insults joined the unwanted touching. She looked like a sheep, classmates told her. Did she have a mop on her head? “Fascination,” she said, “turned to discrimination.” Eventually Cook, now 15 and a student at Grandview High School in the Cherry Creek district in suburban Denver, started straightening her hair to avoid such comments, doing long-term damage to it in the process. “I think about what would have happened if my school and community had protected me from all those years of humiliation,” she wrote in testimony to Colorado lawmakers. A bill making its way through the Colorado legislature would extend existing laws prohibiting discrimination based on race and ethnicity to explicitly cover hairstyles — including the locks, twists,

This Colorado bill bans discrimination against ethnic hairstyles. In schools, change means going beyond the dress code. By Erica Meltzer,Chalkbeat Colorado February 9, 2020

Community members and civic leaders wait to testify in support of the Colorado Crown Act, which would ban discrimination against natural hairstyles at work and in school. Photo by Erica Meltzer/Chalkbeat

braids, and afros worn by many black people. The protections would apply to employees on the job and to students in school, and school districts and charter schools would be required to prevent bullying based on hair just as they are required to prevent bullying based on race, religion, and disability status. “Schools need to protect our young people and educational professionals against bullying or termination based on hairstyle,” said state Rep. Leslie Herod, a Denver Democrat and

the bill’s primary sponsor. Three other states already have adopted what is known as a Crown Act. The acronym stands for Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair, but the name more broadly speaks to the importance of hair in many cultures. Colorado is one of 13 states considering legislation this year, according to a coalition tracking the effort. Highly publicized incidents — including a New Jersey wrestler who was made to cut off his locks to compete in a

tournament and a Texas student whose school won’t allow him to walk at graduation unless he does the same — have spurred a national push to extend discrimination laws to apply to hair. Corporations such as Dove, the personal care brand, have joined in support. Colorado hasn’t been immune. Last year, a mother said her 11-year-old daughter was kicked off her Denver cheerleading team due to her natural hair. (The team’s director said the mother threatened staff.) And state Rep. Janet Buckner, an Aurora Democrat, said her own granddaughters felt pressure to have the same kind of tight ponytail as the white girls on their gymnastics team. “I do not want my granddaughters to lose their self-confidence because other people are not comfortable with their natural hairstyles,”Buckner said at a recent committee hearing. Buckner joined Herod, state Rep. Dominique Jackson, and state Sen. Rhonda Fields, all black women and Democrats, in sponsoring the Colorado Crown Act. They launched the bill with a “community hearing” before the formal committee meeting that featured such prominent figures as dancer Cleo Parker Robinson and Reynelda Muse, Denver’s first black television anchor, who described facing pressure to straighten their hair even at the heights of their careers.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Milani Cook, a student at Grandview High School, shows off her natural hair. Photo courtesy of Milani Cook.

The Colorado Crown Act does not currently face any organized opposition, but Republicans on the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee voted against it. “Where does a businessenvironment look end and racism begin?” asked state Rep. Shane Sandridge, a Republican from El Paso County, who compared workplace rules around hair to requirements that people in the financial services sector wear a white shirt and tie. With Democrats controlling all levers of state government, partisan opposition will not stop the bill from becoming law.

It’s not clear how many Colorado schools have prohibitions against natural hair in their dress codes. No one testified against the bill at the committee hearing, and the organizations that represent Colorado school districts and charter schools have said they have not heard any concerns from their members. But as stories like Milani Cook’s make clear, hair discrimination in schools is not simply a matter of what is or isn’t banned in dress codes. While her teachers would remind her classmates to keep their hands to themselves, she felt those early incidents could have been taken much more seriously. If the legislation passes, she hopes teachers and school leaders will do more to protect black children from harassment. Analise Harris, a former Denver Public Schools teacher who founded an organization called Curls on the Block to help black girls learn to love and care for their natural hair, said this, too, needs to be a matter of policy, not something left to chance. “We need to make sure we’re providing spaces that are culturally responsive,” said Harris, who has taught elementary, middle, and high school. “For youth, they are curious. It’s a normal curiosity. But teachers need to use that opportunity to say, ‘This is where we learn about boundaries and personal space.’ Because generally,

the curiosity is not coming from the black kids touching the white kids’ hair.” Harris said educators can also take proactive steps to make discrimination less likely. For example, teachers can make sure the images they use in their classroom include people with a variety of hairstyles and incorporate the ways that black hair has been policed and regulated in their U.S. history lessons, she said. At various points, black women have been forced to shave their hair or been required by law to cover their heads. Unwanted touching and bullying about hair does not only affect black children. Nikhil Mankekar, the chair of Boulder’s Human Relations Commission, is Sikh and wears his hair long and his beard untrimmed as part of a practice called kesh. He told lawmakers that Sikh children in the United States frequently have their hair yanked in school, and some experience persistent bullying or even have their hair forcibly cut. Native American boys who wear their hair long have also experienced bullying and pressure to cut it. The bill does not explicitly address another styling issue that primarily affects black youth: bandanas and durags. Many school dress codes ban these types of head-coverings, with the justification being that they’re associated with gang membership.

Harris recalled an incident in a Denver school in which a girl ended up suspended because she didn’t want to take off a pink bandana that violated school dress code. Underneath the bandana, her hair wasn’t finished. “I don’t know which gang is the pink bandana gang,” Harris quipped. Such incidents become part of the school-toprison pipeline, with hair becoming one more area in which black students receive disproportionate discipline, Harris said. Back in 2016, a 14-year-old Denver girl was forcibly dragged from a restroom at Northfield High School, handcuffed, and charged with assault and resisting arrest in an incident that started with being told to remove a purple bandana. After a community outcry, charges were dropped. “What it really associates with is people who wear their hair natural and have to tie it down,” Cook said. “And I find it interesting that something that African American people wear is associated with gangs. I definitely think that’s another change I would make.” Cook has regained her confidence in her hair, but her past experiences still shape the decisions she makes on a daily basis. “I still don’t wear it out that much at school,” she said. “I wear it out more on the weekends. Just in case.”.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


take her life back into her own hands. She transformed this trauma into motivation, choosing dance as her outlet and vehicle for rejuvenation and expression. Not only did she overcome the pain within her body, but she challenged the racism she faced. Robinson began teaching dance as a substitute at the University of Colorado Denver’s campus at the age of

