Volume 26, Number 12,
Celebrating Women’s History
America’s First Lady…4
Saluting US Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Howard…8 America’s Oldest Park Ranger Brings Black History to Life…15 Dorothy King Celebrates 100th Birthday…16
At the National Conference for Media Reform, innovators from all walks of life come together to: • Learn about the most pressing media, technology and democracy issues. • Meet amazing activists from around the country. • Build new skills in organizing, media making and much more. This action-packed event includes: • Great speakers like Lost actress Evangeline Lilly and Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman • Performers like Public Enemy’s Hank Shocklee, DeVotchKa’s Shawn King and comedian Hari Kondabolu • A film festival featuring titles like Sundance winner Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry • Hands-on workshops on video making, how to build your own radio transmitter, fundraising how-to’s and more • An interactive public square with an art gallery, poetry readings … even an old-school soapbox
Register now at conference.freepress.net Text NCMR13 to 32075 for updates.
MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER Volume 26 Number 12
PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris
GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa
COLUMNIST Earl Ofari Hutchinson
FILM and BOOK CRITIC Kam Williams
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tabatha Deans Angelle C. Fouther Tanya Ishikawa Hugh Johnson Angelia McGowan ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris
Remembering, Recognizing and Appreciating Women’s History
Women are history makers and have been from the beginning of time starting with Eve. We are excited that a man of color sits in the White House but this month we celebrate women and their accomplishments. Harriet Tubman moved slaves from one safe house to another under rigid secrecy through the Underground Railroad. Mary McLeod Bethune was an educational pioneer founding the Bethune-Cookman College and later the National Council of Negro Women. Shirley Chisholm became the first Black Congresswoman and also the first Black woman to contend for the presidential office. Mae Jemison was the first female African American astronaut and the first Black woman to go into space. And we all know how Oprah has influenced and inspired women (and men) all over the world. These are just a few of women who have and are making a mark in history. This issue we look at the strength, courage and wisdom of yet another group of women. Kudos to two 100 year milestones: The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority centennial celebration; and the community birthday celebration of Dorothy King, penned by Charles Emmons. DUS contributor Tabatha Deans shares with us the determination of Vice Admiral Michelle Howard which made her the first African-American woman to achieve three star rank in the U.S. Armed Forces. And, did I say she was from Aurora, Colorado? Check out America’s oldest Park Ranger who shares with you her slavery lineage. And, did I say she was an African American woman? Hugh Johnson gives his insight on the women who were at the White House, who is still there and who may be becoming as a new member of Obama’s next administration. One woman we know for sure will be there for another four years is First Lady Michelle Obama who is gracing our cover in honor of Women’s History Month. Angelle Fouther takes us from her humble beginnings from a middle class family from Chicago to the first African American woman First Lady of the United States. So the women listed here is miniscule to the number of women making history. Everyone’s destiny is different but everyone is destined for goodness. Look around. There is someone in your life who is making history. Whatever it is, recognize it and appreciate it.
GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert, Kolor Graphix
PRODUCTION AND OFFICE ASSISTANT Cecile Perrin CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHES A Star Photography Lens of Ansar Sweetz Photography 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 www.denverurbanspectrum.com.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Making Good Last: Hillary Clinton’s Contribution Op-ed by Jill Iscol and Peter Cookson, Jr.
lion dollars in support of the goal of 100 million clean cookstoves by 2020. This is just one program under Secretary Clinton’s groundbreaking umbrella organization, the Global Partnership Initiatives, headed by Kris Bladerston. He has identified four elements that contribute to successful public/private partnerships. Each of which is worth emulating. The first is leadership. Without a strong visionary leader inertia and routine become the enemy of action. Second, a successful partnership requires a platform. Bringing activists together through the convening authority of an influential organization expands the conversation and connects projects and people. Third, the partnership itself is critical. Mutual support and teamwork isn’t just about money, it’s also about networking, shared values and communication. The communication revolution is a vast network for collaboration and combining resources. Finally, professionalization is key. Sustaining long term change means engaging with the issues in a progressively informed and agenda setting atmosphere. We need professional programs for those who want to make a career of making good. These four elements are a good place to start building a culture of commitment that is broad and deep. Turning idealism into action is a natural extension of the new humanism; the time has come to build an organizational infrastructure to support this
With the departure of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, now is the time to reflect on her legacy, not just in the field of diplomacy but her broader vision for the United States as a catalyst for turning idealism into action. Recently we have seen the rise of a new humanism – the desire of people to do something bigger and more lasting than themselves. Making Good has become the ethos of a generation committed to making a more just world. But how can we mobilize and organize the efforts of individuals and small groups into a sustainable long term movement? Secretary Clinton’s work provides an answer. Under her leadership, the State Department created a suite of public/private initiatives that brought together visionaries from the two sectors in groundbreaking programs. These coordinated cross sector actions can accomplish amazing things. They must become an essential part of on-going American foreign policy. Take the Clean Cookstoves Alliance, for example. Every year, nearly 2 million women and children die prematurely from the toxic fumes of traditional cookstoves and open fires. The Alliance raised over 160 mil-
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
Rosalind J. Harris Publisher
new movement. We have yet to learn what Secretary Clinton will do in the coming years to extend her work at the State Department. We hope that she will continue to advocate for public/private partnerships and remain a leader in the worldwide movement to embrace the power of making good to transform lives. There is no way forward without risks. But inaction is the greatest risk of all. Action combined with careful planning is a lesson we have learned from the Clinton State Department; let’s not forget it as we take the next step forward. Editor’s note: Jill W. Iscol and Peter W. Cookson, Jr. are authors of Hearts on Fire: Stories of Today’s Visionaries Igniting Idealism into Action, to be published by Random House in 2013. Denver Urban Spectrum Department E-mail Addresses Denver Urban Spectrum
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Michelle Obama: Influencer-in-Chief
By Angelle Fouther Photos courtesy of the First Lady Press Office of the White House
eautiful, intelligent, talentband who is openly doting, and two intelligent well-behaved daughters. A ed, full of life—all are words used to statuesque, curvaceous Black woman, describe the Chicago native. A product she has changed the image of what of Chicago Public Schools, her mother beauty is or can be. And as a career worked tirelessly to make sure that she woman and a Princeton and Harvard and her brother were shielded from Law School scholar, she has changed the conversation about the types of danger, and exposed to opportunities choices that modern women can make for quality education. She shone ever to achieve balance in their lives. brightly at the second presidential Further, politically, Michelle Obama inauguration of the nation’s first Black has worked to influence policy behind president, participating in a slice of histhe scenes, and achieved movement with her own initiatives. tory in a way that few ever will – her The appearance at Hadiya arrival in the nation’s capitol, far away Pendleton’s funeral was a rarity for from her roots on the South Side of America’s First Family: President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Mrs. Obama. Some have called it politObama, and daughters Sasha and Malia Chicago, a testament to the power of ical. But, arguably, no one else in this possibility and perseverance. country was better poised to highlight, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama But then the unthinkable occurred. by her mere presence, the value of the dance to “Let’s Stay Together” performed by Jennifer Gun shots sprayed at high school students who lives of young Black women (and men), who are Hudson during the 2013 Inauguration were conversing in a park. Chicago’s South Side. A often easily dismissed or ignored because of their little over a week after her mountain-top moment, geographic origins, their race, or their socioeconomic fifteen year-old Hadiya Pendleton was dead. station. The ensuing spotlight on the young woman’s life While Michelle Obama’s opportunities are endand, moreso, her death are directly and undeniably less to affect change for those who exist in the chasm attributable to the presence of Michelle Obama, between origin and destination, potential and actuwho, along with hundreds of others including severalization, poverty and prosperity; neither her full al dignitaries, attended the funeral of the slain teen power nor her legacies have yet to be realized. last month. Her presence not only served to underIn this moment, however, Michelle Obama’s score the calamity of out-of-control gun violence in influence is making an indelible mark. the United States, as it has been personified in the nation’s third largest city, but highlighted the A conventional approach to being First Lady essence of who Michelle Obama is and what she Michelle Obama discussed her aversion to polirepresents to our country and to the world. tics very early and openly during Barack Obama’s By virtue of her position as First Lady of the first campaign. As the election got closer and she United States of America, Michelle Obama holds began to realize that she would likely become the infinite power. This year, she ranked “Number 1” First Lady, she began asking a surprising question: on Forbes Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Powerful could she and her children delay moving to the Women,” topping Oprah Winfrey (at four), and disWhite House? Perhaps it was better, she told aides placing four-times in a row winner German and friends, to remain in Chicago until the end of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The magazine labeled the school year, giving her children more time to her: “Change Agent.” But the power she holds to adjust, rather than coming right at the inauguration. inspire is amplified ever more by who she was and She ultimately decided to go to Washington immewho she now is. Straight from her own roots from a diately, not because of the obligations of office, but lower middle income neighborhood on the South because of “wanting her family to be together,” said Side of Chicago, Michelle. Obama has altered the close friend and senior advisor to the President, stereotypical images of Black women as either sexuValerie Jarrett. al vixens or overbearing, emasculating shrews, and She was a reluctant First Lady. Michelle Obama, has asserted an image, not oft presented, of a Black according to associates, may have fully embraced nuclear family – one with a successful working husthe notions of change her husband spoke eloquently Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
swing.” She went on to say that she, brother Craig, and neighborhood kids played with the swing set on hot summer days like it was the best thing ever. One thing became apparent from that interview: Leno understands nothing about living in “the hood.” But more importantly, he didn’t grasp a philosophy that most Black women do – often you have to make twice as much with only half the resources to work with. American society has defined attributes of beauty and success in very narrow terms for centuries. Eurocentric features such as a pointed nose, fair skin, and small, yet proportionate measurements are still are the norm on the covers of fashion magazines. And traditional characteristics of success for men have included aggression, vocal confidence, and competitiveness. For woman of all racial backgrounds, the tolerance of the same traits in women is a great deal lower, requiring different strategies. Unfortunately, the challenge has been even greater for Black women, who have fallen outside the traditional parameters on both looks and achievement characteristics. And although Black women have crashed through the barriers, becoming successful in almost every industry, there has been
First Lady Michelle Obamruns at an acticity station during “Let’s Move London” event at Winfield House in London
of – change for the country, for vulnerable populations, for education, and for the political process in D.C — but did not, at first, embrace the ensuing changes to her personal life and style, and that of her family’s. It was during that first campaign that pundits began to pounce on what they perceived to be Michelle, the “angry black woman” when she declared on The View that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud to be American.” But the Michelle Obama that appeared post-election stunned many. From the onset of Obama’s first term in office, she declared herself “Momin-Chief,” stating that her priorities lay more in ensuring the normalcy of her daughters while in the White House, and less in being a cabinet member or political advisor to her husband. The writer Liza Mundy, who began working on a book about Michelle Obama during the 2008 primaries, stated that she set a Google alert on the prospective First Lady. “I would get stuff on her every day, all this fulminating,” Ms. Mundy said. “What struck me was that on the inauguration, every single Google alert was about what she was wearing that day. The conversation had completely changed.” After juggling a hard-charging position as Vice President of Community Outreach at University of Chicago’s Medical Center with raising her girls, she chose instead to focus on providing security for Malia and Sasha, recruiting her mother, Marian Robinson, to live in the White House along with the family to further provide stability and support for the family. To the dismay of officials, she chose to restrict her public events to no more than three days a week and built her schedule around her daughters’ recitals and soccer games. She still takes August off (when not in election season), and has managed to slip away for vacations with her children on school holidays (the First Lady and girls have twice ventured to Aspen to ski over the President’ Day
weekend). Strict rules are in force for the girls, who have to clean their own rooms and write reports about all of their travels. Additionally, the girls are not allowed to watch television during the week. “We have clear rules about screen time and TV time,” Michelle Obama stated. “None, during the week if it doesn’t involve schoolwork, and I try to fill up their weekends with a lot of stuff so they wind up missing that too.” She admitted. “It’s like sports and games, and then oh it’s bedtime so sorry you didn’t get your TV time in.” Many women have criticized the First Lady for putting off her career and for not taking a stronger stance on hard-ball subjects such as immigration, race relations, creating jobs, or women’s reproductive rights. That a woman with her educational pedigree would choose to become the “Momin-Chief,” has been seen as a betrayal to some. But with nothing to prove in this area, she made a choice that has offered a model to many women (and men), who have themselves invested in education and career, but who also recognize that the window of time to raise kids is a short one. Conversely, there have been definite political benefits for the President as a result of Mrs. Obama’s apolitical positioning. She has emerged as the most popular member of her husband’s administration, with ratings currently in the mid 70s. This is not an accident, according to insiders. By focusing on her domestic persona, the First Lady and her communications team have worked to transform Michelle Obama from that “threatening” image of an angry black woman to one of warmth, vibrancy, and accessibility.
Redefining Black Womanhood
Last summer on the heels of the Olympics, Michelle Obama appeared on the Jay Leno Show. He joked about Mrs. Obama’s childhood swing set. It had no swings. She responded “in the hood…sometimes you don’t get a
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
a resulting blow to the collective sense of self-esteem. The First Lady has helped to change these perceptions by accentuating and celebrating her Black features, hair, and body; and also by negating the stereotypical perceptions about Black women, and even more damaging self-perceptions of Black women who feel they need to project a traditionally attractive image and conform to conventional trajectories for success. According to a recent survey by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 73 percent of black women and 71 percent of white women polled responded that they think it is a good time to be a Black woman in America. The study represents change. Interviewers talked to about 800 black women about their hopes, worries, and fears to determine how black women see themselves in the “Age of Obama.” In follow-up interviews by the Washington Post for its series, Black women acknowledged having a special bond with Obama because of her gender and race. The survey found that four in 10 black women said their overall impression of Black women has improved because of Obama, while fewer than one in seven white women gave that response. Continued on page 6
Continued from page 4
On the night of the 2013 Inauguration, President Obama stated, “To address the most significant event of the weekend, I love her bangs.” The President’s comments were, undoubtedly, tongue and cheek – but his reference to the “significance” only partly so. The First Lady’s coiffure – just as her choices of clothes, shoes, and finger nail polish – has influenced a world of fashionistas in a way that former First Ladies Laura Bush, Hilary Clinton, and Nancy Reagan never did. Not since Jacqueline Kennedy has the interest been so intense, and even Mrs. Kennedy, for all her incredible poise, regarded her White House wardrobe as a duty uniform. She often referred to her chic Oleg Cassini suits and gowns as “state clothing.” Michelle Obama, in contrast, seems truly to have fun with her style. Always tasteful, she takes risks as if there were a President’s wives wardrobe handbook that she decidedly tossed upon entering the White House. First Lady Obama regularly bares her perfectly sculpted arms and shoulders, and wears heels despite her 5’11” frame. She helped put the then26 year-old designer, Jason Wu, on the map when she wore one of his designs
And get up at 4:30 a.m., she does. The First Lady reports that she and the President work out together every morning before dawn. “I usually get to the gym a little before he does, because I start my day a bit earlier,” she has stated. “[I have] hair, makeup, things that he doesn’t have to do. I continue to remind him of that.”
to at the Inaugural Ball in 2008 and another in 2013, and it’s not unusual for the First Lady to mix her favorite high-end designers such as Tracy Reese, Michael Kors, and Barbara Tfan with pieces from J. Crew and Target. At the Democratic National Convention last year, the First Lady not only gave an impassioned speech on behalf of her husband, the incumbent, but shifted fashion followers into fact-finding mode to figure out the exact color and brand of the blue-gray nail polish she wore at the podium. “First and foremost, I wear what I love,” Michelle Obama stated in Vogue. “That’s what women have to focus on: what makes them happy and what makes them feel comfortable and beautiful. If I can have any impact, I want women to feel good about themselves and have fun with fashion.”
