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Volume 31

Number 12

March 2018

Celebrating Women

Gerie Grimes:

Colorado Women Hall of Fame Inductee…...............

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Rachel B. Noel: 100 Years Later.....................................................…6 New Hope’s Women’s Day: Six Decades and Counting........…8 Ilasiea Gray: A Sleeping Beauty Role Model ..............................…20 Lena Horne: A Hallmark Memorialization.........................................22 A Message: To My Beautiful Black Daughters…...............................23


MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER Volume 31 Number 12

March 2018

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris

GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James MANAGING EDITOR Laurence Washington

CONTRIBUTING COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNISTS Kim Farmer FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Joella Bauman Melovy Melvin Laurence Washington Sid Wilson ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix

PUBLISHER/PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Melovy Melvin CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Bryon Russell DI STRIBUTION Dylan James Ed Lynch Glen Barnes Lawrence A. James - Manager

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2018 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at www.denverurbanspectrum.com.

“Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” -Oprah Winfrey

In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women. President Jimmy Carter’s message to the nation designated March 2-8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. This month is no different at the Denver Urban Spectrum as we look at the achievements from women in Colorado and around the country. Our cover story, penned by managing editor Laurence Washington, tells how and why Gerie Grimes was selected by the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame as a 2018 Inductee. Melovy Melvin remembers Rachel B. Noel as the community prepares for the Rachel B. Noel 2018 Distinguished Visiting Professorship Dr. Phillip S. Hart comes to Denver. And new contributor, Joella Bauman shares the plans for the 66th Women’s Day celebration at New Hope Baptist Church and who are making them. Other stories look at a local actress who values being a role model more than a role; an attorney who reflects on three women that impacted his life; a legendary performer and civil rights activist who is honored on the newest addition to the Black Heritage Stamp Series; and a mother who has a special message for her beautiful Black daughters. So, from the words of Oprah Winfrey, take that step and create your story of history. Enjoy… Rosalind J. Harris DUS Publisher

LETTERS, OP-EDS, OPINIONS

CCBN Celebrate Accomplishments, Seeks Members Op-ed by Dr. Margie Cook

Many ask why mentor other Blacks into nursing? Here are a few reasons. •CCBN’s goal is to nurture our nurses while fulfilling our mission. We work together to increase the participation of local Blacks in nursing careers, strengthening their professional networks and supplementing their professional development via specialized training and volunteer opportunities. •We are the voice of health care in the Black community and the vehicle for nurses to gain the opportunity to face fearful issues in a group where nurses and students can get support and learn how to deal with negative issues in a productive and positive arena. •The Black nurses are proactive professionals with students who can handle limited resources while doing mighty things. •We serve as a beacon with a sound infrastructure so that folks can get rejuvenated after participating in its growth producing workshops. •Black nurses are rich in caring so that those of us who have gained from each other and become stronger can understand “pay-forward” or give back to others who need to become stronger. •We are the “Sojourner Truth’s” and we can do and be all things in Him who strengthens us. This means we will be known for our going back and pulling more slaves out (those who are slaves to drugs, materialism, chronic levels of low esteem yielding to selfish gains, negative words and actions toward others). We will be recognized by the courage in our souls as we work to make our community the healthiest in the nation. Our community (The Village), then, will be a

As we ponder on Black history and look towards Women’s history, this month provides a wonderful opportunity to take a moment to reflect on the remarkable and positive impact Black Americans and women have had on people around the world. Lest we forget our history we are bound to repeat it. Teach it to our families, colleagues and friends around the country/world and let’s be stunning role models for our colleagues here in Colorado. Nationally, there are more than 150,000 African American nursing professionals who care for patients in acute care facilities, clinics, long term care facilities, schools/universities and underserved communities. Many are also serving in vital roles as mentors, administrators, health policy advocates, experts and professors. Let’s join our hearts and hands to push our hopes higher for our young people. We need them to know their history and to get on a road that leads to constructive rather than destructive outcomes. We must be the best professional that we can be and help others reach great levels of accomplishments. Black nurses are serving all over this nation and we, the Colorado Council of Black Nurses. know firsthand the very dramatic contributions that have been made by AfricanAmericans. Nursing, leading to health and wellness in communities across this state, is of primary concern to our community’s health. We are just over three percent strong in the state; therefore, we must act to increase our numbers in schools and in care facilities.

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healthier place to raise new nurses for the nurture and care of our people. •We’ve become the strong voice for Blacks in the unyielding role as health education advocates, siblings, teachers, and mentors. We value our nurse’s efforts and applaud their professional success where ever they serve. •We’ve leveraged the professional pride exhibited by our nurses as the platform through which we strive to improve the health of Blacks and other under-represented families. As a result, you’ll find Black nursing professionals serving communities throughout this rich nation. The Colorado Council of Black Nurses serves as an essential vehicle and voice for the state’s Black nurses to facilitate the conversation with the national body and other nurses at the international level. Celebrate our journey. Put away selfish interest and join hearts with fellow African Americans in the journey. We’ve only just begun.. Editor’s note: Dr. Margie Cook is president of the Colorado Council of Black Nurses. Denver Urban Spectrum Department E-mail Addresses Denver Urban Spectrum

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Education Activist Gerie Grimes: A Colorado Women’s Hall of Famer

Since high school, HOPE

By Laurence C. Washington

Center’s CEO Gerie Grimes, 66, has

been an advocate for people’s rights.

Hope Center serves special-needs and

at risk children and adults. “I would say growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when the movement was there, I was always about trying to make a difference in speaking up in whatever venue,” explains Grimes, a Denver East High School graduate. High school is where Grimes says she found her drive, and the fact that both of her parents were born in racially charged Mississippi, and just understanding their history and what they went through shaped the person she would become life. “I had difficulties in the school system,” Grimes says. “I was exposed to the disparities and inequities based solely on the color of your skin.” However, those hurdles did detour Grimes from pursuing a world-class education. After graduating from East, she pursued an associate’s degree in early childhood education at the Community College of Denver. Next: a bachelor’s degree in non-profit administration from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Then it was onto graduate school where Grimes earned a Masters in non-profit administration from Regis University in ’92. She was one of the institution’s first graduate students when the program was introduced in 1990. Currently Grimes is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Denver, working toward an Educational Policy Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Administration. Grimes has her sights on graduating this summer in August. “It’s been a long, long, journey,” she says.

Hope Center

During Grimes three-decade tenure at the HOPE Center, she says one of her many finest hours is seeing their former preschoolers, who are now adults bring their children to the program. “I’ve been at the HOPE Center for 36 years now in different capacities,” Grimes says. “I’m the president and CEO, but I actually started as a bookkeeper in our vocational program.”

Gerie Grimes

Grimes explains that HOPE Center, located at 3400 Elizabeth St. in Denver, offers several outstanding programs from different perspectives, including children, gifted and vocational platforms. “We serve children from special needs to gifted, because all kids come with different talents and gifts. We serve about 250 families per year. At the early childhood program we have 22 staff members and five in our vocational program with 30 adults. All are full-time.” Among her leadership roles in the community, Grimes has served on numerous boards and committees including, the Center for African American Health, Denver Early Childhood Council, Metro State University of Denver’s Board of Trustees and Alumni Board, Colorado Black Women for Political Action, Falcons Youth Organization and the Police Activities League. Currently she’s the board treasurer for Colorado’s Association for the Education of Young Children.

Photo courtesy of Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame

Being inducted is no mere feat. Colorado Hall of Fame officials only accept 10 women every two years – six contemporary and four historic figures. Colorado Hall of Fame 2018 contemporary class includes president of the Gathering Place Leslie Foster, Astronaut Susan Helms, University of Colorado Chancellor Dorothy Horrell, attorney Fay Matsukage, former Colorado Lt. Governor Gail Schoettler and of course HOPE Center’s CEO Gerie Grimes – a nomination that was definitely one of shock and surprise for Grimes. “I will say that,” she says. “I knew they sent out nominations, and I got emails too, so I was aware and familiar with it. I knew some of the past recipients who had been inducted. When I was nominated, it was actually just an honor to be even considered. “Many women, who are the ‘sung and unsung,’ as well as those in the public eye just to be on that platform is definitely an honor. I’m in good company and from all walks of life. As it gets closer, you do look and say, ‘Wow! This is really happening.’ I have so many family members who are just so proud and excited. And that brings excitement to me to see their excitement as well.”

Colorado Woman’s Hall of Fame

Grimes’ hard work and dedication to the Denver-area community’s special-needs and at risk children of color has paid off. On March 28, Grimes will be inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame – the non-profit volunteer organization that recognizes women who have contributed to Colorado history. She’ll join a unique sorority of outstanding Coloradoans from stateswomen, educators, civil rights activists, media insiders and even an astronaut.

Cultural Relevance

Grimes believes when children, regardless of the color of their skin, have a fair playing ground, they all will achieve greatness. And that belief has served her well through the years, and all the way to the Hall of Fame. “We’re talking about the equity too,” she says. “It’s both a combina-

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tion. I honestly believe that’s why I’m in this field.” Hope Center serves primarily children of color, and which Grimes underlines is very important to her that what they are exposed to and offered is at the highest level. Training them to reach their highest potential means we have to be cultural relevant in everything we teach and demonstrate within HOPE Center. From the book they use, to the people that they see in the various leadership roles, to the food we serve – it’s all of that.” So what’s next? “I’d like to do more speaking in regards to cultural type issues, racism, bias that impact all of us. I speak a lot to upcoming teachers. It’s more than reading a book, it’s how you act and demonstrate you are part of the neighborhood. I’d really like to speak on more of that and more professional development type presentations.”

Family Affair

Grimes says there were so many individuals who inspired her, including former Hope Center’s board member, MSU Denver’s Dr. Marilyn Chipman, whose passion in early childhood was a inspiration, and former HOPE Center Director George Brantley, but most importantly her parents. Grimes punctuates the fact that it’s important for people to know that being raised by her mother and father, and having five sisters and one brother, shaped her more than anything else into the person she has become today. “I’ve never given up,” she says. “My parents were always up lifting. And growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, their challenges were greater than ours. But they stood beside us with all of our challenges.” Grimes says being exposed to a lot in the school system, is what drove her into education. She says she was overlooked, undermined, and not accepted by the teachers, “Which made me feel like, ‘Why try?’” but was encouraged by her parents to keep going. “My sisters, my husband and my two boys have been behind me all the way. So I have family. And, that makes a difference.”.


