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Volume 25 Number 12

March 2012

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris


FILM and BOOK CRITIC Kam Williams

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Angelle Fouther Angelia McGowan Shangra-La Sheila Smith Lisa Walton ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Gillian Conte, The Creative Spirit Jody Gilbert, Kolor Graphix


ADVERTISING SALES CONSULTANTS Randle Media Rodney Sturgeon WEB SITE ADMINISTRATOR Tanya Ishikawa DISTRIBUTION Glen Barnes Lawrence A. James Ed Lynch

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2012 by Rolado, LLC. 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. Office address is 2727 Welton St., Denver, CO 80205. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at

Sure God created man before woman. But then you always make a rough draft before the final masterpiece. ~Author Unknown

Although it may appear as a joke, it sets the tone for Women’s History month and this issue as we pay tribute to several women who are leaving their mark on society. Our cover story features the national president of Jack and Jill, Tara Labrie and her commitment to society. Take a sneak peek into the life of comedian Wanda Sykes and find out what makes her tick. Also this month, we learn about a woman who is making life easier for ex-offenders as they transition back into society. Check out the Lady Falcons and the woman coach who is their inspiration. Last month we paid tribute to Etta James, but sadly enough, this month we say good-bye to “The Voice” in our final tribute to Whitney Houston. Next month, DUS will be celebrating 25 years of spreading the news about people color. Check out 25 women who have made a lasting impact and significant contributions to the community and DUS – and why they will be honored as a Timeless Legend. Now there are some wonderful efforts by men also featured this month: PJ D’Amico is bringing the Human Touch Exhibit to RedLine and Johnell Moody is now head man in charge of By Faith (formerly Full Circle). But that’s not enough to warrant a Men’s History month! Enough said (smile)…See you next month and happy reading. Rosalind J.Harris Publisher


Denver’s Last Frontier: The Northeast Neighborhoods of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea

Elyria and its surrounding neighborhoods. The Future of the National Western Stock Show in Elyria is a big unknown. Whatever its future, this 100-acre tract of land will dominate the Elyria neighborhood. There are tremendous opportunities for a transit oriented community that should not be squandered by other adverse developments. On the downside, these neighborhoods continue to be located du jour of the city’s most polluting industries: refineries, power plants, heavy manufacturing, and railroads surround the community cutting them off from the outside. The most Immediate and ominous threat to Elyria, Swansea and Globeville, however, is the expansion of I-70 through these neighborhoods. Rarely has there been so little public and media attention given to a project of such great magnitude as the widening of I-70 through Elyria and Swansea. The construction of this highway in the 1960’s divided the northeast neighborhoods from the most vibrant parts of Denver. Its destructive effects are still felt to the north of I-70 today. It was hoped that the replacement of the aging I-70 from Colorado Boulevard to I-25 would provide a new opportunity to redress the highway’s impact on these communities. Sadly, after nearly a decade of “study,” CDOT’s preferred alternative – to widen the highway by expanding to the north into residential areas – only exacerbates the impact to those already disempowered residents. On its face, the environmental studies conducted by CDOT for I-70 are deeply flawed for lacking a proper health study and – most significantly – for not seriously studying other options, such as below-grade or tun-

Editor: The Denver neighborhoods of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea have been disadvantaged and harmed by all levels of government and industry for over five decades. The greatest malfeasance of all, however, is the continuing lack of regional planning and vision for these neighborhoods’ future in Denver and the greater metropolitan region. While other areas of the front range flourish, in northeast Denver the future is threatened at all levels: federal, state, region, city and – to be sure – the community’s lack of cohesion that might assert itself amidst the powerful interests. Nevertheless, there is no good excuse that Denver’s “last frontier” cannot be planned and built sensitively and intelligently for the 21st Century. This will take additional action from influential parties that care about Denver and its future. At present, there are huge and disparate forces acting both positively and negatively on these neighborhoods. Among their strengths, the Denver neighborhoods of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea are less than two miles from Downtown Denver; have 1.5 miles of access and pathways to the Platte River; are within walking distance to historic Riverside Cemetery as well as Northside Park, Globeville Landing Park, Argo and Swansea Parks; have easy access to I-70 and I25; and have what is one of the last affordable housing stocks within the city of Denver. A commuter rail station stop at 48th & Brighton for the north metro line of RTD’s Fastracks is a very positive development for the future of

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


nel options for the brief segment of I70 through Elyria-Swansea. Interestingly, CDOT went to great lengths to protect the character of Denver’s southwest neighborhoods, like Washington Park, when it expanded I-25 a little less than a decade ago. CDOT has failed to extend the same “planning” courtesy to the disadvantaged population that will be most disproportionately impacted by the I-70 project. The northeast neighborhoods of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea offer tremendous potential for the future, and yet are being planned without any regional vision, at the mercy of giant forces – I-70 and CDOT, the Federal Highway Works Administration, National Western Stock Show, Purina and other major industry, the railroads, RTD, the City of Denver – that are not integrated and are acting alone and often in conflict with each other. This is a lousy way to plan and build a city and a region. Residents of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea appeal to concerned citizens and officials of the Denver region to use your voices and significant resources and influence to attempt to correct the misaligned direction in which this important area of the City is being forced to proceed.

Drew Dutcher Mike Harris

Editor’s note: Drew Dutcher is an Elyria resident and works in architecture and planning. He was the Elyria neighborhood representative on the Preferred Alternative Collaboration Team established by CDOT to evaluate and choose alternatives from the Draft EIS for the I-70 East Project. Mike Harris is an assistant professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where he directs the College’s Environmental Law Clinic.


here’s a saying that if you want a job done right, call in a woman. Make her an African American Woman and watch your stock grow. While this adage has most often been attributed to female corporate executives whose driven leadership has led to increased corporate profits and dividends, it aptly epitomizes Tara Joseph-Labrie, the Centennial based go-getter who currently sits at the helm of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. The organization, which was founded as a social club in 1938 in Philadelphia under the leadership of Marion Stubbs Thomas and 20 others Black mothers—who came together to provide cultural, educational, and social opportunities for their children—has grown into a multimillion dollar national nonprofit organization with its own philanthropic arm. The women who launched Jack and Jill 75 years ago were mostly stay at home moms. Today the organization, which has been the source of inspiration as well as imputation in the African American Community, is currently comprised of 10,000 mothers nationwide—97% of who, like Labrie, invest in the growth of their children and communities by juggling full time professional careers with family, social and civic engagement, and the active commitment required in Jack and Jill.

Labrie’s Southern Roots

Born and raised in Opelousas, a small town of about 25,000 located in the St. Landry Parish of Louisiana, Tara Labrie was surrounded by a tight-knit family who made sure that she and her two brothers stayed on track where her education was concerned. That was due, in great part, to the fact that her mother was her kindergarten teacher, her uncle was her 8th grade math teacher, and her father her high school principal. Her grandparents were also the next door neighbors. When Labrie’s mother died while she was only eight years old, her father was left to raise the three. “My father was my rock. He made sure we all finished college and he instilled in us the obligation to give back—he always had a great sense of community,” she states. “And after being in the education field for 44 years, he retired and went to work at Dillards in the men’s department. That was a longtime dream of his,” she laughs fondly. Her husband Greg has been a touchstone in her life as well. A project engineer and entrepreneur, he shares with her a similar commitment

Tara Joseph-Labrie

All Out for Family, Community, and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. By Angelle C. Fouther

The many faces of Tara Labrie

to the community and a penchant for leadership demonstrated by his service as President of the Owl Club, a Denver-based social and community service club for men, and to his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. Labrie met Greg when she was 14, and although she was not allowed to date back then, the two met up again at Southern University in Baton Rouge, where she attended, and dated for a year. They later reunited and have been married for 25 years. “He has been there for every significant milestone of my life,” she states. That includes the births of their two children — Briana, 16, who attends Regis High School, and Theron (TJ), 10, who attends Coyote Elementary School.

Chapter President, along with Denver Chapter President Dr. Janette Andrews, and Denver’s Immediate Past Chapter President Faye Wilson Tate, were instrumental in garnering nationwide support during Labrie’s “campaign.” “Faye and I assisted the South Suburban members and Central Region mothers who were present in distributing literature and speaking with mothers from around the country regarding the dedication and readiness of Mrs. Labrie to assume to mantel of the leader of our organization,” Andrews states. “In knowing Tara for many years, we believed she had the dedication and organizational skills necessary to thrive in the position, states, Holloway. “We are so very proud to have National President Labrie as a part of our chapter —for what she brings to us locally, and for the passion and determination she displays in moving our national organization into a sustainable model for the future.” Labrie’s vision was to continue to build on youth leadership development, financial literacy, and to respond to the call to establish a national program to improve the state of health for families and children in the African-American community. “One of the most critical issues facing Black families today is poor nutrition and obesity, especially amongst African American youth,” Labrie states. “I wanted the healthy living initiative to be a huge focus, to ensure that communities nationwide knew the importance of eating right and exercising. The Aim

Joining Jack and Jill

The family joined Colorado’s South Suburban Chapter of Jack and Jill in 1997 when Briana was two years old. “Coming from my home town in Louisiana, I hadn’t interacted with white people alot until coming to Denver, and I was looking for opportunities for my kids to interact with other Black youth,” Labrie states. “Jack and Jill is very much our extended family.” The extended family grew by the thousands when Labrie became the 22nd National President in July of 2010—the youngest in the organization’s history. The Colorado chapters offered their full support to Labrie during the National President election process. Tammi Holloway, South Suburban

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


Healthy initiative is designed not only for our mothers and children, but also to ensure that our communities understand the impact of not living a healthy lifestyle.” During the first four-months of the program, members lost 30,000 pounds collectively. Jack and Jill has partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to help spread the message, and has received the endorsement of organizations such as the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, and the American Cardiologists Association. The organization recently received the President’s Challenge Award for the healthy living initiative. Labrie is going to the White House in May to receive the commendation. Labrie acknowledges that there are many issues facing African Americans in today’s culture—of great concern and importance is the issue of literacy and education. “My grandparents on one side went to college, the other side didn’t. So I don’t care if you don’t go to college, as long as you get some kind of a trade,” Labrie states. “But something is very wrong when I see second and third generation kids of college graduates who are not even graduating from high school.” She says that rapid pace of life that we are maintaining and the deterioration of the nuclear family are contributing to the downward spiral. “And it’s not about single parents raising kids,” she states. “There are twoparent households where the parents are not getting home. We are extending ourselves too much. Everyone has to make the right decisions for their family. We provide so much but we are not there—not taking the time.” The task of branding Jack and Jill has been one of the main priorities during Labrie’s term as president. “Many were not aware of ways in which we impact the communities where our chapters exist. They think of Jack and Jill as a group of people who provide programs to benefit our own members only. That’s not the case.” These branding efforts have led Jack and Jill to be featured in several magazines and newspapers, including Ebony and Essence, and in May of 2011 Labrie was on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The show also featured others leaders of African American organizations from across the country. Jack and Jill offers programming on both the national and local level. National initiatives include a partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National Day of Service, Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline, and The Thompson Family Fund, where each chapter donates $50 to assist Washington D.C. based

Jacqueline Thompson in raising her quintuplets into adulthood. Chapter-specific programs and projects are many and varied. Some examples: Prince Georges County Chapter partnered with a new Maryland chapter to run an all day seminar on the impact of changing certain life and health related choices. Through another chapter, toddlers put on Trike-A-Thon to raise money for St. Judes. The Denver Chapter has presented a Beautillion for the past 28 years, where African American young men throughout the community are offered workshops, mentorship and then presented to the community at a year-end gala. Several chapters throughout the country present Cotillions as well, which feature the young ladies. Youth in the Washington D.C. Chapter created a wax museum where they dressed in costumes and had posters describing who they were. Another region does a stock exchange program. Kids invest their own money for several weeks, read about the stock exchange, and get to go on the floor. “The development of leaders is the point,” she states, “civic, educational, and philanthropic leadership.” Perhaps one of the projects closest to Labrie’s heart was one that took her back to her home state of Louisiana. Jack and Jill Rebuilds is an initiative developed to support Habitat for Humanity. Fundraising efforts have taken place throughout the nation’s chapters to support the building of Habitat homes. All of the chapters participated in raising money for this effort. “It was an incredible experience when we got to get together on March 12, 2011 in New Orleans and build that house and lay the landscaping for Corey Holmes, his fiancée, and their three children,” she says becoming a little emotional. “All of the New Orleans chapters were there to put in the sweat equity.” A dedication ceremony was held later that evening raising an additional $4,600. “After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we were fortunate to receive an outpouring of support from people around the country, says Aleis Tusa, Communications Director for the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. “Jack and Jill of America came in and sponsored one of the homes. To have an organization step forward to give $85,000 and also show up by the hundreds to build was tremendous. It reminded the people devastated by the storms that they were not forgotten, and it gave a father, mother, and three children a safe home to live in.” Labrie says she has since gone back to visit the family and they are all doing well.

Changes and Challenges

and Robert Kennedy, many were angered that Jack and Jill offered no platform in this regard. “Jack and Jill did have many adult members who were heavily involved in the movement, but as an organization, the focus remained on its original mission,” Labrie says. It was during this period, however, that the organization was forced to reexamine itself. It refocused to create projects and programs which address community issues. “This definitely added substance so that Jack and Jill was not simply a self-serving organization,” Labrie adds. Additionally, there has been criticism of Jack and Jill for being an

While Jack and Jill hosts a robust and community-focused slate of programs today, that was not always the case. The organization has indeed grown from its roots in the 1930s as a social club. The tide turned during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Labrie states. “In 1968, several teens as well as their parents refused to participate with Jack and Jill. It was common to hear the group referred to as “uppity,” she shares. As Blacks around the country were engaged in the battle for rights in a highly charged year that marked the loss of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


organization which caters only to the upper class or bourgeoisie—this spurred by the fact that members pay what many consider to be hefty dues, and new chapter members must be invited by current ones and voted on for acceptance into the organization. Labrie responds: “Jack and Jill is a private organization but we have both upper and middle income folks—the average income is $180,000. Because we are a member organization, we have very specific goals and objectives for our kids, and provide a strong support system, but we are not an organization that is just about self help.” Continued on page 6

Continued from page 5 But she adds that the organization is elitist in some areas of the country where it is difficult to get into Jack and Jill due to the fact that some chapters cap their membership numbers, many forgoing admitting new members for several years at a time. And there are the cost constraints. “We have a number of families with double layoffs,” Labrie says. To assist families, some chapters will charge just the national fees and forfeit chapter operating fees which can range between $300 to $800 dollars. “But even in the difficulties of recession, we have maintained our numbers, although we have not grown.” Juggling it all can also be a challenge. “This is a full time job and I already work a full time job,” Labrie states. “It is a business—there are 40,000 family members (10,000 mother members), a staff to manage, and you need to ensure that your programming thrust is implemented well.” She is able to manage it all with the support system of her children and husband who understand the impetus for her commitment. “It is a struggle at times but I try to have a balance,” she states. “I go to headquarters only once a month. I fly out on Wednesday morning and am back Friday by 5 pm.” She says she doesn’t believe in

procrastination either and has a very detailed punch list where every item gets addressed as quickly as possible. Labrie will end her two year term as President of Jack and Jill with a bang this summer. She and reps from the organization have been invited to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. They will also appear on the Today Show with all members of the New York Chapters. The culmination will be the 75th anniversary celebration at the conference held July 25th through 29th in Philadelphia, the city in which the first chapter was organized. Morris and Pam Chestnut are the honorary chairs and many high profile guests are expected. President Barack and Michelle Obama are among the invited guests. Tara Joseph-Labrie is proud of the legacy that she will be leaving as National President—developing a sustainable platform for Jack and Jill’s future; organizations nationwide struggle to remain relevant in a constantly changing landscape. But in many ways she believes ways relevancy is not a challenge for Jack and Jill. “We will always fall back on the principles that we were founded on—simply mothers gathering with one mission: to provide opportunities for their kids that they did not have.”