Cleo Parker Robinson Raising the Beat for 50 Years

By Daryn Alexandria Fouther


woman who lifts herself and others is strong and noble. A woman who lights the flame in others to do so is a legend. As we appreciate the many incredible women in our midst, we celebrate the legendary Cleo Parker Robinson, choreographer, founder, and artistic director of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Studio in the heart of Denver, Colorado, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Cultivating the Dream

A Colorado native, Cleo Parker Robinson was born July 17, 1948 in Denver. When she was just 10 years old, Robinson had a traumatic experience that changed her life forever. Her kidneys shut down and a segregated hospital in Dallas, Texas did not admit her fast enough. This resulted in her experiencing heart failure. She was told that because of this, she would be bedridden for the rest of her life. Robinson rejected this diagnosis and made the choice to

15. After receiving her degree from Colorado Women’s College in psychology and dance, she began to travel and dance with famed institutions such as the Alvin Ailey Dance Center and Arthur Mitchell’s Dance Theatre of Harlem, as well as, working and learning from figures in the dance community like Katherine Dunham and Merce Cunningham. Robinson learned and grew from many experiences in her life and by 1970, had turned her passion into her professional reality, founding her own studio: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.

Senegal, West Africa. The studio and programs utilize a variety of diverse instructors, styles of dance, and techniques for cross-cultural creativity and artistic development, garnering countless accolades and awards. In 1974, just four years after the founding of CPRD, Robinson received the Colorado’s Governor Award for Excellence and shortly after in 1979, the Denver’s Mayor’s Award. Following in 1989, she had the honor of being inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and in 1994, the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame as well. By 1998, Robinson was invited to Washington, D.C. where she was appointed by President Clinton to the National Council on the Arts and out of the 14 members on this council, her voice was recognized as the only dancer’s. In 2006, Robinson was honored as “A Pioneer in Black Dance” by the Dynamic Dance Festival in Atlanta, Georgia and in 2010 she received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver.

The Dream Today

This year, the studio celebrates its 50th anniversary of being a pillar for cultural expression and education, both locally and globally. Cleo Parker Robinson Dance is in the historical A.M.E. Church building located in the Five Points neighborhood. The organization consists of four elements: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Theater, Academy, and educational programs. This past year, the studio served a total of 43,928 people through education and performance programs. The company was invited to the American Dance Festival and continues to be sought out to participate in international festivals and projects in countries such as

generation to generation, Robinson practiced this belief within her own family. After graduating with a degree in African Studies from Regis University, Cleo Robinson immediately brought Malik into the studio as the development director. He then became the booking manager and in 2014, he was officially named executive director. He continues to help strengthen the company to pave the way for the next 50 years of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.

The Dream Ahead

In their 50th year of operation, both Robinson and her studio are thriving and there is much to look forward to. The ensemble has been invited to a multitude of festivals and performance events and centers such as Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts. They are gearing up for their annual Dancing with the Denver Stars Gala in August as well as their fall show which launches in September, to be held at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The studio has also begun planning for the expansion of their campus in the form of a new wing, which will add 22,000 square feet of extra space by the summer of 2021.

“One Spirit, Many Voices”

While this list of achievements is abbreviated, one of the most important of Robinson’s is her passing of the baton on to her son, Malik Robinson. As someone who believes in ensuring the arts are passed on from

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Cleo Parker Robinson As we appreciate Women’s History Month, the living and ongoing legacy of Cleo Parker Robinson reminds us to live by her philosophy: “One Spirit, Many Voices.” Whether that voice is spoken, offered in dance, music, praise, or any form of expression, it all lends to create a better, stronger community. And if we shout loud enough, those voices will be heard for generations to come.. Editor’s note: For more information on Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, visit or call 303-295-1759.


See me Hear Hear me See

Denver Urban Spectrum presents stories of tribulation, courage and triumph Janet Buckner • Beyond Grief

Rose Andom • Beyond Domestic Abuse Elycia Cook • Beyond Sexual Abuse Stephanie McCoy-Johnson • Beyond Addiction Melissa Martinez • Beyond Suicide

Simone D. Ross • Luncheon Emcee

Geta and Janice Asfaw Honorary Chairs

Saturday, May 16, 2020 • 11AM to 2 PM Renaissance Hotel - Denver, CO

For sponsorship opportunities and more information, call 303-292-6446

SAVE THE DATE Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Rose A n d o m How Rose Andom Grew Beyond Domestic Violence

In a time when NFL

players are outed monthly for committing acts of domestic abuse, many people have become numb to the epidemic of intimate partner violence. With domestic abuse taking the lives of three women in the United States per day, getting out of a bad situation has become harder and harder. Statistically, it takes a victim an average of seven attempts to leave before they are successful. And when children witness domestic abuse in the home, it can cause lifelong damage. This story is all too familiar for Rose Andom. “I was two years old in Oklahoma when my mother divorced my father. She was basically fleeing from him even though she wasn’t married anymore,” Rose said. “We fled in the night. We just threw stuff in the car and got in, never to return.” Andom’s mother brought her family to Kansas City, KA, where she sought out work as a domestic, to do what she had to in order to raise her three children. “I grew up watching my mother being an extremely strong person and one of the things that I recall her saying on more than one occasion was, ‘No one can take care of you better than you can take of yourself.’ I think I was probably a teenager the first time I heard it.”