Restoring the Mile High Stadium Name: How fans could help

Now that the

Op-ed by Wellington Webb

Sports Authority signs have been removed from the Denver Broncos stadium, it’s time to think of a creative way to financially help the team restore the Mile High Stadium name. For those of you who don’t know, taxpayers in a seven-county district paid to fund 75 percent of the $400.7 million stadium, which opened in 2001. The Broncos paid 25 percent and the naming rights were sold to raise yearly revenue to maintain and improve the stadium. The tax that built the stadium ended in 2012 when the construction costs were paid off, and both corporate names have since gone belly up. As mayor, I was a loud voice among many - who opposed selling the naming rights. Now the Broncos officially own the naming rights, but haven’t found a suitable partner. Instead of rolling the dice for another corporate name, why not allow the fans to help pay to restore the Mile High Stadium name? This would allow any fan - including businesses with deep pockets - to contribute. It would be like buying shares in a company. I understand there’s an estimated $650 million in stadium improvements wanted over 20 years, so when I say we need deep pockets, I would include our marijuana industry. The NFL would never allow pot signs to be televised, so auction off signs for the 76,125 folding seat bottoms or other locations not televised. I’m sure some savvy marketing people could find a way to make this work. Other companies would get recognition throughout the stadium, along with a list of individual fans who contribute. The effort would generate good will from fans worldwide and positive media attention. The Metropolitan Football Stadium District - whose members represent the taxpayers - could help promote and manage the program. Why not try this and see if there is enough corporate and individual support? It could prove to be a more sta-

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ble revenue source than risking it all on one corporate sponsor. I have always believed strongly that the “Mile High Stadium” name is the best PR and advertising for the city, state and the Broncos. Maybe getting that original name back will help stir up the Mile High magic again. I also suggest honoring owner Pat Bowlen and his family by adding “Bowlen Field” as the secondary reference. Broncos executives recently vowed to “change the culture” of the team and among the changes should be returning the “Mile High Stadium” name to the fans..

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Rachel B. Noel’s Gift To Women’s History MSU Denver’s Annual Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship

By Melovy Melvin

R

achel B. Noel was the first African American woman elected to public office in Colorado, when elected as the first African American to the Denver Public Schools’ (DPS) Board of Education and she was the first African American woman elected statewide in Colorado when she was elected as the first African American to be a member and chair of the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents. A champion of the civil rights movement in Denver and in Colorado, she leaves behind a distinguished legacy in her effort to integrate Denver’s public schools with the Noel Resolution which passed in 1970. On April 25, 1968, she presented the DPS board with the Noel Resolution, recognizing that the “establishment of an integrated school population is desirable to achieve equality of educational opportunity.”

It directed the superintendent to develop “a comprehensive plan for the integration of the Denver Public Schools.” Under a cloud of threats to Noel and her family, the resolution passed in 1970. The U.S. Supreme Court would eventually affirm Noel’s position in its landmark decision of 1973, Keyes v. Denver School District No. 1, making Denver the first city outside the American South to be ordered by the country’s highest court to address de facto segregation with school busing. Noel also played a critical role in MSU Denver’s history. She came to MSU Denver as a teacher of sociology and African American Studies in 1969 and served as chair of the African American Studies Department from 1971 to 1980. Noel died at the age of 90 in 2008. A recipient of many awards and distinctions, Noel also lived to see a Denver Public Schools middle school named in her honor. Although that middle school was closed, the building and campus that house charter programs are still called the Rachel B. Noel Campus. The Noel Community Arts School, housed in the former Montbello High School building, consists of both a high school and a middle school. Noel was awarded honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Denver in 1993 and the University of Colorado in 2004 and an honorary degree from MSU Denver in 1981. She also held a bachelor’s degree from Hampton University and a master’s degree from Fisk University. Noel’s other commendations and accomplishments were many, including Rocky Mountain News Top 100 Citizens of the Century in 2000 and Denver Mayor’s Millennium Award in 2001. During her lifetime and after, Noel’s legacy has inspired the MSU Denver community and beyond. In 1981, the University created The Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship to honor Noel.

This year, Metropolitan State University of Denver, MSU Denver selected Denver native and veteran urban planner, real estate developer, university professor, author and filmmaker, Dr. Phil Hart as the 2018 Rachel B. Noel distinguished visiting professor. The free event is open to the public and will be held on Sunday, March 11 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Shorter Community AME Church, 3100 Richard Allen Court, in Denver. Dr. Hart will deliver a community keynote speech addressing a Black urban planner’s perspective on gentrification, economic development and social injustices and their effect on African Americans from 1918 to 2018, the years from Noel’s birth to now. Following his address, a panel led by Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler, Reverend Quincy Shannon and Auontai (Tay)Anderson will respond. On Monday, March 12 and Tuesday, March 13, Dr. Hart will join with students at MSU Denver including students from Denver Public Schools’ Noel Community Arts with topics on sociology, urban planning/land use and aviation and film-making. The Rachel B. Noel professorship develops multiculturalism, diversity and academic excellence at MSU Denver and continues to reflect historic achievements and inspire future generations of leaders. It brings renowned scholars and artists of distinction to the university to conduct classes, seminars, performances and lectures for students, faculty and the larger Denver community. . Editor’s note: For more information, visit the Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship webpage at www.msudenver.edu/noel.

About the Panelists

Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler is the chief catalyst and founder of The Equity Project, LLC. She is the former senior vice president and chief inclusion officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado and former executive director of the Office of Human Resources for the City and County of Denver. She is a consultant accredited by the Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence and a graduate of the Harvard University and Massachusetts General Disparities

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2018

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Leadership Program and recognized for her equity work with corporations, non-profit, community and government organizations. She holds a doctorate in the field of organizational leadership, a Master of Arts degree in management and a Bachelor of Science degree in education. Tyler is the First Lady of Shorter Community AME Church, and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the Links. Denver native Reverend Quincy “Q” Shannon became a licensed preacher in 2003 and was ordained as a National Baptist minister in 2010. He currently serves at New Hope as the Youth and Young Adult Pastor. As a 3rd generation of his family, he attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. Shannon graduated with a BS in Broadcast Communication and received his Master’s in Divinity from the Samuel D. Procter School of Theology at Virginia Union University. In 2009 he started his consulting company Quintessential Remedy where he does motivational speaking. He is on the admin leadership team at Denver School of Science and Technology Green Valley Ranch. His community involvement includes the Denver Urban League Young Professionals, Denver Freedom Riders, Omega Leadership Academy Youth Mentoring Program, and a 2014 graduate of Leadership Denver. Auontai “Tay” Anderson is the former Student Body President of Manual High School, having served three consecutive terms. He also served as chair of the Colorado High School Democrats and he is the former State Central Committeeman for HD9. Tay has been passionate about his education since he walked through the doors of Manual High School and dedicates his time to the students of Denver Public Schools. He became the youngest candidate to run for the DPS School Board at the age of 18. Anderson passionately believes in and participates in social activism. He has taken a stand to support women’s rights, Black rights, Latino rights, LGBTQ+ rights, Native rights, Muslim rights, and disabled persons’ rights. He has participated in numerous public demonstrations as well as conversations and meetings with school district and state leaders on social activism. Anderson will soon be attending Metropolitan State University, studying political science. .


Ten Most Common Money Mistakes and How to Overcome Them Free Community Financial Literacy Workshops Planned

L adies, money causes the most

friction between spouses. Seventy percent of married couples argue about money – ahead of fights about household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring or what’s for dinner. As you recognize Women’s History this month, learn how to make history with your finances. Following are the 10 most common money mistakes that that keep us on this merry-go-round? 1. Procrastination: The biggest money mistake of all. This is financial suicide on the installment plan. Waiting to get legal documents in place…and waiting to start investing. 2. Failing to Establish Financial Objectives and Implement a Plan to Reach Them: People do not plan to fail – they simply fail to plan. 3. Ignorance of The Time Value of Money: Most people do not understand the tremendous potential of compounding money over a period of time – letting your money work as hard as you do. 4. Failing to Recognize the Impact of Inflation (cost of living): Inflation reduces the purchasing power of your dollars over time. In 1998, gas was $1.06 per gallon. 5. Lack of Understanding Tax Laws and Failing to Implement Strategies to Legally Avoid Taxes: The impact of income, estate and gift taxes can be substantially reduced or eliminated through effective legal and tax planning. Knowing and using tax strategies can result in fewer of your dollars making the one-way trip to Washington. 6. Failing to Diversify Your Investment Portfolio or Taking Unnecessary Investment Risks: Each person should determine their tolerance for risk and formulate a balanced and diversified portfolio (real estate, stocks, bonds, annuities, mutual funds, etc.) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. 7. Inadequate Protection Against Unforeseen Losses: Having life, home,

health, auto, disability, liability, longterm care and other forms of insurance may be better than self-insuring. Insurance protects against unexpected and/or catastrophic losses. 8. Letting Family Spending Run Wild: Lack of discipline in spending habits can cause even the best plans to fail. 9. Unrealistic Expectations: It takes time to build an estate. Too many people expect dramatic results too fast and become frustrated when get-richquick schemes do not work out. 10. Failing to Use Professional Advisors: None of us can expect to live long enough to become expert at everything – especially the intricacies of efficient and effective financial planning. Surround yourself with professionals who are specialists in their areas and use a financial planner to coordinate the efforts of the entire team. With a soaring amount of personal debt and record high bankruptcies, too many people are struggling with basic financial literacy. How can you attain the success, power and wealth that you ancestors dreamed about? The Family Wealth Legacy Project will present a series of free community workshops on financial and legal wellness issues. The presenters, with more than 136 years collectively of serving the community include Michelle Adams, Attorney and Counselor at Law; Gregory Anderson, CFP, Granderson Wealth Management Group, Inc.; Myra Donovan, CFP, Eagle Strategies/New York Life; Walter Huff II, Keller Williams DTC; and T. A. Taylor-Hunt, Law Office of T.A. Taylor-Hunt, LLC. The first workshop, Protecting and Building Financial Security, will be Saturday, April from 9 a.m. to noon at Scott United Methodist Church, 2880 Garfield St., in Denver. Refreshments will be served. RSVP is required and seating is limited. Register free online at www.createprotectyourlegacywealthseminar.eventbrite.com or email walterhuff@kw.com. . Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2018

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For the 66th time, New Hope

Baptist Church will hold its annual Women’s Day celebration in March. The church has only missed the celebration once, in 1979, since it was first implemented by Anna Lee Williams and her husband Rev. M.C. Williams.