Celebrate HOPE


OPE Center is celebrating 50 years of offering top-rated Early Childhood Education and Care programs for more than 200 children ages 2 ½ to eight years. Hope Center serves Children who are at-risk, have developmental disabilities/delays, and gifted inner city children. The nationally accredited HOPE Center also provides a high quality Vocational program to over 30 adults with developmental disabilities. Most of the students come from minority families with a makeup of 63 percent Black, 17 percent Hispanic and 20 percent White. Over 85 percent are at or below poverty guidelines and living in our surrounding neighborhoods. Fifty-four percent are female and 46 percent male. Hope Center is supported by individuals and funders. HOPE Center will be sponsoring its seventh annual fundraising event, “Vintage Vegas”…Million Lights of Hope! This event will be held on March 10, at the Sherman Event Center at 1770 Sherman St., in Denver from 7:30 p.m. to midnight. The costs of educating a child continues to go up with many children needs being unmet. HOPE Center continues to be a model agency in the field of early childhood education and services to adults with disabilities. For more information, go to or visit Tickets are $75 for GA and $125 for VIP. 

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


The Lady Falcons

All Girls’ Basketball Team Soars To New Heights

three-pointer shot into the basket from across the court and led the way for the Lady Falcons. Not much later, she scored again by shooting from the middle of the floor. Parents were ecstatic and stood clapping and shouting.… “Here we go Falcons. Here we go.” The final score was 24 to 12 with the Lady Falcons just one game away from the championship, so it seemed.

was the determination of the girls wanting to be successful, understanding basketball and working together as a team. It also helped that we got our new superstar shooter “AJ.” Last season was the first time for Tolman to coach a girls’ basketball team. But she is no stranger to coaching other youth sports, such as track and soccer Although she loves the challenge of coaching the girls, she declared, “The toughest part about being a coach is keeping track of the girls, making sure everyone is on time and where they are supposed to be.” “And then you have to deal with attitudes – it’s like hormonal city,” she added and laughed. She constantly works with the girls on their dribbling, shooting and other techniques. Her style is not to coach individual players but coach the team as a whole. She plays no favoritism even with her own daughter, Maya, who plays on the team. She is also quick to tell the girls “Don’t say you can’t” when it comes to passing or shooting the ball to score. One of the Lady Falcon’s biggest fans is parent, Dionne Washington. Her daughter, Kiara Thomas, is on the team. “I think Mali is great. She is a hard ball. But between Mali and the parents, I think we have raised winners. So you know I am their number one fan,” Washington said. She further stated how important it is to be supportive of the young ladies: “We have to keep encouraging these girls and to do something that will make them prosper, whether it’s in sports or in school. And who knows which one of them later in life will go on to be president of the United Stated or CEO of a company.” The Lady Falcons are part of a much broader organization, the Montbello Falcon Athletic Club, which has been around for the past 40 years promoting youth sports. This includes boys’ football (ages 4 to 14), boys and girls basketball (ages 7 to 14), cheerleading (age 5 to 14),

Lady Falcons (Back row): Nece Radler (Montbello Falcons President), Coach Mali Tolman, and Mekhi Peoples, (Front row) Janae Gadson, Kiara Thomas, Maya Bishop Not pictured: Ajanique “AJ” Parnell-Thomas, Nyla McGee and TaNaisia Eugene

By Sheila Smith

As with any coach, Mali Tolman

gives her typical speech before the game. “Let’s work as a team. No ball hogging. Don’t get too excited every time you get the ball and feel you have to shoot it. And don’t worry about what the other team is saying.” “Yes coach,” the girls say in unison while huddled together inside the bathroom before their playoff game last month at Cresthill Middle School in Highlands Ranch. The Lady Falcons consist of girls’ ages 12 and 13 who played their first season of basketball in 2010 and ended up finishing the season third from the bottom. But this year, they made a big come back in being ranked the number two team to finish the season in the Arapahoe Youth League. It’s a big accomplishment for these young ladies who bounced back strong and fought hard in a predominately white league. The Lady Falcons were the only African-American girls’ basketball team in the league – most of them residing in the Montbello and Green Valley Ranch areas. They are Janae Gadson, Kiara Thomas, TaNaisia Eugene, Maya Bishop, Ajanique “AJ” Parnell-Thomas, Mekhi Peoples and Nyla McGee. The Lady Falcons went head on against the Warriors of Highland Ranch and it was an easy win during the first playoff game. “AJ” Parnell-Thomas made the first

Unfortunately, after only an hour and half to rest, the Lady Falcons had a tougher battle going against the Roundball Unlimited team from Parker. The girls hustled back and forth across the court but still trailed behind when it came to scoring. “AJ” tried her best and missed a few shots and even her teammate, TaNaisia Eugene, made two threepointer shots that didn’t help pull her team ahead. Tolman and her assistant coach Jerald “Beefy” McGee were highly upset after it was apparent referees were calling too many foul shots against the Lady Falcons and not enough calls on fouls or other traveling mistakes against the other team. It became an uphill battle all the way for the Lady Falcons who ended up losing by four points – the final score 32 to 36. Their hearts crushed at the thought they wouldn’t go on to play in the championship game. Tolman, however, told them to hold their heads up and there is always next year. “The girls faced some tough challenges and still managed to keep their composure. It makes them want to come back stronger next year and go to the championship game and win,” Tolman said. She is still proud of how far she has brought her team from where they ranked last year. Tolman explained how the girls were getting slaughtered when they first started playing in the league. “We had a lot of things to work on. The key

Lady Falcons: On point and ready to play!

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


and baseball (ages 6 to 14). In the year 2013, a coed volleyball team (ages 7 to 15) and a soccer team (ages 6 to 14) will start. “The whole purpose of the organization is to promote youth sports activities outside school,” said Necce Rattler, who has been a part of the Montbello Falcon Athletic Club for the past 13 years and the president since 2006. A lot has changed under Rattler’s reign in further improving the organization’s sports teams. “We now have better qualified coaches, play in a better sports league - the Arapahoe Youth League - and have added the basketball and track programs,” she said. Rattler also mentioned how it was a blessing to leave the Aurora League and be a part of the Arapahoe League last year. Overall, she said the Arapahoe League provides better competition. She is definitely not patting herself on the back for making those organizational changes; however, she does take some of the credit for seeing an increase in the club’s sports participation over the years. “It does take all of us to do it, coaches, parents, the board and community support,” she stated. Rattler also couldn’t be more impressed with what the Lady Falcons basketball team has accomplished. “I am very proud of the girls. There is still some tweaking that needs to be done. But Mali has brought them a long way and they’ve done an outstanding job (this season).” After the second playoff game at Cresthill Middle School, the girls were frustrated as tears streamed down their cheeks. They were exhausted and felt defeated. Tolman and a few parents surrounded them, applauded them and reminded them: “Ladies you played your hearts out.” They had to realize that they did their best despite the circumstances and will only come back next year with an even more tenacious approach to be that number one team.  L to R: Janae Gadson, Nyla McGee, Maya Bishop, TaNaisha Eugene (kneeling), Ajanique “AJ” Parnell-Thomas, Kiara Thomas and Mekhi Peoples

RedLine Brings The Human Dawoud Bey

Touch To Five Points I

t’s a place that seems to be hidden in the shadows of the Five Points community, at the same time trying to provide a blend of cultural awareness and education through different artistic venues. RedLine is a place more people need to know about - a diverse urban laboratory for local, national and international artists get exposure and also where art, education and community converge. “We recognize it’s an institution for the community, a very diverse community; and we consider ourselves a part of the Five Points community. We also want to be sure to embrace and reflect a cultural heritage and the visional direction of this community. And we are purposely focusing on art forms that come out of an African-American and Hispanic culture,” said PJ D’ Amico, executive director of RedLine, which is located at 2350 Arapahoe St. That is one reason why D’Amico is so excited about bringing “The Human Touch” exhibition from the RBC Wealth Management Collection running March 17 through April 27 at RedLine.

This exhibit is about human expression - ranging from serious to whimsical, realistic to abstract and will feature artworks devoted to creative interpretations of the human figure. The collection also explores concepts of self and identity, including works of internationally renowned artists who offer an array of perspectives. For the past 19 years, the Minneapolis based RBC Wealth Management has collected art that reflects a society in which we live and work. Nearly 50 pieces from the collection make up “The Human Touch” art tour to be displayed in cities across the country. “RedLine serves as a place for convergence of art, ideas and people,” D’Amico expressed. “This exhibition particularly through its diversity brings people into a dynamic relationship between art and their lived experiences,

celebrating the human touch in all of its rich and varied form.” The Human Touch exhibit also will include various African-American artists like Dawoud Bey, Radcliffe Bailey, Willie Birch and Carrie Mae Weems. “Dawoud Bey has a piece called Harlem, which is a panoramic photography exhibition that captures Harlem in terms of both the Renaissance and now. So we are obviously interested in the correlation between Five Points and Harlem and hope to really reflect that in Solien - Self portrait the exhibition,” D’Amico said. As an artist, the New York native Bey, first concentrated on street photography connecting AfricanAmericans and their identity. He later turned to studio portraiture. His collection of works can be

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


by Sheila Smith found in the Museum of Modern Art and Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis among others. Radcliffe Bailey, who is from New Jersey, draws heavily on the African heritage through a series of paintings and prints. He also contrasts those traditions with the contemporary AfricanAmerican culture transforming them to have new meaning. His work can be found in the Art Institute of Chicago, Concoran Galley of Art in Washington D.C., the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. New Orleans native Willie Birch is an artist who likes to take insightful glimpses of the community through life-size paintings – mostly of real people from his home town. His art paintings can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, New Orleans Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and others. Carrie Mae Weems is an artist who takes on issues that affect the African-American culture. A Portland, Oregon native, Weems documents photography in ways that focuses on personal and cultural history that becomes an art expression of multiple images and sequence.

And Denver native who now resides in Colorado Springs, Floyd Tunson, will be another featured artist during the exhibition. His eclecticism includes paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures and mixed media art. Most of his art work can be found in the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, Denver Art Museum, Walter O. Evans Collection of African-American Art to name a few. As Tunson profoundly states on his website and often says to others: “My work reflects my journey to acquire knowledge. Looking at life from one direction, I see the terror in chaos, man’s inhumanity to man, mortality and the vastness of the unknown. From another direction, the human condition is like a magnificent, orderly evolution of extraordinary beauty. The totality of my work reflects my quest to comprehend and express these forces and their interconnectedness.” RedLine is on the canvas for engaging young student artists who will create works to correspond with those in the “The Human Touch” exhibition as well — most of the students are from Manual and Whittier schools. Cynthia Martin, community outreach manager for RedLine, heads up the education program. She said back in January, RedLine had a youth retreat focusing on topics of social justice, about the community and how it translates into art. This was the kickoff for the students in

RedLine also has brought social issues to the forefront at their space, according to D’Amico, where activists from the Occupy Denver movement gathered to share their viewpoints. And RedLine celebrates other art forms that include dance, poetry and the spoken word. “It is a venue for cultural organizations to experiment with their practices in our space,” said D’Amico. RedLine came about three years ago under Laura Merage, who is the founder, an artist and philanthropist. She understood first-hand the challenges artist face as they develop their portfolios and build their careers. Her dream is to continue assisting emerging artists as they take their professions to the next level and creative process to a broader community. In 2012, RedLine’s budget was $700,000, in which the majority of the money had to be raised through fundraisers from special events and workshops. The art organization also seeks corporate sponsorships, federal

Radcliffe Bailey

preparing their art pieces for the “The Human Touch” exhibit. “They came up with a name for their art work called “Intervals” which is about how life changes from moment to moment, how one thing affects another,” Martin said. She has plans to continue developing the youth art program for RedLine and said, “This is for youths who want to be artists and not for those who just want to hang out. This is an opportunity for young people who are truly interested in art on some level.” D’Amico added, “Our mission is to have art be a catalyst for community and education. The idea is to really break down those walls and having artists work with the students.” Martin said the biggest challenge is getting more students in northeast Denver to take advantage of the opportunities RedLine provides. “You know they have skills and talents, but how do you get them engaged? I am even willing to sit down with parents to help overcome some of those obstacles to make it happen,” she said. RedLine has other programs in place that allows local artists to rent space to further their artistic endeavors; Beach Studios is a program for the homeless to participate in workshops and create art work; Kids Making Art for children ages 2 to 5; and Rocky Mountain Parents as Teachers engages young single mothers and fathers in art workshops.


March 17 through April 27 2350 Arapahoe St. For more information call 303-296-4448 or visit

and state grants to help fund many of its exhibits. D’Amico is adamant about RedLine being part of the cultural renaissance to the now modern transformation that Five Points has gone through. “Five Points should not be shrinking but should be expanding, and we want to partner in being an anchor in that transformation. And make certain that art forms reflected and exhibited in our space comes from the African-American and Hispanic communities,” he declared.  Editors Notes: For more information on RedLine or to reach PJ D’Amico call 303-296-4448 or email

Willie Birch

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012



...In Person!! By Shangra-La

Wanda Sykes is an award-win-

ning stand-up comedian who successfully made the transition from the

comedy circuit to television and film.