Michelle Obama’s commitment to fitness, coupled with a concern for the growing obesity of America’s youth were the impetus for the First Lady’s launching of a “Campaign to End Childhood Obesity,” and the resulting “Let’s Move Campaign.” Currently, a third of the nation’s children are now overweight and 17 percent are obese. Through these efforts, Mrs. Obama persuaded Congress to require schools to include more fruits and vegetables in the lunches they offer. The “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” which passed in 2010, limits the calorie count of school lunches to 850, and has met with criticism by conservatives who say it is an infringement on the freedom of Americans to make choices. Additionally, many students have declared that they do not like the food selections, and that the amount of food they receive is too little. Through Let’s Move! Mrs. Obama promoted the importance of exercise, with the support of major corporations, doctors groups, chefs, sports stars, and faith-based organizations. During the last campaign The First Lady appeared to have suspended her advocacy of these initiatives, but her advisors say that she will return in full force over the next term of office. Through “Joining Forces,” Michelle Obama has also been able to raise awareness and champion, along with Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, the issues facing war veterans, such as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries, barriers to health care, education, and employment. Some see these as velvet glove initiatives. Safe. But, Obama has also worked to promote other bills that supported her husband’s policy priorities. She celebrated the enacting of the pay-equity law with a White House reception for women’s rights advocates, and made visits to the housing agency and Department of Education where she voiced her support for the Economic Stimulus Bill. With the Health Care Reform Act, First Lady Michelle Obama made the case with several women’s advocacy groups that reform was a women’s issue and called on them to support the President’s plan.
Although her own curves have been misperceived by those unfamiliar with the form of African American women, the First Lady has an undeniable passion for fitness. The First Lady stated: “After I had Malia, I began to prioritize exercise because I realized that my happiness is tied to how I feel about myself. I want my girls to see a mother who takes care of herself, even if that means I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. so I can do a workout.
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
First Lady Michelle Obama stands by as President Obama talks on the phone after the State of the Union Address.
The First Lady’s Next Chapter?
Because of her talents and popularity, there is growing speculation about whether or not Michelle Obama will run for the office of President herself. Those that know her well say it’s a “no!” One top White House official said the possibility is slim to none that Michelle Obama would go the route of Hillary Clinton and become a politician. “Michelle Obama doesn’t have the temperament for the constant b.s. that goes on in D.C.,” said the official. “She watched her husband fight fights that he shouldn’t have to. She’s seen the ugly side of Washington up close and personal and has no interest in dealing with that firsthand.” Longtime Chicago friend, Susan McKeever, agreed. “I remember seeing her shortly after Barack won the first time, when she came back to Chicago for a visit,” she shared in an interview. “It was clear she wanted to just be normal Michelle with no Secret Service or anything like that. She has an amazing life and she has no regrets, but my guess is she’d still love to have her life back on some level.” The First Lady will be 53 when she exits the White House, affording her ample time to do whatever she chooses. And whatever that next chapter might bring, the pundits and speculators will just have to wait to see. In the meantime, she’s got a great deal influence to wield right where she is. Right now! Editor’s note: Angelle Fouther is also a native of Chicago's South Side. She currently lives in Denver with her husband, Rev. Dr. James E. Fouther, Jr., and her daughters Danielle and Daryn.
Notable Colorado Women talk about Michelle Obamaâ€™s Influence
"When you leave your job... don't leave your money behind!" Myra Donovan, CLU, ChFC, CFP Financial Adviser
â€œI am very proud to have a First Lady of the United States that looks like me! First Lady Obama displays pride, dignity, intelligence, beauty and grace. As First Lady of Denver, I admire the way she supports and loves her husband unconditionally. With scrutiny constantly on the doorstep, First Lady wears the tough skin and holds it down for her husband and girls. As a wife and mother she shows dedication and skill ...and still remains her own woman. Her commitment and passion to childhood obesity and the importance of being healthy is commendable. She is a role model for not only black women and girls but for the entire country.â€?
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Mary Louise Lee First Lady of Denver *************
â€œFirst Lady Michelle Obama has changed the lives of Black women by showing the world that Black womenâ€”African-American females/Sistahs are beautiful and intelligent! She is fearless, powerful and exudes perfection as the Queen of our Nation. Her poise dismisses all of the stereotypes regarding Black women. She is an attorney, an advocate, and also successful based on her own professional achievements. She is the role model for every Black woman and all Black girls!â€?
Rita R. Lewis, Esq.
President, NAACP-Denver Branch *************
â€œMom-in-Chief Michelle Obama has helped to change the lens through which black women are viewed and valued. As First Lady Michelle she is actively using her role to cultivate femininity and black womanhood. She is our version of Jackie O.â€?
State Representative - House District 42- Aurora
Nationally Rank Ranked. ed. Locally Trusted. Trusted.
Denver Health Research Study
â€œI donâ€™t necessarily feel Michelle Obama being the First Lady of the US has changed life per se. I do think Mrs. Obama has re-ignited a sense of beauty and self-confidence for sistahs, especially those of darker hues and thicker bodies. Our society tends to view ideals of beauty through a Caucasian filter. Mrs. Obama, with her definite Afrocentric physical attributes as well as her fashionforward style personifies self-pride and respect. As well as a re-emergence of Black beauty, Black pride, a Black man and woman showing mutual love and respect to and for each other! Love FLOTUS!â€?
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â€œIt has reinforced my drive to get it done. To strive for more. I must always remind myself that my hopes and dreams are not old and outdated. There is no such thing as a dream with an expiration date. First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as countless other women, are inspiring mothers and daughters to get it done!â€?
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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama ride in the inaugural parade in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013.
Denver Urban Spectrum â€” www.denverurbanspectrum.com â€“ March 2013
Women in the White House:
The Second Time Around By Hugh Johnson
Women of all ages and races
played a crucial role in securing a second term for the president. Late in last year’s election, President Obama’s campaign ads slammed Governor Romney on issues of Women’s Rights. At the dawn of his second term, however, it seems that President Obama had forgotten the women who kept him in office. It seems a little backward that the president would abandon his diverse voter base to nominate white males to the highest positions in his cabinet. Senator John Kerry will succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. John Brennan has been named the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Jack Lew will be the new Secretary of the Treasury. Chuck Hagel has been nominated as Secretary of Defense but currently faces a filibuster by Senate Republicans. These four appointees are all white men. In December, the White House released a picture of the president meeting with his senior advisors in the oval office. Ten of the eleven advisors were men and the lone woman (Valerie Jarrett) is not visible in the picture. Between this picture and President Obama’s nominations, women are displeased with the image the White House is portraying. Angela Mitchell, the Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for NBC reported that there are many women out there who Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
believe the president has been disloyal. The big hoopla surrounding the president’s nominations stems from the perception that America is supposed to be moving forward. The New York Times reported that 43 percent of the president’s appointees, to his cabinet and other high level positions, have been women. While this is an increase from the Bush administration in which one-third of appointees were women, the percentage is the same as President Clinton’s administration. The number is good but it doesn’t live up to the president’s promises of prosperity through diversity. In a TV segment discussing the president’s nominations, Mitchell hosted Elisabeth Bumiller, the Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times. During the segment, Bumiller emphasized the importance of seeing women in highly publicized roles. “It’s the optics. It doesn’t help young women coming up to see pictures of these ten men in the oval office with the president,” said Bumiller. “People say that there’s always women in the second-tier jobs but you don’t see those women on TV, you see the secretaries.” President Obama’s rough start to forming a diverse cabinet comes as a surprise considering that 35 percent of his previous cabinet were women. This includes Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator
Lisa P. Jackson, both women of color. The departure of those two women alongside Hillary Clinton deals a large blow to the diversity of the president’s cabinet. Originally, the president looked in the direction of former United Nations (UN) Ambassador Susan Rice for the Secretary of State position. Rice is the first Jamaican-American woman to become UN Ambassador. However, Senate Republicans vowed to prevent Rice’s promotion after she produced incorrect details of the Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voiced their disapproval of Rice. “Somebody has got to start paying a price around this place,” said Senator Graham in response to Rice’s comments. “I don’t think she deserves to be promoted.” “We will do whatever’s necessary to block the nomination as far as Susan Rice is concerned,” said Sen. McCain.”
Although the president said that Senator McCain should take issues up with him for any mistake Rice may have made, he never formally nominated her for the position even though it was well known that she was the frontrunner. Fearing that the promotion would end up being more trouble than it was worth, Rice formally withdrew from consideration on December 13, 2012. Though it is generally believed that Republicans are responsible for the Rice nomination debacle, there are those who feel that the president should have fought for her nomination. Following Rice’s withdrawal, Mitchell was interviewed by TV host Rachel Maddow on the subject and she had this to say, “A lot of women in the administration are very angry tonight, and I’m saying this at a very high level. Angry because they feel that she was not treated with respect, she was not given the support she needed and she was left to twist in the wind...[Angry] That he’s [President Obama] backed down in the face of a challenge from the Republican minority, after having won a reelection victory.” There is a growing expectation that the president needs to take off the gloves in his second term and fight for the changes that he’s promised.
Perhaps, the president’s is already fighting. Frank James of National Public Radio reported that this time as opposed to his first term, the President is at liberty to nominate those he trusts and feels are experienced enough to fight the stifling polarity of partisan politics. Each nominee must meet two criteria: they must have the president’s trust and they must be approved by a divisive congress. Those two criteria don’t leave many options on the table. That’s not to say President Obama doesn’t trust women but rather understands too well the nature of his opponents. The difficulty the opposition presents was evident in Rice’s case. James brings up a good point. Things are indeed different in this second term. The president knows what to expect. He knows the atmosphere he has to work with and no longer has the prospect of re-election looming over his head. He understands the problem his administration faces and maybe these nominees are his best answer to that problem. It may be that the president’s new cabinet, while lacking in diversity, contains the experience he feels is necessary to help this country become more diverse overall. Then again, it’s just a theory. As for what the president thinks of all this, he urged people to refrain
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
from judgment until they saw all of his nominations. “If you think about my first four years, the person who probably had the most influence on my foreign policy was a woman,” said President Obama. “The people who were in charge of moving forward my most important domestic initiative, healthcare, were women...So I think people should expect that record will be built upon during the next four years...I would just suggest that everybody wait until they’ve seen all my appointments...before they rush to judgment.” In the president’s first term, five of the top 12 cabinet level positions were held by women, two of which were women of color. This time around, only one woman has been nominated, one woman is expected to stay in her post and four women are being named as contenders for the remaining posts. While there is no doubt that President Obama has already made his mark on history by becoming America’s first African American president, this second term is about the legacy that he will leave behind. Though many had hoped for more diversity in his nominations, time will be the ultimate judge of the president’s first crucial step of his second term.
Vice Admiral Michelle Howard Does Colorado Proud By Tabatha Deans
S Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Howard was 12 years old when she decided she wanted to pursue a career with the US military service, after watching a documentary on the US Air Force Academy. Excited about her career choice, Howard, whose father was an Air Force Master Sergeant and also had several uncles in the military, chose to announce her decision to her brother first.
“He told me that service academies weren’t open to girls,” Howard recalls. At that time, becoming a female cadet truly was considered an unattainable goal, but, according to Howard, her mother didn’t see it that way. “My mom encouraged me to keep trying anyway.” As usual, mother knew best. Howard continued to work hard, and after graduating from Gateway High School in Aurora in 1978, her hard work was rewarded. A short
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four years after declaring her intentions, the service academies began accepting females. Annapolis began admitting females in 1976, and Howard was accepted into the third class after the inclusion of women into the academy. “The world changed to suit me,” Howard says jokingly. While the military guidelines had certainly changed, with the integration of women into academies and training facilities, the attitudes of society had not yet changed so dramatically. Ignorance still fueled judgment and perpetuated negative stereotypes of both women and Black people. And Howard welcomed the challenge of helping to change the world. “There’s a time when you realize that the context I’m living in is wrong, and I’m going out to change it,” says Howard. And change it she did. Howard went on to become the first female graduate of the Naval Academy to earn the rank of admiral, the first African-American woman to command an expeditionary strike group at
sea, and was the first AfricanAmerican woman to command a US Navy warship. She currently serves as Deputy Commander United States Fleet Forces Command and Director Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence. She also received the NAACP’s prestigious Chairman’s Award in February. The Image Awards honors individuals who promote social justice through creative endeavors, including the fields of television, music, film and literature. When Howard entered the Navy, women made up a mere five percent of the force. Today, approximately 18 percent of those who serve in the Navy are women. Howard’s proud of the advancements in acceptance and policies within the Navy, as well as society’s changing views. The result, she says, of a lot of plain, everyday heroes working together for change. “I don’t think my tenacity is any different than a whole lot of courageous citizens, who have persevered and helped change attitudes.” Howard’s father helped instill the value of hard work in her, regardless of what was going on in the world around her. “I remember the first time someone called me the ‘n’ word,” she says. “I was young and didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it was bad and I ran home crying. My dad told me ‘you have to stand on your own two feet. This country’s not going to change for you.’” While Howard admits her chosen career has not always been easy, she loves what she does and hopes young girls with visions of Navy grandeur will follow their dreams. “People have to decide for themselves what it is that brings them meaning and purpose. Then do it.” She says. “You only get to live it once.”