In 1952, New Hope Baptist Church in Denver had no women in leading roles. A half century after Women’s Day was first celebrated a woman was still introduced as first name “wife,” last name “of.” Women couldn’t hold leadership positions and definitely were not called on to be pastors at religious institutions anywhere in the country. “The deacon board was all men in 1952,” life-long congregation member Julia Gayles said. “Women did not have a strong role in the church besides a school teacher or usher.” Gayles, who is also the board of trustees chair at New Hope, said women, especially African American women, were not afforded opportunities for leadership and personal growth in society. Nannie Helen Burroughs first petitioned the idea of celebrating women to the National Baptist Convention in 1907 because that patriarchy had followed women into their place of worship.

Coretta Scott King in 1958 with Wilma J. Webb

So on the second Sunday in March 1952, at a pictorial tabernacle in the heart of Five Points, New Hope held its first Women’s Day celebration. The churched has since hosted many prominent Women’s Day speakers including Coretta Scott King in 1958, Alberta Williams King in 1971, and Naomi Tutu in 1990. As a songstress, Williams also felt that music was very important to women’s day and built an all-women’s choir.

New Hope Baptist Church

Celebrates the Growth and Empowerment of Women For More Than Six Decades By Joella Bauman

“She was really something else; she was a phenomenal woman,” former Women’s Day Chairperson Linda Bates Leali said. “She was a lyric dramatic soprano and professional opera singer. She brought a certain air to New Hope that she instilled when she first initiated women’s day in 1952.” The celebration began as a Sunday service where women ran the show. The pastor would join the congregation in the pews and every person in the pulpit was a women. The choir was all women, as were the ushers and deacons. In 1957 Williams added a Saturday prayer breakfast and retreat to the celebration where the men would serve the women breakfast and prayer workshops, but this did not become a yearly fixture of the event until the ’80s. “The strong women and leadership capacity of the women here started with Anna Lee Williams,” Bates Leali said. “It was just a time to celebrate the women of the church and to show how women had spiritual gifts that could be used by others and shared with others, and as time progressed, it began to show how barriers were being broken down even in the church.” The Leadership of the church has naturally evolved and changed over time. Williams passed her torch onto Lorene Peters and her husband Dr. James D. Peters Jr. Now Nichelle Downing and Rev. Dr. Eugene M. Downing Jr. are continuing to develop and preserve an important tradition passed down by Williams and Peters. “We hold onto history by continuing to celebrate,” Rev. Downing said. “When we arrived here six years ago, I invited Anna Lee’s daughter to talk (to my wife and I) about Women’s Day and what it meant to her mother.” “It came about at a time when there was still a good bit of gender bias in the church and sadly in the Black

churches. That was much of the impetus for Women’s Day here to really recognize that 70 percent of protestant churches are made up of women but somehow there is this gender bias that we still have in the denomination even as a protestant faith.” Each Women’s Day now begins with a Wednesday prayer meeting run by women and attended by all the women who partake in the planning committees for the event. Friday the women decorate the sanctuary and Family Life Center before enjoying the weekend retreat. Developing personal connections with the other women of the congregation has become as much a tradition of Women’s Day as the sermon. “So what my wife I think has done is identify women in our congregation who appear to be engaged in ministry, who love the lord and simply, maybe, would bring a level of engagement that would reach other women in the congregation,” Rev. Downing said. This year, Tracy Dickerson has been selected as the chairperson and Tyshia Seldon as the co-chairperson. They will work with her to select the theme, color and biblical scripture. They also work to identify and solicit volunteers to chair the various committees. “There are a lot of committees involved,” Bates Leali said. “It takes a huge team to get this together and they work to include members from the church and that’s one of the beautiful additional benefits from it. People get to know each other who they may not have known before. Life-long friendships have been started and established.

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“Maintaining focus on what God promised,” is this year’s theme and the colors are grey and purple. This particular year’s biblical reference is Deuteronomy 5:32-33. “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” Rev. Tamieka Gerow, who currently serves as the Executive Minister of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Spring House, Pennsylvania, will be the guest speaker. She also delivered the sermon at last year’s Women’s Day celebration. “I pick the speaker for service and my wife prays about theme for the year,” Rev. Downing said. “I select speakers for the whole year and identify persons whose particular gifts in ministry sort of align with those themes and where we are going as a church.” Last year Rev. Gerow was pregnant when she spoke and Rev. Downing said that experience fostered personal growth for both himself and the congregation. “It was really great for me as a pastor in trying to really be authentic with gender issues and trying to do some of the things I’ve come through in ministry and the patriarchal structure that exists,” he said. “I felt that it was a blessing for her to carry that for that moment where people were kind of uncomfortable with a pregnant woman in the pulpit, and then eventually people got over it. It was a great moment and such a profound one for us that it was worth inviting her to come back again.” Inviting strong women into spiritual leadership within the church not only fosters a strong sense of self and place in the world for congregation members, but also paves the way for women to become instrumental in the everyday operations of the church. New Hope was the first Baptist church in Denver to have a female board of trustees chairperson, allow women to sit in the pulpit, become members of the deacon board, ushers, members of the choir, and hold leadership positions in various committees through the ministries at the church. This is such a unique experience and the message isn’t just for women, but it’s a message that helps women recognize how important we are,” Bates Leali said. “The empowerment of women is something that the church hasn’t always has a role in and I’m so glad that New Hope recognizes and celebrates women in our Christian walk.”.


The World Is Coming to Denver

By Sid Wilson

There’s a lot of talk about Denver

someday hosting the Super Bowl or the Olympics, but less well known is an event coming May 19-23 that will have an even bigger economic impact on Colorado than those two events. It’s called IPW. Don’t feel bad if you’re never heard of it. IPW is an annual travel business convention that moves around to different tourism places in the country (usually Orlando, San Francisco, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, or Washington D.C.) where U.S. destinations meet with international travel buyers from all over the world to sell them on visiting America. It is literally the “Super Bowl” of the international travel industry where $4.7 billion of travel business is conducted. Some 500 media outlets from 70 different countries cover the event. And this event is coming to Denver in 2018 for the first time since 1992. To promote it, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock flew to Washington D.C. to last year’s IPW to hold a press conference for 250 international media. Why is IPW so important? Because studies show that a city that hosts IPW can expect to see $1.7 billion of new international travel spending in just the next few years. So if you start hearing a lot of French, German, Spanish and Chinese being spoken around Denver in the next few years, it’s because IPW has made Denver a major international tourism destination. How does it work? Every state, city, county and attraction in America has a booth at IPW and they try to sell

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international travel buyers (the ones who put together travel packages) on their destination. But obviously, the city that hosts the meeting has a lot better chance to sell their destination than someone at a booth, because the

travel buyer is actually seeing the destination. And in Denver, they’ll see a lot. Denver will host a concert at Red Rocks, a party at Mile High Stadium and a reception at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. They’ll take tours, visit breweries, go biking, ride trains, eat in great restaurants, and visit mountain resorts like Vail and Breckenridge. “A lot of international tourists are familiar with Disney World and New York and Las Vegas, but they don’t really know much about Denver and the Rocky Mountains,” says Richard Scharf, CEO and president of Visit Denver the Convention & Visitors Bureau, who are organizing the event. “This is perhaps the greatest opportunity the city has ever had to showcase what Denver offers to an international visitor and encourage them to visit here,” he adds. So what do more international tourists mean for you in Denver? More traffic, more gentrification? Hardly. Most internationals get four weeks’ vacation, so they travel farther and spend more money. They may fall in love with Denver, but they’re not going to move here. They’re going to come, spend their money, create jobs, pay taxes, and then go home. A lot of them travel by public transportation, and since they are on vacation, they don’t travel on weekends like locals, but instead travel during the week. And jobs in the travel industry in Colorado are important and good jobs. Tourism supports 165,000 jobs in our state and tourists pay $1.2 billion in taxes. That’s $650 in taxes a year for every Colorado family – taxes that


those people from Texas and Kansas and Wyoming and France and Japan pay – which you don’t have to pay.

other locations that were all known for their consistency and quality, but most of all for their service.

Pictured above: Barney and Julie Ford reenactors Hilliard Moore and the late Jane Taylor with Sid Wilson at the Barney Ford Museum in Breckenridge, CO

But the best thing is that there is no color barrier in the hospitality industry. Most successful people in hotels and restaurants started at the bottom and worked their way up to good, high paying jobs. If you’re good, there’s plenty of room for advancement as the industry continues to grow. Look at Barney Ford. He was a slave born in Virginia in 1822 who was “loaned” out by his master to work on a steamboat as a cook and porter. Then he saw his opportunity. When the steamboat was docked in Illinois, a free state, he was able with the help of the Underground Railroad, to literally step off the boat and escape. Then he began a series of adventures that could fill several novels. He went to Nicaragua, crossed the West, and panned for gold in the California Gold Rush of 1849. But it was in the Colorado gold rush of 1859 that he achieved fame and fortune. The laws of the day did not allow Black men to file mine claims. Barney found and worked a gold mine with white partners, but they cheated him and stole his mine. It was then Barney discovered the one area in the West at the time where he could work freely and where there was no color barrier – the hospitality industry. Barney went back to his previous skills and opened a hotel and restaurant – the InterOcean Hotel at 16th and Blake in Denver. Within a short time, he was one of the richest people in the new mining town of Denver with a horse and carriage and a white driver. Barney always said that people “appreciate good quality food and accommodations, but they pay for service.” His philosophy paid off. He became one of the most famous restauranteurs in the West, opening restaurants in Cheyenne, Denver and

Unfortunately, none of the hotels or restaurants survived. Most of them burned down in fires or are long forgotten. However, Barney and his wife built a gorgeous mansion on Main Street in Breckenridge, and the house is open today as the Barney Ford Museum. The museum does an excellent job of telling the story of Barney Ford, and how, because there was no color barrier in the hospitality industry in the West, he was able to amass a fortune by providing something that was in short supply – quality food, outstanding accommodations and excellent service. Barney Ford died in 1902. There is a stained glass portrait of him in the Colorado State Capitol and in March 2018 he will be inducted into the Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame. But the lessons of Barney Ford live on. Tourism is a great career choice, and it’s only going to get better in Denver because of IPW. So if you hear a lot of different languages in Denver on May 19-23, say hi to those folks, welcome them to Denver, and ask them to please send more visitors our way..