She is a talented writer and performer whose awards include four Emmys

and an American Comedy Award. She took time out to speak with the Denver Urban Spectrum about her comedy

tour, movies and other things going

on in her life. Take a peek into

Wanda’s world: Denver Urban Spectrum: Thank you for allowing us to interview you this morning. I’m a huge fan and love your work. I think you are indeed the latest and the greatest of talent. Before you were a comedian, you worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), which is a huge leap working with the NSA to being a comedian. What made you do that and become a comedian? Wanda Sykes: I knew I didn’t belong at the NSA. It was great people to work with and they did great work. But I just felt like I didn’t belong. I remember one day I was at home and was going through my high school year book. I was looking at what people were writing in my year book and they were all saying how funny I was. Even my teachers were talking about how funny I was. I will see you on stage and ‘blah blah blah’ that kind of resonated with me. Then I was listening to the radio and they were talkin about a talent show and comedy was the category, so I said you know I think I’m going to get into this talent

show. I wrote some jokes and got on the show but didn’t win. I did make people laugh and said OK this is it. And I just stayed with it. DUS: How would you describe yourself in a few words? WS: I say what a lot of people are already thinking. DUS: What are your inspirations for your material? WS: My comedy is grounded in reality, life and relationships. Now that I have kids, I’m getting a lot of material from being a mom. A lot of my stuff is coming from that now because it’s life changing. DUS: Do you prefer standup or TV? WS: I like the TV checks, but I love doing standup. I love doing standup because you get that immediate feedback from the audience and its total freedom and no edits. I just love the art of standup and it’s the hardest thing to do. With movies and TV, you get to work with other people and just a lot of sitting around waiting to do your little part. Standup is the hardest, but for me is the most rewarding. DUS: You have gone from standup to TV to movies like Pootie Tang, Down to Earth and Monster-in-law. How were able to transition into these movies? WS: I started out saying hey I want to be a funny comedian and that has always been my goal and is still is my goal. So the movies and TV came from all of that. For me, it’s all gravy. DUS: One of my favorite quotes of yours is:”If you don’t believe in same sex marriage don’t marry somebody of the same sex.” I just love that quote because it is speaking true to power. I

noticed on twitter that you tweeted about the federal appeals court declaring California proposition 8 unconstitutional? What are some of your thoughts on that? WS: To me this is how we are going to get marriage equality and that has to come through the courts. Any judge in their right mind would say this is discrimination. The constitution doesn’t allow discrimination, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How can you let people decide whether or not I can get married, which is just nonsense, nonsense. Then to say I can’t get married doesn’t change anything for them. For me to marry somebody of the same sex doesn’t do anything to your marriage. It’s the same thing with the Civil Rights Act; you can’t let the people decide whether or not AfricanAmericans can have the same rights as white people. If we were to let people make that decision then we would still be sitting on the back of the bus. DUS: I know you are going to be in the next Ice Age movie Continental Drift playing Sid Sloth’s grandmother. Can you tell our readers a little bit more about the character and movie, as well as other projects that you are working on? WS: Granny is old, set in her ways, hard of hearing - it is straight comedy. She is funny and things she says is hilarious! I’m very excited about that project. I’m currently touring. I’m also the voice in the Gain (television) commercials. And I’m shooting a movie called Hot Flashes with Camryn Manheim, Darryl Hannah, Brooke Shields and Melanie Griffith. We all live is this small broke-ass town trying

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


to get our basketball team back together and challenge our current high school girls team to a game to raise money for our friend’s breast cancer unit. It’s a good story and just so funny. We went down for a basketball camp for a week and had to learn how to play. They wore us out. I mean after the first practice, we all stopped at the local store to load up on Epsom salt. We all were taking baths in Epsom salt, it was a mess. They should have shot that and it could have been the movie. It was pretty funny. DUS: You are coming to the Mile High City on March the 9 at the Paramount Theatre. You have so many fans in Colorado that your 8:00 p.m. show sold out. So what can we expect from your show? WS: Well first, I have to get adjusted to the altitude. I might be a little dizzy. I might be a little light headed. But I’m funny when I’m a little light headed and it will be like I’m a little drunk. I have so much love for the Mile High City and I’m really going to bring yall a good show. My comedy is like a snap shot of what is going on in my life. My earlier comedy specials were very political, but now that I have kids and stuff, I can tell you more about what s going on with Sesame Street than on Wall Street. Especially with the primaries going on, I will talk a about politics just a little bit. And I’m going to talk about where my life is right now. It’s kinda funny when you think about it - I’m a black women married to a French lady with two white babies.  Editor’s note: Wanda Sykes will be appearing at the Paramont Theatre Friday, March 9. For tickets, visit


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In 2004, when Brenda Palms

Metro State College’s Distinguished Visiting Professor Brings Sweet Words Of Wisdom To Denver

Barber told people she wanted to help ex-offenders gain work experience by hiring them to work as bee keepers, they thought she was crazy. Now, that “crazy” idea is a successful social enterprise, as Palms Barber works to “take the sting out of reentry.” Her company, aptly named By Lisa Walton Sweet Beginnings LLC, has an annual budget of $1.5 million and provides Brenda Palms Barber full- time, transitional jobs for exoffenders, who harvest and sell honey and produce “first rate, high quality, high end” honey-based skincare products. “People who need a second chance, in fact, can produce high quality work if given the opportunity,” Palms Barber said. The “spicy urban” honey is produced in apiaries (hives or bee farms) and other local beehives in Chicago, including one in the North Lawndale neighborhood. Sweet Beginnings is a subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN), a non-profit organization that works to improve the earning potential for people in one of the most economically disadvantaged and poverty-stricken neighborhoods of you leave your job... "When Chicago. In North Lawndale on the don't leave your money behind!" West Side of Chicago, more than 90 percent of the population is Black and By the end of the training program, And so she gave birth to Sweet Donovan, despite CLU, ChFC, 13 percent of residents areMyra unemPalmsCFP Barber’s efforts in Beginnings (“for people who needed Financial Adviser endorsing program graduates to ployed. second chances),” Palms Barber After becoming the founding CEO potential employers, there weren’t explains. of NLEN in 1999, Palms Barber, comenough jobs. 3200 Cherry Creek Drive South, #700 Pulling Nectar from the Weed missioned a study to figure out why Denver, CO 80209 Employers simply did not want to Honey bees don’t discriminate in the employment rate in North hire ex-offenders. terms of their food sources, said Palms 303-871-7249 - Lawndale was so high. The study “I became discouraged as a nonBarber. “What we might see as a revealed that 57 percent of the popula- profit executive, because I thought, weed, a bee sees simply sees as a food tion has been involved in the criminal we’re only doing half of what’s needsource. And they take the good out of "Call Today for a FREE justice system. ed here,” Palms Barber said. “That whatever it is, and pull from it the Consultation!" “There’s a huge concentration in was when I decided, you know what, nectar of that flower. And they transpoverty-stricken communities. I’ll have to become the first employer, form it into something sweet and Knowing that, it was clear to me that because it was not okay, because good, called honey.” we had to do something,” she said. here’s the thing, if you’ve served your Palms Barber sees herself as a So Palms Barber created U-Turn time for the crime, and then you have honey bee. Permitted, a rigorous job readiness served your time for the crime. And When 35 year-old Elwin came to training program for ex-offenders. our society doesn’t do that.” Palms Barber looking for a job she

"When you leave your job... don't leave your money behind!" Myra Donovan, CLU, ChFC, CFP Financial Adviser

3200 Cherry Creek Drive South, #700 Denver, CO 80209

303-871-7249 -

"Call Today for a FREE Consultation!" Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


didn’t turn him away when he said he had no work experience—he had never had a job—nor when he said drug dealing had put him in jail for eight years. Instead, she asked if he had been a good drug dealer. He said he had. So she further asked, “What makes a good drug dealer?” And he told her, “Well ma’am, you know it’s very competitive on the block. I had to really produce good quality product. I gave out samples and had to maintain my inventory.” He’s really good with numbers (all those cash transactions!), she said and I told him, “Elwin, don’t you ever say you don’t have work experience!” “Interestingly enough, every single skill set that he has absolutely transfers to the type of work we do at Sweet Beginnings. It was amazing to me the opportunity to transfer those kinds of skills.” Palms Barber acknowledges that it’s not always easy to have compassion for people who have done bad things. But she says that society needs to be better at forgiveness, especially in a country that incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the world. And with a national average of 65 percent recidivism or a return to criminal acts that result in re-arrest and reconviction, is a problem that Palms Barber is addressing. “People don’t mind helping causes for babies, children or diseases. There’s not much compassion for an ex-offender,” she says. It’s a population non-profits are not necessarily excited about helping either. Palms Barber says non-profits are often compensated by enrollment and the number of resulting job placements. Additionally, the criminal justice system continues to be a profitable industry. But Palms Barber says there are too many laws in place making it easy to go to prison and it’s a system that disproportionately affects African Americans.

People who work at Sweet Beginnings must complete the U-Turn Permitted job readiness program before being considered for a job. It also means they are turning their lives around. “If you have any kind of sense and equality, you have to recognize that,” says Palms Barber. “Can we not give these folks an opportunity to come back and raise their children, work, pay taxes and live a good life, a decent life? I saw that people felt badly about what they done. And they served their time. And I’ve seen how doors had been closed in their face over and over again. For those people who made that U Turn - then my God, we at least need to make sure they can come back and reintegrate into their community.”

Pollinating the Model

To date, Sweet Beginnings has employed 221 ex-offenders. Its employees have a recidivism rate of 4 percent. The company is projected to employ 100 people a year. Beeline, or Beelove products, as they are also called, are available online and through 55 vendors in the Midwest - Whole Foods, Peapod and Mark Shale Boutiques. A partnership also has recently been forged with the Chicago Department of Aviation. Sweet Beginnings has established the first apiary at O’Hare Airport. And this

spring, Beelove products will be distributed at O’ Hare airport. “I get excited about the growth, not because of the growth, but because it’s creating jobs. The bigger we grow, the more jobs we’re creating. And absolutely I want to see this model pollinated across the country,” Palms Barber says and laughs. Despite having a business degree, Palms Barber says she was never really wired to run a business. For her, the business is not a means by which to make money, but a means in which to address a social issue. “It’s not being comfortable with how things as they are and somehow believing that you can make a difference,” Palms Barber added.

Choosing to Make a Difference

Palms Barber lived in Denver for eight years and worked for the Denver Workforce Initiative, part of the Annie Casey Foundation. She also worked for the Mi Casa resource center. Her work in Denver is what really reinforced her commitment to improving economic opportunities for disadvantaged minorities. She hopes to launch a Sweet Beginnings partnership with Metropolitan State College of Denver. Metro State brought Palms Barber to Denver on February 13 as the

Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professor. The professorship is dedicated to the memory of civil rights pioneer Rachel B. Noel, where notable and accomplished people of color and distinction come to conduct classes, seminars, performances and lectures for students, faculty and the larger Denver community. This year’s theme was “Choosing to Make a Difference.” Palms Barber shared her story during the community event at Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church. She shared the stage with Hope for the Future Noel awardees Mayor Michael Hancock, Lt. Col. James Harvey III, a Tuskegee Airman and the military’s first African- American jet fighter pilot to fly missions over Korean airspace, along with Carlotta Walls LaNier, who was the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine. “Each of them [the awardees], in their own way, have paved the way for a more hopeful future. Today no matter where you live, no matter your race, and no matter your age or your station in life, we have all benefited from the work of our awardees. They were selected with this year’s visiting professorship theme in mind— Choosing to Make a Difference,” stated Myron Anderson, associate to the

president for diversity at Metro State College. The event also celebrated the past and present African American achievements. Because of Rachel B. Noel and her commitment to equal rights, education and knowledge, the awardees’ speeches underscored the importance of young people knowing, appreciating and celebrating those who have made a difference in the Black community. “Far too many children are growing up believing that they hit a triple because they stand on third base,” said Mayor Hancock. “And they forget that they weren’t always on third base, and that someone paid the price for them to be where they are today. I don’t have to hit a triple anymore to get on third base.” He then addressed Walls LaNier and Harvey saying, “You paved the path. The disconnect is that our children don’t even know.” “They need to know their history,” agreed Walls LaNier. “They need to know about the Tuskegee Airmen. They need to know about the Montgomery bus boycott. They need to know about the Little Rock Nine. They need to know about Emmett Till. They need to know all of these things to understand why we are where we are today.” 

Please Join Us!

“Empowering the Community to Live Well”

Saturday, March 17, 2012 Q 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Renaissance Denver Hotel – 3801 Quebec Street Free Self-Parking!

The Center for African American Health is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the African-American Community. Blood Pressure Pap Smear  Dental

Take advantage of FREE health screenings:

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Enjoy other FREE activities such as:

Diabetes Workshop  Depression Awareness Workshop 

Visit with Health Experts  Medication Consultation 

Visit Health Exhibits  Massage Therapy 


Vaccinations Food Tasting

Cooking Demonstration

This event made possible with the generous support of our community partners. For more information, please visit our website: or call 303-355-3423.

P hysical Activity Exhibitions and Much More! Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


Black Museum Hosts Second Annual “Manners On The Menu” What does etiquette have to do

By Angelia McGowan

with a museum, especially a museum focusing on the migration of African Americans to the West? It’s about

being purposeful of people’s lives, says Deborah Sims Fard, a board member at the 41-year-old Black

American West Museum in Denver. Located in two neighboring homes in the Historic Five Points District, BAWM, is dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating the contribution of blacks in the Old West. Fard heads the Friends of the Black American West Museum program, which is responsible for fundraising, community outreach and programming. One of the offerings under this umbrella is the second annual “Manners on the Menu,” facilitated

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and sponsored by Inner City Etiquette. The nonprofit was founded by Barbara Walker, the winner of several local and national pageants, including Miss Black Colorado USA in 2008. The co-ed class on March 24 through 25, will have children ages eight to 12, learning table manners in the museum’s education room, which will be decorated for the occasion, followed by a banquet at a local restaurant. The class begins from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 at the Black American West Museum located at 3091 Welton Street. The class wraps up as the children test their new skills during a dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. Registration is $15 and covers both days. Parents can register their child for “Manners on the Menu” through Inner City Etiquette online or by contacting the Black American West Museum at 720- 242-7428. The deadline to register is March 19 and space is limited. Fard says, “Our children need to learn how to conduct themselves in all social settings. If children don’t get that early, they can find themselves on the sidelines as they move through college and business careers.” Manners are important for all corners of the community. Corporations pay handsomely to train their employees in the manners of certain cultures before sending them there to conduct business. Debutante balls symbolize a rite of passage for many families wanting to formally introduce their teenagers to the community. There have been books that detail the dos and don’ts in almost any situation, such as the book, “Etiquette” by Emily Post. Fard says the luncheon “Brings etiquette back to the forefront of people’s mind. Everyone benefits when we communicate with one another effec-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


tively, and knowing social graces is a way of communicating. My goal is to bring etiquette back into our community.” She is hopeful this type of programming will make a lasting impression on the youth. “When our youth become adults, they’ll make sure the museum is here,” says the Denver native. “It will be a part of their heritage.” For more information about the museum’s programming visit the Black American West Museum or email

About the Black American West Museum

Founded by Paul W. Stewart in 1971, the Black American West Museum is famous for telling the story of Black cowboys, as well as the stories of all those early Blacks who came west and performed as miners, soldiers, homesteaders, ranchers, blacksmiths, schoolteachers, lawmen, and every other profession needed to build up the West. The museum is located in the home of Justina Ford, Colorado’s first black woman doctor.