Along with two brothers, Andom was sent to Catholic school, to earn an education and start toward the life that her mother never had. All the while, Andom’s mother remained single and determined to keep her children safe. “She had a few relationships that I can recall, but she never remarried until I was in the 11th grade,” Andom said. By that time, Andom’s sights were set on college at Kansas University, and then to a position at the Ford Motor Company. For a moment, it seemed that Andom had left the abuse in the past and was headed on her path toward success. That was until she met Michael. “There were signs before I ever married him and like so many women I know, we ignore everything,” said Andom. “I saw some of the jealousy, the abusiveness, the controlling behavior early on but I didn’t want to see it. “My first marriage was the first relationship I’ve ever had that was abusive and I kept saying, ‘he’ll change, he’ll see how much I love him, he won’t be so jealous.’ But they don’t change, and he didn’t.” Author Lundy Bancroft describes this obsessive, jealous, controlling behavior as distinct qualities of the “The Drill Sergeant” type of abusive partner. Which for Andom is all too real. “I had long hair, and he said it attracted too much attention, so I cut it,” said Andom. “I had this cute sporty car, and he said it attracted too much attention so I sold it.” Even after telling Michael how much she loved him in an attempt to ease his mind, it wasn’t enough. “I traveled quite a bit with my job at Ford – gone during the week and back on the weekend and he would search my car trying to figure out what I did while I was gone.” Although at this point, it seems clear that she needed to get out of that relationship, the effects of mental, verbal, and physical abuse can make that decision far harder. “I actually left him a couple of times and

went back,” said Andom. And when Michael got a job offer in Los Angeles, Andom moved with him. This transition also put her in a position of risk. “I left my job because he got the job in LA,” Andom said. “I wasn’t working then because he didn’t want me to.” This power shift paired with their physical relocation was a crucial move by Michael to truly control his wife. “He controlled the money and everything. He was so jealous and possessive.” This continued for a few years until a 1981 fight between the two changed everything. “He threatened to kill me the previous night, so I fled,” said Andom. “I had a cousin who lived in LA who I grew up with. He was more like a brother than a cousin, so I slept on his sofa. I thought about going back to Kansas City and my cousin said, ‘Why would you go back to Kansas City? You have an MBA, you’ve had great jobs. If you can make it there, you can make it here.’” Those few words of encouragement – plus an introduction to the fast-track program at McDonald’s – were all Andom needed to make the jump. “Once I moved on, I was good. I was just determined to never put myself in a situation like that again,” Andom said. With a divorce in the works, Andom moved up the ladder quite quickly. “I supervised a group of five company-owned stores; I was a training consultant, and then a franchising manager. Over the course of 11 years, I held all of those various positions.” Her work was where she channeled all of her energy. “There were weepy days, but the determination overpowered the sadness.” That sheer determination paid off. Andom continued to make big money moves on the McDonald’s track. “Over the course of 21 years, I owned six McDonald’s in three different states,” she said. “I sold the last three franchises in 2015 that were in the Denver International Airport.”

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020




st cou

By Laure With all of the success Andom’s career has afforded her, she decided it was time to give back to the community. About ten years ago at a meeting with Mayor Michael Hancock, Andom proposed her interest. “When he asked what I was passionate about, the first thing out of my mouth was ‘helping survivors of domestic violence,’” she said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but he proceeded to tell me about his twin sister who had been killed by domestic violence. And that turned into the Rose Andom Center.” Meant to improve the lives of domestic violence victims by facilitating better access to services, staff, community organizations, and government agencies, the Rose Andom Center has made history as Colorado’s first family justice center. Andom’s story is proof that hard work and determination can help you achieve anything. “I want other women to know that it won’t get any better if you stay. I stayed much longer than I should have,” Andom said. “I would also tell them that you deserve better.”.


See me Hear me

tories of tribulation, urage, and triumph

en Turner Janet B u c k n e r How Grief Gave Janet Buckner A New Life


uring Janet Buckner’s first year studying speech pathology at Ball State University, she was asked out on a Coke date. “To be honest, he was a nice guy, but he just wasn’t my cup of tea,” she said. Despite being less than interested, Janet went on the date and returned to her dorm without skipping a beat. When the guy called later trying to talk, the conversation wasn’t going anywhere. “But then I heard somebody in the background talking and I said, ‘who is that in the background trying to tell you what to say? Put him on the phone!’” On the other end of the line was John Buckner, a history major at Ball State, and a really good friend of Janet’s suitor. John didn’t know Janet, and the two struck up a conversation. A few

weeks later, John admitted to peeking into her classroom to see what she looked like. That’s when he decided to pursue her himself. “We started dating and dated through college,” she said. “We were just so compatible, even all of my girlfriends knew we were perfect for each other.” From that point on, John and Janet were inseparable. Married in 1969, the pair started growing their family and exploring their careers as teachers in Elgin, Illinois. “His passion was being a teacher and being an educator, but we didn’t love Elgin,” said Janet. “So when a friend told John that he was moving to Aurora, Colorado to start a high school, and wanted John to help him, we decided to visit Denver.” In pure Colorado fashion, their first visit to the Mile High gave them snow in May. And yet, they were intrigued. “We liked what we saw. I think we liked the idea of venturing out and trying something new and different.” This visit marked their move and a big transition for Janet, as well. She took the next few years off to raise their family and ended up working for Johnson & Johnson doing medical sales. “Because I retired from Johnson & Johnson, John was able to do the thing that he loved most,” said Buckner. “He was at Overland High School for 17 years before we both retired.” That was in about 2008. The second-year after retirement, John was getting antsy and his wife could tell. “There is only so much golf you can play,” she said. That’s when the Democrats knocked on their door. “They literally asked John to run, and he, of course, didn’t think he could do it. He recommended someone younger,” Buckner said. “I encouraged him to run because he was such an intellect.” Aside from his list of qualifications, John’s motives were what stood out. “John was in this because he had already had his career. Now, he wanted to make

a difference.” And that he did. On the night in 2012 when John Buckner was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives, he did what many politicians do at the end of a campaign. He thanked his team, he thanked his supporters, and he thanked his wife. “At the very end, after thanking this ballroom full of people, he said, ‘You have the wrong Buckner,’ and then he thanked me,” Buckner said. “He thought that I should’ve been the one [to win]. So I believe that my steps were ordered because it was almost like he was telling everyone that they got the wrong person.” Whether he knew it or not, John’s statement was all part of a bigger plan for Janet. Four years later, when faced with the decision to fill her husband’s role after his sudden passing, Janet recalled this moment and knew exactly what she had to do. “By statute, his position had to be filled within a certain length of time, so I was getting calls nonstop from everybody encouraging me to take his spot,” said Janet. “I never thought of going into politics, and especially now after I’ve lost the love of my am I going to do that?” It was as though Janet was responsible for keeping John’s legacy alive. “About two weeks after John died, my son and I sat down with a bottle of wine on the front porch and I asked him to help me make a list of the pros and cons of me taking John’s place at the capitol,” said Janet. The pros list was longer than the cons. “Then I started thinking about who was going to take his place instead and I realized...I can’t let this happen, I have to finish what he started.” So that was it. Janet was going to move forward with replacing her late husband in the Colorado House of Representatives, a role that she had was preparing for all along (even if she didn’t know it yet). “During John’s first year down at the state capitol, he would come home every night and we made a habit of talking