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RED SEA (July 7, 2009) Rear Adm. Michelle Howard, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2, visits with junior enlisted Sailors during a visit to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43). U.S. Navy photo by Kristopher Wilson
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
Media Reform Movement Rallies In Denver By Tanya Ishikawa
Interns learn media production skills at the Open Media Foundation in Denver, one of the collaborating organizations with the National Conference on Media Reform.
alkia Cyril’s mother was the editor of the Black Panther newspaper and an avid music lover, who was committed to using cultural strategies as a method for political change. The matriarch taught her daughter at a very young age that structure is the result of knowledge and the way we learn about society is through media infrastructure. So, to make real social change, we have to pay attention to the way we learn about the world through media. For the past 15 years, Cyril has been following in her mother’s footsteps by campaigning for better access to a more diverse media in tandem with pursuing a passion for writing short stories, poetry and blogs. Five years ago, she founded the Center for Media Justice to strengthen the media activism and communications capacity of grassroots social justice movements, and this April; she will come to Denver as a presenter at the National Conference for Media Reform. The national conference brings together community organizers, social justice advocates, diverse activists, media producers, regulators, and a
broad spectrum of artists “to forge a plan to exchange strategies to share best practices on how to ensure that the media of the 21st century meets the needs of people in this country,” she said. “This is really an opportunity for anyone who is playing an active role in making change to share ideas and plans with others. If you don’t care about making change, don’t come. But if you do, and you think that the platforms and the infrastructure and the rules that shape our media system need to change, this is the place to make it happen.” Cyril explained that media reform is not the purview of technocrats, academics, lobbyists and policy wonks. The movement includes grassroots organizers, teachers, parents, prison inmates, nonprofit leaders, immigrants, journalists, and anyone concerned about how media is controlled and distributed, from TV and radio stations to the Internet and phone service. Getting involved in media reform and participating in the conference is not just for people who consider media reform as their number one issue – “Media reform is a critical secondary issue for any primary social justice issue you are working on,” she said. The three-day conference is organized by Free Press, an organization based in Washington, D.C. that advocates for universal and affordable
Internet access, diverse media ownership, vibrant public media and quality journalism. Local collaborators include the Denver Urban Spectrum, Open Media Foundation, KGNU community radio, Free Speech TV, Latino Public Radio Consortium, University of Denver, Colorado Common Cause, and former Colorado State Senator Polly Baca. “Media reform is central to every social change effort. Media plays an enormous role in setting social awareness, priorities and values,” said Tony Shawcross, the executive director of the Open Media Foundation, a Denver-based nonprofit that operates the city’s public access TV station and offers media education, video production and website services to nonprofits and the community. “From OMF’s perspective, what’s missing in today’s media landscape is the opportunity for diverse communities to cover themselves. In most cases, the need for media to play the gatekeeper or storyteller is diminishing, and the opportunity for individuals to create their own media is expanding,” Shawcross added. “We feel that the media conversation of a society should represent the people in that society. The more diverse, the better.” The lack of diversity in media ownership is a major issue according to
media reform advocates such as Cyril and Joseph Torres, another conference presenter who is a senior staff member at Free Press and the author of News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media. Cultural, ethnic and gender diversity within media ownership is at an all-time low due to increasing consolidation of media companies and networks, Torres said. “There’s nothing new about the stereotypical coverage of communities of color that we continue to see in the media. Too often the issues we see in our communities and our voices are ignored. It’s problematic that we are too often not in a position to tell our own stories and to disseminate our own news. We are often at the mercy of others to tell our stories, and they often do it wrong,” the author said. Ethnic media “are critically important,” he emphasized. “Where else do communities of color see the issues that have unique impacts on us? It’s critically important for folks to have access to information to be able to function in society and take part in our democracy. The first African American newspaper in 1827 was Freedom’s Journal. The reason why they founded the paper they stated was: ‘We wish to plead our own cause.’ And we are still trying to do that today.”
The National Conference For Media Reform Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Denver, Colo.
Friday to Sunday, April 5 to 7, 2013
•Conference presentations and workshops will include: Policy and Politics Sessions: Media Diversity and Ownership; Money, Media and Politics; Universal Access to High-Speed Internet
•Social Justice and the Fight for Media Equality: The High Price of Prison Phone Calls; Labor Coverage in the Media; The Media’s Representation of People of Color, Immigrants, Women, LGBT People
•Journalism and Public Media: The Future of Public Media; Journalists Holding Power Accountable; War and Human Rights Coverage •Culture, Creators and Media Makers: Media That Changes Culture; Pop Culture Critiques; Community Media •Internet Freedom, Technology and Innovation: Global Internet Freedom; Threats to Online Privacy; Women and Technology
•Tech and Media Playground: Creative Grassroots Fundraising; Working for Racial Justice; Build Your Own Mini FM Radio Transmitter; Live streaming for Citizen Journalists; Media Hacklab
To find out more or to register, visit conference.freepress.net or or call 1-877-888-1533, ext. 305.
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
More than 50 people attended a
community forum hosted on Feb. 13 by the NAACP-Denver Branch to introduce candidates for the open seat of the Denver Board of Education. The vacant seat represents District 4, an area covering 15 distinct neighborhoods and 57 schools, from Stapleton to Five Points. The board is in the process of choosing a replacement for Nate Easley Jr., the former Denver Public Schools board president who has served on the board since 2009. Easley stepped down from his seat in January and will become executive director of the Denver Scholarship Fund in March. The vacancy must be filled within 60 days of Easley’s resignation, officially accepted on Jan. 18. If the board does not agree upon a candidate by that date, the board president will appoint someone. Courtney Torres, one of three vice presidents for the local NAACP, said “we thought it was important to set up a conversation with the community so the board finalists can learn what is important to the community. Even if we don’t get to vote, we can participate in some way.” According to an EdNews Colorado article written by Julie Poppen on Feb.
NAACP Hosts Forum for DPS Board Finalists By Angelia D. McGowan
15, “Much attention is being paid to the vacancy since the board was typically split 4-3, with Easley joining the board majority in its support of district reforms, including the School Performance Framework, which is used to evaluate schools, and an openness to charter schools, co-location of schools on the same campus and school choice.”
Candidates Speak The forum was ripe with community concerns for the candidates to address, including: cultural competen-
cy, dysfunctional boards, the need to erase the school-to-prison pipeline, teacher empowerment and the lack of a Latino candidate among the finalists. Mary Sam, former DPS teacher, said students would be better served by having “extended learning time” and “equitable resources.” Sean Bradley, legislative director of government affairs for the American Federation for Children, wants to help create a “pipeline to college” not to prison. President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver Landri Taylor pointed out how disparities impact youth after high school. “DPS students lag a year and a half behind their peers when they go to college,” he says. Taggart Hansen, chief counsel for labor and employment for CH2M Hill, says it’s important to “train teachers not to escalate certain situations.” Sometimes, “The smartest kids were the most troubled kids in the previous year,” says Hansen. The candidates also addressed the stigma associated with teaching, disparities, the need for debt forgiveness programs and low-interest home loans for teachers to purchase homes in the neighborhoods in which they teach.
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
Fred Franko, founder and director of the non-profit Colorado Out-ofSchool-Time, said that “every child should have an individual learning and support plan.” Vernon Jones Jr., Manual High School assistant principal, said the school’s board needs to be “a board not afraid to do their job. It’s ridiculous to have the same issues our parents and grandparents had.” “High expectations for all children,” was a vision for Executive Director of the Timothy and Bernadette Marquez Foundation Lisa Roy, who pointed out that the school system “should not punish kids for being bilingual.” She added that internationally children speak two to three languages. Antwan Jefferson, a former English teacher at Montbello High School, said imagine a revolution that no one shows up for,” emphasizing the importance of the board’s role in making necessary changes in the school system. A board member candidate said her commitment to bettering the school system was not dependent on her being selected to the board. If I’m not selected, “that doesn’t mean I’m not going to DPS board meetings and show up to 900 Grant Street,” said MiDian Holmes, Denver head of the school reform group Stand for Children. Teacher empowerment was another issue. One teacher in the audience said she and other teachers were afraid to speak up about the true issues in the classroom for fear of being black balled in their field. About the Denver Board of Education: There are seven members on the Denver Board of Education. Five are elected by voters within five regions; two are elected atlarge by voters across the entire city. Board members’ terms are four years and are staggered so no more than four board members are elected in any one election. The Denver Board of Education is the policy-making body for the district. Learn more at http://board.dpsk12.org/.
Can A NonEuropean Pope Really Heal the Church? F
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
ollowing the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, former South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu very loudly and very publicly demanded that John Paul’s successor be an African or Latin American. There was little chance of that happening at the time. The mounting sexual scandal, the tons of lawsuits that bedevil the church and the public erosion in benevolent attitudes toward Catholicism had not yet kicked into high public gear. There was really no reason for the 120 men that ultimately have the final say so over who would then have been the 265th Pontiff to pick anyone other than another European to fill the top Catholic spot. This time when it comes to tapping the 266th Pontiff things might be different. Two-thirds of the world’s 1 billion plus Catholics live in developing nations. There are more than 100 million Catholics in Africa and an estimated 200 million or more black Catholics worldwide. The number of Catholics in the non-white world has soared in the past decade. The number of nominal and practicing Catholics doesn’t tell the whole story of a church that’s undergone a radical shift in the ethnic and regional demographic the past few decades. The church is fiercely challenged in what were once rock solid Catholic countries by a ferocious, and proselytizing evangelical movement and spirit that flatly rejects the dogma, teaching and practices of Catholicism. It’s now a numbers game which translates out to money and power, or loss thereof, that has dogged the church and proved worrisome. John Paul II recognized that the single biggest challenge facing the church was to the potential millions of Catholics who could be lost to Islam and the evangelicals, and other faiths in non-white countries, and spent countless time globetrotting to these countries to try and shore up the flock. Benedict XVI tried to do the same, but as was increasingly apparent was physically not up to the demanding task.
But that’s only one of the two towering dilemmas confronting the church, and that the next pope will have to deal with. The Catholic Church is now very publicly wracked by ideological, theological and philosophical battles over the issues of abortion, gay marriage, women in the priesthood and celibacy. It has seen a huge free-fall in the number of priests and nuns, has shelled out millions to settle priest-child sex scandals, and will spend even millions more on future settlements. The church simply can’t stand pat on entrenched dogma and past practices. It will have to change those practices, its approach to non-white Catholics. That opens the door wide for a real change in the face of the man who is the titular boss of the church. The names of well-connected and respected African and Latin American cardinals have been frequently bandied about as having the right stuff to head the church. That doesn’t mean that Catholic Church leaders will take the bold step of naming one of them to the top spot. There has never been a Latin American pope, and the last African pope was 15 centuries back. But the top non-European contenders bring the unique assets that the church desperately needs to staunch fierce competition from other religious faiths in developing nations. These men can bridge the Muslim and Christian divide, make battling poverty, the inter-ethnic and religious violence, and the damaging economic side effects of rampaging globalization big priorities, and place strong emphasis on social and economic reforms in poor countries. They have written and spoken extensively on these problems that can make or break the church in the next decade in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The political jockeying to fill the papal vestments of Benedict will be fierce. In 1978, it took two days and eight ballots to put John Paul in the papal chair. Then the European cardinals still solidly held the dominant papal cards in the balloting, with the overwhelming majority of papal electors. They still do. But the number of electors from Asia, Africa, and Latin America has inched up. But even more crucial, there are several strong credentialed African, Asian and Latin American candidates who could fill the top spot.