About Friends of the Black American West Museum

Friends of the BAWM serves as a liaison between the museum and the community at large. Established in 2009 by Deborah Sims Fard, Jackie Logan and Cynthia Martin, the program works to make it easy for any individual or business with limited time or resources to participate in museum activities. Membership application is $10. Initiatives include a Math and Science Club for girls, 2012 Kwanzaa Committee, Black History Month Lecture Series, and Addy and Friends Holiday Tea, an initiative pulled from an African-American doll in the American Girl company collection. 

Whitney Elizabeth Houston August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012

Born August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey to John and Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston almost seemed destined from birth to become a singer. Her mother Cissy Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick and godmother Aretha Franklin were all legendary figures in American gospel and soul music. Cissy Houston was the choir minister at New Hope Baptist Church, and it was there that a young Whitney got her start. Even as a child, Whitney was able to wow audiences; she later told interviewer Diane Sawyer that a rapturous response from the congregation at New Hope had a powerful effect upon her: “I think I knew then that [my singing ability] was an infectious thing that God had given me.” By the time she turned 15, Whitney was performing often with her mother and around the same time, she was discovered by a photographer who was awed by her natural beauty. She soon became an extremely sought-after teenage model. Whitney became one of the first African American women to appear on the cover of Seventeen magazine but music remained her true love. When she was 19, Whitney Houston was discovered in a nightclub by the renowned Clive Davis of Arista Records, who signed her immediately and took the helm of her career as she navigated from gospel to pop stardom. In 1983, Houston made her debut on national television, appearing on The Merv Griffin Show to sing “Home” from the musical The Wiz. She and Davis spent the next two years working on her debut album, finding the best producers and songwriters available to showcase her amazing vocal talent. In 1985, she released her debut album Whitney Houston and almost immediately became a smash pop sensation. Over the next year, her hit singles “Saving All My Love for You” and “How Will I Know” helped the album reach the top of the charts, where it stayed for fourteen non-consecutive weeks. Houston won a Grammy in 1986 for “Saving All My Love for You”; the award was presented to the singer by her cousin Dionne Warwick. Houston followed the monumental success of her first album with a second release, Whitney, in 1987. That record, too, went platinum many times over and won more Grammy Awards, leading to a successful world tour. During this time, the singer also appeared at a concert for Nelson Mandela’s birthday and founded the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, a nonprofit organization that funds projects to help needy children over the world. By 1992, Whitney Houston was on top of the world. That year she married the R&B singer Bobby Brown, formerly of New Edition. A year later on March 4, 1993, Whitney gave birth to a daughter Bobbi Kristina. Whitney Houston continued to progress in her career, crossing over successfully into acting in 1992 by starring opposite Kevin Costner in the wildly popular The Bodyguard. With this movie, she set a trend for her films to follow: in each film she also released a hit single, creating sensational record sales for the soundtracks. Her smash single from The Bodyguard, a cover of Dolly Parton’s 1974 “I Will Always Love You,” proved to be Houston’s biggest hit ever, spending a record-breaking fourteen weeks atop the U.S. charts. The soundtrack album went on to win Houston three Grammys, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year. Later in the 1990s, Houston also starred in The Preacher’s Wife and Waiting to Exhale, both accompanied by hit soundtracks as well. In 1998, Houston released My Love Is Your Love, her first non-soundtrack studio album in many years, and it earned her another Grammy. Her collaboration with Mariah Carey in the animated film The Prince of Egypt produced a single, “When You Believe,” which won an Academy Award. In 2002, Houston released her fifth album titled, Just Whitney. In 2009 Houston released a new album, I Look To You, which reached number one on the charts. Since then, she has been honored by BET and the NAACP for her lifetime of achievement. On February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston departed this life in Beverly Hills, CA. She was preceded in death by her father, John Houston. She leaves behind to cherish memories and celebrate her life, her daughter, Bobbi Kristina and her mother, Cissy Houston. Her iconic voice will live on with her family, friends, and fans forever. “The Holy Spirit would speak to me and it would guide me. And I wouldn’t know how I would get to this place or that place...Or how I did this or how I would go into the studio and sing again. But I did it.” Whitney Houston

We will miss you Whitney!

Editor’s note: As part DUS’s 25th anniversary celebration, Denver Urban Spectrum will honor these 25 women as Timeless Legends. For more information on events, tickets, tables or sponsorship opportunities, call 303-292-6446.

Ashara Ekundayo is a mother, an

educator, curator, producer and activist whose international career spans more than 20 years. Deemed “Cultural Jedi” by her peers, Ashara founded several arts and social change venues in Colorado, including the Denver Pan African Film Festival, the BLAM Youth Project and Café Nub. In 2009, she was selected by the Ashoka Foundation and the City of Denver for the U.S. launch of the “Change Your City” Campaign as a social innovator. Through her company BluBlak Media Consulting, she continues to create and cultivate opportunities for organizations to strategically collaborate on urban marketing, social media, project management, and special event production.

Bertha Lynn is one of Denver’s most recognized and honored broadcast journalists, delivering the news to Coloradans for the last 34 years. Bertha is a multi- Emmy Award winning journalist, who has been inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Heartland Chapter Silver Circle, recognized by McGraw-Hill for Corporate Achievement, and the Colorado Association of Black Journalists named its Lifetime Achievement Award after her. She also was inducted into the Colorado Broadcasting Professionals Hall of Fame in 2010. Bertha continues to be very active in the Denver community by serving on numerous boards. Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine to integrate Central High School in 1957 at age 14. This act of courage and defiance became the catalyst for change in the American educational system, as she and her fellow warriors were ‘foot soldiers’ for freedom. They inspired President Dwight D. Eisenhower to dispatch protection for LaNier and other Black students’ constitutional rights. For more than 35 years, Carlotta has pursued a successful career as a real estate broker. She authored A Mighty Long Way, My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School and continues to be an active supporter of her community by serving on different boards.

DUS Presents

The Honorable Claudia Jean Jordan has served as a Denver County

Court Judge for over 15 years after her historic 1994 appointment by Denver Mayor Wellington Webb of becoming the first African American female in the Rocky Mountain region to serve on the bench. Currently, Judge Jordan is a member of the Sam Cary Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, the Colorado Bar Association, The Colorado Women’s Bar Association, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Judge Jordan places a premium on family and community accountability.

Cleo Parker Robinson is founder and executive artistic director of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD). She is a master teacher/choreographer and cultural ambassador who has taught and performed with her Ensemble throughout the United States and around the world. CPRD encompasses a professional dance ensemble, a second company and youth ensemble, a school of dance, an international summer Dance Institute, a 300-seated theatre that bears her name, as well as educational and community outreach programs. Cleo is the recipient of many awards from civic, community, and artistic organizations around the world. Her philosophy of “One Spirit, Many Voices” is reflected in all that she does and the vision she brings to everyone she meets.

Dawn Bookhardt is an attorney and founding partner with the law firm of Bookhardt & O’Toole. Her experience includes practice in the areas of public finance, transactions, real property matters government relations, public project development and consultation. Dawn is an active community volunteer and member on several boards and committees. She has been listed in Stratford’s Who’s Who among other leaders in the country, presented with the National Leadership Award from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Business Advisory Council and an award recipient of the 2002 Women of Excellence Award. She also was recognized in the Colorado Black Leadership Profiles. Dianne Reeves is the pre-eminent

female jazz vocalist in the world. As a result of her virtuosity, improvisational prowess, unique jazz and R&B stylings, Dianne received a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for three consecutive recordings. Reeves has

recorded and performed extensively with Wynton Marsalis, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. Last year, Dianne performed at the White House State Dinner honoring President of China, Hu Jintao. In February 2012 she returned to the White House as the featured performer at the Governors Ball. She is currently on tour with “Sing the Truth,” a musical celebration of Nina Simone.

Edna Mosley was always a big part of state government, from serving as Director of Community Relations of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Assistant State Affirmative Action Coordinator to Director of Equal Opportunity for DU. She also co-founded the Women’s Bank, the first of its kind in Colorado to provide economic opportunities to women. In 1991, Mrs. Mosley became the first African-American female elected to the Aurora City Council, serving 12 years. She was on the Board of Directors of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority that transformed Fitzsimons into the multibillion dollar CU Health Sciences Center. She has been married to Tuskegee Airman John Mosley for more than 50 years.

The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth is a proud East Denver native, and has been working in the Denver City Government for the past 26 years. She was elected as the District 8 City Councilwoman for District 8 in 1999 thru 2007. In July 2003, she was elected Council President for 20032005. In April 2007, Elbra Wedgeworth became the Chief Government and Community Relations Officer at Denver Health. She also served as the President/Chair of the 2008 Denver Convention Host Committee for the historic Democratic National Convention. Elbra is the recipient of many honors and awards for her public service.

Essie Garrett is considered the premier ultra-marathon runner. She was an instructor at Emily Griffith Opportunity School in Denver until her retirement. But she is best known for putting on her tennis shoes and hit-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


ting the ground running to raise money for different charities. Since 1981, it is estimated that Essie has ran 25,000 miles and raised more than $1 million dollars for charities. And around Thanksgiving, she would take laps around the state capitol building to raise money for the homeless. Essie has received many accolades and honors including being a Sportswoman of Colorado Hall of Fame inductee in 1992 and the Olympic torchbearer for the state of Colorado back in 1996.

Dr. Evie Garrett Dennis began her career in the Denver Public Schools in 1966 as a science and mathematics teacher, and later as a guidance counselor. In 1971, Dr. Dennis was promoted to Community Specialist for the District and by 1974; she was assigned to assemble a team of educators who would prepare the district’s staff, parents and students for court-ordered integration of the schools. She became the first female and African-American Superintendent of Denver Public Schools in 1990 and remained in the position until her retirement in 1994. Throughout her career, Dr. Dennis has been a trailblazer, a stellar achiever, and a model of excellence and integrity. Glenda Barry is the director of Human Resources for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. She is one of the cofounders of the Colorado Black Women for Political Action, a member and past president of Links Incorporated Denver Chapter and life member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Epsilon Nu Omega Chapter. Glenda remains active serving as a member on the Butterfly Pavilion Board, Writing Together Foundation, precinct captain of District 35 in Adams County, as well as her church, Scott United Methodist Church. She is married to businessman Odell Barry. They have two grown sons, Damon and Jay. Former State Senator Gloria Travis Tanner is the First African American woman

elected to the Colorado State Senate. She served on the powerful Joint Budget Committee and obtained one quarter of a million dollars to help restore the all Black town of Dearfield, Colorado. Her most successful

Timeless Legends

piece of legislation included, the Abandon Baby Bill, Prostate Cancer Screening, Marital Discrimination and Civil Rights for Women and Minorities. Ms. Tanner is the former National President of NOBEL/Women and founder of NOBEL/Women’s Leadership Institute, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has been inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.

Allegra “Happy” Haynes is an elected member of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education and Director of Civic and Community Engagement at CRL Associates, Inc., a public affairs consulting firm. Within a career spanning 30 years in state and local government, Haynes was the first African-American woman elected to the Denver City Council, serving from 1990 to 2003 and council president from 1998 to 2000. Happy sits on the various boards, including the Stapleton Development Corporation, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and City Park Jazz. She also is one of the founding board members of Colorado Black Women for Political Action and the Mile High Youth Corps. Hazel Miller is not just a great

singer; “she is a force of nature!” quoted the Rocky Mountain News. Hazel has been a sought after performer in Colorado for the past 27 years, whether singing blues, jazz, pop, or gospel. She rose to the top of the music scene, opening for national artists like Lonnie Brooks, Temptations, Earl Klugh, Lou Rawls, Michael McDonald and others. Recently, Hazel Miller opened for Jay Leno at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Hazel Miller Band (HMB) music can be heard on many local radio stations and nationally on Sirius Radio’s “Real Jazz” station. HMB released a new EP CD in May, 2011

Hazel Whitsett retired last June after 25 years as co-founder and executive director of the Northeast Women’s Center (NEWC) touching the hearts and changing the lives of countless women. The center offered programs and activities that promoted selfreliance through education, training and pro-

ductive employment. Ms. Whitsett has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award; the Unsung Hero Honoring the 150th Birthday of Denver and the Denver Urban Spectrum’s Americans Who Make A Difference. And she has been a strong 50 plus year member of Zion Baptist Church.

Trailblazer is one of those words to describe Lauren Y. Casteel. Through years of groundbreaking work in journalism and in the philanthropic sector, she has chartered new territory as an African-American woman working to mentor countless individuals – following the example of her father, the late Civil Rights leader Whitney M. Young, Jr. She was named as the City’s first Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor for Denver’s Mayor Federico Pena back in 1984. By 1989, Lauren decided to enter the philanthropic sector as Executive Director of The Hunt Alternatives Fund – making her the first African-American Philanthropic executive in Colorado.

Marie Louise Anderson Greenwood, moved to Denver in 1925. She

received an honorary state scholarship and went to Colorado Teachers College in Greeley (now UNC). In 1934, she refused the offer to become the first African-American teacher in the Denver Public Schools. But a year later, was hired on contract as a first grade probationary teacher in for DPS. She fought through the administration’s alleged discrimination of minority teachers and integrated Newlon School. Ms. Greenwood retired in 1974. In 2001, the DPS School, MARIE L. GREENWOOD K-8 SCHOOL, was named in her honor. At 99 years young, Ms. Greenwood is working on her biography and looks forwarding to celebrating her 100th birthday in November.

Rhonda Fields was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2010. She is the first African-American woman elected in House District 42 of Aurora. Rep. Fields is known for crafting bipartisan solution. She has successfully sponsored legislation to combat childhood obesity and requiring 30 minutes

of physical activity a day in schools; and she led legislation authorizing the Public Utilities Commission to create a tiered electricity rate for customers with medical conditions. Rep. Fields is the founder of the Fields Wolfe Memorial Fund; a nonprofit started in memory of her son Javad Fields and his fiancée, Vivian Wolfe, who were murdered in 2005. Last year, 5280 Magazine ranked Rep. Fields 37th on its list of the 50 “most powerful” people in the Denver area.