Editor’s note: Sid Wilson is the owner of A Private Guide and has spent two decades in the hospitality industry. Like Barney Ford, he is also a member of the Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2018

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African Bar and Grill Serving: Jollof Rice, African Beer and, Specialty Dishes from Africa

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720-949-0784 or 303-375-7835

Editor’s note: This month we began a new column called Ask The Mayor! The public is invited to submit questions and concerns about what is going on in the City and County of Denver. If you have a question, email editor@urbanspectrum.net to have your question reviewed and answered by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

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ASK THE MAYOR!

DUS: How will the recent statements by Attorney General Jeff Sessions affect the Denver community and consumers regarding recreational and medical dispensaries and consumers? Mayor: As of now, we do not expect changes for the industry here in Colorado. In 2012, Denver and Colorado residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize recreational marijuana. Since that time, our city and state have worked diligently to implement policies that work, making us a leader for other states to follow. This is a billion-dollar industry in Denver. There are thousands of jobs, and all that Sessions’ actions have done is create uncertainty for an industry that is working to establish stability. I have urged our congressional representatives to take immediate action to protect our voters and employees from this disastrous decision. DUS: What are your future plans for improving the roads around the city? Mayor: The city’s mobility plan is focused on moving more people, more efficiently and more safely by empowering them to make the choices they want to make. This will require a number of steps to improve our roads including making them safer. I want to make the streets safe for everyone, no matter where they live, no matter their means, and no matter their mode to walk, bike, drive or take transit. As Denver continues to grow, we must find ways to make sure that the infrastructure does too. That is why last October my office put forth our Vision Zero Action Plan. This is a fiveyear plan to set us on track to improve street design, safe speeds, and implement data and transparency that will save lives. Specifically, the vision zero initiative lays out 70 actions to improve our roads including increased time for crossing the street, timed lights, updated medians, and more options for different modes of transportation. We’ve already started improvements on busy corridors such as Federal Blvd. For more information about our Mobility Action Plan, go to www.denvergov.org/mayor.

DUS: Do you have any concerns about the recent tax bill passed by the Republicans and/or how it will affect the citizens of Denver? Mayor: There are a lot of considerations when it comes to understanding the new tax bill, but ultimately, any bill that puts the U.S. $1.5 trillion in the hole isn’t responsible. At the local level, we’ll ensure that we continue to provide government services to our

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fullest capability. This bill, which specifically caps state and local tax deductions, makes that harder. It takes away vital tools in the toolbox for localities to fund critical needs like infrastructure, education, housing and more. DUS: What is the process for requesting a stop light at an intersection? Mayor: The City and County of Denver has developed guidelines for the installation of stop signs. Before a sign can be installed, we have members of our public works department examine the location, looking at pedestrian volume, automobile traffic, and the frequency of accidents. These individuals are engineers and manage these requests. We’re also in the process of figuring out better ways to bring community traffic and transportation options to Denver residents, looking at how we can be more accessible and responsive to the community’s request and make requests like this more accessible. For more information, please call 3-1-1.

DUS: I am from Africa, a mother of three children and have a family owned restaurant. I have been in Denver since 2003, never committed a crime and regarded as an upstanding businesswoman. I am undocumented for several reasons. How can you help or your office assist me with getting my status changed as documented? Mayor: The authority over immigration matters lies exclusively with the Federal Government. That is why Denver is focused on connecting undocumented individuals who are seeking to change their status directly to immigration attorneys who can analyze their specific circumstances and determine if there is a path to legal status. Nationally, 14 percent of individuals who were undocumented and applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) found that they qualified for status more permanent than DACA after consulting with an immigration attorney. Only immigration attorneys are allowed to provide legal advice. The local legal community provides free legal clinics staffed by immigration lawyers (at Centro San Juan Diego) that she can visit before deciding if she wants to consult an attorney. I have also directed the City Attorney’s Office to create a legal defense fund for immigrants facing removal proceedings. That fund will have both public and private dollars that will support the immigration legal services and is expected to launch soon. .


Renters Have a Right to a Level Playing Field

By State Sen. Angela Williams

E

viction rates in Denver are an economic and moral crisis. More than 8,000 eviction notices were filed in 2016. More than 8,000 of our friends and neighbors had to endure the wrenching process of falling upon hard times and losing the roof over their heads. The majority of eviction filings over the last three years alleged overdue rent. But “overdue rent” doesn’t mean falling thousands of dollars behind as some might imagine — the median amount alleged in public housing filings was about $250. The Denver Housing Authority, which operates some 12,000 public housing units, filed one eviction claiming just $4 in unpaid rent. Can you imagine losing your family’s home over $4? This spike in evictions is just one symptom of the ever-increasing cost of housing across Colorado. A recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that a minimum-wage worker in Colorado would have to put in a mind-boggling 95 hours per week to afford a two bedroom rental. Many tenants are encountering new barriers that impede access to stable housing, causing rates of homelessness to rise considerably in many parts of state. Reversing these disturbing trends must be a top priority for state lawmakers. One of the first steps we can take is to establish basic consumer protections for renters. These are the kinds of rules that many Coloradans are shocked to find aren’t already written into law.

For example, current law does not require landlords to provide renters with either a copy of their lease or a receipt for rent paid, which can create huge problems for low-income renters who often pay rent with cash or money order. Presently, there is no record of the transaction unless a landlord takes the optional step of providing a receipt of payment. Many renters have experienced hardships because they were not able to prove that they had, in fact, already paid rent. This can create greater instability in the lives of people who are already experiencing financial insecurity and must change. That’s why I’m introducing a bill which requires residential landlords to provide each tenant with a copy of a written rental agreement, as well as contemporaneous receipts for any payment made in person with cash or a money order. There is no reason landlords shouldn’t provide a receipt of payments received like any other business. I am also introducing a bill to significantly extend the amount of time renters have to resolve unpaid rent issues. Currently, landlords can serve renters with an eviction notice within just three days of an unpaid rent violation. This is a particular hardship for low-income families, many of whom have heads of households who work multiple jobs and have vanishingly little free time. My right to cure bill extends this period to 14 days. Most evictions over unpaid rent involve relatively low dollar amounts. By giving working families more breathing room to resolve these issues amicably, we can make sure that horrible cases such as the $4 eviction never happen again. Housing is a core building block of a good life, and we must do everything in our power to make sure that all Coloradans can afford to keep a roof over their heads. We can start by taking these two small but important steps along the path to true housing justice. .

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS Students currently in grades 9, 10 or 11 who live or go to school in Denver are eligible to apply. This year’s free event will be held June 11-15.

To apply, visit

www.NortheastDenverLeadershipWeek.org Application deadline is March 23 Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2018

13


The Power of Three Women, Honoring HerStory

By Mike Sawaya

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thinking about Women’s History Month and to describe the abiding power that principled women can have, three women who impacted my life immediately came to mind: My mother, Jackie Sawaya, my paternal grandmother, Hazel Sawaya and my mentor and an amazing leader of the AfricanAmerican community, Menola Upshaw. My mother, Jackie Sawaya, was less than 5 feet tall. But in that height packed the kind of authority that would never accept no when yes was the answer. She expected her children to be educated, she expected them to abide by the law and she expected them to be polite and kind. I remember the taste of the soap when I thought it was easier to lie to her than to tell the truth. And, I never told her a lie again. My father was a hardworker and knew well how to speak his mind, but the house was my mother’s domain and everyone knew it. Hazel Sawaya was the matriarch of my father’s family. She baked Arabic flat bread every Saturday and cooked lunch every work day for my aunts and uncles and anyone else in the family who came to eat. When she spoke – everyone listened. She was full of love but tolerated no nonsense in the family. She knew how to laugh but when she grabbed your arm you knew that she was doing a little bit of attitude adjustment. It was very effective. Both of these women in my family were women who understood that principles and values had to be at the center of life. They lived those principles. Both women were God-fearing women of faith. From my mother, I learned the Protestant way of the Christian faith and from my grandmother I learned the Catholic way. I found both combined very nicely.

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Menola Upshaw appeared in my life when I began working as a volunteer attorney with the Denver Branch of the NAACP. Wow! It was impressive to see Menola take on an issue. When she decided that something needed attention she would call in the forces, call a news conference and we would go to work. In her physical presence, she reminded me of my grandmother, and in her manner of dealing with an issue, she reminded me of my mother. I have to admit that working with Menola was a lot of fun. It was a delight to see how she quickly got the attention of the press and the government to answer when an injustice was being done or contemplated. I think we all took it for granted that the Denver Branch would always be available to address issues of importance in the African-American community. I guess I never gave a thought to how important the mere presence of Menola was in responding to the matters of concern. Likewise, I never thought how important the presence of my mother was in matters of concern to the family. I did not find this out until she fell into her decline with dementia and other health problems. Menola had the same problem with cognitive and emotional decline. As she faded, so did the prospects for the Denver Branch. It took a while for it to regroup and the local branch has been slow to regain its power. My maternal grandmother held on to the final end of 89 years but could not beat the cancer that befell her four months before her death. Thankfully a coma took her so that the last three months she was not aware of how her power had failed. But the family was aware of how she had failed. The family never regained the amazing substance that she had brought to it. All three women showed the power of principle and the power of always living by tried and true values. All three were the main forces and the central actors of their worlds. None of them wanted to be anything other than what they were. None of them ever apologized for their size, color or nationality. They stood their ground and held their ground right where they were! None of them would have told you that women were more special than men, but all three would have told you that women are very special. I am so very glad, and I feel so very special that all three women were part of my life. May all three rest in peace. May all of us never forget the power of women!.