A black or Latin American Pope, though, would send the strong message to practicing Catholics and prospective converts in Latin America or Africa that the Catholic Church is committed to making them not only church members, but policy decision makers of the Catholic Church. The bigger question though is would simply changing the ethnic face of the man at the Vatican’s top really make much difference in how the church deals with reform, repairing its badly tattered image, and transform itself into a church that can park itself in the 21st Century and not the 11th Century. Simply changing the color of the Pope without seriously tackling reform would cancel out the right signal it sent in recognizing the importance of non-European Catholics. In that case, a non-European Pope would not heal an ailing church, but merely continue its ailment. Editor’s note: Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network, and KTYM Radio Los Angeles. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson
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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
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DELTA SIGMA T HETA SORORITY CELEBRATES CENTENNIAL
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Portable Food Cart Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Weather Permitting)
Washington, D.C., which is the birthplace of Delta Sigma Theta. The torch’s journey included Denver to celebrate the legacy of Bertha Pitts Campbell, who grew up in Montrose, Colo. Campbell, the only Black student in her school, was class valedictorian and received a full scholarship to attend Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She chose instead to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she became
area of economic development, The Thomas Bean Foundation in the area of educational development, Cure United States, is celebrating its centenD’Ars Catholic Church in the area of nial in 2013. Founded on January 13, international awareness and involve1913 at Howard University to promote ment, The Center for African scholarship, sisterhood and service, American Health in the area of physiDelta Sigma Theta has more than cal and mental health, and Denver 200,000 members nationwide. Mayor Michael Hancock in the area of The Colorado chapters – Denver political awareness and involvement. Alumnae, Colorado Springs Alumnae, Highlights of the evening included Zeta Pi and Tau Lambda – gathered remarks by former Denver first lady of on Feb. 2 to mark the milestone. Denver and a Delta Sigma Theta Enjoying the 100th anniversary festivities The 100th anniversary celebration member Wilma Webb who shared began Saturday morning with a birththoughts about Black History Month day party at Graland Country Day and the significance of being a part of School. The event, which was hosted the sorority. Keynote speaker Dawnn by Denver Alumnae Chapter member Lewis, a noted actress, singer and CJay Smith, started with a Delta songwriter, delivered a Love Letter to Centennial torch lighting ceremony Delta through a beautiful video presled by vice president of the Denver entation and recognized all of the Alumnae Chapter Stephanie Lafitte, many Deltas who have influenced her central regional director life and career. Lewis, perBillie Coachman and central haps best known for her regional representative of role on the hit TV show Delta Sigma Theta Frederika “A Different World,” McGlown. Proclamations encouraged the audience declaring Delta Day in the to “always look for opporcity of Denver were presenttunities where we can ed by Denver Mayor help others grow and Michael B. Hancock and in develop.” Chairs for the Delta members take a moment with Mayor Michael B. Hanock the state of Colorado by Centennial Torch Governor’s Office. The Celebration were Denver Montbello High School drum line perAlumnae Chapter members Rhonda formed. Jackson and Cherrelyn Napue. In a fun twist during the festivities, “The Colorado chapters are proud attendees attempted to set the of what they have accomplished to Guinness Book of World Records for date and endeavor to reach greater the largest cakewalk dance ever. The heights for the community in the next cakewalk dance began in the late 100 years,” says Rhonda Arrington, 1800’s and is credited with being the president of Colorado Springs first competitive dance in the United Alumnae Chapter. The 1900’s Cakewalk States. Taught and led by Colorado Distinguished members of Delta Springs Chapter member Shanise one of 22 courageous women who Sigma Theta include activists Mary Lewis, party participants dressed in founded Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, McLeod Bethune, Dorothy Height, early 1900’s attire did a cakewalk rouInc. Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm tine to Scott Joplin’s “Cleopha,” a twoAdditional centennial torch activiand Barbara Jordan. Other notable step march composed in the early ties included a day of science, technol- members include poet Nikki 1900’s. This enjoyable tribute to histoogy, engineering and math activities Giovanni; journalists Gwen Ifill and ry and African American heritage was (STEM) for youth and a food drive to Soledad O’ Brien; singers Aretha a sight to see and a great time was had collect 2013 pounds of food to be Franklin, Lena Horne, Leontyne Price by all. The dancing was followed by a delivered to the Care and Share Food and Roberta Flack; and actresses cake reception. Bank for Southern Colorado, the Cicely Tyson and Ruby Dee. “We are very proud to have been Metropolitan State University of On January 1, the Delta Sigma selected as a torch city,” says Djuana Denver Student Food Bank, and Theta became the first African Harvell, president of the Denver Denver Urban Ministries to support American Greek sorority to participate Alumnae Chapter. The Delta torch, the Denver metro area. in the Rose Bowl Parade. The national part of an international tour symbolizOn the evening of Feb. 2, Delta president is Cynthia M.A. Butlering the flame that was ignited in 1913, members hosted a Centennial Torch McIntyre. will travel to 22 cities important to the Gala with dinner and dancing. This Editor’s note: For more information about sorority’s history and in honor of its black-tie affair also celebrated five Delta Sigma Theta visit 22 founders. Scheduled stops include honorees who have demonstrated www.deltasigmatheta.org. For informaSeattle, Dallas, Little Rock, Detroit, exemplary service in the past five Atlanta, Charlotte, New York City and years that support Delta Sigma Theta’s tion about the Colorado chapters visit www.denverdeltas.org or http://www.csacBaltimore, as well as Japan and five program areas. Torch Award dst.org. Bermuda. The tour will end in recipients included Carla Ladd in the
Delta Sigma Theta, the largest historically Black sorority in the
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
etty Reid-Soskin is America’s
oldest National Park Ranger and one of the most beautiful people I have
met in Richmond, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco.
I had the pleasure of meeting her recently as she led a bus tour of
the Rosie the Riveter World War II
Words From The Wise: America’s Oldest Park Ranger Brings Black History To Life
Home Front National Historical
Park in Richmond; honoring the
women who did factory work for the
war effort. According to Reid-Soskin, the park is home to the largest concentration of intact World War II historic sites in the country. The tour made several stops at key park sites, while reflecting on the African American home-front experience. Reid-Soskin’s charm, knowledge, passion and personal history made for a very special tour. Born in Detroit and raised in New Orleans, Reid-Soskin’s family relocated to Oakland in 1927. During World War II she worked as a clerk for Boilermakers A-36, a Jim Crow era, all-Black union auxiliary. A Black woman who has seen both the end of segregation and the election of the first black United States president, ReidSoskin is a Bay Area treasure with a keen understanding of local and national history – much of it observed over her 91 years.
Teach History, Warts and All
As the tour bus traveled from place to place – such sites as the Rosie the Riveter Memorial at Marina Bay, the Maritime Child Development Center, the S.S. Red Oak Victory Ship – the historic buildings, ships and restored sites, along with Reid-Soskin’s narrative, brought the tour to life with stories of Blacks and whites, Asians and Native Americans, all living together, not always harmoniously. Our tour guide didn’t shy away from that imperfect history, filled with racism and inequality, while encouraging her listeners to embrace history warts and all, so the future can learn from the past. “A Black man on the sidewalk in Jackson, Miss.,” she said, recalling the Jim Crow days,” would be expected, by Southern tradition, to step off the curb if a white person approached. That same man would find himself in Richmond, riding in the front of the bus, 10 years before Rosa Parks.” “Can you imagine what was set in motion here? Under that seriously flawed social system was a situation in which you had white Southerners, mostly sharecroppers, coming here [to
By Malcolm Marshall New America Media/Richmond Pulse Betty Reid-Soskin, 91, is the oldest National Park Ranger. She brings black history to life, from her mother’s slavery to the election of a Black president. Richmond] expecting the continuation of white privilege, and Black people coming in with raised expectations. [Think of] the interplay of those people – how to negotiate, getting through each day and completing those 747 ships, and to do it without killing each other.” Where some might look and see only a history of racial tensions and conflict, ReidSoskin recognizes seeds of change that are still bearing fruit today. “They literally set the pace of social change, accelerated it to the point that social change still radiates out of the Bay Area into the rest of the country, because of what happened here. So not only is this the story of Rosie the Riveter, which is the impetus for creating this park, but also of what was set in motion here over that 20-year period between the war and the ‘60s that changed the course of history. It’s that social history that interests me because
it is just an amazing story of social change.”
Her Long View of a Young City
In ReidSoskin’s long view, Richmond is still a very young city, one made up of strangers. The history of Black people in Richmond, particularly, is not yet old enough to have worked its way into school textbooks, she explained, “So the kids have no way to learn what the migration that brought their families to Richmond meant.” She continued, “The people who were brought here were all required to do a very small part of a very large job [during the war]. So until you can provide context in which people can understand their role in the bigger picture, I don’t think African American people in Richmond understand their importance.” Reid Soskin sees black history as
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
still being relegated to a sub-category of American history, one that’s confined to 28 calendar days a year: “At some point, we need to move that into the national narrative because we are a part of national history.” She said her years have brought the wisdom of insights into the very identity of the city she calls home. “Community comes out of shared history, and we [in Richmond] haven’t lived long enough nor shared history long enough with each other to be able to learn from that or have community develop from that.” She went on, “We are too young as a city, and that’s true of the whole Bay Area. So we borrow things from other cultures at this point or we dogmatically try to cling to that which is black and it keeps us from becoming part of the larger narrative, because we are still searching for identity — both as a people and as a city.” Reid-Soskin’s great-grandmother, Leontyne Breaux Allen, was born into slavery in 1846 and died in 1948. “When she died it was three years after World War II ended, after my experience in the Jim Crow union hall,” she recalled. She reflected, “I was 27 when she died, a full grown woman and a mother of two. My own mother was born in 1894 and died in 1995. My mother was 101 when she died. My great-grandmother was 102, and I’m 91. That means that all of this history since slavery happened within the lifetime of three women who knew each other. That’s how fast it goes.”
Shaping History from Experience
Understanding her place in history, Reid-Soskin now feels empowered to bend it to shape, just by her being alive. She feels compelled to share the lessons she has learned along the way with as many as are willing to listen. “Last December I was invited to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. I was a panelist for three days [at a] conference for 500 people, all white. The hotel where the conference was held was the Astor Crown Plaza Hotel, just outside the French Quarter.” She added, “My parents could have only entered through the back door, if they had a service or delivery to make. That’s how much change has occurred in my lifetime.” Reid-Soskin emphasized, “I want us to be able to go back and recognize that process, because in that lies hope for the change that we still need to go through. I know how far we’ve come because I’ve lived long enough to know that. My experience tells me that the arc is bent towards fairness and justice, just as Dr. King said it was.”
hat can a centenarian tell you about life? Few of us have had the pleasure, but on January 26, more than 100 friends, family, and members of the community gathered at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library to salute and pay tribute to Dorothy Ann Witt King on her 100th birthday and her life of service to community for more than 70 years. Known by some as Aunt Dorothy, to others as Mother Dorothy and to most as Mrs. King, Dorothy King has been a trailblazer in Denver’s African American community, resourcefully standing up for civil rights, economic opportunity and education. King has touched many lives through her projects, activities and associations. For many Denverites these events and activities go way back to a time when the Five Points Black community was smaller, but strong, and thriving when there were no budget cutbacks impacting after school activities. Dorothy King has been contributing to her communities and making it better for many years. She honed her acumen in 1940’s Chicago with the Chicago Urban League and her involvement with civil rights activities. Born Dorothy Ann Witt on January 26, 1913, in Cheyenne, WY to middle class parents, King’s father was a former Buffalo Soldier, a bugler who served alongside Teddy Roosevelt, and a machinist for the Union Pacific Railroad. Her mother was a homemaker, who ran a profitable catering business specializing in hors d’oeuvres. With two sisters and a brother, King lived in a community of 30 bungalows in a suburb of Cheyenne that was developed by an African American. She was schooled in Cheyenne and graduated from Cheyenne High School. Her parents sent her to Howard University where she studied African American history, and after a year at Howard, moved to Chicago where she attended the YMCA College and Roosevelt University; and worked with the Chicago Urban League. In a Trail blazer video from the Blair Caldwell Library collection, she related the story of enduring humiliation when, at the behest of the Urban League, she obtained an employment
Recognition for a Well-Lived Life of Service By Charles Emmons
application from the telephone company in the late 1940s. She stood fast, and Illinois Bell began hiring Black operators in 1947. “I had a marvelous experience of learning how to work with situations that were, of course, race-related,” King said of her work with the Chicago Urban League. Her mother Pearl and father William instilled good strong values in their children. She says in the video, “Prior to working for the Union Pacific Railroad, my father was a military man. And he invoked a lot of that military strictness in us to the extent that you came when you were called, you did what you were told to do and you did it right or you did it over.” But it wasn’t all strict regimens in the Witt home. Her father loved music, and every Sunday they would gather around the Victrola and listen to symphonies and operas familiar to her father, marches by Sousa from his military days and end up with Louis Armstrong. “We had to sit quietly and concentrate on the serious music,” she says in the video. “But when Louis came on, we were allowed to tap our feet, clap our hands, but not snap our fingers. That wasn’t ladylike.” King’s love of music carried her throughout her life, especially jazz. When she left the west to attend college in Chicago, she enjoyed going to hear the orchestra and this continued after marrying her husband Frank and coming to Denver. Charles Burrell, the first African American to play in the Denver Symphony Orchestra said at the birthday celebration, “When I came to the symphony there were only four Black people in the audi-
ence, my cousin Purnell and his wife and Dorothy King and her daughter (also named) Dorothy.” But anyone who knows King is aware that jazz is her first love. She would also take evening excursions to local bars and nightclubs, sometimes with underage young people – convincing the manager to let her in – with the expressed purpose of exposing them to great music. This is the essence of the Dorothy King brand – always expose yourself to even greater experiences, knowing these experiences will enhance your life. A litany of testimonies at the celebration bore this out. Former First Lady of Denver and State Representative Wilma Webb recalled when Denver was smaller, and the black community even smaller. “Now we take it for granted that African Americans live in all parts of the metro area, but there was a time when Blacks were confined to smaller neighborhoods. In the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, Blacks did not live or buy property east of Gilpin Street,” she said. This was the Denver that Dorothy King faced, when she and Frank arrived with two young children, Frank III and Dorothy. Her husband spent a long career as a civil engineering draftsman with the City and County of Denver, and it is said that he named the streets in Denver from Colorado Boulevard to Yosemite Street. King eventually found her way to Denver Parks and Recreation and the Whittier Recreation Center where she was the girls’ activity coordinator; working for the director, Mae Adams. During that time, recreation centers
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
were housed in public schools and Whittier seemed to have been a melding of positive influences with committed teachers and enriching after school activities. At the CANTEEN (at Whittier Recreation Center), King helped provide a place for teenagers to dance and recreate, when there were no other places to go in the ‘50s. The Battle of the Quartets grew out of CANTEEN. Webb said, “She had a little group. When it outgrew Whittier’s auditorium it moved to Smiley Jr. High and East High School, where Philip Bailey and Larry Dunn performed as teenagers, before joining Earth Wind and Fire.” King was also instrumental in developing another venue, SHOWAGON, a traveling talent show that visited Denver parks throughout the summers. But, she knew there was more value to the community besides entertainment. As a lifetime member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, she regularly attended conferences. In the 1960s, she came back with an idea. Realizing that southern states seemed to have a greater appreciation for Black history, she wanted to create a way for individuals to portray historical figures. King said, “I felt people (in the Denver community) had not been exposed enough to those great individuals who had really helped fabricate and build this nation.” The Silhouettes in Black History was born and featured soldiers, scientists, cowboys, and activists. With backing from Denver Parks and Recreation, the program aired three years on KRMA Channel 6, then the public television station. She took it around and presented it at several of the segregated elementary schools and neighborhoods. Her friend John Henderson remembers portraying Frederick Douglass. “This was how many learned Black history, because it was not taught in schools,” he said. King is a firm believer that you don’t know where you are going until you know where you have been, and she was passionate about creating these programs for the community. Everyone creates his or her own history, and everyone’s story has significance. King found another way to contribute when, she says to the consternation of her superiors in Boulder, she became the first Black manager of a college bookstore in Colorado, at the University of Colorado-Denver Extension. The Trail blazer video tells of many roadblocks that were put in her way, but she persevered, and being a face and a familiar point of contact had a positive impact on the Black students. Former Denver Mayor Wellington