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


about everything that happened at the capitol that day,” said Janet. “In his third year, he was made chair of the education committee, so I would listen in to those hearings and actually critique him. In hindsight, it was like I was preparing myself.” Going on to take part in antioppression hairstyle legislation, the renewal of the organ donation system in Colorado, and stopping expulsions for ECE kids, Janet has continued to make her mark on our community’s history. And right beside her, is John. “Every day in the hospital, John would be saying, ‘what’s next, what’s next,’ and so I’ve sort of adopted that as my life’s motto.” If you’re wondering how she’s doing this well despite the loss of her husband, let’s put it this way: There is nothing that Janet wanted to say to John while he was alive that she didn’t say. “You know I look back on my life and think – some people don’t get to stay with their mates for even 10 years. I mean, we were together for forty something years when he died,” she said. “And I honestly and truly think that going down to the state capitol and becoming a state representative is what saved me. It filled that void and it gave me purpose.”. Editor’s note: These stories and others will be presented at Denver Urban Spectrum’s Colorful Stories...See Me, Hear Me luncheon on Saturday, May 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel. For more information, sponsorship opportunities or tickets, call 303-292-6446.

Broadway Playwright, Marc Acito, To Premiere His Latest Work At The Aurora Fox Arts Center “Secrets of the Universe and other songs” brings together a Broadway playwright and a local high school music teacher to tell the story of an unlikely friendship between Marian Anderson and Albert Einstein


laywright and librettist, Marc Acito, is best known for his novel “How I Paid for College” and his collaboration with George Takei on the Broadway musical Allegiance.




Next month, Acito’s latest piece, “Secrets of the Universe and other songs,” will have its world premiere right here in Colorado at the Aurora Fox Arts Center. “Secrets of the Universe” will be directed by Aurora Fox executive producer and Acito’s longtime collaborator, Helen R. Murray, and will star Jordan Leigh as Albert Einstein opposite Denver’s First Lady, Mary Louise Lee as Marian Anderson.


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“I distinctly remember Marc telling me about his idea for this

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


play. We were in the car on the way to the theatre, and he told me about a friendship between these two titanic figures from completely different worlds,” recalls Murray. “Einstein was a scientist and agnostic; Anderson was an artist and a woman of deep faith. Yet theirs was a relationship based on mutual respect. A friendship that blossomed at a time before the world was broken apart by the Holocaust and world war.” In 2018, Murray directed a limited run of an earlier, non musical version of Secrets of the Universe at the Hub Theatre in Virginia. For this latest draft, Acito has been traveling back and forth between New York and Colorado to work directly with the creative team for “Secrets… 2.0.” His rewrites on the script will expand the use and presence of music - mostly spirituals and songs from Anderson’s repertoire.

Enter music director Andrew Fischer. By day, Fischer serves as the vocal music and music theory teacher for Littleton Public Schools. He says he was a bit intimidated by the idea of teaming up with Acito, at first, but that feeling quickly gave way to excitement and inspiration. “The relationship between Jewish music and Black music has always been intriguing to me,” says Fischer. “So much Black music in America was born out of oppression. When we look at the history of oppressed people, we often find

common ground in the artistry of oppressed and persecuted groups. Plus I’m a total ‘stan’ for Marian Anderson,” he adds. Marian Anderson was a world renowned classical singer who believed that her voice was a divine gift from God. In 1937, Anderson performed a concert at Princeton University’s McCarter Theatre. Because she was African-American, however, Anderson was denied a hotel room. Instead, she accepted an invitation to stay at a Princeton professor’s home. That professor was Albert Einstein, and that invitation serves as the jumping off point for Acito’s play. The cast is comprised of five Colorado favorites. Joining Lee and Leigh onstage is Mark Rubald as Anderson’s accompanist, Kosti Vehanen, and former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; and Sharon Kay White as Einstein’s maid, Helen Dukas, and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Fischer pulls

double duty as the show’s music director and a fifth actor. In addition to playing seven different characters, he will also provide live music from a grand piano suspended above a set designed by Brandon Case that will literally appear to float somewhere in the cosmos between reality and fantasy. Murray is excited to tell this story at this particularly divided moment in our nation’s history. “We don’t need to agree on everything to find common ground,” she says. “‘Secrets of the Universe’ explores the themes interwoven in science, faith, race, art and above all friendship.” “Secrets of the Universe and other songs” plays the Aurora Fox Arts Center Feb. 21 to March 15. Playwright, Marc Acito, will be in town for the world premiere’s opening night performance.. Editor’s note: For more information or tickets, visit or call 303-739-1970.

Make a Difference. Be Counted. Complete your 2020 Census now. Talk to friends you know and trust about it. They’ll tell you it’s safe and takes only 10 minutes to fill out.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Women Powering Change Helps Fuel Passion and Impact How one networking connection is creating millions for communities that need it By Diana Aqra

Last year, Dianne Myles, a Denver social entrepreneur and owner of Dope Mom Life, was wondering if she was going to get a vendor booth for the annual Women Powering Change event. The event drew 1000 women and some of the biggest names in social impact in Colorado. While her creative content agency, Dope Mom Life, was all but one year old, she stood ready to mingle with some of Colorado’s top organizations and women whom she figured would support her business.

When she was told all of the booths were full, she stayed open and willing for an opportunity to network should it arise. Myles’ motto is, “Stay ready so you never have to get ready.” She even had a new

tablecloth and banner made for networking events like this. She kept them handy knowing the Universe would give her the opportunity if it was meant to be. To her surprise, she got that call. On the day of the event, organizers of Women Powering Change called Myles and told her one booth had opened up. That’s when a lot started to change for Dope Mom Life, Myles and her community. Myles describes her business, Dope Mom Life, as “a creative content agency that helps organizations and brands build authentic relationships with multicultural communities.” One of the ways her agency does this is through bridge marketing strategy and outreach in which she acts as a personal bridge between communities of color and organizations. Dope Mom Life’s services also include full-service video production.  As many in the non-profit world know, most people who are working in non-profits don’t look like the communities they serve. Dope Mom Life acts to fill that gap. She didn’t know exactly how the Women Powering Change event would help her business, but she did know that the power of relationships and social capital were extremely important for growth. At the event, fate would have it that Myles connected with Kristi Petrie, executive director of the AJL Foundation, a Colorado philanthropic organization that “invests in people, programs and movements that benefit Colorado’s youth and families.”