Ground Rules

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

REEL ACTION - WWW.BLACKFLIX.COM Black Panther

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

F

Black Panther llll

By Laurence Washington

asten your lap strap! Black Panther has all the thrills of any Marvel superhero movie to date. The action is spectacular and the sets are lavish. The film cost billions of dollars to make (which they’ll probably get back in a weekend), and you can see where every dollar has been spent. Black Panther also offers a great storyline, as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to rule the fictional country of Wakanda, after his father’s assassination, only to be challenged by his estranged cousin Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) for the throne. However, Black Panther offers more than popcorn thrills; its historical featuring and all-Black cast, and a Black superhero headlining a Hollywood big budget movie. Black Panther also echoes ‘60s civil rights activists who were at odds on whether to use peace or aggression to level the playing field in a white privileged world. The film also empowers Black women and youths, who for the first time can identify with a big screen superhero that looks like them. It’s really a landmark achievement. Even though Boseman is the film’s signature hero, he’s upstaged by Danai Gurira (General Okoye), who wields a mean spear. Okoye is just as powerful and resourceful as her male counterparts, and should probably get her own big budget movie. But that will never happen. Oscar winner Lupita Nyon’o turns in another solid performance as Nakia, T’Challa’s love interest, and like Okoye, she’s a strong no nonsense character. Five minutes in, Black Panther met all of my expectations. Two hours later, it surpassed them checking all the boxes. It does, however, suffer from the same affection as all Marvel movies, some of the fight sequences go on a little too long. It’s great dessert, but you can’t live off a steady diet of sweets.

That aside, Black Panther is brilliant and the supporting cast is magnificent. Of course there are two after credit scenes, one of which whets our appetites for the big showdown with super baddie Thanos this summer’s Avenger: Infinity War. Save me an aisle seat.

Meet the Supporting Cast of Black Panther By Samantha Ofole-Prince

Black Panther

You don’t need to know anything

about this Marvel property to enjoy Black Panther. Delightfully relevant, fresh, funny and non-formulaic, Marvel Studios has struck gold again with this sensational superhero treat. A film about an African superhero (Chadwick Boseman) who is also the King of a wealthy and technologically advanced African nation, which

mines metal vibranium (the material that provides strength to Captain America’s shield), director Ryan Coogler clearly knows his way around the genre. With the exception of a few, the predominately all Black cast hail from Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa, is spoken in the movie, which offers a brilliant glimpse to a fictitious African county called Wakanda and captures

the African tradition both visually and orally. Blackflix.com senior critic-atlarge Samantha Ofole-Prince catches up with the supporting cast for a breakdown of who’s who. Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o plays a Wakandan spy and Black Panther’s love interest who hails from the River tribe. When we are first introduced to her character Nakia,

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2018

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she’s undercover in Nigeria tracking a terrorist group. Describing Nakia, Nyong’o says, “She’s a bit of a rebel, but is also a loyalist to her country. She is this world traveler, so her style is definitely influenced by the experiences she’s had.” Zimbabwean actress Danai Gurira has the most powerful role and plays Okoye, the King’s protector and head of the all-female Wakandan Special Forces (the Dora Milaje) and is clearly ready (as demonstrated in a few funny scenes) to take down anyone who messes with T’challa/Black Panther. A part that required her to shave her head bald, the actress says it took some time getting used to the bald look and recalls being shocked the first time she looked in a mirror. “There was pride around the shaved head and beauty. Okoye doesn’t want a wig when she has to go undercover and hates it. She has pride walking with that bald head,” she shares. Afro-British actor Daniel Kaluuya plays W’Kabi, Royal Counsel to T’Challa. “He’s got an African male ego and I find that quite interesting and really honest,” shares Kaluuya. “It’s like seeing what that does to a man when he’s been brought up in this certain tradition that is quite sexist in a way and seeing whether he can develop and overcome it. And anyone can.” Twenty-three-year-old Guyanese actress Letitia Wright plays the tech-savvy Princess Shuri, Black Panther’s/T’Challa’s little sister. She is second-in-line for the


REEL ACTION - WWW.BLACKFLIX.COM

throne behind her brother and is the smartest person in Wakanda. The brains behind Black Panther’s suits and technology Shuri is smart, witty and a delight to watch. There’s a really engaging scene where they have a playful banter as she teases T’Challa about his ‘royal slippers’ while briefing him on the gadgets she’s specially designed for his mission to Asia. “Shuri is someone who’s very innovative. Her brain is always working, and she’s always thinking of solutions to help her country and building gadgets and things like better armor,” adds Wright about the character. Trinidadian actor Winston Duke dons on the perfect dialect and delivery as M’Baku, leader of the Jabari mountain tribe of Wakanda. He doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Black Panther/T’Challa and the royal family and initially challenges him for the throne. “He’s a self-professed man of deep integrity,” shares Duke. “He really cares about his people, and he’s deeply shaped and defined by his cultural identity,” adds the actor who says the language training was fun. “I do more of a Nigerian Igbo influence. It’s not Igbo, but it’s influenced by Igbo because the rest of the cast is doing South African Xhosa. M’Baku’s mountain-strong people, who have been sequestered in the hills in the mountains, have developed to some degree their own culture. We wanted something that had its own personality and had its own beauty. So we referenced Igbo, and that helped. The rhythm of that language influenced.” The strongest character and most memorable role are played by the charismatic Michael B. Jordan who previously collaborated with Coogler in Creed and Fruitvale Station. Jordan’s character is the villainous Erik Killmonger, who has deadly tactical skills and knowledge of Wakanda. Describing Killmonger, Jordan says, “He is always ten steps ahead and that’s a very dangerous attribute to have as a villain because he’s going to sit and wait, and he’s going to plan and calculate every move.” In smaller supporting roles, Angela Bassett plays Queen Mother Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother, while Forest Whitaker rounds off the supporting cast as Zuri, the spiritual leader of Wakanda. A good friend to former King T’Chaka, he’s now a mentor figure to T’Challa and is also the keeper of the Staff of Bashenga and tends the garden which supplies Black Panther his powers. Other cast members include South African actors John Kani, Atandwa Kani, Uganda’s Florence Kasumba and Isaach De Bankole.

AAFCA Rcipient Edward James Olmos Says He’s an African First

AUGUST WILSON’S

By Samantha Ofole-Prince

B

est-known for his work in Blade Runner, the cult TV series Battlestar Galactica and the Oscar nominated animated film Coco, actor and activist Edward James Olmos was recently honored by the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA). At the event held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles, AAFCA, a professional association that promotes AfricanAmerican film productions, honored the renowned actor with the Legacy award at their annual special achievement awards luncheon. Throughout his 40 year career, the Mexican-American actor has worked tirelessly to expand Latino representation in Hollywood and as he accepted his accolade, Olmos, who earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of real-life inspirational teacher Jaime Escalante in the 1988 film Stand and Deliver recalled a speech he had made several years ago about using the word race as a cultural determinant. He talked about his roots being African first, Asia and then Caucasian, which he said “is what makes me brown.” Olmos continued saying; “I cannot wake up in the morning without saying thank you to my roots.” In a heartfelt speech, the actor also thanked the association for the honor and for “being here and on time.” Olmos, who has been tapped to star and direct the flick The Devil Has a Name, a true tale about corporate greed, was one of several honorees at the luncheon which is now in its third year. Film critic Claudia Puig received AAFCA’s Roger Ebert Award and ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey, who in 2016 became the first African-American president of ABC Entertainment Group, was presented with the Ashley Boone Award. .

THURSDAY, APRIL 5 - SATURDAY, APRIL 21 DIRECTED BY WREN T. BROWN, FOUNDER OF L.A.’S EBONY REPERTORY THEATRE STARRING ESAU PRITCHETT August Wilson, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and a Tony Award, is widely regarded as one of the finest playwrights ever to write for the

Wren T. Brown

American stage. His American Century Cycle, which traces the African-American experience through ten plays, each set in a different decade, stands as a staggering achievement. Fences, the sixth play in the Cycle, revolves around the life of garbage collector Troy Maxson. When his rise through the Negro baseball leagues hit the ceiling of racial prejudice, Maxson turned away from a world of unfulfilled promises and denied opportunities. world through very different eyes, and his wife Rose yearns for an outlet for her love. Fences won the Tony Award for Best Play, Best Actor, and Best Featured Actress; the Pulitzer Prize; and a Drama Desk Award. The 2012 Broadway revival received a record 10 Tony nominations, winning for Best Revival of a Play, Best Actor, and Best Actress. Fresh off the Academy Award-winning film version, Fences is a sensational drama that will move you deeply, staying with you long after you leave the theater.

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Trump’s Monthly Box of Food for Our Poor B

By Dr. Glenn Mollette

ack in the ‘70s, my dad brought some delicious cheese home from our local town. “They were giving this cheese out in front of the courthouse so I picked some up” he said. The cheese was all part of the so called fight against poverty. My dad was a hard-working coal mining man so we had food to eat. However, who is going to turn down free cheese? The cheese was actually pretty good. Processed cheese developed by James L. Kraft of Illinois in 1916 became a mass production of Colby and cheddar with curds and emulsifiers that tasted good and had a very long shelf life. The cheese would become a staple of the American diet but also a symbol of American poverty. Through the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, a significant portion of America’s low income people were eating cheese packaged and distributed by our government.