Recognition for a Well-lived Life of Service
• November 1977 – Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award • July 1978 – “For your demonstration of concern in solving problems of your community” Recognized by First Lady Rosalynn Carter Communities Plan for Personal Services, Inc. • Outstanding Community Service Award, Rocky Mountain Region, Community Relations Service, U.S. Department of Justice • November 1980 – Recognition for Faithful and Dedicated Service, Delta Psi Lambda Chapter, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity • March 1981 – 9 Who Care Award • Jefferson Award, American Institute for Public Service, Recognition for outstanding community service benefiting communities, • 1982 – Volunteer of the Year Award, City and County of Denver • “A Tribute to Black Women,” For Outstanding Contributions and Achievements, Colorado Black Women for Political Action
Webb recalled talking with her while he was in the Black Studies Department, and that she was always a wealth of information about the latest books to read. Denver jazz musician Purnell Steen remembers more than once when she would help him pay for books out of her own pocket, and then be reimbursed. “She would bend over backwards to help students,” says Steen. “She always stressed the importance of education and to do the best with what you have.” Similarly, Thelma Gash emotionally shared a story of King’s lone support for her son, Kent. “He knew by the time he was 12, he wanted to be in theater. He performed in SHOWAGON every summer singing and doing dramatic works. He did 32 plays while in high school. Mrs. King was the only person I knew that encouraged him. (Today) he is a very successful director in New York. Every time he would succeed, he would call Mrs. King and say you were right. Thank you for making me realize that at 17 he should stay in theater,” she said to King. After 17 years at the bookstore, Dorothy King resigned to start her own business. She got the idea to start an ironing service, thinking there would be a need and a good marriage of women experienced in day work and meeting this need. Personal Services Inc., located at 2219 E. 21st Ave., was developed and run like a co-op. She made only enough profit to keep the doors open, and asked the women who worked there for 40 cents from every dollar made to keep the center running. Personal Services Inc. provided employment for women with limited skills and limited income, and was viewed as an alternative to public assistance. While running the business, King leveraged her clientele and started a clothing bank with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. Personal Services Inc. was recognized by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1978 and King traveled to Washington
to present the business’s plan to an audience of business executives. President Carter recently sent King a congratulatory note for her 100th birthday. It’s hard to assess the impact of Personal Services Inc. Julia Gayles, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s Communications Coordinator, who read the Proclamation for Dorothy King Day, had a mother and an aunt who worked there. In addition, Peggy Wortham, who used to work for Mayor Webb, also indicated her mother had worked there. Frances E. Jefferson, principal/trustee of the Oleta Crain Enrichment Academy and a Delta sister commented that King always gave a report at the Delta meetings. She was a kind and patient and gracious role model who never solicited any help for the clothing bank. And when she would stop by the ironing center to ask, how is everything? King would tell her “Everything is under control.” John Henderson still runs the African and American Trading Company adjacent to what was Personal Service Inc. “I was always struck by her enthusiasm and dedication in attempting to do something to better women’s position in life,” Henderson said. “She wasn’t selfish and was more interested in helping them not be concerned about being on food stamps or welfare.” Personal Services Inc. was only one piece of King’s largely unknown history of helping Denver’s women. Mayor Webb continued, “I found out later in life that she also helped young women, some who needed a place to stay. As a matter of fact, some of them ended up working for me,” he said with a smile. Harriet Rutledge Hogue, a friend for nearly 50 years, who became the Manager of Neighborhood Planning for the city of Denver, made known that King always wanted to be informed and was a staunch attendee at neighborhood meetings. When gentrification came to Whittier and City Park West neighbor-
hoods, King became even more concerned. Rutledge Hogue would stop by the ironing center and discuss the neighborhood with King and the ladies working there. At community meetings where a voice was needed, Rutledge Hogue says that King made a point of coming. “She had the ability to persuade without a lot of noise,” said Rutledge Hogue. “She was the epitome of that.” Rutledge Hogue spent 28 years in neighborhood planning before moving to the Parks and Recreation Department. Being the only African American in neighborhood planning sometimes had its challenges, and she found it strategically helpful to emulate King, who was still following her career and activities as the city council meetings were televised. Says Rutledge Hogue, “I knew I had to hold myself up – there might be a Mrs. King call.” Her mother Pearl told her that she was born Black and only needed to be proud of it, a message she has taken to her family and out into the community. King’s nephew, Phil Crutchfield, who lives in Boston, said proudly he always was re-charged by his Aunt Dorothy when he was passing through from visiting his mother in California. When asked her how she wanted to be remembered, she says, “As a person who enjoyed people, and one who helped mankind,” and added, “This is from my values from my faith in Christian Science and the home training Mother provided. “To be honest and kind, to treat people right, to always look out for something bigger and better in life,” King said is advice she gives to her two grandsons, Marcus and Michael King-Stockton. King has been a foundation for her family and the community on which to build. To celebrate her 100th birthday, instead of a guest book, attendees were asked to sign a pillar symbolizing that foundation – and her position – as a pillar in the community. Truly, Dorothy King and her nurturing spirit and example, have blessed the community. And this is what we can learn from a centenarian – listen, watch, encourage, and act. Writer’s note: Special thanks to Charleszine “Terry “Nelson for the transcript of the Dorothy King Trailblazer video from the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library collection. Editor’s note: Charles Emmons is a freelance writer living in Aurora. He has contributed stories for the Denver Urban Spectrum, CORE Magazine and In the Black magazine. He can be contacted by email email@example.com, imageresponsellc.earthlink.net.
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
720-266-3611 - Daryl Jay
An Early Bird Gets the Worm: Finding the Best Fit School for your Child
By Cassandra Johnson, Sena Harjo and Dorothy Shapland
any parents are not aware of the timeline and process individual schools require getting a child enrolled and often find themselves in a last minute scatter. Believe it; school can begin for young children as early as eight weeks old. For many families who have multiple working parents, a great quality school is very important. After all, these are the people taking care of your children. You have choices. Whether it is an early childhood education center, a childcare, elementary, middle or high school, make sure you choose a learning environment in which your child will flourish. These helpful tips can be applied when enrolling a child into school for the first time or transitioning your child into a new school.
Early Bird Starting Point...
Focus On Your Child’s Individual Needs – Think about your child’s strengths and talents. Envision Your Ideal School – Create your list of expectations. Research, Visit, and Ask Questions – There is a vast amount of information about schools available at the tips of your fingers. Most of it is online. Need a computer? Drop by your local library and use one for free (also a great opportunity to explore some books with your child). Sites to visit include: www.greatschools.org and Colorado Department of Education’s website www.cde.org. Check out www.earlychildhoodcolorado.org for information about child care programs. Once you have selected a few schools plan to make a visit or if your schedule conflicts visit the schools website and make a phone call. Ask questions!
•What is the school’s focus? •How do they approach teaching and learning? •What specific programs or curriculum are taught? •How do they measure and report your child’s growth? •What assistance is available? •What Special Programs are offered? •What are the classroom sizes or teacher/student ratios? •What is the School’s history of success?
•How many teachers have been there 3 years or more? •Are there some parents you can contact? •Is the school or program accredited? •What kind of food are they serving?
Ready To Enroll - It’s always important to not put all of your eggs in one basket. Have a backup plan and complete the enrollment process early for other schools and early childhood development sites you might consider outside of your neighborhood.
Early Bird Chooses Its Worm...
Birth - 3: Infant Care and Preschool What to look for when finding infant and toddler care? When selecting a place for your baby or toddler make sure it is a quality setting (if the site is rated by Qualistar remember a 4-star is the highest rating). Applying for Early Care programs? Generally, Early Care programs will accept applications all year long. For younger ages such as 2 months to 36 months, many programs are year round. When a child turns 3 and sometimes at 2 ½ they are eligible for preschool programs which usually run the same schedule as public school (9 months out of the year). What to do when affordability impacts choice? National studies say we turn to family, friends, and neighbors for care, known as FFN. Whether you want to enroll your child in a large center or leave them at home with Nana, equip yourself with the ability to provide the best fit learning environment to suit your child’s development needs. ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infant, Toddlers and Families has a website www.zerotothree.org that provides tips and resources to help children thrive in FFN care settings.
School Age: Elementary through Middle School Choosing the right school for your child is challenging. Most of us want our child to go to school in our own neighborhood, close to home, and convenient for drop-off and pick-up on our way to and from work. We also want a great quality school that will meet our child’s needs, and because districts, like Denver and Aurora and
Jefferson County, offer many choices, making this decision can seem overwhelming. You have choices! Stand up and make your voice heard and find a school that is the right fit for your child. Public, charter, magnet, and private schools – each has a different focus, and a different approach to preparing students for the future. Knowing what your choices are is the first step for making this decision. There are some great tools to help narrow down the field, but the most important thing you can do is go and visit a school you are interested in. Remember, a brand new school like www.Academy360.org will not have a track record yet, or even a place to visit, but they are likely to have room for your input and will be shaped by the community that helps them get started. Get involved and get your children what they need. Denver offers a guide book to their choice schools that gives an overview of each school by neighborhood, and includes rankings of each school based on past performance. There is still a good chance of getting your child into the school of your choice, so start NOW. http://schoolchoice.dpsk12.org/-enrollment-guides-2013-14/
Tweens: High School and College Level It’s important to not let your child “follow the leader” when selecting a High School based on where all of his/her friends are going. Often times families, even single parents enroll siblings in different schools based on the learning needs of each individual child. Your child may benefit from enrolling in a Private school, IB program, or a school with a high focus in the Arts, math, science, or technology. Start searching for Colleges as early as when your child is a High School Sophomore. Did you know that your child can enroll and take college classes and in some cases for free while they are still in high school? Did you know that by choosing this option, the cost of a college education, and the time it will take to complete a degree can be cut in half? We used to hear that college isn’t for every student, but why not try it
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
out while it is free? The added challenge of college coursework (and that may mean to not have to attend school at the high school every day) can be just the change of pace and added responsibility that helps a student discover his or her inner scholar and graduate. http://communications.dpsk12.org/ann ouncements/-3-million-grant-willexpand-post-secondary-readinessofferings-to-10-000-denver-students
Grants and Loans To get federal funding, and for many scholarships you will need to fill out tax information with the government. If you need support, your local library can provide computer time and often have someone who can help you. FAFSA applications open in January every year. Make sure to do this step as soon as you can in order to qualify for a federal Pell Grant, loans and scholarships. The FAFSA application can be found online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The application is easy; just have your tax information ready.
Scholarship Searches When looking for scholarships, think of the things you do well. Think outside of the box about some of the unique talents and interests in your life. Look for first generation scholarships, ethnic scholarships, sons and daughters of veterans, scholarships from organizations that you are connected to, at places you like to go, investigate fields that you are interested in pursuing and align you with dozens of options in order to actually acquire the funding. There are scholarships out there from all sorts of corporations, Duct Tape, Kodak, Target, Wells Fargo, and scholarships that are funded within the schools you are applying for. http://communications.dpsk12.org/ann ouncements/denver-scholarship-foundation-hosts-college-financial-aidworkshops-across-denver
Editor’s note: The Nest Matters (TNM) is advice from “egg to flight” from early childhood educators and leaders. TNM focuses on early child development from prenatal (the egg phase) through the stages of tweens when children prepare to leave the nest (the flight phase).
Positive Educational Options For Colorado Parents
Classroom mentor, Ms. Hernandez, explains a math concept to HOPE students
By Heather O’Mara and Ruth Márquez West
n Colorado, many students need proven and effective English Language Learning (ELL) instruction to succeed in the classroom. Fortunately, in our state, parents can exercise the right to choose a school that will best identify and respond to their children’s individual needs. Parents’ careful consideration of the educational options available, especially for students with ELL needs, is crucial to their children’s academic achievement.
HOPE student, Maiden, shows her work to classroom mentor, Mrs. Blanco
At HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-Op (HOPE), individual student needs are the center of our blended (online and offline) learning model. Our students for whom English is a second language provide an illustration of HOPE’s commitment to that priority. Of course, language proficiency is important for all students and excellent language instruction is emphasized at all HOPE Learning Centers. Everyone in HOPE’s blended learning classrooms works together to help students reach the next milestone. HOPE Teacher Candice Steele explains, “We help prepare classroom mentors as excellent resources for our students. We model specific methods and problem-solve together. ELL makes language learning more accessible to every student, regardless of language skill. Our focused work with students helps them build understanding of all their subjects in handson, visual ways. If necessary, we draw pictures, act out words or use a silly movement to communicate meaning.”
HOPE students have outperformed the state in reading among ELL students, on average, at almost every grade level for the last two years. Academic data shows that HOPE students are moving up in language acquisition. Through its unique learning model, HOPE offers instruction that helps all students; including English language learners, advance at a comfortable yet challenging pace. Robyn Wright, another passionate HOPE teacher adds, “We spend a lot of time engaging our students, providing demonstrations or visuals that make clear what is expected to complete a lesson.” Ms. Wright is one of three HOPE teachers on special assignment focusing on ELL. In addition, HOPE instructional teams include general education teachers, learning specialists and reading specialists who have access to an array of other educational resources and professionals. When it comes to choosing the best learning environment for their children, it is crucial that all parents do their homework. Though schools offer different advantages, proven support of a student’s individual needs is essential to his or her success. HOPE’s community-based learning centers have the tools to offer a quality education that is the right of every Colorado student.
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
Bullet to the head
By Kam Williams Excellent@@@@@. Very Good@@@@.. Good@@@@@@... Fair@@@@@@@.. Poor@@@@@@@.
Bullet to the Head
Unlikely-Buddies Flick Features Cop and Hit Man on Revenge-Fueled Rampage
ylvester Stallone is the only movie star to be #1 at the box-office in five straight decades, a record stretching from Rocky in the 70s through last summer’s action hit The Expendables 2. And judging by Bullet to the Head, the gracefully-aging matinee idol need not retire to a rocking chair any time soon. This riveting revenge thriller was directed by the legendary Walter Hill who, back in 1982, brilliantly cast Eddie Murphy in his big screen debut opposite Nick Nolte in 48 Hours. Here, his inspired pairing of Stallone and relativenewcomer Sung Kang as unlikely-buddies proves to be equally entertaining.