Ruth Cousins Denny is a living legend of the Civil Rights Movement. She joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), to be out on the front lines picketing and boycotting businesses that wouldn’t hire or promote people of color. Denny taught in the Denver Public Schools for 26 years. Ms. Denny is a life member of the Denver Urban League and founded the STARS Program that highlights gifted and talented youths of color. She also has received numerous awards, including the Humanitarian and Trailblazer Award from the Colorado Martin Luther King Holiday Commission. For more than 20 years, Ms. Denny has quietly donated thousands of dollars to politicians and various organizations.

Selena L. Dunham is Principal of Classique, LLC, a private client service company that offers training, consulting for individuals, corporations, business ventures, fundraising, political consulting and the etiquette of entertaining your clients at work or in your home. Dunham was appointed the Chief of Staff with the Denver Convention Host Committee, which planned and organized the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She directed and planned the training for 20,000 volunteers and oversaw the staffing needs for the entire Host Committee. Selena has received many honors and served on more than 100 boards.

Dr. Syl Morgan-Smith has had successful careers as a nurse, a television news anchor and talk show host, radio newscaster and gospel music announcer, newspaper editor, realtor, and a public affairs director. She is founder and president of the Colorado Gospel Music Academy & Hall of Fame. Dr. Morgan-Smith is a trusted community leader that shares her expertise with local

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


and national groups and has served on countless board of directors. She is an ordained Deacon at New Hope Baptist Church, a world traveler, and proud mother of four children. She’s good at the White House but better in God’s House.

Tamara Banks, an Emmy Award winning journalist, knows that the statement, “One Person Can Make A Difference,” is more than just words. She currently uses her journalism experience to evoke positive social change in the community and globally. Tamara recently traveled to Rwanda to report on the country’s post-genocide progress and development and is now preparing for her fifth trip to South Sudan to report on the first year of the world’s newest country. Banks also is the host for Colorado Public Television’s “Studio 12,” a provocative one hour, live weekly talk show that takes a close look at relevant issues in Denver, the nation and the world.

Velvia (Vel) Garner is past director of the Gilliam Youth Services Center and one reason Gilliam is one of the most outstanding youth detention centers in the country. She was responsible for all of program and treatment services for the entire state of Colorado. Mrs. Garner managed to remain engaged in the community and was a charter member of the Colorado Black Nurses organization. In 1992, she worked for the State Division of Youth Corrections and a year later appointed as Director of Gilliam Youth Services Center. Garner was the driving force behind the successful changes implemented at Gilliam. Mrs. Garner is actively involved in her church, the United Church of Montbello. The Honorable Wilma J. Webb is a public servant and leader who

has dedicated her life to helping all people. As a former Colorado State Representative, she was the first woman to represent House District 8 in the Colorado General Assembly, the first woman United States’ Department of Labor Region VIII Secretary’s Representative, and the first African American woman to be Denver’s First Lady. Her record is extensive but the most remarkable includes carrying legislation to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day, founding the Holiday Commission in 1985, serving as its chairman and president for 18 years. She is married to former Mayor Wellington E. Webb.


A New Paradigm Shift By H. Malcolm Newton


t seems everywhere we turn there is some discussion about “renewable energy” or “going green” or even increasing our focus on saving the planet. We hear words like, climate change, global warming, saving energy, environmental technology, green jobs and even sustainability. The problem with such discussions is that there is no clear definition of what it means to “be green.” Economists discuss developing a sustainable economy, environmentalists discuss developing sustainable ecological systems, and urban planners discuss the importance of developing sustainable communities. The problem with most of these discussions is the lack of specificity in terms of the scale, geography and populations being addressed. Also, much that is written about sustainability has focused on environmental conservation and has ignored the challenges facing economically disadvantaged urban populations. The urban population is left out of these discussions. And, it is my contention that the whole “green environmental move-

ment” is not going to take off in North America until the urban population is included in the discussion. Globally speaking, the world is becoming more and more urbanized. As of 2007, there were 3.3 billion people living in cities around the world. And, it is predicted that by 2030 about 5 billion inhabitants will be residing in urban areas. This rapid expansion of cities and precipitous increase in population is creating a greater drain on our natural resources. For example, cities take up less than 2 percent of the earth’s surface, (cities need to be examined in terms of their “ecological footprint”) but use 75 percent of the natural resources (AAAS, 2000). Urbanization has been significant in the United States as well and the trend is likely to continue. Over the last 30 years, the population has grown nearly 40 percent and a significant portion of that growth occurred in the metropolitan areas. According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), cities and surrounding metropolitan regions house more than 80 percent of the population, account for almost 90 percent of GDP and 75 percent of carbon emissions. Increased urbanization has also led to many challenges for urban residents. In the United States of America, land use and zoning, transportation and infrastructure, lack of affordable housing, and disinvestment have severely affected the quality of life of poor urban populations (Corburn, 2009). For example, in many urban communities residents are exposed to environmental pollution, fossil fuel emission, lack access to fresh food and supermarkets, have limited access to safe parks and recreational facilities, live in substandard housing, and are struggling to find quality employment that provide adequate benefits. The poor ghetto neighborhoods of our country have become dumping grounds for waste facilities. On a micro structural level, we are already dealing with the ongoing assault and neglect, poor public schools, inequality and injustice, crime, addiction and ill health, from high asthma rates to obesity and diabetes. The poor citizens of color live in environmental toxic communities. The two fastest growing industries in the United States are prisons and garbage. The unemployment rate and lack of jobs in these communities are breathtaking, yet there is a high percent of ex-offenders coming back into the communities who can’t get hired by so-called “green” companies, which are run by left brain white engineers. So, the recidivism rate continues to grow and taxpayers are paying the price. Young Blacks and Latinos have a better chance at prison than at Higher Education. Yet, we sit back

and talk about “sustainability” as if it doesn’t apply to people of color living in urban neighborhoods. What is sustainability? The word sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere, to hold; sus, up). Dictionaries provide more than ten meanings for sustain, the main ones being to “maintain,” “support,” or “endure.” However, since the 1980s sustainability has been used more in the sense of human sustainability on planet Earth and this has resulted in the most widely quotes definition of sustainability and sustainable development, that of the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.” Someone has said, they have it backwards, it should be “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the future, without compromising the present generations to meet their own needs.” Now, that makes more sense to me and to those of us living in the urban cities of America. We were planning an Urban Green Summit in Denver and we invited the Secretary to the Department of Energy (Dr. Steven Chu), to come and speak to urban low-income people. He turned us down. I challenged him to come and speak to urban poor people, they too, need to know that they are important in this whole “green movement” and they too, need to know what their role is in the “green economy.” He still turned us down. I asked his secretary, how many opportunities has he taken advantage of to speak to poor urban people that are not in the universities, not in the fortune 500 companies, nor in government. I got no reply. The poor citizens of America are being discriminated against in this whole socalled green environmental movement. I think part of the problem is the people who are running the show fail to realize that sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and wellbeing depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment and human being belong to a natural continuum. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that mean fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of human interactions with the environment. The missing link in the whole environmental movement is the paradigm of social ecology. To make this point more concrete: economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts, among many others, lie at the core of the most serious ecological dislocations we face

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


today –apart, to be sure, from those that are produced by natural catastrophes. If this approach seems a bit too “sociological” for those environmentalist who identify ecological problems with the preservation of wildlife, wilderness, or more broadly, with “Gaia” or “saving the planet,” we have missed the boat completely. Indeed, to separate ecological problems from sustainability issues – or even social problems and to down play or give token recognition to this crucial relationship, would be to grossly misconstrue the sources of the growing environmental crisis. The way human beings deal with each other as social beings is crucial to addressing the sustainability crisis. Unless we clearly recognize this, we will surely fail to see that the hierarchical mentality and class relationships that so thoroughly permeate society give rise to the very idea of dominating the natural world. We are fighting a losing battle of trying to “save the planet.” Social ecology is an appeal not only for moral regeneration, but also and above all, for social reconstruction along ecological lines. Although always mindful of the need for spiritual change, social ecology seeks to redress the ecological abuses that society has inflicted on the natural world. Social ecology takes sustainability to a whole new level. It holds that the present ecological problems are rooted in deep-seated social problems, particularly in dominant hierarchical political systems. And, that is what we are doing with the whole North American Environmental movement. We have excluded some people (the folks that don’t fit our mold) and cast them to the side and their problems, not realizing that environmental sustainability will not happen unless all people are working together to save the planet. These actions have resulted in an uncritical acceptance of an overly competitive grow-or-die philosophy. It suggests that this cannot be resisted by individual action, such as ethical consumerism but addressed by more nuanced ethical thinking and collective activity grounded in radical democratic ideals. The complexity of relationships between people and nature is emphasized. The ecological future of the planet will be decided upon is clearly a social one. Urban Sustainability involves a reexamination of urban development, including environmental, social and economic policies, politics and practices, and an acknowledgement of the role of the cities in global environmental change. We have to reexamine what is meant by sustainability and what part do cities or the people living in the poor urban areas play in the

larger question of sustainability. We are quick to talk about “sustainable development” in third world countries, while totally ignoring the issues of sustain development in Urban USA. The so-called “new urbanism” does not address the issues of urban sustainability for the urban poor, but recreate new neighborhoods, where white people who no longer want to live in the suburbs can relocate back to the areas near downtown. Some call this gentrification. Also, we talk about corporations and businesses becoming more sustainable in the business practices and “green building” retrofitting and energy saving costs; we don’t talk about how those corporations or businesses can help contribute to a more justice and sustainable society that involves low income people cleaning their buildings and serving them lunch and work in the hospitals that serve them when the need arrives. While the field of ecology focuses on relationships between organism and their environments, social ecology is concerns with the relationship between human population and their environments. The mission of social ecology is the interdisciplinary analysis of complex problems of contemporary society which occur in the social and physical environments. The issue is more complex, and in regards to mitigating human impact with human initiated remedies, will require a multi-modal approach that reaches across all sectors of society. Energy systems that reduce the impact of global warming are important, but alone they will not save the day. Recycling your cans is a great thing to do, but it will not save the world; a world where social conflicts result in wholesale destruction of ecological systems and human lives. The overarching goal is to develop federal policies that will enable the private sector to advance the environmental technologies and to be inclusive in doing so. In Conclusion, creating healthy, sustainable communities is a serious challenge in the United States. The worst economic recession since the Great Depression has adversely affected states and cities. The global focus on sustainability is to support the basic elements of community development. Community development is inherently focused on producing assets that improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents. This usually consists of effort to improve the physical and natural environment, develop intellectual and human capital, foster creation of social capital and networks. All of these efforts are needed to improve the lives of economically disadvantaged and vulnerable communities that are faced with high

unemployment, home foreclosures, underinvestment in educational and workforce development system, homelessness and poverty as well as crime, environmental pollution, and poor health outcomes. Successful efforts toward developing healthy sustainable urban communities will require strategies that will improve economic opportunities, conserve natural resources and protect the environment, reduce inequities, and focus on equity. Meeting these challenges requires comprehensive strategies that focus simultaneously on developing a green economy, improving our human relationships toward one

another, protecting the natural environments and addressing the macrosocial factors that have an impact on population health. Such comprehensive strategies will also require collaboration and coordination between the public, private sectors and the urban communities, focusing on promoting environmental justice, addressing poverty and inequality, reducing health inequities and creating economic opportunities for low-income and vulnerable communities. This is indeed an opportunity to develop a framework, so people can work together to create a paradigm shift in urban sustainable development and

applied the social ecological perspective to the issues of environmental technologies in achieving a sustainable future.  Editor’s note: Dr. H. Malcolm Newton is the founder of The Denver Institute of Urban Studies and Co-founder of the Centre for Urban Research and Environmental Technology. He is also the Vice President of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE local Denver Chapter). To find out more about AABE and how to join, call 303-454-3300 x 1333. CURE-T, located at 1536 Wynkoop St., B500 in Denver, does Green Jobs Training and Green Business Development and Green Career Placements.

What Will You Do With Your Tax Refund?


By Tom Spilman

Will you be getting an income tax refund check this year? It’s not too early to think about it. If you’re like most people, it may be tempting to buy retail goods, such as flat-screen televisions and other big-ticket items with your refund. KeyBank urges taxpayers to use tax refunds to improve their overall financial health, so consider some alternatives such as paying off debt, creating or beefing up a rainy day fund and saving for long-term purchases, such as a house or car. Consider these helpful tips:

• • •

First, make sure you’re getting all the money you’re owed. In particular, when you file your taxes, find out if you’re eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a tax credit that puts money back into the pockets of hard-working Americans. It can be anywhere from $2 to $5,751, depending on your income level and the number of children you have. A tax advisor can tell you if you’re owed this credit. Many nonprofits have free tax preparation days where you can get help with tax forms before April 15.

When deciding how best to use your tax refund, remember to view money as a tool to achieve goals and goals don’t become real or clear until they are written. Work with your banker to determine your short- and long-term goals, and develop a plan to achieve them.

Consider using refunds to beef up a savings account that serves as a household emergency fund. Experts advise having three to six months of living expenses saved for emergencies.

You may want to use some of your refund to pay down debt. Before using a tax refund to pay credit card balances, review a copy of your credit report to get an accurate assessment on outstanding debt. All three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, provide free reports at

To learn more about budgeting and paying off debt, sign up for KeyBank’s free classes. You can find a class near you by stopping into your local KeyBank Plus branch, or calling 1-800-KEY2YOU. KeyBank Plus is a suite of financial solutions that includes low-fee check cashing, money orders, and free financial education.