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The seventies were a while back but today we are hearing that America is going to advance to a new solution for feeding our hungry. The current administration is proposing that America help the hungry with government-picked, nonperishable food every month instead of food stamps or at least replacing some of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP. Of course this sounds better than passing out cheese to low income families. Digestive systems respond differently to the intake of cheese. Distributing healthy food to low income families sounds interesting. We all need to eat healthy. When I was a child my first encounter with helping out the hurting was watching advertisements on television about donating for CARE packages to the poor in other countries. We now are hearing about a CARE package from Uncle Sam to America’s low income people. I do not know what the packages will contain but I have heard canned fruit, chicken or fish, beans and among other things peanut butter. You can never go wrong with peanut butter. What about nuts? I’ve heard a handful of nuts every day are good for you? What about salmon? Alaska has a lot of salmon. I would like to see more wild Alaska salmon distributed in America instead all the farm raised salmon which is not supposed to be very healthy. Unfortunately, I don’t think the CARE package to America’s low income families is the solution to saving America. The idea behind this new endeavor is to cut America’s costs. We are trillions of dollars in debt and now the current administration with this new budget is recommending increasing our debt even more to so we can increase defense spending. I’m not opposed to increasing our defense spending. I am very opposed to all of the wars in the Middle East and nation-building which is driving us further into debt. Why would we jump on America’s most vulnerable

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hurting people to solve our nation’s economic woes? I agree the food stamp or SNAP program needs help. The overhaul should limit Americans to five years of lifetime use of the program. No one should be allowed to buy soda pop, cookies and candy on the program. I suppose ice cream might be okay. The emphasis should be buying healthy food at the stores. Americans are already very obese and buying junk food through the SNAP program is adding to America’s debilitation. I also hear stories of Americans buying a lot of soda pop and selling it cheap for cash to buy drugs. There definitely must be some reform on how much junk food can be bought through the SNAP program. Sending low income Americans a box of food or requiring them to line up at a government distribution center reminds me of something I’ve seen on television maybe like from Russia or Germany. Are we going to force our poor to line up and get their food rations for the month? I think the idea of America’s corporations paying less in tax dollars should be good for America if it will keep factories in our country. I agree with this move. We need the jobs. However, if we are going to make up the difference by cutting back on Social Security, Medicare and SNAP recipients then we are not a very good people. The idea of corporations paying less in taxes is to stimulate our economy which should mean more cash flow, more tax dollars to help our nation and more money to pay down our debt – if that’s how we are going to use the extra money. Charities across America give out water, food baskets and used clothing. Most of them provide a respectful service. The government of the United States of America can do better by our poor than a monthly box of food. . Editor’s note: Dr. Glenn Mollette has authored 12 books. His column is read in all 50 states. Email GMollette@aol.com or visit www.glennmollette.cm.


Trump’s State of the Union Address Ignored Africa and Why that is a National Security Problem T

By Pete Simon

he great American undoing could have started with Donald Trump’s “S—hole” comment on January 12. During a meeting with the Chairman of the African Union on the 20th he had a chance to make amends, but Trump said nothing. Then, during his State of the Union Speech, he didn’t mention Africa at all. Leaving aside basic human respect and dignity, which seems beyond him, the need for Trump to extend an olive branch to African nations goes directly to our own economic survival. In just three weeks he placed into jeopardy the free flowing of countless natural resources that our country must have from Africa in order to survive; a fact most of us here do not realize.

The next time you flip on a light switch, drive your car, or eat some chocolate, think about where the cocoa, copper, or other metals come from to make those things. These are critical resources affecting our entire country, including the extractive and renewable energy industries doing business in Colorado. But we take for granted the cocoa and vanilla beans, copper, titanium, chromium, palladium, and other precious minerals that come from the African treasure house. Why? Those resources were a safe bet for us for so long because of the work over the decades by our diplomats and C.I.A. They insured African markets stayed open to keep us in this secure bubble. Two things radically change that now: China’s involvement in Africa and Donald Trump. Extreme theatrics and bombast may have worked for Trump to get him elected. But on a world stage of securing essential trade agreements for our financial security, locker room banter is the last thing we need. Today, Africa is filled with children learning Mandarin. Gone are the days when European colonizers and the U.S. controlled everything. Now, China has a lot more to say about what goes on in South African, Congolese, and Zambian mines. Having already spent hundreds of bil-

lions of dollars across Southern Africa, China is planning to spend upwards of another one trillion dollars to build a jaw-dropping system of roads and infrastructure across the continent. That is seven times the amount of money the U.S. spent in 1947 on The Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War Two. The Chinese have been winning on the public relations front in Africa since the 1960s and 70s, when they funded and built the TanZam Railway, giving land-locked Zambia a transportation outlet to ship its copper reserves to world markets without having to send it through Apartheid South African ports. (It was China’s funding of the TanZam that caused African nations in 1971 to vote for China’s seating at the U.N. This event threw anti-U.N. sentiment here on steroids.) This important history hasn’t been lost of Africans. If anyone is left in the pared-down Trump State Department who specializes in African affairs, perhaps they can explain to Mr. Trump why he must apologize for his inflammatory comments, if only for our industries, economy and future. In 1958, my Methodist Sunday School teacher told the class to celebrate newly-independent nations, like Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. It con-

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trasted well alongside images of Tarzan movies I watched on Saturday afternoons. As luck would have it, the Navy destroyer on which I was stationed in 1969 was sent to Africa, where my appreciation of various peoples and cultures grew exponentially. The disrespect shown toward Africans by some of my shipmates seemed anti-American to me. It is one thing for a few racist sailors in African ports to beat-up people they call “gooks”; but quite another for our head-of-State to verbally trash the continent from which we have taken so much to fortify and maintain what we have. The Chinese must be smiling. The only hope rests with the intelligence of African people. They know Donald Trump does not speak for most Americans; he did not win the popular vote and the 2016 election is still under review for tampering. Our country has an obvious historical linkage with Africa. Today, hard-working immigrants here live the American dream, yet send some of their hardearned money back to families in their place of birth. Hopefully, this rocksolid relationship will not be shaken by an unstable man in the White House. Perhaps an apology shouldn’t be expected, but it sure would be nice to hear him say for once: “I’m sorry.”.


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Actress, Ilasiea Gray to Star as

Sleeping Beauty

at the Denver Children’s Theatre

Opening March 8 at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center

Celebrating its 21st

anniversary, the Denver Children’s Theatre presents the classic fairytale, Sleeping Beauty starring Denver actress Ilasiea Gray in the title role. This fanciful live-action theatre production for children and families opens on March 8 and plays Sundays at 1 p.m. and most weekdays at 10 a.m. through May 4 at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center in Denver. Ilasiea Gray plays the character of Briar Rose (aka Sleeping Beauty) a sassy, strong and independent heroine. In this new production of Sleeping Beauty, Director Steve Wilson has reimagined the familiar story, of good versus evil, building on the themes of non-traditional heroes and the power of friendship. To that end, Gray has been non-traditionally cast in the role of Sleeping Beauty and is pleased to represent people of color to the young children attending the show. “When I got the news that I had been cast as Sleeping Beauty, I was so excited,” said Gray. I ended up turning down a great part at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts because I believed so strongly in accepting a role like Sleeping Beauty, where I could be a role model for children, especially for those who will see themselves in me. That is everything I stand for.” A busy professional performer and teacher, presenting theatre programming that educates young audiences

has always been at the forefront of Gray’s career. As an actress, Gray prides herself in accepting roles in plays that have social justice themes. She recently starred in the play, “Detroit ‘67” by Dominique Morisseau at Curious Theatre Company. The show takes a hard look at the racial divide during Detroit’s Motown renaissance. Further illustrating her commitment for social change, Gray is also a role-playing actor for law enforcement training and she performs in the Curious Theatre’s touring production of Black (With a Capital B), by Lamaria Aminah, a show which elicits community discussions about race. When not acting, Gray is a Teaching Artist for young performers at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and a senior director

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at the company KidStage where she has directed more than 20 theatrical productions at schools throughout Colorado. Gray has also taught acting workshops for children at different companies, including her own classes which are how she began her teaching career. She continues to coach several young professional actors on an ongoing basis and takes great pride in all of her students’ successes. Gray is especially proud of one former student who stars on the sitcom “Fuller House.” Gray says of her work, “I believe it is crucial, more than ever in today’s society, for our young people to have positive experiences that encourage confidence and self-worth, both on stage and off.” Sleeping Beauty, written by Charles Way, tells the story of Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty) who is an in-yourface kind of princess and her best friend and companion Gryff, a smartaleck half-dragon. When Briar Rose pricks her finger on the spinning wheel and goes to sleep, Prince Owain and Gryff join forces on a funny and adventurous quest to save her, battling troublesome fairy-folk, competing witches, and a riddling Spider King along the way. The award-winning Denver Children’s Theatre prides itself in producing quality educational theatre for young audiences, presenting fullymounted main stage productions featuring some of the finest adult professional actors in Denver. In addition to Ilasiea Gray, the cast of Sleeping Beauty includes: Sydnee Fullmer, Rachel Graham, Damon Guerrasio, Austin Lazek, Hannelore Rolfing, and Maggie Tisdale. Children and families are sure to enjoy the beautiful sets and creative costumes of this year’s production. Audiences at the Sunday performances get to meet the actors after the show and are sure to pose for a selfie or two. . Editor’s note: The Denver Children’s Theatre is located at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center in the renovated Elaine Wolf Theatre at the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center located at 350 S. Dahlia St., in Denver. Tickets for Sunday performances are $10/$12 for children/adults and can be purchased at the box office at 303-316-6360 or online at www.maccjcc.org/dct. For more information regarding weekday school/field trip performances call the box office at 303-3166360. Discounts are available for Title I Schools and there are optional workshops available after the performance. Sleeping Beauty is recommended for kindergarten children and up. Children younger than 5 years old may find a couple moments in the show just a bit scary. Weekday school performances are also open to the public. Call the box office to check availability and for more information.


Colorectal Cancer Awareness M

By Kim Farmer

arch is colorectal cancer awareness month. Despite vast improvements in our knowledge over the past four decades, colorectal cancer is still the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects all racial groups and is most common after the fifth decade of life. Every year, close to 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 55,000 individuals die from the disease. When caught early, this type of cancer can be cured with surgery however it can be prevented in most individuals over the age of 50 with regular screenings. Today, many types of screening programs for colorectal cancer have been developed and are readily available in the community. What are symptoms of precancerous lesions of the colon? The majority of these precancerous lesions (polyps) do not cause any symptoms initially. But over time, polyps can become large and turn into a cancer. In some people, the polyp may present with the following symptoms: •Blood in the stools- this may be seen as specks or drops of blood when wiping •Vague abdominal cramps that come and go •Constant bloated sensation •Loss of weight for no apparent reason It is important to understand that these are not specific symptoms for colorectal cancer and may be caused by many other disorders of the bowel. But if these symptoms persist, it is important to see your healthcare provider. People who have polyps have no way of knowing if they have these lesions and thus, a screening test is extremely important. Types of screening tests available: •Colonoscopy every ten years starting at age 50 •Fecal occult blood test. This test checks for blood in the stools but is

not very specific. •Sigmoidoscopy screening every five or ten years and may be combined with the fecal blood test •Stool DNA test every 1-3 years •CT colonography (also known as virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years These screening tests help detect precancerous polyps (abnormal growths in the colon) before they turn into a cancer. Since screening also helps detect cancer early, the treatment is often curative. Most of the screening tests are covered by medical insurance and have no downtime. But the best way to treat colon cancer is by preventing it in the first place.