Based on Alexis Nolent’s graphic novel of the same name, Bullet to the Head revolves around two tough guys from opposite sides of the law who grudgingly team up to settle a score with a common adversary. Jimmy Bobo (Stallone) is a hit man operating in New Orleans whose protégé (Jon Seda) has just been gutted in a bar by a goon with a Bowie knife (Jason Momoa), while, Taylor Kwon (Kang) is a cop from Washington, DC in town
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to investigate the murder of his partner (Holt McCallany). As it turns out, both slayings were ordered by Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) an ambitious mobster who will stop at nothing in his quest for control of the Crescent City’s crime rackets. Because so many corrupt police and politicians are already in cahoots with Morel, doublecrossed Detective Kwon almost ends up dead when he tries to enlist the assistance of the local authorities in solving his pal’s slaying. That betrayal leads him to reluctantly forge an unholy alliance with Jimmy. Together, they proceed to embark on a bloody rampage, dispensing a brutal brand of vigilante justice to the henchmen running interference for the ruthless Morel. Besides creating major mayhem, however, the two share many moments of levity during disagreements over about what weapons and tactics to employ. Streetwise Jimmy repeatedly relies on his instincts and brute force, shooting
first and asking questions never, an approach which grates on tech-savvy Kwon dependent on his cell phone and the internet. Kwon also finds time to develop a romantic interest in Jimmy’s estranged daughter (Sarah Shahi), an attractive tattoo artist with a parlor in a seedy neighborhood. Still, make no mistake, this actionoriented affair is all about exacting vengeance and escalating body counts, and it won’t disappoint diehard Stallone fans in that regard. Vintage Sly in his best outing since Cop Land! Rated: R for profanity, nudity, drug use, graphic violence and bloody images Running Time: 91 minutes Distributor: Warner Brothers To see a trailer for Bullet to the Head, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzcvSoCqq1w Koch
Thorough Biopic Does Evenhanded Post Mortem on Life and Times of Late Mayor
d Koch (1924-2012) was the mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989, a three-term tenure over the course of which the city was beset by everything from racial strife to urban decay to the AIDS epidemic. To some, a feisty leader like Koch was precisely the right remedy for that mix of urban maladies. To others, he was simply too divisive a figure to forge a diverse coalition representative of every ethnicity. To his credit, Koch did clean up Times Square and bring the city back from the brink of bankruptcy, even if he did irreversibly alienate the Black community ab initio by closing Sydenham Hospital in Harlem right after entering office. That controversial move motivated Calvin Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, to Koch
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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
say: “He’s worse than a racist. He’s an opportunist!” Ever the optimist, Koch was nevertheless fond of always asking his constituents: “How’m I doing?” Although the feedback he received was generally positive, another African-American detractor, Reverend Tim Mitchell was prompted to respond, “You’re not doing well, you’re racist, and the people know it!” So unfolds Koch, a warts-and-all documentary directed by Neil Barsky. Overall, the movie might strike the viewer as a bit of a hatchet job, but that’s only because it opened in theaters on the very day he passed away. And when somebody dies, that’s a time for obituaries which tend to focus on the positive, not on “the evil that men do.” Therefore, fans of the film’s recently-deceased subject might be distressed to see their beloved hero
posthumously pilloried. For, the tough-talking politician frequently takes it on the chin here, from the gay slurs “Vote for Cuomo, not the homo!” which surfaced during the 1977 campaign to the allegations of corruption which sank his futile attempt to win a fourth term in office. At one juncture, when asked his sexual preference, Koch sort of loses it, responding, “It’s none of your [bleeping] business!” To deflect rumors from spreading, especially after a longtime associate, Richard Nathan, claimed to be his spurned lover, he began making plenty of public appearances with Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America on his arm.
Ultimately, the coup de grace was delivered to Koch’s career when many Democratic machine bosses holding powerful positions in his administration were exposed as crooks. This forced the voters to face the fact that the man who had originally run as a reformer on a platform promising to clean up City Hall had himself tragically morphed like the characters in Orwell’s “Animal Farm” into just another hack politician with his hands in the cookie jar. The rise and fall from grace of a good Jewish boy gone bad who ostensibly sold out the Big Apple but never summoned up the courage to come out of the closet. Unrated Running Time: 95 minutes Distributor: Zeitgeist Films To see a trailer for Koch, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-rgezvFzhA Side Effects
pointing for her, between the unsatisfying sex and her having to be the family’s breadwinner. After several months, the poor woman is so plunged into the depths of despair that she tries to kill herself by driving her car into a brick wall. Emily is put on the anti-depressant Zoloft, by Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), a shrink who discharges her from the hospital on the condition that she continue to see him on an outpatient basis. When that medication doesn’t agree with her, at the suggestion of her former psychiatrist (Catherine Zeta-Jones), he decides to switch her over to an experimental drug he will get paid to prescribe. But Ablixa has even worse side effects, such as causing Emily to sleepwalk. Subsequently, while in somnambulant state, (SPOILER ALERT), she stabs her unsuspecting hubby to death. Suddenly Dr. Banks finds himself on the griddle, since he got a $50,000 kickback from the pharmaceutical industry to promote Ablixa. It’s not long before his career is hanging in the balance, given that he had good reason to take his patient off the medication. Not so fast, Kimosabe. For, what at first blush looks like an open and shut case of malpractice turns out to be something far more sinister. Might
Twists Abound in Labyrinthine Psychological Thriller
artin Taylor (Channing Tatum) has just been paroled after serving four years in prison for insider trading. His wife, Emily (Rooney Mara), is eagerly anticipating his return, because she’s been depressed since being separated from him and losing the lavish lifestyle to which she’d become accustomed. However, their long-awaited reunion proves to be bitterly disapDenver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
Martin have had an enemy who wanted him dead? Persons of interest soon emerge from the shadows, from his miffed mother-in-law (Ann Dowd), to the former colleague (David Costabile) suspected of snitching on him, to Dr. Banks’ estranged wife (Vinessa Shaw), with a few other red herrings tossed into the mix for good measure. So unfolds Side Effects, an over-plotted whodunit directed by Steven Soderbergh. The movie marks the Oscar-winner’s (for Traffic) final film, unless he can be coaxed out of retirement for a future project. A tad too complicated for its own good, this headache-inducing brainteaser feels more like taking an SAT test than a mere murder mystery. Still, the picture’s worth the investment just to witness Rooney Mara’s spellbinding performance as a beleaguered mental patient struggling to get her meds right. The Girl with a Dragon of a Depression!
Rated: R for profanity, sexuality, nudity and violence Running Time: 105 minutes Distributor: Open Road Films To see a trailer for Side Effects, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jQq6BiT-eI Continued on page 22
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Undying Love Explored in Poignant, Character-Driven Drama
etired music teachers Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) have been married for over 60 years. But the frail octogenarians’ love for each other remains as strong as the day they met. The elderly couple lives in a Paris apartment surrounded by music and art and other indicia of an appreciation of culture. Unfortunately, with Anne’s health in sharp decline, their days are now mostly spent attending to her host of medical issues. She’s basically been bedridden since a stroke that left her right side paralyzed. And the poor woman’s biggest fear is not death but the prospect of returning to the hospital or being moved to a nursing home. It’s clear that doting Georges is so devoted that he would prefer to abide by his wife’s wishes. However, he’s no spring chicken either, and she’s gradually becoming more than he can handle as her health deteriorates. They do have a daughter, but Eva (Isabelle Huppert) is a travelling musician who
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
can only visit occasionally because of her hectic touring schedule. So, when it becomes obvious that Anne has passed the point of no return, Georges finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. Does he abide by his life mate’s last request and let her live out her days in the familiar confines of home, or does he resign himself to the fact that he can no longer provide the quality care she so dearly needs to survive? That is the crux of the critical question explored in Amour, a bittersweet romance drama which just tugs on the heartstrings. Written and directed by Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher), the flashback flick has deservedly been nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Foreign Film, Director, Actress and Original Script. Paradoxically, Haneke decided to hint at the resolution during an opening tableau during which Georges and Anne’s flat is found on fire. A poignant tale of undying love.
Rated: PG-13 for mature themes and brief profanity Running Time: 127 minutes Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics To see a trailer for Amour, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5Hr3eJc88w
Weight Loss Guru And Nutritionist To The Stars Launches
Fat Loss Challenge In Denver By Luciana Photos by Lens of Ansar
at the foods you love, lose body fat and be diet-free for life. Sound too good to be true? Well, according to weight loss guru and nutritionist Robert Ferguson, it’s not. Nationally recognized voice of wellness and weight loss and CEO of Diet Free Life Robert Ferguson, M.S., C.N., was in Denver last month to launch an eight-week Fat Loss Challenge in the Mile Hi City. Known as the People’s Fat Loss Coach and creator of the Diet Free Life Methodology, Ferguson’s hypothesis is that you can eat the food that you love, lose body fat and live diet-free for life. “Diet Free Life is about making weight loss and diet-free living easy,” Ferguson said to the participants at the live launch. With a Masters in counseling psychology and certifications in fitness and performance nutrition, Ferguson says, “Our mission is to meet people where they are and empower them with the knowledge of how to live diet-free for life. We do this using a
Wellness and weight loss expert and CEO of Diet Free Life Robert Ferguson, M.S., C.N
revolutionary principle based methodology that supports healthful and sustainable weight loss, active and healthy living. Our programs are structured to assist individuals and families in their efforts to upgrade their lifestyles to live healthier. We have taken a leadership role in working with people culturally, physically, economically and psychosocially – educating and motivating them to experience lasting success with weight, wellness and overall health.” If you can eat the foods you love and lose body fat without depriving yourself, why would you gain the weight back was promising enough for most of the attendees. “I signed up online prior to the presentation and came in late. Robert was explaining the difference between being on a diet and the methodology to losing weight. And the way he broke it down, made me think of the analogy: if you give a man a fish, he will eat for the day; but if you teach him how to fish, he can eat for his lifetime,” said Hanifah Chiku. “He also, kept it honest for me by showing how and why his program takes into consideration folks’ normal and daily eat-
ing habits and options. Most of us eat on the run so understanding how I can eat at Chick-fil-A and stay within the parameters of the Diet Free Life plan to lose weight – well that was the selling point for me.” Dr. Tracey Jones Holmes, D.C. of Jamaa Health and Healing Chiropractic said, “Robert presented a good method for weight loss and weight control. Prior to meeting him I was using some of his techniques as well as using them in my practice. Hear what he has to say and I think you will find this easy to incorporate into your healthy lifestyle.” “What struck me and has stayed with me about this lifestyle is when Robert said that the methodology of the system is ‘meeting people where they are, said fitness and lifestyle coach Yolanda Jones. “The number one question I am asked while coaching others is about the struggles with their eating habits. I look forward to being able to share this with them so that they know there is a solution.” And one other attendee who is participating in another weight-loss program says Ferguson’s program showed her another way of how to eat food without depriving herself of her favorite foods. “Robert’s presentation was very educational, and he taught me how to diet without being on a diet,” said Rosalyn D. ChestnutNelson.
Attendees sign up for the Denver “Drops It Like Its Hot” Weight Loss Challenge
Participants who complete the eight-week challenge become eligible to win an all-expense paid trip to attend Robert Ferguson’s Fat Loss Retreat in Ventura, California. Staying motivated when losing weight, is arguably the hardest part. In 41 days Ferguson provides participants with mental tools and techniques to keep motivation in high gear. He keeps health and fitness fun and doable for all people. A trailblazer when it comes to better health, Ferguson is a master at bridging the cultural gap of wellness. Editor’s note: Enrollment is underway for the Denver Weight Loss Challenge at www.dietfreelife.com.
Attendees listen to presentation by Robert Ferguson as he explains the methodology of the Diet Free Life program.
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Dr. Hrabowski Speaks In Denver
nars, performances and lectures for students, faculty and the larger Denver community.
Denver Transit Partners and a Precious Child Kickoff Their New Partnership With A
Metropolitan State University of Denver presented eminent educator Freeman A. Hrabowski III as this year’s Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professor. On Feb. 18, Hrabowski gave a series of lectures on campus and in the community about his work as an educator and as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), a school described as a springboard for producing AfricanAmerican Ph.D.s in science and engineering. In the two decades Hrabowski has served as president of UMBC, he has increased the number of students majoring in math and science, with almost half of all UMBC students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in math and technology. UMBC’s rise from a mid-sized commuter school to an honors university with a growing research program was featured on 60 Minutes in 2011, and for the past four years, UMBC has ranked as the No. 1 “Up and Coming” university in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Hrabowski’s long-standing commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, particularly among students traditionally underrepresented in STEM programs, has won him and UMBC multiple distinctions. TIME named Hrabowski one of America’s “10 Best College Presidents” in 2009, and he was included on the magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” last year. The Washington Post selected him as one of seven “Top American Leaders” in 2011. Hrabowski was recently named by President Barack Obama to head the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The Visiting Professorship, initiated in 1981 to foster multiculturalism, diversity and academic excellence at MSU Denver, brings renowned scholars and artists of distinction to the University to conduct classes, semi-
Coat Drive To Benefit Swansea Elementary Students Denver Transit Partners and A Precious Child are partnering in 2013 to help provide basic essentials such as clothing, shoes and coats to children living in shelters, fosters homes or facing a huge life challenge and otherwise without access to basic needs. Denver Transit Partners (DTP) is kicking off its new partnership with A Precious Child by sponsoring a Coat Drive throughout the month of Greg Amparano Executive Project Director for DTP Assists in distributing coats
Tysheina Robertson of DTP Helps a Swansea Elementary student find the perfect coat
Phil Washington, GM for RTD Distributes Coats
January that provided coats for 108 children at Swansea Elementary School. Swansea Elementary is located near Downtown Denver and is a part of Denver Public Schools. Students enrolled in the Free or Reduced Lunch program at Swansea Elementary is a staggering 97.9 percent. DTP is the concessionaire building the Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) FasTracks commuter rail project. The East Rail Line, the commuter train to Denver International Airport, goes through the Swansea neighborhood. A Precious Child relies on community partners, such as DTP, to help in providing basic needs for disadvan-
taged and displaced children in the Denver Metro Area. In 2012, the organization was able to provide basic needs for 20,948 impoverished children and adults. The partnership will help to increase the number of children and families that will be served in 2013. The partnership between DTP and A Precious Child will continue throughout 2013, and includes a generous donation of $15,000 from DTP to A Precious Child. The donation will go towards providing basic essentials for children in need in Colorado throughout the year. The partnership between the two organizations will also include the involvement of DTP employees in volunteering their time to A Precious Child. DTP selected A Precious Child as a partner in community giving because of its ability to serve children in communities along the entire project corridor, according to Greg Amparano, Executive Project Director.