You don’t need to be a customer to take advantage of KeyBank Plus; services are open to everyone through approximately 300 KeyBank branches in 14 states, including right here in Colorado. We welcome you and look forward to helping you achieve financial success. About the author: Tom Spilman is President of KeyBank Colorado.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


Young Man Heads Organization That Helped To Raise Him

In Colorado, it’s a familiar story. African-American boy from Northeast

Denver verbally sets his intention to become mayor. This young man follows through and assumes the role of mayor in 2011. Not far behind, another eight-yearold African- American boy from the same area is being groomed to take over a popular community organization. Only he doesn’t realize it until 20 years later. Johnell Moody, 28, is the new executive director and president of By Faith, Inc., formerly known as Full Circle Inter-Generational Project, Inc. The mentor-based, family-oriented organization has served at-risk youths, ages 6-18, and their parents living in Northeast Denver since 1991. More than 6,000 youth and hundreds of mentors have participated in the program since its inception, according to Moody. “I was statistically labeled as a child to be at risk,” says Moody, whose father was around but not in the

By Angelia McGowan

Left to Right: Anita West-Ware, Johnell Moody and Duane Jones Feb. 9 at By Faith, Inc. Photo by Deanna Lowman

home. “I was raised in a single parent home with a mother of two boys. The head of the program, Anita WestWare, recruited me the first year of the program and embraced me. It really

Did you know...

became much more than a program. They built a relationship with me.” Moody says his participation in the program helped him in many areas of his life, from “decision making and dealing with temptations as a male to improved academics. I was in fifth grade reading at second and third grade reading levels. I struggled with it. One of my mentors, Ms. Pearl Kelley, helped me, and it turned into better grades all around.” A 1996 Denver Post article highlights Moody’s mentor-mentee relationship with Kelley, who has since passed. He was 12 at the time, and stayed with the program through the age of 18. By that time, he had recruited a host of family and friends into the program. Fast forward to fall 2011. Moody attended an event where he reconnected with West-Ware, who shared that she had been looking for someone to

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


take over the organization. “It took a couple of weeks before it hit me,” says Moody, who was on hiatus from a business venture to help fund entrepreneurs in an effort to alleviate poverty. “I had set the program aside for a year. That time allowed me to operate through faith in God and work on ideas and a mission for moving forward. When the opportunity revealed itself, it was a perfect fit.” In January 2012, West-Ware officially passed the reigns to Moody and his vice president, Duane Jones, 27. Both men are members of the same church. Originally from Minneapolis, Jones has experience in the nonprofit industry, specifically with the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board. When Moody asked Jones to come on board, he explained the importance of the organization in his life and the community. “He was sincere,” says Jones. “I know the organization has affected a lot of people. I was very interested in the opportunity to be a part of this legacy.” That legacy, according to Moody, is “not only making it through, but helping someone else make it through. Being successful is not about how much money you have in your pocket, it’s defined by feeling good about yourself for making a difference.” By Faith Intergenerational, dba By Faith Inc., became the new name for Full Circle International Project, Inc. in January 2012, located at 2823 Fairfax, Suite C. The programs include a Senior/Youth Partnership, Summer Tutorial Sistah Girls, Coming Full Circle Community Health and Wellness. New programming will include Youth Leadership Development Program, No Room 4 Failure Program and entertainment, such as Christian concerts. 

Community In The Classroom By Heather O’Mara and Ruth Márquez West

Hope Online students are surrounded by a learning community of

teachers, mentors and parents eager to help them achieve. Typically nestled within the neighborhoods of metro Denver and smaller cities across Colorado, Hope Online Learning Centers are accessible to those closest to students – their parents and guardians. These individuals are in a pivotal position to nurture student achievement, and Hope Online values their participation as important partners in the success of their students. Consequently, the surrounding community helps form the Hope Online learning environment, making distinct contributions. One such example of this community power is Beverly McGaughy. This dynamic parent volunteers at Hope Online’s Victory Academy in Denver. Her weekly presence assures every student extra doses of one-on-one attention, affirmation, review of instructions and a wonderful reading coach. Her gentle corrections inspire improvement from children who know how much she cares. Her own daughter, Mecca, is just one of the stuMs. Beverly and student

dents who seem to flourish in the presence of this well-loved parent and community volunteer. “They say that the more parents participate, the better the student does, and I believe that. My being here

nitely saw that happen here with my own daughter.” Before Hope Online, Dooley’s daughter could easily memorize, pass a test and forget information within a week. “Here, with the extended time and the offline work that was required, she had to learn the material. Students not only move forward, but they also slow down long enough to actually learn. Being here helped her develop discipline, study habits and excellent time management,” Dooley concludes. McGaughy agrees, emphasizing the importance of positive relationships at Hope Online Learning Centers. “My daughter’s healthy relationship with Ms. Norma, her mentor, has truly helped my daughter blossom. That is something every parent hopes for in their child’s education.”  Ms.Norma and student

Ms. Beverly and students

is good for my daughter and all the other children too.” Once disheartened when her older daughter was singled out and labeled at a local school, McGaughy has a new perspective on being noticed for individuality. “I knew that I wanted a school where there was patience and care for Mecca’s individual needs. Here, children are singled out in positive ways to identify and respond to their needs. As a parent, I see that my daughter is challenged, that she loves it and that she is so inspired. The computers add excitement too. Hope Online is a model school for the community. I see how Mecca has come to appreciate her own abilities there as well.” At All Peoples Learning Center, Moriee Dooley, now a mentor echoes a similarly passionate perspective about being a Hope Online parent. “I was amazed at how well informed I was as a parent, which made a big difference,” Dooley notes. “Now that I am a mentor, I also see why students ‘get it’ here. We can work with students for longer periods of time to explain technical terms in more detail or work through reading challenges right away instead of waiting.” Dooley points out that in the Hope Online blended learning environment there is flexibility in the learning process itself. “As a mentor, I have learned new methods and about innovative resources to foster understanding with a different approach. I have learned how to direct a student even when she or he hits a wall. Once students see how gratifying it is to learn and achieve, it truly becomes fun as well as a source of personal pride. I defiDenver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


Seun Kuti From Africa With Fury: Rise


ith the mighty new album, From Africa With Fury: Rise, Seun Anikulapo, Kuti returns with his hybrid of Afrobeat touchstones and contemporary cues. As with his previous efforts, Seun heads up Egypt 80, the extraordinary combo first fronted by his renowned father. The album follows Kuti’s critically praised debut, 2008’s Many Things, which was unanimously hailed for continuing Fela’s musical legacy. From Africa With Fury: Rise sees Kuti finding his own idiosyncratic voice as songwriter, singer, and band leader, its songs and sonic approach marked by provocative edge and mature self-assurance. Produced by Brian Eno, John Reynolds, and Kuti, with additional production by Godwin Logie, and mixed by John Reynolds and Tim Oliver, the album captures Seun and Egypt 80’s extraordinary power, fraught with the scorching rhythms and kinetic funk energy that has earned the band – as ever,

under the leadership of alto saxophonist Lekan Animashaun – worldwide acclaim as one of today’s most incendiary live acts. With Kuti’s booming vocal stylings at the forefront, songs like “African Soldiers” and “Mr. Big Thief” are fueled by call-and-response hooks, breakneck tempos, and combative, topical lyricism which firmly sets the classic Egypt 80 sound in the modern era. “I wanted to do something completely different,” Kuti says. “Not different by trying to be American or European

with my sound, just trying to make a very different album from my last album. My last album, it was my first time in control, I was not as confident as in saying what I wanted. This time, I said, ‘Okay, I can be more confident in how I express myself, I can say what I want, be as complex as I want.’” Seun Kuti is determined to speak to the new generation of young Africans born after his father’s glory days. If he learned but one lesson from Fela, it is that that no one has greater impact on hearts and mind than the true artist. As such, the powerhouse protest music found on From Africa With Fury: Riseserves as a kind of musical antidote to the corporate pop that he feels is polluting Africa’s airwaves, distracting its citizens from the things that truly matter. “Music has great impact on people’s feelings,” Kuti says. “That’s what music should be. Pop music today is all about me, me, me. Nobody is singing about we. But nothing can change if we don’t look out for our brothers and sisters.”  Editor’s note: Seun Kuti will be performing at the Boulder Theater on March 29. For more information call Shannon Bock at 303-998-9412 or email For tickets call the Boulder Theater Box Office at 303-7867030 or visit

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012




Foundation’s H O Fundraising Efforts Stay True To Mission New Police Chief Sworn-in


Mayor Michael B. Hancock welcomed the 69th Chief of Police Robert White to Denver, marshaling in a new By eraAngelia of safetyMcGowan to the city. he year is barely underway, but Chief White will hit the development officers for nonprofit ground running organizations with an ambi-are already in full swing planning fundraising and outreach tious schedule to introduce him to the six precincts and than 1,400 events to build onmore the successes ofoffilast cers within the Department and the year. Prior to now, they have likely more than 70 neighborhoods that bunkered with co-workers at a comprise down Denver. Since day one, Mayor Hancock has weekend-long retreat to flesh out their driven an aggressive vision of restorstrategy. ing public trust in the department and The truth is there’s nothing like providing an even better police force sticking to the of mission to White keep develto the people Denver. will opment efforts on track. For 11 foryears, help the Administration move the Open Media Foundation (OMF) ward with the goal of delivering a has been committed to its mission to world class City where everyone matput the power of the media in the ters. hands of the people. Media Industry Communications OMF was designed to ensure all Exec Chelsye Burrows communities have the mediaJoins and techGMC As PR Vice President nology resources, as well as the trainGMC, America’s favorite television ing necessary to engage in local and channel for global communications using webuplifting music sites, TV broadcasts and video proand family ductions. Established before Facebook, entertainment, YouTube and Twitter made user-drivannounced that en content popular, Denver Open media industry Media (DOM), a project of OMF, communications allowed the community to create the executive content and viewers to decide what Chelsye Burrows plays. has joined the There’s also significant interaction network as vice between the community at-large and president, public relations. She joins the organization. GMC from Starz Entertainment, This carries over into the where mission she was vice president of proorganization’s fundraising efforts, gramming publicity. In her new post, enabling the to organization establish she reports Brad Siegel,to GMC’s vice working relationships with a broad chairman, and is based in Atlanta. range supporters governAtof Starz, Burrowsfrom waslocal responsible ment, foundations, higher education for overseeing programming publicity institutions and theoriginal public series. sector,She and for the network’s


not rely predominately on “a handful of major donors,” says Founder and FF TO Executive Director Tony Shawcross. “Our strategy is to build a large numjoined Starz in 1999 as the director of ber of grassroots financial supporters.” multicultural communications. Heading up this charge is She was promoted Director to executive Development Ritadirector of corporate communications in 2003, and Carrington. She says transparency and to vice president of programming old-fashioned, face-to-face meetings publicity in 2006. are invaluable in these economic times Burrows camewant to Starz when everyone to understand Entertainment from UniWorldthe how their dollars arethe impacting Group, Inc. in New York, one of the community. nation’s leadingwho multi-cultural Carrington, previouslyadverheld tising agencies. Burrows holds a bacheconomic development positions with elor’s degree in broadcast the Castle Rock Economicjournalism and Spanish, and a Master’s Degree in Development Council and Adams Public Relations, both from The County Economic Development, says, American University. She is a 2005 “Donors are more focused on meagraduate of NAMIC’s Executive sureable results on gifts. They want to Leadership Development Program, is know up front what the organization past president of the Denver Chapter plans to do with the donation.” of NAMIC and serves on the Board of In addition to traditional outreach Directors of the Cleo Parker Robinson efforts, such as annual fundraisers and Dance Ensemble in Denver. annual reports, OMF offers “Your Denver Human Services Voice. Your Media” every first and Receives National Hunger third Wednesday evening of the Champion Award month. During the one-hour introducThe Food and tion, visitors hearNutrition about theService mission (FNS) Outreachfrom Coalition and programs boardrecognized members Denver Human with a bronze and staff, take aServices tour of the studios level National Hunger Champion and meet youth in the community Award providing exemplary outwho arefor engaged in OMF’s “Spotlight reach and service to clients. The award on Students” program. Other outreach is specific to theapromotional events include special Yourefforts Voice for theMedia FNS Supplemental Nutrition Your tour highlighting their Assistance (SNAP). Volunteer volunteers Program during National Denver Human nomiWeek in April andServices a brunchwas in June. nated by the state of Colorado for their One-on-one meetings to learn about exemplary work with community OMF are also available. based organizations and partners such The 18-year veteran of the telecomas Hunger Free Colorado, Community munications industry knows how techCollaborative Partnership Centers, nology has advanced the means of comGIVE Denver among others. Denver munication, but realizes it doesn’t cancel Human Services is among a select the personal touch necessary to build group of social services agencies relationships. “Soliciting donors through nationwide to receive this award. The form letters, emails and automated department has focused on creatingcalls can discourage donors giving,” partnerships with localfrom organizations says Carrington, while pointing that to help promote the program to out famiexceptions exist in such online efforts lies in need. In addition, the depart- as Colorado Gives Day 2011, where ment has worked to educate staffmore than 52,000 donations were received, an members with client contact on increase of 150 percent over last year’s process and procedures for eligibility 20,000 donations. qualification.

Her experience as a project manager in the telecommunications industry also saw her visiting different continents and corralling resources for emergencies across the world. Carrington says the “service skills” employed are transferrable to her role now helping to meet the needs of a diverse community. Shawcross says, “Without Rita, OMF would not be able to fulfill on our vision of building a wide range of supporters in the community who can help guide the work of this organization.”  Editor’s note: For more information visit

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012




Occupy Our Five recipients excel at scholarly pursuits, community outreach Relationships Five members of the University of Thomas Jefferson Awards Honor Faculty, Staff, Student


By G-Soulcommunity – leaders among Colorado faculty, staff and students at four camandbeen fore-named recipients of puses irst – have the 2012 Thomas Award, most I would likeJefferson to among the highest honors given at send a heartfelt CU. Award winners 2012 greetings to allare those who embody and advance the ideals of of the Man Up supJefferson, the third U.S. president and As you aporters. Founding Father whose influence shaped American may have noticed arts, sciences, education and public affairs. The Jefferson the column had been forstaff the Award recognizes CUabsent faculty, past students two-issues. For those of youexcelwho and who demonstrate lence in the performance of regular missed it I apologize and thank you academic responsibilities while confor your emails as it helped tributing outstanding servicetotohear the broader from youcommunity. that these writings truly The honorees are: make a difference in your lives. Andrea O’Reilly Herrera, Ph.D., Speaking of making a difference – director of the Women and Ethnic this year I want all of our relationships Studies (WEST) to flourish, to become or remain our Program at the priority and serve as sources of power University of for us all. 2011 was a very powerful Colorado Colorado year on several fronts. Springs (UCCS). The Without a doubt the most socially poet and author is impactful event was the birth and rise regarded as a leading of the Occupy Wall Street movement scholar of the Cuban diaspora, and her work bridges art, literature, literary criticism, creative writing and history. She partners with local libraries and schools in developing writing and art programs. Thomas Huber, Ph.D., professor of geography and environmental Studies at UCCS. An alumnus of the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder), he has worked on such projects as habitat mapping of the Prebles meadow jumping mouse in El Paso County, vegetation mapping of large portions of Colorado