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Just days after the event, Myles was offered a grants manager position at the foundation. It became a win-win-win for Myles, the organization, and the communities they aim to serve. After working with AJL for only six months, they have reworked the grants process at the foundation to be more “equitable, diverse, and inclusive for those organizations that don’t traditionally have access,” to grants, Myles explained. In addition to her work at the foundation, Myles facilitated the creation and seeding of the first loan fund for Black women with SistahBiz Global Network founder Makisha Boothe. The fund is now close to $1M. “That is huge when you think of the impact it is going to have for so many Black women considering I attended [the event] at the last minute!” she exclaimed. Myles’ experience from attending Women Powering Change may be considered a coincidence, but it may not be. This networking event has a bit of magic to it. It doesn’t require attendees to be part of a nonprofit and is absolutely free for attendees. That takes a great deal of barriers down for social entrepreneurs like Myles who want to make a direct impact on her community. Women Powering Change is the only event that brings together more than 1,000 community members, leaders, activists, and philanthropists with more than 100 Colorado organizations to showcase what those organizations are doing to catalyze social change locally and globally, to create a better world. . Editor’s note: Women Powering Change will be held on March 10 at EXDO Event Center in Denver from 4 to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are encouraged by visiting

The Five Components of Fitness How Fit Are You? By Kim Farmer


eing physically active doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym for 30 minutes. Depending on your lifestyle, you may stay active due to the nature of your job, hobbies or school life. Your fitness level isn’t necessarily determined by what you choose to do for daily physical activity but it certainly plays a part. Unfortunately assessing fitness does not have one magical formula that applies to all individuals as there are many factors that influence your degree of fitness like muscle tissue type, lifestyle, body weight and height, nutrition and genes to name a few. For example, a bricklayer may lift hundreds of pounds in weight every day with ease but yet not be able to run fast. On the other hand, a jogger may run 5 miles a day and yet not be able to bench press more than 50 pounds. Or a baseball player may have great upper body strength, yet have extremely poor flexibility. Experts agree that there are five different elements that can be measured when it comes to your fitness level: 1. Muscular strength 2. Degree of flexibility 3. Muscular endurance

4. Cardiovascular/aerobic endurance 5. Body composition In general, specific techniques are necessary to measure the above 5 parameters, but for the majority of people, there is absolutely no need to go to a sports clinic, spend big money and undergo all types of imaging, biochemical and exercise study to determine their degree of fitness - this type of testing only applies to small population like professional athletes. To be fit, you need to work to incorporate the above five elements in your exercise program. To start on a fitness program, read the following tips: Get medical clearance: It is recommended that you first get clearance from a healthcare provider to ensure that you are medically fit for a certain exercise. Follow exercise guidelines: Today there are minimum exercise guidelines for people of all ages. For healthy adults, the guidelines according to the Department of Human Health and Services include the following: •Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderateintensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week. •Add moderate - to highintensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week. •Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary. •Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week. •Increase amount and intensity gradually over time. Start with walking: For those just starting into a fitness program, start with walking and enlist a friend to join you. Walking is not difficult, does not cost anything, allows you to enjoy nature and is perfectly

safe. To be effective, walk at least 30-45 minutes every day. Don’t forget to stretch! Set your own goals: The key to fitness is to set your own goals and not to compete with others. You need to be satisfied and comfortable with what you are doing. Be realistic: The key to fitness is to have a realistic expectation of your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, then set a goal of losing 2 to 3 pounds a month. While this may sound low, in 12 months that can amount to 24 to 36 pounds. On the other hand, if you set too high a goal and fail to achieve it, you will be disappointed and discouraged. Enjoy it: One of the key reasons why many people stop exercising regularly is because they overexert themselves and fail to enjoy the exercise. So go slow, enjoy what you are doing, add variety to your exercise regimen; walk one day, go to the gym the next day, swim on the third day, go biking over the weekend, etc. If you enjoy it, you are more likely to achieve your goals and keep on doing the physical activity. When you start to feel better about your body, feel less stressed, have mental clarity, are at a healthy weight, can walk or run without difficulty, can perform daily living activities with no complaints, have no muscle or joint pains and want to continue exercise – then consider yourself fit. If you would like to compete with others or set a specific fitness goal, there are ways to get more precise in terms of measurements and in this case a personal trainer can help you keep track of those goals. Start (or keep) exercising today! Thanks for reading!. Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers inhome personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit or email

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Five Ways Nutrigenomic Testing Can Improve Your Health By Dr. Erynn M. Burks


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hat/ how should I eat?” is probably the question I get asked most often in my practice. We all want to know what to put in our bodies so that we can improve our health, reduce our risk of disease, solve some nutritional ailment, or become better, faster, and stronger. No two people respond to diet and exercise the same way, but for decades health professionals have been relegated to answering some very specific health questions with the same general advice – less fat, less sugar, more water, more exercise. We lacked the technology to provide individualized advice, but not anymore. The future is finally here in an emerging science called nutrigenomics.

The Gene/Food Interaction Nutrigenomics combines molecular genetics with nutrition science. It examines the interaction between our genes and the food we eat. With a nutrigenomic test, the days of one-size-fit-all nutrition and fitness counseling are over. Healthcare practitioners can finally give our patients detailed instructions on how to take better care of their health. We finally have the answer to what/how we should eat.

Five Benefits of Nutrigenomic Testing Nutrigenomic testing is an exciting frontier for healthcare

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


professionals, but the major share of the benefits accrue to you, the patient. Most tests will include markers that give insights into some, if not all, of these five domains: Weight Loss: Weight loss is a billion-dollar industry. The diet world is full of fads, cleanses, pills, and pre-packaged eating plans all designed to help you lose those extra pounds, but science tells us the best way to lose weight and keep it off is through sustainable lifestyle change. A genetic test can help you initiate these lifestyle changes by telling you about energy balance (how your body uses the food you eat) and the type of diet that works best for your body. Generally, if a person cuts 500 calories from their intake through diet and exercise every day they can lose a pound every week; however, there is a segment of the population that has to do more work to lose a pound. If you have been following the usual advice but cannot seem to make the scale move, you might be one of the few. Genetics tests also give us clues into what type of diet works best per individual. Some respond better to low carbohydrate, some to high protein, some to neither. If you have cycled through diet trends and cannot seem to settle on an eating pattern, a nutrigenomic test may help.