Hundreds Of Advocates For Online Public Education Rally At Colorado Capitol
More than 750 Colorado parents, students, and teachers gathered at the State Capitol in support of online public schools at the ninth annual Cyberschools Day at the Capitol last month. The Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families and the Colorado Cyberschools Association co-sponsored the rally. The event coincides with Digital Learning Day, a national campaign that celebrates teachers and shines a spotlight on successful instructional practice and effective use of technology in classrooms across the country. Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jamie Van Leeuwen read a proclamation at the rally officially making Feb. 6 Digital Learning Day in Colorado. Van Leeuwen also presented schools with certificates on behalf of Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia for their dedication to digital learning. Public online schools are a growing movement in education that provides expanded options to families. According to a report released in October by the Colorado Department of Education, online student enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year reached 16,464 students, compared to 3,248 students in the 2003-2004 school year. The demographic profile of online students has also changed over the past nine years, with the racial/ethnic proportions now closely mirroring the statewide distributions. The Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families is a group of
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
more than 2,000 parents who advocate for public online schools. Online schools serve students in grades K-12 and provide them with a structured, interactive learning environment through online curriculum. The Colorado Cyberschool Association consists of full-time online schools that serve students throughout Colorado. The member schools collaborate and learn together. The mission of the organization is to cooperatively assist cyberschools as they provide a quality education to all Colorado students whose needs are served through online education. Public online school students are taught by licensed Colorado teachers. Students learn at home where they receive the ongoing support of a parent or supervising adult. All necessary materials and books are provided through their public online school. According to the Colorado Department of Education Office of Online and Blended Learning, Colorado has 35 full-time online schools.
A Dream Team For Men With Advanced Prostate Cancer
Terrence Howard, actor & SU2C member alongside Thomas A. Farrington, PHEN president and founde
There is a unique opportunity for Black prostate cancer patients to receive treatment with a drug approved by the FDA to increase survival and to participate in a groundbreaking project that will help define the future approach for treating prostate cancer. During the past three years the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of new treatments for men with advanced prostate cancer which has created excitement among patients, doctors and researchers. Simultaneously, there have been breakthroughs in genomic research identifying different types of
advanced prostate cancer. These two areas of development are foretelling brighter days ahead for prostate cancer patients. The Stand Up to Cancer Foundation (SU2C) has funded a prostate cancer “Dream Team” project to bring new treatments and genomics research together to develop an approach for “Precision Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer” - a personalized approach to prostate cancer treatments. The “Dream Team” includes some of the world’s leading prostate cancer doctors, scientists and researchers led by Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan (University of Michigan) and Dr. Charles Sawyers (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). The Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) is also a member of the Dream Team. PHEN will outreach to the African American community to create awareness of this project, and educate prostate cancer patients and their families to ensure inclusion. With an understanding and appreciation of the prostate cancer crisis in Black America (Black men die from prostate cancer 2.4 times higher than all other men), SU2C established a goal for the Dream Team project to include at least 10 percent African American men. African American men who meet the eligibility criteria for participating in the Dream Team project will be required to provide a tissue sample for genomic testing to determine their specific type of cancer. For more information and to preregister, visit www.prostatehealthed.org.
King’s Faith Gives Audiences Opportunity To Decide Film’s Showing (BP News)
Whether through Netflix, VOD, or theatrical-on-demand start-ups, audiences are increasingly wrestling content decisions away from Hollywood gatekeepers. Movie fans are able to decide where, when, and how they consume quality stories. The latest example of audience participation arrives with the April 26 release of the indie family movie King’s Faith (www.kingsfaith.com), where distributor Waking Giants Entertainment Group is inviting audiences and groups to decide where the movie opens. Audiences can demand that King’s Faith come to their local theater at www.kingsfaith.com. Faith Street Film Partners, a Rochester, NY-based collective of filmmakers, churches, investors, and supporters - totaling more than 1,000 people – decided to fund, film, and release the movie in a manner differ-
ent from a traditional movie. Based upon early demands, King’s Faith will open in Charlotte, NC, Dallas, TX, Phoenix, AZ, Colorado Springs, CO, Rochester, NY, Buffalo, NY, and Huntsville, AL. The producers and distributor are planning interactive audience tools including group study materials, outreach partnerships, and a specialty youth campaign to create awareness and heighten audience attendance. King’s Faith tells the story of Brendan King (Crawford Wilson) who attempts to leave his turbulent gang life behind him, but his past continues to threaten his new-found faith, family, and future. The film prompts audiences to consider questions that many struggle within our world today: Where do I fit in? How can I stand firm in my faith when life’s challenges put me to the test? Can someone find true forgiveness from their wrong choices? King’s Faith stars Emmy Award winning actress Lynn Whitfield (Eve’s Bayou, The Women of Brewster Place), Crawford Wilson (Judging Amy, Zoey 101), Kayla Compton (Entourage), and James McDaniel (Malcolm X, NYPD Blue). For more information, call 818-7534056, E-mail Ben@purepublicity.com or visit www.kingsfaith.com.
Learn. Achieve. Graduate.
Interview With Microsoft At The Upcoming NSBE National Convention
All individuals with a background in software development are being invited to interview with Microsoft at the upcoming National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 28 and 29. The face-to-face interviews will be conducted by The Microsoft Server & Tools Business division. To qualify, applicants must already be currently working as a software developer, software engineer, program manager or operations engineer. In addition, they must submit their resume online beforehand at the following link: www.hbcuconnect.com/microsoft/?sr c=nsbe_blacknews The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), with more than 29,900 members, is one of the largest student-governed organizations in the country. Their 39th annual convention will be held at the Indiana Convention Center just 45 minutes from Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 27-31. The event, which attracts nearly 10,000 students and professionals each year, features a career fair and college fair with tons of sponsors and recruiters from all over the country.
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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
Beyond Control: America’s Unrivaled Fetish For Guns
By Timothy Dwight Smith
iolence has always been America’s favorite pastime, and the gun, her preferred toy. It is no secret America was established by use of the gun in threatening, provoking and murdering vulnerable populations, and since her birth as a nation, her image in the world has been colored by these deeds. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution speaks to America’s unrivaled fetish for steel and gun powder. Americans and their guns are not easily separated, and any reasonable efforts to stem the proliferation of violence due to the ease in which military-style assault weapons of mass destruction are acquired appears futile. What is left is ignorance singing falsetto in most gun discussions. Our nation has so worshipped the gun as symbol of freedom and shooter as Messiah that any common sense effort to stymie propagation of assaultstyle weapons has been attended with little more than a yawn by lawmakers since the ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. Upon observing the political climate today, one wonders how Congress was ever able to pass such legislation, a sad testament to how polarized American politics has become. Politicians instinctively understand limiting access to any gun is un-American and indeed it is. To be armed is to be American; to shoot first and ask questions later is how this land was acquired; which is why it is nonsensical to the average citizen to relinquish their personal desires to imitate their favorite episode of Bonanza or Gunsmoke or video games such as Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. The cowboy and bandit, what John Wayne epitomized in film, with his admonitions of Indians and white supremacist attitudes, and Jesse James, with his choice of robbery as vocation, represent what can only be described as pure Americana; both images are
worshipped and revered; both are killers. These American ideals reflect what the average citizen sees when he or she looks in the mirror, and although some of this history is rooted in myth passed off as authentic retelling of human events, the country, in the main, embraces these images as a purer time and a more wholesome era in American life in relation to the present. Whites have always looked backwards in this fashion to shape their attitudes concerning racial and political differences. But now, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama wants those who have historically been one of the most victimized by gunfire, black Americans, to believe he’s prepared to do something about it. However, Obama won’t move to boldly challenge the issue of gun control because to do so would require a level of moral courage never displayed in American politics; the courage to tell the whole truth. President Obama’s impassioned plea to the white middle class regarding his intention to move swiftly to abate further gun related deaths is more of the same simple-minded false sincerity that has masked itself as an American virtue for far too long. This type of immaturity and clinging to innocence approach has been directed toward the white American, but expressions of this kind, although making for high grossing Hollywood films and potent sedatives to help white liberals sleep at night, has never significantly curved gun violence, nor any other form of physical violence. Moreover, the republic has never appeared particularly interested in the protection of all of its citizens – only some. If this were not so, perhaps the
mental health services and police protections bandied about recently by pundits and politicians would’ve actually worked to significantly address the areas of the nation where they are most needed, among the poor in inner cities; where the faces are mostly Black and Brown and where all forms of violence suffocate the hopes of the dispossessed and disenfranchised. It is not surprising that many Blacks, especially those occupying these enclaves of despair; look on with mock scorn as the media attempts to turn humanity inside out to make sense of white shooters murdering innocent middle-class white people. Rather than focus on the larger problem of gun violence across socio-economic and racial divisions, pundits and politicians strain to unearth any morsel of justification to explain the growing list of white mass killers. Mental illness is thoroughly explored. The living conditions of the white gunman and his personal relationships are investigated for any signs of discomfort. The shooter’s background is sifted through to pinpoint any substantial indicators of neglect, anger, pain or abuse he may have experienced to account for his murderous rampage. These are accommodations rarely afforded Black killers and or criminals of color in general. I’ve never witnessed any elected official or member of the mainstream media suggest that a young Black teenager arrested for involvement in a drive-by shooting would benefit from a psychological evaluation or inquiry concerning the youth’s life experiences. Additionally, I have never observed or read about any American president taking the time to recite the names of the countless dead Black bodies found on streets, mostly due to gun violence, in places like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and Los Angeles as President Obama felt obliged to do in his national address to the nation in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre – the victims were nearly all white. If mental illness is truly what causes white males to murder school children then why is this same diagnosis not afforded to violent Black youths
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
who riddle entire city blocks with bullets? Why haven’t, for example, Black and Hispanic gang members been psychologically analyzed so we may prevent the next spilling of blood in the ghetto? Black-on-black crime has always been dismissed by lawmakers as merely the begrimed activity of a subhuman population. No further inquiry is necessary, just law and order legislation to warehouse as many Black and brown bodies as possible. The impression left as a result of this circumstance is that it is only useful to examine the behavior of white killers for their behavior departs from the purported well-established white norms of dignity and civility. The myth that violence perpetrated by whites is done for righteous reasons or is a function of the killer’s psychological imbalance is the dangerous prejudice hiding beneath the façade in most law and order discussions. It is these racially-biased attitudes which account for the disparate treatment between Black and white criminals – a circumstance that has always prevailed. The Klansman burns down the homes of Black families and lynches pregnant Black mothers because he sincerely seeks to maintain a racially segregated society. The white police officer beats the Black teenager to death with his baton because he wants to protect his community from thugs. The white gun owner shoots the Black father to death as he walks the neighborhood he lives because the white gunman believes hooded sweat shirts are the official outfit of black criminals. At some point in the history of this country all of these examples have represented virtuous action by white citizens against Black outsiders. Similar crimes continue unimpeded and unaddressed by law makers. There are fundamental differences in how violence resonates in the American experience between Blacks and whites, which makes any conversations concerning who is entitled to safety a convoluted exercise. This is why Chicago’s murder rate continues to break records while President Obama and Congress pander to middle-class whites by declaring a national discussion on guns, but when all the talk is finished, none of the solutions Continue on next page
AARP: Older AfricanAmericans Continue To Face Workforce Obstacles
Washington, DC - Nearly four years after the official end of the Great Recession, African-American older workers continue to confront a difficult job picture across the country. Federal unemployment statistics for January show that African-American workers between 45 and 74 had an unemployment rate of 9.9 percent, compared with 6.1 percent for whites of the same age. For African-American workers of all ages, the jobless rate for January was a whopping 13.8 percent, compared with an overall rate of 7.9 percent. New AARP research shows that a large number of older AfricanAmericans are anxious about continuing weaknesses in the economy and small businesses in which they are involved. “For many years, older AfricanAmericans have faced an extremely difficult job market,” said AARP Vice President for Multicultural Engagement Edna Kane-Williams in announcing the release of the research. “Others have confronted major problems as well, but the situation has been - and continues to be - especially acute for diverse communities.” An AARP fact sheet, released in conjunction with Black History Month, summarizes preliminary data from a “Multicultural Work and Career Study” that will be released later this year. The overall survey included those ages 45-74 who were either employed or actively looking for work; it was conducted last November and December. The strain among older AfricanAmericans is apparent in the fact that
America’s Gun Fetish
Continued from previous page will solve the crisis faced by those occupying these war zones. Blacks will continue dying while President Obama fiddles. I suppose not even mild regard extends to the poor – especially those Black and brown. If American concern with respect to gun violence is indeed genuine then any solutions to the problem must address the violence all Americans face; the poor as well as the wealthy; the ignorant as well as the educated; Americans of color as well as the white American. Both victims and victimizers must be treated justly by law makers, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system if we aspire to
a large number – 39 percent – said that it was either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that they will either lose their job or have to give up working for themselves in the next year. Among those who said that they were likely to give up working for themselves, 15 percent said that “business is slow,“ 12 percent cited the “weak economy” and 11 percent mentioned “my health.“ Reflecting anxiety on a separate question was the response from 25 percent of all African-Americans in the sample that they anticipated that they may need to take a leave from their job to “care for an adult family member in the next five years.” Nineteen percent said that they had already taken a leave to care for an older relative in the last five years. AARP has a variety of programs and resources to support older workers. Most recently, AARP has begun offering a new way for experienced workers to advance themselves through Work Reimagined, a social network-based jobs program that connects employers seeking experienced workers with qualified professionals searching for new or more satisfying careers. The site (www.workreimagined.org) leverages the platform of the social media site, LinkedIn. Work Reimagined offers job listings independent of LinkedIn, as well as articles, columns, tips and tools to help people navigate today’s workplace. AARP has also developed an alliance with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to offer resources and advice to encourage older entrepreneurs. Last October, AARP and SBA collaborated to host a National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Day in several cities around the country.
Editor’s note: To see a summary of the preliminary data from the study, visit www.aarp.org/stayingaheadofthecurve2013
heal the country from the deep wounds which afflict us. The dilemmas we presently face as a nation are not dissimilar to those we have endured since the founding of this republic. The republic has yet to resolve whether it desires for all of the people within its borders to be free. America in 2013 remains stuck in neutral, undecided on the fundamental ethos which undergirds its very existence, and until that most important self-evident truth, espoused in the founding documents of this country, that all people are created equal, is finally realized, the entire country inches closer to the complete crumbling of this would-be American democracy.