for Division of Wildlife, and mapthatthe swept not only our country but ping andworld analyzing habitat in the also the with elk a voraciousness Pikes Peak region. not seen since the 60’s. Indeed it seems Zeitler, M.D., Ph.D., thatPhilip change is upon us and thatprofesthe sor of pediatrics and sciences masses are calling forclinical a re-balancing at theredistribution University ofof power. and Colorado School And while I’mofexcited for the possiMedicine. He is an bilities that the mobilization of the internationally masses represents in terms of creating known expert in the a more equitable system – I do believe field pediatric that aofvery key component is being endocrinology. Hisis – HOW WE overlooked which rigorous on ANOTHER. RELATE focus TO ONE top-quality has contributed By this I research mean ultimately – what greatly to the world’s understanding difference does a change in the oldof pediatric diabetesto and pediguard makeType if we2continue relate atric with obesity. each other in the same antiquatTheus-Lee, M.S., program ed Linda fashion? New bottle-old wine. assistant and event coordinator for the If the Occupy Movement is going University of to have any significance at all, it is Colorado Denver going to have to deal with and ade(CU Denver) quately address the purpose that we Business School. are all here on theShe planet – to grow is a versatile and to relate!profesSure, it’s important that sional, we are artist, all ablecounto have food, clothes selor, teacher and and shelter but those items are merely entrepreneur. the means for A us,CU not the end. Denver alumna, volunteerism We are on thisher ‘great ball of wonincludes developing and implementder’ for the purpose of growing and ing a readingonly program at thewhen Ford all growing takes place Warren Library, and mentoring girls there is more than one entity involved at the Gilliam Youth Services Center – i.e. relating. andThis the is Jefferson why I’mCounty callingCorrection for an Facility. Occupy Our Relationships Movement Angie White, M.A., doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at CU-Boulder. She studies issues of community building, experiential education and poverty. Her research explores how communication strategies may be used to help people in poverty empower themselves and move toward self-sufficiency. Honorees have demonstrated a strong commitment to the advancement of higher education, a deeply

seated individual civic becausesense evenofmore prevalent and responsibility and a profound commitshockingly detrimental than the ment toforeclosed the welfareand andabandoned rights of the empty, individual. homes that litter this country are the A committee ofand CU abandoned faculty, staff empty, foreclosed and students selects winners. relationships that make up our society Recipients receive an engraved plaque today. andWe a $2,000 honorarium, andwho are rechave become a nation has ognized by the CU Board of Regents. lost the art and science of relating. Themother Thomas Awardtowas From toJefferson child, husband established at the Universityallofsigns wife, neighbor to neighbor, Virginia in 1951 by the Robert Earll of seem to indicate a rapid unraveling McConnell Foundation our fundamental abilityto tohonor connect teaching faculty who exemplified the and convey our realities without injurhumanistic ideals associated with ing, insulting, instigating or creating Jefferson. Byenergies 1962, sixinother institudestructive our wake. tions including – had aestablished So –while losingCU a home, job or asome Jefferson Award. In 1980,none the univermoney is regrettable of sity a student category;amount in 1988, themadded singularly or combined the to astaff pile category of beans ifwas weapproved. are not fulfillFunding for the awards ing our highest calling. is derived from endowment proIs itearnings difficulton to an relate on an empty vided by the McConnell stomach? Absolutely. Is itFoundation extremely and from a bequestaby Harrison Blair, trying to maintain marriage when athe CU alumnus. money is funny? No doubt. But let us be clear, there will alwaysDeputy be these Mayor Hancock Names challenges. We didn’t arrive on this Manager of Finance planet to live in a Utopia, so we better Mayor Michael B. Hancock and focus on what is going to sustain us Chief Financial Officer Cary Kennedy when the world has gone wild; each today named Gretchen Hollrah as other. Manager of Denver’s Deputy This is why Thy Neighbor is Department ofLove Finance. theAs highest commandment in all-spirituDeputy Manager, Hollrah will al traditions. This is why you be responsible for managingwould the also do well to remember that LOVE is Finance Department’s review of develaopment verb - it’s an action, it’s not something proposals and for recomthat you hope happens to you or that mending public financing opportuniyou that fall in to one day when you ties maximize efficient use meet of city Mr. or Mrs.She Right. Lovecharged is something resources. is also with that youamake create on daily leading teamand dedicated to adevelopbasisnew withstrategies those whom encounter ing thatyou leverage both throughout your life’s journey. city and non-city funding sources and How dothe yousound makegrowth sure you are facilitating and doing that? I have a simple formula development of Denver. thatHollrah I use toassumes assess myself from time the position afterto serving for if four in the time to see I’myears fulfilling my purpose Department of Finance City’s and I hope that you findasitthe useful as Capital well. Program Manager. In this role, Hollrah developed a new perIt is in order of priority: formance and accountability system 1. Love myself – am I self loving? for allocation of what capitalI need funding Amthe I giving myself in the

citywide. She will beginfinancially, her new role major areas (spiritually, on Feb 21. health, etc.)? Prior to my joining 2. Love mateDenver’s – what is the Department Finance inwith 2008,my health of the of relationship Hollrah spent seven yearsThe in Denver’s most intimate neighbor? one Public Works Department as a Senior whom I must constantly interact. City3.Planner. prior experience Love myHer family – what are my also includes traffic planning in the children receiving from me daily? private sectorthey at Wilbur How would rate meSmith as a parent, Associates San Francisco, a brother orinsister, aunt or uncle? California. Hollrah also –served as a 4. Love my neighbor these are City at theI’m Department of City thosePlanner with whom living around, Planning (Transportation in sharing community space.Division) Most of us New York City. have either lost the art of being a good neighbor or have never known Rosalyn Wheeler-Bell Joinsthat it was a requirement for a healthy Mental Health America Of environment. Colorado Board Of Directors 5. Love my nation – not in the Rosalyn Wheeleraltruistic jingoistic sense but more Bell, the current from the perspective of those who are Program Director for living under the same system of govHomeless ernment and occupy the same geoPrevention/Rapid Regraphical space. housing and Rural 6. Love my world – those whom we Initiatives at the are sharing this blessed planet with at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless this point in time. was elected to the Mental Health Subsequently, if you want change America of Colorado (MHAC) Board in your life you must follow this very of Directors for a 3 year term. same formula: self, mate, family, For more than 30 years, Wheelerneighbor, nation,inand Bell has worked theworld. mental health 2012 is beckoning to reconcile field, serving first as ausregistered nurse with each other. We must cherish the at Malcolm X Mental Health Center opportunity of harmonizing our difand going on to found and serve as ferences instead ofof highlighting executive director Communitythem and becoming entrenched the ‘me Health Education Services,in a nonprofit vs. them’ paradigm. organization that provided education many of us are in on Too reproductive health torelationships youths in that we have abandoned orSchools. foreclosed Aurora and Denver Public on.Wheeler-Bell Too many ofisusa have ostracized graduate of the ourselves and unwittinglynursing become University of Colorado’s resignedShe to has a lifeserved of separation from school. as a behavioral those whom been placed in our health nurse have case manager for HCA lives to increase our capacity toCenter. love. Presbyterian/St. Luke Medical The Occupy Relationship Continuing her Your passion for adolescent reproductive issues, also movement is health beckoning youshe to is come aout certified trainer withplaces the Rocky from your hiding and to Mountain Center forthing Health fully engage in this called life. Promotion and Education. In 2009 For a life without love – is no life at Wheeler-Bell was honored for her all. work byrelationship The Black Professional Your is the 99 percent! Women’s Association. Man Up!

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    No stars

to drop out of nursing school and find a job. And the only reason the homeless woman and wealthy Wesley happen to cross paths is because she’s the night janitor in his office building. The gruff, ghetto girl initially rubs her relatively-refined boss the wrong way. After all, she is definitely a little rough around the edges, and just not the class of female Wesley’s accustomed to associating with.

Good Deeds

Good Deeds 

Tyler Perry Morality Play Finds Groom-to-be Torn Between Shallow Fiancée And Homeless Widow

Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry) has it

all, or so it seems, between serving as CEO of a thriving computer software company and his impending marriage to a successful, if shallow, San Francisco realtor (Gabrielle Union). The dedicated, driven executive was handpicked by his mother (Phylicia Rashad) over his hot-headed brother, Walter (Brian White), to replace their late father to run Deeds Corporation. But because Wesley has spent most of his life trying to satisfy the wishes of the domineering family matriarch, he might be getting married in a few months more to please her than himself. Even his already-jaded fiancée, Natalie, finds her Momma’s Boy a tad too boring and predictable, despite his being a great catch. Then, while the couple is in the midst of putting the final touches on their elaborate wedding plans, a fly lands in the nuptial ointment in the person of a most-unlikely other woman. Lindsey Wakefield (Thandie Newton) is a struggling, single-mom living in a car with her 6 year-old daughter, Ariel (Jordenn Thompson). She fell on hard times after her husband was killed in Iraq, when she had

However, the tension between the two starts to dissolve the night she offers to give him a back massage while he’s burning the midnight oil at work. And upon hearing all the details of her pitiful plight, Wesley altruistically offers Lindsey and little Ariel a free apartment to crash in indefinitely. Will this gallant knight-in-shiningarmor develop deeper feelings for the grimy damsel-in-distress who subsequently cleans up so nicely, literally and figuratively? If so, will he be able to summon up the gumption to break off his engagement, given the little matter of his fast-approaching wedding day? That difficult dilemma is the raison d’etre of Good Deeds, the latest modern morality play written by, directed by and starring Tyler Perry. Avoiding his usual staples of comic relief courtesy of Madea and clownish support characters, Perry presents this sober soap opera in straightforward fashion. Consequently, in the absence of those typical distractions, the plot is not only perfectly plausible but remains refreshingly grounded in reality from start to finish. Along the way, veteran lead actors, Tyler, Thandie Newton and Gabrielle Union, generate a convincing chemistry guaranteed to keep you on edge right up to the surprising resolution of the unfortunate love triangle. Another compelling Tyler Perry parable delivering a priceless message about what really matters most.

Rated: PG-13 for sexuality, violence, profanity and mature themes. Running Time: 129 minutes Distributor: Lionsgate Films To see a trailer for Good Deeds, visit:

Safe House

Safe House 

Rookie Ad Rogue Agents Make Strange Bedfellows In High Body-Count Spy Thriller


obin Frost (Denzel Washington) is a veteran CIA Agent who has been on the run for close to a decade since being suspected of selling military secrets to America’s enemies. By contrast, straitlaced Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is a newcomer to the Agency who’s just been itching for some action. Unfortunately, he’s been stationed in South Africa for months where he’s only been assigned to maintain a backwater safe house that’s never been needed for a clandestine operation. Until now. The pair’s paths cross soon after Frost decides to come in from the proverbial cold in Cape Town because an army of assassins is closing in on him. The renegade spy surrenders himself at the U.S. Consulate which in turn is directed by

top CIA brass to deposit him with Weston for debriefing. However, all hell breaks loose right after the team of interrogators arrives, when the safe house unexpectedly comes under attack by a bunch of gun-toting, bloodthirsty mercenaries. Continued on page 26

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


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Continued from page 25 Frost and West barely escape with their lives out the back door while all the rest of the CIA agents perish during the siege. With no idea why the supposedly secure location had been compromised or whether there’s anybody whose word they can trust, the rookie and the rogue suddenly realize their very survival depends on mutual cooperation. That is the intriguing point of departure of Safe House, a riveting, espionage thriller featuring non-stop action and an ever-escalating, high body count. The film might best be described as a compelling cross of The Bourne Identity (2002) and Taken (2008), given the former’s “spy on the run desperate to clear his name” theme and the latter’s wanton slaughter and impatient sense of urgency. The movie marks the English-language directorial debut of Sweden’s Daniel Espinosa, who must be credited for coaxing yet another vintage outing from two-time, Academy Awardwinner Denzel Washington (for Glory and Training Day). In addition, he simultaneously allowed romantic comedy regular Ryan Reynolds to prove himself capable of playing more the handsome hunk opposite the

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island


blonde-of-the-moment. The talented co-stars not only acquit themselves well in the convincingly-choreographed fight sequences, but their credible chemistry cultivated during downtime enables the audience to forgive the periodic holes in the picture’s Swiss cheese script. They are helped immeasurably in that endeavor by equally-powerful, support performances on the part of several consummate thespians, including Oscar-nominees Vera Farmiga (for Up

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in the Air) and Sam Shepard (for The Right Stuff) as well as Brendan Gleeson and Ruben Blades. Likable unlikely buddies enmeshed in a pyrotechnics-driven, political potboiler with more twists than a Chubby Checker concert make for a cinematic experience that’s more than worth the price of admission. Rated: R for profanity and pervasive graphic violence In English, Afrikaans and Spanish with subtitles Running Time: 115 minutes Distributor: Universal Pictures To see a trailer for Safe House, visit: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 

3-D Sequel Set In South Pacific Features Search For Missing Grandfather


Saturday, March 17th 2012 at the Seawell Grand Ballroom, Denver Center for the Performing Arts MCPN welcomes

Welcoming Emcee

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart, 9News

as emcee for the Green Tie event! A 9 News reporter delivering traffic reports and breaking news from the sky!

Entertainment by

The Bridies & Strictly Irish Plus a guest performance by

Karen Callaway Speial performance by

Karen Callaway recently finishing a three year stint with the Broadway production of Riverdance as the first Afrian-American dancer to join the show.