Chronic Disease Risk: Treatment and rehabilitation for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease costs billions every year. Lifestyle modification can reduce and reverse many disease conditions, and a genetic test can give insight about your disease risk and what foods to consume, reduce, or omit from your diet. Gene markers vary between testing brands, but most tests should provide information on caffeine and similar additives as well as nutrient metabolism and disease risk. For example, tests that examine caffeine can provide information on how you metab-

olize the stimulant and if you at an increased risk for heart problems because of it. Other tests that examine nutrients like sodium, can give you insights into whether or not you have a salt sensitivity and allow you and your doctor to reduce your salt intake to a level that reduces your risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Food Allergy: Food allergies and sensitivities can have varying effects on an individual from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to life-threatening anaphylaxis. A genetic test may help you determine if your allergy symptoms have origins in what you are eating. Test markers vary by brand, but common markers include those for celiac disease and non-specific gluten sensitivity, histamine intolerance, and lactose intolerance. Information on possible food intolerance can help your healthcare provider narrow down probable dietary culprits of gastrointestinal distress, rashes, and other allergy symptoms that cannot be attributed to other causes. Likelihood of Deficiency: Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for life. We get these micronutrients through our diets. Vitamin deficiencies can cause serious, and sometimes irreversible, symptoms and even death in severe cases. A genetic test can give insight into how you metabolize micronutrients and whether or not you are at increased risk of vitamin deficiency based on your genes. For example, vitamin A comes in different forms, the majority of which we consume as the plant pigment beta-carotene found in red and orange fruits and vegetables. In order for our bodies to use this plant form, we have to convert it to its active form with the help of an enzyme; however, some people are unable to convert the plant form effectively and are at an increased risk of vitamin A deficiency because of this. Genetic

tests that examine vitamin A metabolism can give you information on whether you are someone who has trouble metabolizing beta-carotene to its active form and thus need to consume pre-formed sources of active vitamin A in order to prevent deficiency.

Athletic Performance: Nutrigenomic tests can be helpful for gym enthusiasts and athletes who are interested in optimizing their diets to improve training response, athletic performance, and recovery. Some

tests may even give insights into whether you respond better than normal to endurance (aerobic) training and resistance (strength) training. With this information, you and your healthcare provider or personal trainer can agree on a training program that will provide optimal results.. Editor’s note: For more information about nutrigenomic testing – Dr. Erynn M. Burks, her services, location and hours of operation, visit

JOURNEY TO WELLNESS F RE E L I F E S T Y L E C H A N G E PROGRAM Tri-County Health Department’s FREE year-long lifestyle change program will give you the tools you need to lose weight and become a healthier you. Reduce your risk of future health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Topics include: weight loss, eating healthy, becoming more physically active, managing stress, and barriers and motivators for change.

Begins: March 24th 11:00-12:00 p.m. Center for African American Health 3350 Hudson St. Denver, CO 80207 For more information or to register contact Theresa 720.232.1174 Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


The month of February is

often regarded as Black History Month, but just as important is the month of March which honors women’s history. This year for the first time, four African American female directors are presenting their work in the same month. Adrienne Martin-Fullwood and Kenya Fashaw are both founders of the 5280 Artist Co-Op and are breaking into directing at the 1 Night Six Plays. Fullwood is a first-time director but has been an actress for more than 30 years; one role as an understudy in The Great Gatsby. Fullwood says the best advice she’s ever received is “to not limit yourself on auditions and if it’s a role you’d think you’d be interested in, then audition for it.” It shouldn’t matter if you don’t believe they’re looking for someone like you or not, the results might surprise you. She continues, “There are no Black people in the Great Gatsby, so to cast me in an allwhite cast was just amazing to me.” She was excited to break out into directing being one of the four Black women directors during Women’s History Month. However, she believes more can be done for diversity in the media. “I’m not saying we’re at a good place, we’re in a better place, but yes there could be more because there are more stories to tell.” Directing is a change for her to “look at acting

African American Women Direct Women’s History in Denver Theater By Ashton Brown, MSU Intern

on the other side of the lens.” She says it was a hard switch, but she learned she knew more than she thought. She says “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” Kendra Fashaw is one of the three creators for the 5280 Artist Co-Op including Fullwood and Stephane Hancock. She says “we all wanted to create art that allowed opportunity for people of color while focusing on networking with the community.” Fashaw has a little bit more experience with directing than Fullwood and has directed various plays including her favorite Colorism Breaking The Chains Of Complexion. “I was able to direct each character one by one so the connection was more in-depth and the vision of what I needed came to life,” she said. As a Black female director, Fashaw has had to face multiple obstacles, but the biggest obstacle “I had to face was being able to command the respect of the actors. I feel that some people of our community are conditioned to ignore the directions of Black people, especially a Black woman when it comes to the arts. So having to

tear down this ideal was extremely challenging.” Fashaw, however, has a differing view on diversity in the media and believes there shouldn’t be more diversity because “more separation causes more conflict. When we allow ourselves to be seen as humans, we all begin to find common ground.” As a director, she says “It is important to be able to envision what it is I want as I am writing the script – and inspired by writing it – and wanting to tell people my direction. Having someone else come in to direct something I wrote and envisioned would drive me crazy. Directing the entire picture has been the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had.” This month also, Betty Hart is directing Scottsboro Boys at the Vintage Theater and Jada Suzanne Dixon is directing Bloomsday at the Dairy Theater. Hart was inspired to become a director because she wanted to “tell powerful stories.” The Scottsboro Boys is one of those powerful stories in her opinion. She says it’s necessary to tell the story because “Social justice is still an issue in the United States in 2020 and if you don’t know about the Scottsboro Boys it’s actually a part of our history where nine young African American males got on a train to go find work in the south in 1931. But, they never reached their destination because they were falsely accused of rape by two white women.” Hart says “all stories should be told, not just some.” As a Black female director, “I have an opportunely to both educate others and celebrate what