So what should one do to prevent colon cancer? •First start by becoming physically active as this will not only decrease the risk of cancer, it will improve your overall health and wellbeing •If you are over the age of 50, speak to your healthcare provider about a colorectal cancer screen. There are several types of tests available and your doctor can help you decide which is best for you •Limit the intake of alcohol •Do not smoke •Eat a healthy diet that consists of veggies, fruits, cereals, nuts, whole

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wheat and fish. At the same time, limit the intake of saturated oils and meat If you are over the age of 50, there is no reason to wait as this type of cancer is a serious matter. Encourage your friends and loved ones to get screened regularly, stay active and eat a healthy diet. All of us can make a difference in fighting this preventable disease. Thanks for reading! Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit www.milehighfitness.com or email inquiries@milehighfitness.com.


Legendary Performer and Civil Rights Activist Honored on New Forever Stamp Newest Addition to Black Heritage Stamp Series

T

he U.S. Postal Service celebrated the life and legacy of Lena Horne as the 41st honoree in the Black Heritage stamp series during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at Peter Norton Symphony Space. “Today, we honor the 70-year career of a true American legend,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, who dedicated the stamp. “With this Forever stamp, the Postal Service celebrates a woman who used her platform as a renowned entertainer to become a prolific voice for civil rights advancement and gender equality.” Joining Stroman to unveil the stamp were Gail Lumet Buckley, an author and Horne’s daughter; Christian Steiner, photographer; and Amy Niles, president and chief executive officer, WBGO Radio. The stamp art features a photograph of Lena Horne taken by Christian Steiner in the 1980s. Kristen Monthei colorized the original blackand-white photo using a royal blue for the dress, a color Horne frequently wore. Monthei also added a background reminiscent of Horne’s Stormy Weather album, with a few clouds to add texture and to subtly evoke the album title. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp. Born in Brooklyn, NY, on June 30, 1917, Horne was a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color and used her fame to inspire Americans as a dedicated activist for civil rights. Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club and later became a featured vocalist with touring orchestras. The rampant racial discrimination she encountered from audiences, hotel and venue managers and others was so disconcerting that she stopped touring, and in 1941, she made her move to Hollywood. A year Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2018

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later, she signed a contract with MGM — one of the first long-term contracts with a major Hollywood studio — with the stipulation that she would never be asked to take stereotypical roles then available to black actors. Her most famous movie roles were in Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather, both released in 1943. During World War II, Horne entertained at camps for black servicemen, and after the war worked on behalf of Japanese Americans who were facing discriminatory housing policies. She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in pressing for anti-lynching legislation. In the 1960s, Horne continued her high-profile work for civil rights, performing at rallies in the South, supporting the work of the National Council for Negro Women, and participating in the 1963 March on Washington. Horne’s awards and honors include a special Tony Award for her onewoman Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music; three Grammy Awards; the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Actors Equity Paul Robeson Award. She was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 1984, and her name is among those on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.. Editor’s note: Customers may purchase the Lena Horne Forever stamp at The Postal Store at usps.com/shop, by calling 800STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Office facilities nationwide. A variety of stamps and collectibles also are available at ebay.com/stamps. Share the news of the stamp using the hashtags #LenaHorneForever and #BlackHeritageStamps.


To My Brilliant Black Daughters, Nobody Can Take Away Your History

To my beautiful, brilliant Black daughters:

I have so many hopes and dreams for you, that if I tried to say them all, they would run longer than the entire Harry Potter series! My hopes for you, my two beautiful Black girls, are so simple and yet also entirely grandiose. My dreams for you, beautiful Black girls, are that you are free to be whoever you want to be. If you only get one lesson from me, your mother, let it be this: Your history didn’t start with slavery, and white people’s history didn’t start in the United States of America. As your Black parents, your father and I are teaching you our viewpoint. Our Black culture begins with the beginning of humans. In fact, the first humans lived in Africa. The first civilizations were in Africa. Our Christianity began in Africa. Africa is our homeland and everything about Africa should bring you pride. Wear your African-ness, your Blackness with pride! Your history, the history of the continent of civilization in Africa, starts in modern day Sudan, around 6000 B.C. In fact, the first “empire� of two great nations happened between modernday Egypt and modern-day Sudan. We will be sure you know those modern names are European names. We will teach you their deep-rooted African names: KMT and Meroe. We are teaching you the history of Ancient Kemet, Meroe and Nubia. You will learn of the African civilizations, the use of iron and tools in Africa, the resource riches of the African continent and the complicat-

ed, fascinating history of over 10,000 years of human civilization. Africa had kings and queens and warriors, slaves, artists, scientists, mathematicians, farmers, sailors, inventors and musicians. You come from a beautifully talented Black culture. As your mother, I have told you repeatedly that you are already free to be whoever you want to be. But, as you approach adolescence and spend more time in schools than you do with your parents, you may begin to doubt that I told you the truth. See the books that you will read and the lessons you learn, will not validate your potential exactly as you are, beautiful, brilliant Black girls, from a legacy of beautiful, brilliant Black women.

You Must Learn Their History But You Can Take A Broader Perspective

In formal school education, you will be exposed to a different viewpoint. Most school curricula in the United States are completely uninterested in young, brilliant Black girls like you learning about your culture, discovering multiple viewpoints or forming your own opinions. In school, you will likely be inundated with stories of Europe: Ancient Greece, Roman Empire, the Medieval Period, Dark Ages, Industrial Revolution and the British Empire. Then you will be told all about the greatness of the United States of America that comes from the rich history of Europe. You will be forced to memorize, learn and admire the brilliance and beauty of Europe and white people.

Want to be part of a winning team!

This is something I cannot protect you from. You must learn their history. But remember, more than facts are at stake. In those classrooms, you are seeing only their viewpoint. You can take a broader perspective.

Our Blackness is Beautiful, Brilliant and Resilient

The United States of America was founded in 1776. On July 4, 2018, the U.S. will be 243 years old. Europeans landed in the Americas in 1492 and have been interacting with indigenous land of the First Americans, for almost 550 years. Understand this, my beautiful, brilliant Black daughters. Your history is over 10,000 years old. The enslavement of Black people by white people is at best, only 550 years of your history. That is a mere 5.5 percent of your totality. Sure, the enslavement of Black people by white people, and our subsequent struggles to become totally free, is important to know and learn. But they are a very, very small part of who you really are and who you, and we, as Black people, can be. What makes you, and other beautiful, brilliant, Black children, different from many white children, is you know that their history isn’t just fact – it is a viewpoint. And, that you, as a Black American, as a Black African, have completely different interpretations of history, of heroes, of scholars and who is “important.� As your parent, I wish you were free, my beautiful, brilliant Black children to speak openly, honestly and without fear about who you are and your Black history. But it is not always safe for you to do that.

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Talking about Ancient Egypt being African can get you in trouble. Having a name that “sounds Black� can lose you a job. In fact, much of life will be devoted to protecting yourself from White people’s false views about who Black people are and what they have and can do. But I promise you, with all that I am; I will tell you the truth – just as my mother told me the truth. Your ancestors who came to the Americas 500 years ago not only survived attempted physical and cultural genocide; they kept our Black African story, culture and beauty alive. Remember 550 years is nothing compared to over 10,000 years. Our last 550 years is not our whole story. In fact, it is just a tiny piece of the story. No matter what White people think, or try to tell you about who you are as a Black person, we have a very different perspective. As your parent, I swear on the lives of all our ancestors over our 10,000-year history, I will never let you forget how beautiful and brilliant you are, my Black daughters. Nor will I let you forget our beautiful, brilliant Black culture. You are part of a beautiful, brilliant, Black people that has a history and presence throughout the world. 500 years? Ha! You are in but a minute of your 10,000-year story. Our Black is brilliant, beautiful and most importantly, resilient. . Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared on EducationPost.org. ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson is married and the mother of two free-spirited and strongwills girls. She writes on politics, education, current events and social justice.

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Navy Honors the Contributions of African Americans during 2018 African AmericanBlack History Month Submitted by Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy joins the nation in celebrating the history of African American Sailors and civilians during African American/Black History Month, Feb. 1-28. This year’s theme is “African Americans in Times of War,” which recognizes the contributions African Americans have made to the nation during times of war from the Revolutionary War to present-day conflicts. This month’s observance has its origins in 1915 when historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Dr. Woodson and the association initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. Every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as National African American/Black History Month since 1976. “We should celebrate our unique backgrounds because each Sailor brings something different to the fight and this makes us a stronger, more lethal team,” said Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of the Carl Vinson Strike Group and one of Navy’s African American flag officers. The strike group is currently deployed to the Western Pacific. African American Sailors and civilians play an integral role in the success of the Navy as part of the One Navy Team. African Americans serve in every rank from seaman to admiral and perform duties in nearly every rating in the Navy. Currently, African Americans make up 17 percent of all Navy personnel, or roughly 64,000 Sailors. This includes more than 58,000 enlisted and 5,000 officers. Further analysis shows 17 percent of E-8 and E-9 Sailors are African Americans that hold a range of leadership positions. Nearly four percent of flag officers are African American Sailors. A breakdown by gender indicates there are currently over 45,000 African American males and more than 18,000 African American females currently serving in the Navy. “Those serving today owe our suc cess to the veterans who transformed our Navy into a more diverse force,” said Fuller. According to the September 2016 “One Navy Team” memo from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson, actively being inclusive and open to diverse perspectives will produce leaders and teams who learn and adapt to achieve maximum possible performance, and who achieve and maintain high standards, be ready for de cisive operations and combat. Diversity also influences various thoughts, ideas, skill sets, and experiences which ultimately helps increase the effectiveness of the Navy. Integrating Sailors and civilians from diverse backgrounds enables the Navy to recruit and retain the nation’s top talent from a wide pool of skilled personnel. The Navy supports minority youth development and encourages the pursuit of careers in science and industry through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. The Navy also partners with organizations including the National Naval Officers Association, the National Society of Black Engineers, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in support of African American service members and civilians. . Editor’s note: A complete educational presentation, including a downloadable educational poster on African American/Black History month, can be requested from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) by email at deomipa@us.af.mil. For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

COMMUNITY NOTES

Langley Family Charitable Trust Accepting Applications

The Drs. Joseph & Alice Langley Family Charitable Trust (LFCT), 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 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. Deadline to

receive completed applications is April 14. For more information or to get an application, call 303-694-3126.