March 17th, 2012 Seawell Grand Ballroom A limited number of seats & sponsorships are still available, contact John Reid now for details:


e were first introduced to Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) about four years ago when he embarked on a very eventful “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” courtesy of Jules Verne. Now, although he’s matured from a wide-eyed adolescent into a handsome, headstrong teenager with raging hormones, the lustful lad remains game for another exciting adventure. At the point of departure of Journey 2, we find him decoding a cryptic distress signal being relayed via satellite from parts unknown. By locating the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates, he determines that the S.O.S. is being broadcast from uncharted waters in the South Pacific. Next, he convinces himself that the message must be coming from his long-lost grandfather, Alexander (Michael Caine), an intrepid explorer who disappeared around the same area. Only by cobbling together maps printed on the pages of three literary classics: Verne’s Mysterious Island,

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Jonathan Swifts’ Gulliver’s Travels, is Sean able to figure out that his grandpa might have discovered the Lost City of Atlantis. When Sean insists on immediately mounting a rescue mission, his mom (Kristin Davis) gives permission on the condition that he be accompanied by his stepdad, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), a hunky Navy veteran. The two soon depart for the exotic island of Palau, where they hire a cowardly pilot (Luis Guzman) with a gorgeous daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) to fly them to a destination not on the map. En route, they encounter a severe hurricane which has skittish Gabato struggling to control the chopper while Sean and Kailani make eyes at each other. The helicopter ends up crashing on the shore of an upsidedown land of enchantment where small animals are large and vice-versa. Hence, our heroes are as amused by a pride of miniature elephants as by enormous butterflies and bees big enough for a person to ride. Hopping aboard accommodating yellow jackets, the motley quartet proceeds to look for grandpa while simultaneously soaking in an array of visually-captivating sights ranging from ancient ruins to an active volcano which spews lava of pure gold. Seamlessly blending elements of all three aforementioned novels, Journey 2 is a thrill-a-minute roller coaster ride guaranteed to keep the tyke and ‘tweener demos on the edge of their seats. The kid-friendly fantasy is breathtaking and frenetically paced but not frightening, and it even has its share of hilarious moments of comic relief, plus a heartwarming message to boot. The best 3-D adventure since Avatar! Rated: PG for action adventure and a mild epithet Running Time: 94 minutes Distributor: Warner Brothers To see a trailer for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, visit: Undefeated 

Football Coach Finds Winning Formula In OscarNominated Documentary


ou think football builds character. It does not. Football reveals character.” That mantra sums up the philosophy Bill Courtney relied upon in pep talks to turn around the football program at Manassas High located in inner-city Memphis. When he assumed the reins in 2004, the Tigers



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had never made the playoffs in its entire 100 year history, and hadn’t even won a single game in the previous 14 years. Luckily, Coach Courtney followed a calling to try to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged African-American kids on the team, so he offered his services to the school on a volunteer basis. And it wasn’t long before he began to understand precisely why the Tigers had such a long losing record, as members of his squad were soon being crippled by assorted afflictions visited upon unfortunate folks stuck in the ghetto. First, his starting right guard and middle linebacker left school after being shot, while his center was unavailable because of being arrested. Then, he had to intervene when a couple of other players fought with each other right in front of him. That “career’s worth of crap” for an average coach all transpired at Manassas in just two weeks. Not one to be deterred easily, Courtney still stuck around for the long run and by 2009 had forged Manassas into a playoff-bound powerhouse to be reckoned with. The team’s phenomenal achievement is the subject of Undefeated, an overcoming-the-odds documentary co-directed by T.J Martin and Dan Lindsay. Nominated for an Academy

Award in the Best Documentary category, the film focuses primarily on the coach and on three youngsters whose fortunes he took a particular interest in: Chavis, Money and O.C. We see that Chavis, a hot-headed junior being raised by a single-mom, has recently returned to school after spending 15 months in a juvenile penitentiary. Money, a gentle giant who lives with his grandmother, is applying himself both in the classroom and on the field with hopes of landing a scholarship as a ticket out of the ‘hood. Star senior O.C. has been blessed with size and great natural ability, yet poor grades might torpedo his chances of being accepted to college. Although Coach Courtney’s tough love regimen looks at times like it might push a player or two over the edge, it ultimately proves to be just the right prescription to inspire the team to morph from perennial underdogs to gridiron greats. A compelling documentary chronicling not just football exploits but a few bona fide cases of quality character revealed. Unrated Running Time: 113 minutes Distributor: The Weinstein Company To see a trailer for Undefeated, visit: k&ob=av3e

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Karen Callaway Williams Comes To The Annual Green Tie Event

Lost Your Joy?

Find it again at the

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

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


MCPN and the Bridies introduce Karen Callaway Williams as a new performer at the upcoming 8th Annual Green Tie event. A tap dance instructor for Worth-Tyrrell studios for the last 10 years, Williams brings a wide depth of experience and talent to any event at which she performs. From being the feature in two Broadway shows to TV specials in her honor, to performing in concerts and on stages around the world, Williams has gained notoriety and respect for her talent. She has recently finished a 3 year stint with the Broadway production of Riverdance. Williams is a graduate of Spelman College with degrees in Psychology and Dance, and a charter member of the New Jersey Dance Ensemble. For more information, call 720-3381148 or visit

CBWPA Honors Local Women Making History

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Colorado Black Women for Political Action (CBWPA) will be honoring fearless women who have boldly blazed a path of success, and selflessly given of their talents and gifts to lead their community, at the CBWPA Women Making History reception. Honorees include: Cary Kennedy, Mayor’s Office; Maria Garcia Berry, Political Consultant; Cheryl RowlesStokes, District Court Judge; Terri Richardson, MD; Laurie Hirschfeld STORIES THRU IMAGERY Zeller, Colorado Women’s • 720-621-6336 Foundation; Toya Nelson, Governor’s Office; Tracy Winchester, Five Points Business Association; Casey Davenhill, League of Women Voters; Linda G. Alvarado, Alvarado Construction; Victoria Scott-Haynes, Political Strategist; Valencia Faye Tate, CH2MHill; Annette Sills-Brown, 4 NPPUI K B[[ 0O 5IF 8FC Educator; Pensal McCray, Ethnic College Group; Marissa Murdock, $M J DL  -J T UFO "OZXIFSF Community Youth; Audre’anna #POF Z + BNF T  %BWF  ,P[  4 BEF  + POBUIBO #VUM F S  Roberts, Community Youth; Amani %PUT F SP  )B[F M  .J M M F S  7J T J PO + B[[ Celestine, Community Youth. (F SBM E "M C SJ HIU  %BSSF O 3BIO  .J OEJ  "CBJ S The reception will be Thursday, PVJ T  $PM BJ BOOJ B  #PC CZ 8F M M T  8BSSF O )J M M March 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Park #SJ BO $VM CF SUT PO  $BOEZ %VM G F S  ,F OOZ ( Hill Golf Course Restaurant. Doors 3J DIBSE & M M J PU  + PF  4 BNQ M F  %J BOB ,SBM M open at 5:30 p.m. + F G G  PSCF S  $IVDL PF C  1 BVM  5BZM PS  BOE .03&  For more information, call 303-910XXX DP 6580 or visit


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Great Western Art Show

Great Western Art Gallery will present an art show featuring oil painter Greg Dye whose work is in the likeness of Birger Sandzen who painted western landscapes. Dye, an instructor of art at Arapahoe College of Art & Design, will be featured at the gallery through March 30. For more information, call 303-3962787 or visit

New Hope Addresses Homelessness At Women’s Day

New Hope Baptist Church will host its 60th Annual Women’s Day festivities, “Homelessness Among Women & Children – Spreading Awareness and Becoming Part of the Solution.� On Saturday, March 10 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. the women of New Hope will sponsor the Prayer Breakfast where they address the epidemic of homelessness among women and children and work together to find solutions to help the Denver community. The Sunday Worship, on March 11at 10:45 a.m., will feature keynote speaker, Reverend Regina Groff from Woodbridge, Virginia, and formerly of Denver, Colorado. New Hope is located at 3701 Colorado Blvd in Denver. For more information or to register for the breakfast, email or call 303322-5200.

Kick Butts Day

Sponsor by Hiawatha Davis Health Initiative, Kick Butts Day will be is stop smoking event that will be held on March 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. at 3334 Holly St. There will information booths, speakers and doctors on hand. For more information, email

Free Concert; Papi, Me and Cesar Chavez at Aurora Fox

The Colorado Folk Arts Council in conjunction with the Aurora Fox, City of Aurora Community Relations Committee and Metropolitan State College of Denver JTOH program presents a free concert performed by Denver’s premier Latino theater troupe Su Teato. A tribute to the life

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


and times of Cesar Chavez: Papi, Me and Cesar Chavez will be performed Wednesday, March 14 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Aurora Fox, located at 9900 E. Colfax in Aurora. CĂŠsar Estrada ChĂĄvez, born March 31, 1927, was an American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW). He died April 23, 1993. This show is free and open to the public. Parties of more than 10 need a reservation. For more information or to make reservations, call 303-739-1970.

LWVD Hosts Difficult Choices For Denver

The City Government Committee of the League of Women Voters Denver (LWVD) will host a forum, Difficult Choices for Denver, Tuesday, March 13 at 5:45 p.m., in the McCollum Room of the Montview Presbyterian Church located at 1980 Dahlia St in Denver. Some questions include who shortened library hours, raised recreation center fees, who will decide whether or not trash collection fees will be increased? What city services should be provided, what services are necessary and those not? When will city service delivery to citizens reach a critical stage? Would citizens support tax increases to maintain city services? Speakers will include Brendan Hanlon, Budget Director for the City and County of Denver, Councilwoman-at-Large Robin Kneich, and a member of the Mayor’s Structural Financial Task Force. For more information, call the League office at 303-321-7571, email, or visit

Take Flight Youth Honored At The Real Women’s Awards

The Real Women’s Awards has honored women and youth who make a difference each year. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, March 17 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Argosy University.


This year marks the dedication of Take Flight Leadership Aviation Group Bessie Coleman Chapter – the first chapter in the nation named after aviation legend Bessie Coleman, who was the first woman to receive an international pilot’s license. Dr. Jilda Motley, Bessie Coleman’s great-niece, will be here to accept the chapter banner. There will be several other award presentations. For more information, email to RSVP to

SHHRP Opportunity Fair

The Society Of Hispanic Human Resources Professionals (SHHRP) is committed to serving all of the diverse components of the metro area’s employer and job seeker populations. There are many Denver-area job seekers who are still out of work, and yet there are employers out there looking for good people. Also, many job seekers are also “education seekers” who need to upgrade their skills to qualify for the best jobs. SHHRP will host an Opportunity Fair on Thursday March 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Atrium, located at 1740 Broadway in Denver. For more information, call LeRoy Romero at 720-840-8117 or email

Unity In The Communities Of Color

Today’s leaders and organizers struggle with coalition building for many reasons, mainly internalized oppression. We must learn how to identify where European Colonialism has caused internalized oppression and its effect on the divisions between people of color. Understand more about our common interests, and how the lack of effective communication causes events like the August 2011 outburst by black comedian Kat Williams against Mexicans and similar behavior by other members of non-white groups against each other. This workshop is for community activists and allies, addressing “Is Unity between the Communities of Color Possible? Can new immigrant groups of color be welcomed by those who have been in the U.S. for many generations?” The workshop will be Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church located at 1400 Lafayette in Denver. The event is free of charge, donations accepted. Bring your own lunch. For more information, email Sherryl Weston at or call 720-938-0233.


Trustees Vote To Change College’s Name To Metropolitan State University Of Denver

Metro State’s Board of Trustees voted 6-3 to take a major step forward in changing the College’s name to Metropolitan State University of Denver. A bill allowing the name change will be introduced in the Colorado General Assembly within the month by primary sponsors Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver. If approved by the legislature and the governor, the new name will be implemented in the 2012-2013 academic year. The board previously had approved Denver State University as the name to submit to the 2011 legislature, but pulled the request following objections from University of Denver officials, who said it was too similar to the name of their school. Metro State spent the summer and fall conducting further outreach and analyzing branding considerations. The board’s split decision reflected differences of opinion on a coexistence agreement with the University of Denver and whether the goals of the name-change initiative had been met. Trustee Melody Harris, who works in trademark law, opposed the namechange motion, citing concerns about what she called the limitations of the agreement. Chair Rob Cohen and trustee Michelle Lucero also voted against the proposal for similar reasons. Student government senator Jeffery Washington attended several of the board and committee meetings to voice his support of Denver State University as the new name. He told the board he moved from Oklahoma to come to Metro State after his aunt told him about the institution. No matter what the name of the College, he believes its mission will continue. For more information about the Strategic Name Initiative, visit

Burress Launches “Time For Greatness Campaign

NFL super-star and Virginia-native Plaxico Burress celebrated Black History Month by launching the Banneker Franklin Foundation “Time for Greatness” campaign at his alma mater Green Run High School. On Thursday, Feb. 23 Burress gifted Green Run High School and the Historically Black Colleges & Universities of Virginia and North Carolina’s Elizabeth City State University with a commemorative Banneker clock to springboard a cam-

paign that brings awareness and support to the nation’s high school drop-out rate crisis. The symbolic gifting efforts were to grow awareness of the 18th-century African American inventor, mathematician, astronomer who is credited with making the first fully assembled clock in America, Benjamin Banneker and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin credited for supporting and endorsing the abolitionist movement. The “Time for Greatness” campaign announced Burress’ intent to support Green Run High School’s 2013 graduating class by funding programs for at risk students; offering the incentive and gift of Banneker Franklin graduation jewelry; and providing scholarships. And to keep the momentum going, Burress also issued a challenge to his celebrity friends to follow suit. Banneker Franklin Foundation’s mission is to bring awareness to the nation’s alarming high school drop-out rate and offer support via partnerships with celebrities and corporations. Every celebrity is challenged to adopt his own alma mater high school by gifting graduation Banneker Franklin class jewelry; providing scholarships; and offering support vehicles to teens that are the most at risk.

Aetna’s 2012 African American History Calendar Highlights Community Entrepreneurship

When searching historical records for documentation of African American history, often missing are stories of African Americans who forged and encouraged economic liberation through entrepreneurship and business enterprise. Aetna (NYSE: AET) chronicles the timeline of some of the most groundbreaking and inspiring business achievements of African Americans in the last 200+ years and tells today’s stories of 14 young entrepreneurs from around the U.S. in its 31st annual African American History Calendar titled “Celebrating Innovation: Leading the next generation of business.” Entrepreneurs featured in the calendar represent a wide diversity of busi-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – March 2012


nesses and pursuits. For example, 23year-old Chicago area twins, Ashton and Ryan Clark, own multiple online businesses. Natalia Allen, from White Plains, N.Y., owns a company hired by DuPont to integrate conductive fibers into fashion. The result: clothing with electronics, lights and displays smart enough to monitor heart rates. Allen also has designed eco-innovative clothing for brands such as DKNY®, Calvin Klein®, and Quiksilver®. James Taylor, a former professional basketball player and high school teacher from South Florida, runs a youth sports development agency. The company offers oneon-one basketball lessons, a basketball summer camp and basketball academies. Other entrepreneurs profiled in the 2012 calendar are:

•Hamet Watt, co-founder of bLife, Inc., with a mission to develop engaging and effective science-based tools that enable people to lead healthier and happier lives; •Gabrielle Jordan Williams, who launched Jewelz of Jordan and makes quality children’s jewelry. As a fifthgrade student, she wrote The Making of a Young Entrepreneur; •Dr. Farrah Gray, founder and CEO of Farrah Gray Foundation, which teaches inner-city and high-risk youth how to become entrepreneurs; •Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, Inc., which creates and sells innovative hair, body and bath, and skincare products; •Kenneth L. Harris, President and CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, with a goal of reinvigorating Michigan; •Jermaine Griggs, Founder of Hear and Play Music, a company that produces instructional DVDs for learning to play music; •Khary and Selena Cuffe, cofounders, CEO and CFO of Heritage Link Brands, LLC, which imports South African wines; •Tina Wells, CEO and Founder of Buzz Marketing Group, which helps clients build prosperous connections with the youth market; and •Amos Winbush, III, Founder and CEO of CyberSynchs, which created and sells a platform allowing consumers to synch data across operating systems and devices. The 2012 African American History Calendar – Celebrating Innovation: Leading the next generation of business – is available for $4 by calling 860-273-0509. The online version of the calendar is available at Aetna’s diversity website: www.aetnaafricanamericancalendar.c om.

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DUS March 2012  

Denver Urban Spectrum March Issue 2012

DUS March 2012  

Denver Urban Spectrum March Issue 2012