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


we’ve done and what we mean to the United States.” Hart says the Scottsboro Boys will “allow you to laugh, but it does not in any way take away the powerful punch of the horror of what happened to these young men that should have never happened and should hopefully never ever happen again.” Finally, Dixon is directing Bloomsday at the Daily Theater who says, “it’s a love story with a little bit of a twist that takes place in Dublin. So it had kind of a haunting feeling to it, but didn’t have anything connected to race or privilege; although that’s what I’m interested in. As a new director it was important for me to take on something I felt passionate about, just from a different way.” Dixon does say she believes in the “power of storytelling as a way to move us to change whether that’s personally or collectively as human beings. I want to be a part of something that keeps people thinking and talking once they leave the theater doors.” Dixon says as an African American female director her biggest accomplishment is simply “that I was going to do it – and I’m doing it – the power of believing in yourself and putting yourself out there and someone saying yes.” Dixon says that anyone who wants to be a director can be one if you’re willing to work for it. She says it’s important to “study the craft, trust yourself, and do as much reading as possible, craft out what makes you unique and your go-to tell the story, generate relationships and partnerships, and study the craft again.” Dixon says there’s something powerful with what an African American female brings to the table either through experience lived or through stories from their own family members.. Editor’s note: For dates and performance runs, contact the 5280 Artist Co-Op, Vintage Theater, and the Daily Theater.

I Count, You Count, We All Count in the 2020 Census It’s that time again! Every 10 years, the Census counts every person living in the USA. Here’s three things you should know about the count: ONLINE, PHONE, MAIL


$23,000 PER PERSON*

By April 1, every home across the country will receive an invitation with clear instructions on how to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your household in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.

The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential. By law, It cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business and your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.

Approximately $880 billion will be allocated across the US based on Census counts for Medicaid, SNAP, schools, hospitals, Free & Reduced Lunch, and more. Colorado will receive approximately $13 billion annually, or $2,300 per person. That’s $23,000 we lose, per person over 10 years, if you go uncounted. * According to the George Washington study.

For more information, visit


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Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020



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

Editor’s note: Samantha OfolePrince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Laurence Washington is the creator of Like on Facebook, follow on Twitter

Birds of Prey llll By Jon Rutlege

This movie does exactly

what it says on the tin. It’s a story of recovering after an emotional breakup. Birds of Prey does not flow in a normal from start to finish fashion primarily, because it’s told by someone who suffers from several mental disorders. It feels like a crazy person telling a story. That’s not a bad thing; it is very accurate to the character. There are different female team-ups within the comic series, so the filmmaker takes quite a liberty with the original story elements, but they play well on the screen. Like Wonder Woman, (’17) Birds of Prey is another example of how a woman-focused hero film can be profitable.   Birds of Prey picks up right after Harley Quinn (Margo Robbie), and the joker breakup.  She is trying to find herself as a single person, and also needs to navigate a new world where she doesn’t have the protection

of the Joker. Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) is out for a little revenge and Harly joins forces with others who have wronged Black Mask to take him down. The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and Detective Montoya (Rosie Perez) have all earned the ire of Black Mask. All other characters take a backseat to Harly’s Journey. This picture is more of a Harly

movie dressed up like a Birds of Prey. Warner Bros. needs to make this franchise like comic books and explore using different female characters together as a rotating cast to test out how each play out on screen. You can even have Harly be the narrator for each film. She can be the continuing thread that connects all of these films. The benefit is it doesn’t have to be stuffed into a trilogy. Have a good idea for a team-up? Throw it into the Birds of Prey team up format. None of them have to have a vast over reaching story arch. Having a good idea for a three-movie story still works in this format. Just make sure that you use the established movie rules, and you’re fine.  There is enormous potential here. This movie pushes the rating boundary to an R rating. It seemed like they were ramping up the elements to shoot for an R rating rather than letting the story and the characters organically take you to that rating.

The fight scenes are a tad more extra crunchy there are more graphic images that a typical DC film. The action scenes are all top-notch, and utilize a great use of the surrounding environment in all of the fights. Many impacts and explosions were very cringe-worthy. Those who don’t do well with seeing limbs bending in odd directions, twice, may want to consider this before going to view it. Blood splatter and bonecrunching aside, the heart of this story is in the film’s subtitle, “And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.” Often overlooked and pigeonholed into a sidekick, Harley Quinn is a compelling, intelligent character who suffers from some substantial mental problems. It’s nice to see her grow into a person facing the life change of being single. She still is damaged and makes mistakes, but that makes her more engaging.  

The 28th PAFF Showcases Female Directors By Samantha Ofole-Prince


rom a transatlantic romcom, a political charged drama to a heroic biopic, the most crowd-pleasing films coming out of PAFF are helmed by female directors. Just weeks after the Oscars came under fire for its failure to nominate prominent films directed by women, the 28th Annual Pan African Film Festival is showcasing more works than ever from female filmmakers and it’s that sea change many have been waiting for.  Check out our faorite female helmed helmed flicks screening at PAFF.  Hero: Arguably the most talked-about film is FrancesAnne Solomon’s drama-documentary Hero, a film which pays tribute to Ulric Cross, the

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


Trinidadian who became the most decorated of the RAF’s West Indian recruits – the Caribbean version of the Tuskegee Airmen. A remarkable film about a righteous man, Hero serves as a history lesson on Colonialism as Solomon brilliantly crafts a biopic which not only delivers drama and emotion but touches on an important historical era. The film also marked the festival’s opening night film. Una Great Movie: Jennifer Sharp’s colorful comedy about a Black American woman traveling to Mexico is a must see. Fun and humorous with a unique storytelling style that incorporates a professional cast mixed with local Mexican nonactors, it’s a cute comedy. Along with single handedly producing this movie in two countries and two languages, Sharp, an avid filmmaker wrote and directed this film and selfdocumented her entire journey on her cell phone. Zulu Wedding: Directed by Lineo Sekeleoane, this film follows a South African woman living in America who discovers that she’s been traditionally engaged since birth to a Zulu king after taking her current beau back to the Motherland. It’s a formulaic love story which offers plenty of laughs along the way as she ends up being caught up in a transatlantic love triangle between two men, two families, and two countries. The film stars Nondumiso Tembe, Kelly Khumalo and Darrin Henson. Desrances: Tense and tragic, Apolline Traoré’s powerful drama follows Jimmy Jean-