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
Innovative Nebraska Program Brings Diversity To Some Highly Segregated Public Schools
By Susan Eaton, America’s Wire
ifth-grader Alyx has trouble naming the “absolute coolest” thing about Wilson Focus School, part of an innovative educational model called the Learning Community that provides students opportunities to attend diverse schools in highly segregated areas. Alyx says it’s not just the snakes and other reptiles, not just the “totally amazing and beautiful” Australian blue-tongued skink caged in her classroom. It’s not just her teacher, Mr. Mitchell, “who is so great, who is the best.” And it’s not just her friend Nolan who is “funny and kind.” But Alyx, who is white and lives in the suburbs, and Nolan, who is African American and lives in Omaha, agree that one of the “coolest” things is as Alyx says, “There are kids from all over. Everywhere.” Well, not quite everywhere. But unlike the typical school in this highly segregated region, or the typical school in many still-segregated communities across the country, Wilson Focus School reaches across two counties to bring together students from a mix of racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. Yet, even with its welldocumented successes, the Learning Community is being threatened by public officials who question the value of the diversity it brings. Wilson offers the standard diet of mandatory reading time, science reports and oral presentations. However the schools’ specialized lead-
Fifth graders Alyx and Nolan survey the after-school offerings at the diverse, dynamic Wilson Focus School in Omaha, Nebraska.
ership, communication and technology curriculum nudges kids into constant negotiations with each other. Each day, students must solve problems collectively, acknowledge and negotiate differences and learn how to balance individual desires with community needs. In Alyx and Nolan’s fifth grade classroom, students hone these skills within their own “micro-society” they named “Diverse City.” Nolan explains: “Students have jobs, like cops or lawyers or secretaries and there are rules and you sure can bet there are disagreements that you need to resolve.” Fifth-grader Nicholas Vollmer notes that in Diverse City, “you can sue people,” adding, “But you don’t want to overdo that because . . .usually the goal is to get to some peaceful kind of resolution.” Diversity is not just an add-on feature, here, teachers say, but integral to the mission of the school. “The students,” teacher Glenn
Mitchell says, “Really get,” that “diversity – be it racial, socioeconomic, cultural, in learning style...is a reality of life and that our diversity is going to help them learn how to be leaders. They can’t really be leaders if they can’t communicate and interact successfully in a diverse setting. Isn’t that obvious? I mean, it seems pretty obvious to me.” The Focus School is but one element in metropolitan Omaha’s regional education model known as the Learning Community. Created by Nebraska’s legislature in 2007, the Learning Community is designed to reduce funding disparities between Omaha and its suburbs and to create more socioeconomic diversity in schools. Eleven school districts pool money in the Learning Community then redistributes via a needs-based formula. The money also provides free transportation to certain students who wish to attend schools not located in the districts where they live. Finally, Learning Community dollars pay for an array of educationrelated services, including high-quality preschool, to young people and their families who live in Omaha’s poorest neighborhoods. The Learning Community emerged following anguished debate over the kinds of messy issues most elected leaders, even in ostensibly more progressive states, prefer to avoid discussing – segregation, economic inequality, social cohesion and righting past wrongs of discrimination. There is still a lot of hopefulness surrounding the Learning Community, both locally and nationally, among civil rights advocates, educational leaders and scholars. But it is not clear that the program will survive the political threats that it faces. This month, a group of state legislators introduced a bill that would dismantle the Learning Community, although it’s unclear whether the bill will reach Nebraska Gov. David Heineman’s desk. Five years ago, Gov. Heineman signed the legislation to create the Learning Community, but in recent years he has questioned whether the program is still needed. “I don’t know what purpose it really serves,” Gov. Heineman recently told a local reporter. However, the Learning Community still has strong support among the state legislature’s education committee and certainly among parents and children who have benefitted from it. “This was really exactly what we were going for,” says Willie Barney, who five years ago created an organization called The Empowerment Network, to in part, provide African Americans a stronger voice in civic
Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
matters. Barney, whose son Neremiah attends Focus School, adds, “If you want your child to go to a school that is diverse and that is high performing, then that should exist.” The Learning Community is but a light counterweight in a region that records some of the highest rates of inequality between whites and Blacks and between whites and Latinos, particularly in jobs and income. According to the Urban Institute, Omaha ranks 91st of 100 metros (100 represents the largest gap) on these two measures. The region’s high rates of residential segregation earn it a “D” on the Washington-based Urban Institute’s Metrotrends report card. In 2011, the Learning Community allowed about 2,250 students to transfer schools, with about half of those increasing diversity in their new schools. Another 180 students attended Wilson Focus School, with the number projected to grow to 250 in a few years. Another few dozen students attend the Focus School program in middle school, which offers a continuation of the leadership and technology curriculum used at Wilson. “The Learning Community is a work in progress. We have here a structure that provides a beginning, a foundation,” says Ben Gray, an Omaha city councilor. “We need to give this a fighting chance.” The Native American word “Omaha” translates from the HokanSiouan language to “the upstream people” or a tribe that travels “against the current.” There is something of that against-the-grain mentality in this contemporary effort. But the Learning Community also reflects a pragmatism that has long characterized this state. “I love telling people that 30 percent of Nebraska’s children under the age of five are Latino. I love saying that because people just don’t believe it and it makes them pay attention,” says Ted Stilwill, CEO of the Learning Community. “People have their image and their stereotypes about Nebraska – that it’s cornfields and white people. But of course the data is right there. It tells the story about the fact that we are changing, that we really need to provide ways for all children to prepare for that diverse world, to be part of that world.” Editor’s note: For more information on the Omaha Learning Community, go to www.onenationindivisible.org. America’s Wire is an independent, nonprofit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Our stories can be republished free of charge by newspapers, websites and other media sources. For more information, visit www.americaswire.org or contact Michael K. Frisby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CBAF Celebrates 27 Years
The 27th annual Colorado Black Arts Festival will be held July 12 through 14 at Denver City Park West. There will be three stages featuring R&B, soul, reggae, jazz, blues, dance, and theatre. The Boogaloo celebration parade will be Saturday, July 14 at 10 a.m. There will also be a visual artist gallery, 150 vendors, and a food court. Volunteers, vendors, and performers are needed. Call for entries. For more information, visit 1959 Park Ave West Unit # D in Denver, call 720-276-7534, visit www.colbaf.org, or follow at facebook/coloradoblackartsfestival.
ECCC Presents 2013 College Fair
The Ethnic College Counseling Center will host a college fair with representation from 89 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Many official college recruiters will be present. Middle and high school students, parents, teachers, counselors, and principals are encouraged to attend. There will also be workshops. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. The college fair will be held Saturday, March 16 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at East High School, 1600 City Park Esplanade in Denver. High School seniors should bring an official or unofficial transcript. There will also be a reception for seniors and their parents Friday, March 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Hotel Denver Stapleton Plaza, 3333 Quebec St. in Denver. There is a $5 registration fee. For more information or to register, call 303-423-6422 or visit www.EthnicCollegeCounselingCenter. org.
LFCT Is Accepting Scholarship Applications
The annual Langley Family Charitable Trust (LFCT) by Drs. Joseph and Alice Langley is accepting applications to award scholarships to Colorado high school seniors. The nonprofit LFCT is a scholarship program designed to help increase the number of African Americans and/or at risk students enroll in community colleges and universities. Student must be a high school senior, have at least a 3.0 grade point average, be involved with the community, and have a career goal to make a difference in the quality of life for self and others in the community. The deadline to receive completed applications is April 12. For more information or to receive an application, call 303-694-3126.
Explore the Creative Process in a New Exhibit Space for ASLD Portrait of Miarta Seated B by Ron Gerbrandt
“Side Effects May Include…,” is an invitational exhibit curated by the Art Students League of Denver (ASLD) faculty members Karen Roehl & Joshua Wiener. The exhibit includes a video diary of the artists commenting on their creative process and runs through March 20 at 760 Santa Fe Drive in Denver. For more information, call 303-5173212 or visit www.ASLD.org.
Scholarship Applications Available For Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Denver Alumnae Chapter is seeking applicants for scholarship awards. Scholarships will be awarded to select Denver metro area African American female high seniors. There are no online applications. Completed Delta Sigma Theta scholarship applications must be postmarked no later than April 1. For more information and scholarship applications, call Daphne Hunter at 303 858-9972, email email@example.com, call Catherine Wright at 303 328-5985, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
TCHD Offers Free Cancer And Heart Disease Screenings
Tri-County Health Department’s Peak Wellness program provides lowincome, uninsured and under-insured women ages 40 through 64 with free screenings and referrals in an effort to prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The visit includes blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index tests. Women also receive a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer, a clinical breast exam, and they can schedule a free mammogram. Clients can also speak one-on-one with a Registered Nurse and a Registered Dietitian. The average clinic visit is 90 minutes and locations include Aurora, Castle Rock, Englewood and Northglenn. For more information or to make an appointment, call 303-363-3018 or visit www.tchd.org/peakwellness.htm.
The First Ladies Of Jazz Performed By Mary Louise Lee
Mary Louise Lee and her jazz combo join the Colorado Symphony for a tribute to the classic first ladies of jazz under the direction of Colorado Symphony Resident Conductor Scott O’Neil. The program includes iconic classics made famous by Ella
Taking a Stand: Youth Against Genocide Conference
The Colorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action (CCGAA) will sponsor its 4th informative and inspirational youth conference, Taking a Stand: Youth Against Genocide on March 10 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Regis University in Denver. This meeting will promote awareness about genocides throughout human history, and empower participants with the necessary tools to eradicate genocide. The two-day conference will include interactive breakout sessions in relevant topics. An Eat & Greet dinner will be held the night before. The price is $10 for the Eat & Greet and $20 for the conference. To reserve your seat visit ccgaa.org. For more information, call Roz Duman at 303-856-7334 or E-mail email@example.com Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2013
Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington. Lee’s vocal range and artistry are highlighted as the mood swings from somber to upbeat. Mary Louise Lee, a Denver native, has been performing for close to 20 years. Lee has been the Denver’s First Lady since June 2011 when her husband, Michael B. Hancock, was inaugurated as Denver’s Mayor. The program will be Saturday, Apr. 20 at the Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver. Tickets start at $25 and are available online, by phone, 303-6237876, or in person at the Box Office in Boettcher Concert Hall. For more information, visit www.coloradosymphony.org.
Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band Performs At The Bluebird
Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band is bringing their colorful, funky sound on Sunday March 17 to the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave in Denver. Formed in 2002, the group has averaged over 150 shows per year for over a decade. Each performance is a high energy musical and visual experience. With their eccentric outfits, and animated stage presence each musician exudes their expertise and artfulness. For more information, visit: www.bootyband.com
Take a written exam in June that can place you on an eligibility list for hiring with 15 fire departments/ districts in the Denver metro area. Visit www.drcog.org and click on Fire or call 303.480.6730.
D R E W MANNIE I L L U S T R AT I O N
STOR IES THRU IMAGERY â€˘ 720-621-6336
Opening Night Tickets $14!* APR. 4 â€“ 7 DENVER COLISEUM Thu. APR. 4 7:00 PM*
Fri. APR. 5 11:00 AM 7:00 PM
Sat. APR. 6 11:00 AM 3:00 PM 7:00 PM
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Buy tickets at Ticketmaster.com/Treasure, Denver Coliseum Box Office (opens MAR. 18) or call 1-800-745-3000 Regular Ticket Prices: $15 Âˇ $21 Âˇ $27 $42 VIP Âˇ $68 Front Row
Available for all Holiday Events, Special Occasions and... 303.355.4979
Additional fees may apply. Free parking with show ticket.
P.O. Box 39163 H Denver CO 80239
MAR. 15 â€“ 17 DENVER COLISEUM
Get autographs from the riders and 5-time Supercross champion, Ricky Carmichael at the Track Party on Sat. MAR 15. Recycle a Monster Energy can at the gate for free admission to the Track Party from 5:00 â€“ 6:00 PM. (Valid show ticket for Sat. MAR. 15 required)
Buy tickets at Ticketmaster.com/AX, Denver Coliseum Box Office (opens MAR. 11) or call 1-800-745-3000
ÂŠ2012 Feld Motor Sports Inc. Photos by Cudby. Competitors shown are subject to change.
Denver Urban Spectrum â€” www.denverurbanspectrum.com â€“ March 2013
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Your health matters to us. • Look for the NuVal™ Score • Dietitians • 142 Pharmacies • The Little Clinic • HealthCENTERS • Natural and Organic Foods
Healthier choices you can make at
King Soopers/City Market
We Can Help NuVal
Introducing NuVal™ 000
WH EAT W EDD ED CE PRICE UNIT PRIC
UNCEE OUNC PER OU
15 OZ 1
NuVal™ scores nutrition on a scale of 1 - 100. The higher the score, the better the nutrition. LOOK for the NuVal™ Score on the shelf at King Soopers and City Market stores.
HealthCENTER Check out our HealthCENTERS, which are free and measure:
• Blood Pressure • Weight
• Heart rate • Body mass index (BMI)
Our Pharmacists can Save you Time and Money • Fill your prescriptions while you shop! • $4 and $10 generic prescriptions • Enjoy the convenience of Auto Refill and Instant Notification. We’ll call, text or email you the minute your prescription is ready. • You can even pick up many of your pet’s medications in our pharmacy. • In store immunizations • Earn fuel points for every qualified prescription • 1000’s of insurance plans accepted, including yours
Best of all, you can save your results in a safe and private manner, using your Sooper Card or Value Card, so that you can go back and track your success. HealthCENTERS are located in all King Soopers and City Market locations, near the pharmacy. If you have questions regarding the HealthCENTERS, ask your King Soopers or City Market pharmacy team!
Registered Dietitians We have registered Dietitians in our stores! They can show you ways to improve blood pressure, manage diabetes, lose weight or just eat healthier in general. They offer free tours and classes to help you set and achieve health goals for yourself and for your family. Please visit our website for our calendar of events @kingsoopers.com.
Natural and Organic Foods Thousands of Natural and USDA Organic items to choose from! Huge Gluten Free selection and tours in every store! Hundreds of NATURAL PRODUCTS produced right here in Colorado! Optimum Wellness recipes, healthy lifestyle ideas and much more from Dr. James Rouse are available under the Department/Health Matters tab on kingsoopers.com and citymarket.com • Over 3,000 natural vitamins/body care items supported by Nutrition Specialists in select stores!
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Wellness is a Choice…Take Charge of your Health!
Published on Mar 1, 2013
Denver Urban Spectrum March 2013 issue recognizes Women's History Month, featuring First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover. Also in this issu...