REEL ACTION - WWW.BLACKFLIX.COM Louis in the lead role as a troubled father who joins forces with his savvy 12-year-old daughter in search of his wife and newborn son after a civil war breaks out in Côte d’Ivoire. Exploring several themes such as fatherhood and familial strife, Traoré’s focus is on the unshakeable bond between a father and daughter and the real standout is the drama’s bright young star Naomi Nemlin who makes an impressive screen debut. Kings of Mulberry Street: Set in the early ’80s, Judy Naidoo’s Bollywood comedy follows two nine-year-old boys who set a plan in motion to rid their community of an evil local crime boss. A cute drama with universal themes that will appeal to the whole family, the humor is infectious and it offers a dose of relatable fun. 2 Weeks in Lagos: Kathryn Fasegha enjoys making movies which focus on complex and

often conflict-filled interactions between generations and her latest offering doesn’t disappoint. There’s plenty of drama in this film which follows a meddling mother who opposes her son’s new suitor and causes plenty of havoc in her quest to halt their union. Mawuli Gavor, Jide Kosoko, Beverly Naya, Joke Silva star. Joseph: Marcia Weekes weaves an intricate web of personal and family connections in this self-exploratory and engaging drama about a wealthy Jamaican doctor who was raised to follow in his physician father’s footsteps, but compelled by the natural, herbal approach to healing heads off to West Africa much to his family’s chagrin. Kevoy Burton, Christopher MacFarland, Alison Hinds, Shontelle Layne, Mawuli Gavor star in this moving drama, which tackles prejudice and discrimination. .

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



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Continued from page 3 As mayor, Mike had an impressive track record of reducing violence and incarceration rates, improving education, and restructuring the juvenile justice system. But his record wasn’t perfect. He has apologized for harmful stop and frisk police practices that resulted in far too many innocent people being traumatized. Similar egregious programs like the 1972-73 Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment and the 1992-93 Kansas City (Mo) Gun Experiment affected my family and me personally. As these policies showed some measure of statistical success — without accounting for the larger issue of systemic racism — over-policing evolved into a commonly accepted practice. A data-driven team builder, Mike inherited a city where 650 Black and brown men were murdered every year. As I see it, “Stop and Frisk” was a progression from practices seen in many of our hometowns that yielded academically “promising” results, where city officials confused correlation with causation between seizure of guns and reduced violent crimes. Mike is a leader who learns from his mistakes. He has realized that he was wrong and he has said that he is sorry. He is committed to making criminal justice reform a top priority. Though stops were cut by 95 percent by the time he left office, he has said that he should have acted sooner and faster. He has apologized for that and for not understanding the impact of this practice on Black and Latino communities. I accept his apology. As president, Mike will work to heal the division our country has seen for the last four years and expand access to opportunity for all. We deserve a leader with a track record of getting things done and putting our country

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


over partisan politics. The best candidate for the job is Mike Bloomberg, and I urge voters to return their Democratic primary ballot by March 3 and join me in supporting him. Brandon Lloyd Denver, CO

Editor’s note: Brandon Lloyd is a public speaker and philanthropist. He is an All-Pro NFL wide receiver and played for 11 seasons, three with the Denver Broncos.

Women of Influence Editor: Woman are not treated the same, nor do they have the same rights and responsibilities in different parts of society. In general, women in America had lots of responsibility and not a whole lot of power. Nationally, they did not have the right to vote until 1920. Until the mid19th century, women were treated as chattel, aka personal property, under the old concept of coverture that America inherited from England. A married man literally owned his wife just like he owned his horse. Imagine that! The 1960s brought us the Women’s Rights Movement that spawned the Equal Right Amendment that only this year got sufficient state government support to be an amendment to the US Constitution. The right wing is expected to oppose its adoption. In general, women of all color and parts of American society lag behind men in nearly all respects. Women of color do have some significant differences in how they fit into both their families and in society at large. I like to look to women of color to see where real power, in the family and in the community, historically resided. I’m quite sure that in Harriet Tubman’s house she had the last word. In my father’s family (the Lebanese side) my grand-

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR mother ruled the house and all the matters that had to do with the family. She was the face of the family in the community and she was well-respected. Growing up next to the house of Lolita and Winfred Seymour on Thrill Place, I saw how powerful a woman of color could be. She was like my second mother, and you never, ever crossed Mrs. Seymour – NEVER! I loved her dearly and was so very sorry to lose her last year. If I want to have a good cry, I only have to think about losing Mrs. Seymour. You might ask why she was so important and stays so important in my life. It is because she was a strong, kind, powerful woman of principle. She also worked very hard for her family, her home and her community. This is where power comes from. It does not come from being fancy alone, because Mrs. Seymour did not consider herself necessarily fancy. She did not have to be fancy; she was awesome in her own powerful way. God rest her soul in peace. There is an African American woman who is fancy, principled and powerful. That is my good friend, Cleo Parker Robinson. I am telling people she is not just a person anymore. She is not just a dance ensemble, a dance school and a fabulous artist. She is an institution, and for our sake and the sake of our children, she must live on. She is the golden example of the power of a woman. That this magnificent women would come from the African American community does not surprise me. It should not surprise anyone who is acquainted with the community. This community nurtures strong women. I am so very grateful that in my life I have known great African American women, like Dr. Deborah Green, Shyleen Qualls, Pamela Greer, Cleo Parker Robinson, Menola

Upshaw, Mrs. Seymour, and so many more. It has shaped who I am and how I think. They are all great examples of living by their principles, taking responsibility, serving others, and having reverence for family. I know that my life is better having been influenced by them. Mike Sawaya

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CONTACT: Email: Call: (303) 355-3423 Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


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Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2020


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Denver Urban Spectrum - March 2020  

Denver Urban Spectrum celebrates Women's History month with Stephanie O'Malley, the Colorado Women Hall of Fame inductees and Colorful Stori...

Denver Urban Spectrum - March 2020  

Denver Urban Spectrum celebrates Women's History month with Stephanie O'Malley, the Colorado Women Hall of Fame inductees and Colorful Stori...

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