Choir Sings in Honor of MLK Jr.

Confluence choir will join with The Spiritual Projects Choir to present In Honor of Martin, a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The concert will be held on March 18, 3 p.m., at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lakewood. For information and tickets, visit confluencechoir.org or call 303-2792932.

HATS OFF TO

New Hope Church Welcomes Marketing Specialist

New Hope Baptist Church (NHBC) welcomes Brittney Rae Reese as their new Marketing & Event Sales Coordinator. Reese comes to NHBC as an experienced Independent Marketing Specialist with background in event coordination, public relations, consulting, brand development and design. She is also Co-Founder and FIT Coach of local fitness and nutrition company, FIT & NU™ (fitandnu.com). Her original affiliation with New Hope is as the long-standing notable community Zumba class instructor. She continues to lead this class every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in addition to managing event bookings and marketing for the church’s Family Life Center, a 17, 645 square foot multipurpose facility. The Family Life Center, an extension to the church located at 3701 Colorado Blvd., offers rentable space for special events, such as weddings, concerts, conferences, graduations,

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expos, meetings and indoor recreational activities. For tours and/or booking of the Family Life Center, email Brittney at events@newhopechurchdenver.org or visit newhopechurchdenver.org/ events/book.

Ode to Obama Inducted Into History Colorado Depository

“Defining the Times,” a historical tome documenting former President Barack Obama’s legacy by photographer Patricia Duncan has been inducted into the collection at the History Colorado museum and cultural center. History Colorado is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the State of Colorado Department of Higher Education, specializing in providing the general public access to cultural and heritage resources for the state. Patricia Duncan’s “Defining the Times” is a photographic walkthrough of the tenure of America’s first African American president featuring hundreds of full-color photos of President Obama. For more information, visit www.definingthetimes.com.


Residents in Metro Denver and Aurora Recognized for Amplifying Their Voice and Advancing Health Equity in the Community

The influence of the be well Health

By Kelie Kyser

and Wellness Initiative over six key neighborhoods in Denver and Aurora, Colorado is undoubtedly significant. Northeast and Greater Park Hill, Stapleton, East Montclair, Montbello, and Northwest Aurora comprise the be well Zone. The grassroots collective’s mission is to shape programs, policies, and practices that advance health equity. Established in 2003, be well partners with residents to affect positive change in their neighborhoods through community engagement, innovative projects, and research. At the heart of the movement are be well Block Captains who are recognized each year for their commitment to their communities. During this year’s 8th Annual be well Awards and Community Celebration, 40 deserving individuals were applauded for their leadership and advocacy efforts. Adult and Youth Block Captains took center stage to receive certificates of completion for their participation in the comprehensive youth and adult training series facilitated by be well. In addition, nine individuals nominated by their peers in the community were recognized in the following categories: •Physical Activity Leadership Award – Olivia Langford - Denver, CO •Physical Activity Leadership Award (Youth) – Adeline Ishimwe – Aurora, CO •Community Advocate of the Year Award – Pam Jiner - Denver, CO •Community Advocate of the Year Award (Youth) – Kai Collings – Denver, CO •Preventative Care Leadership Award – Dr. Rhonda Coleman Aurora, CO

•Community Service Award – Alia Chiappella - Denver, CO •Community Service Award (Youth) – Sam Friel, Denver, CO •Nutrition Leadership Award – Meredith Fast - Denver, CO •Nutrition Leadership Award (Youth) – Jason Hoang – Aurora, CO “Amplify Your Voice” denoted the theme of the ceremony emceed by Media Professional Gloria Neal. As in previous years, the event was wellattended with over 400 guests including policymakers, community leaders, business owners, and families. Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore, Colorado House Representative James Coleman, and Tom Barrett, Director of Parks, Recreation and Open Space for the City of Aurora, were in attendance. Keynote speaker, Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler, Chief Catalyst and Founder of The Equity Project, LLC concluded the evening by captivating the audience with an uplifting message about the power of persistence and advocacy. The be well Health and Wellness Initiative is currently accepting registrations for the Spring Block Captain “Amplify Your Voice” Series that starts on March 3 at the Northfield Apartments in Denver, CO. Block Captain recruitment outreach will continue throughout the month with the following events: The Center for African American Health Fair on March 10 at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver, CO; the East Montclair Block Captain Meeting on March 17 at the MLK Library in Aurora, CO, the Stapleton Block Captain Meeting on March 20 at the Bluff Lake Apartments in Denver, CO, and the Parkhill Block Captain Meeting on March 22 at the Dahlia Campus for Health and Wellbeing in Denver, CO. Health and wellness programs are

Denver Student Athletes Come Together to Give Back to Others in Need

senior at Regis Jesuit High School (basketball), Sydney Cross-Watts, a sophomore at Regis Jesuit High School (volleyball - 303 VBA), and Reign Patton, a sophomore at Girls Athletic Leadership School (volleyball), came together on a Saturday afternoon to give back to those in need. They prepared hygiene kits for Aurora Warms the Night (AWTN). Aurora Warms the Night provides free services to the homeless population in Aurora. During the winter months, AWTN offers shelter for the homeless when the temperature drops to 20 degrees and below. Women and men hygiene kits provide items essential to one’s daily health and wellness. Estimated cost for hygiene kits can vary, which include: Toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, soap, comb, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and items for males and females only. They were able to secure donations from family and friends. Lauren shared, “for us to come together and prepare these kits was something I enjoyed.” Sydney agreed,

For many high school students the daily rigor of home, school, and parttime jobs can be daunting. When you are a student athlete and include the routine of day-to-day, along with practice and games, time to do other things becomes more challenging. Denver student athletes found time to come together and provide for a good cause. Ryann and Lauren Lewis, both seniors at Denver East High School (basketball), Jasmine Gaines, a

“I know that helping others is what I am supposed to be doing.” Even though schedules are busy, they were all able to devote time for community service with hopes it will inspire others to do the same. . Editor’s note: If you are interested in supporting Aurora Warms the Night, call 303361-6906, visit www.aurorawarmsthenight.org or stop by at 1544 Elmira St. in Aurora.

an additional component of the Initiative. be well Centers are located inside the Hiawatha Davis, Martin Luther King Jr., and Central Park Recreation Centers in Denver. The Centers offer free cooking and fitness classes including: Zumba, Cardio HipHop, Yoga, and Tai-Chi year-round. Classes are free and interested participants may join without a Parks and Recreation Center membership. The Initiative also sponsors Happy Health Hours in the community to raise awareness about the importance of health and wellness, the next event takes place on March 24. Registration information and details for all be well programs can be found at bewellconnect.org or via facebook.com/bewellHealthandWelln essInitiative.

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Damon Dash’s

Film, Honor Up, Gives a Violent,

Soulful Rendition

of Urban Life By Allison Kugel

T

he life of Damon Dash appears to be an epic triumph to some, a Shakespearean tragedy to others. It depends on where you’re standing when you look at him. After speaking with the hip hop mogul turned entrepreneur and filmmaker, I can tell you Dame Dash’s story is more nuanced and complex; and is still being written. Dash hopes his new film, Honor Up, a semi-autobiographical story about the code of street honor; executive produced by Kanye West, and starring Dash, Nicholas Turturro, Michael Rispoli and Cam’ron; will give audiences an authentic portrait of who he is beyond the media’s checkered narrative. He tells me the unwavering code of honor depicted in the movie has informed every choice he’s made in his adult life. A kid from Harlem, New York, who lost his mother in his youth, Dash quickly took on a hustler’s mentality, adopting the OG street code which propelled him from promoting nightclubs and rap artists to reaching the apex of the music industry with the success of he and Jay Z’s Rock-A-Fella records label, and the urban lifestyle brand, Roc-A-Wear. It was Dash’s unwavering vision and tenacity, and his loyalty to artists he believed in, that launched the careers of Jay Z, Kevin Hart, Kanye West and his exwife, fashion designer, Rachel Roy. Since splitting from Jay Z and dissolving Roc-A-Fella records, he’s been painted by the entertainment industry as an incorrigible and unruly outsider; a man who wouldn’t drink the KoolAid or fall in line with Hollywood or music industry politics. As Dash made clear to me during out conversation, he refuses to ever bow down to corporate demands, and therefore chooses Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – March 2018

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to self-fund his many projects, from film and art to fashion. After years of personal and professional heartbreaks, Dash found an unwavering ally in longtime love and business partner, Raquel Horn. Horn is Dash’s creative muse and collaborator, while Dash is Horn’s mentor and idea facilitator. Together, the two have launched Dame Dash Studios, Dash Diabetes Network, their Poppington fashion line, and the beginnings of an independent movie studio. Damon Dash is a man in his creative renaissance… and in love. Allison Kugel: Tell me about the most influential people in your life… birth to present day? Damon Dash: My mother was a big influence in my life. She passed away when I was fifteen. I would say Muhammad Ali was a big influence on my life, my OG Daniel (Dash’s childhood mentor, Daniel Jenkins, the inspiration behind Dash’s new film, Honor Up) is one of the most influential people in my life from when I was younger. That was one of the reasons why I made the movie, Honor Up. Allison Kugel: Your mom passing when you were fifteen, how did it impact who you became? Damon Dash: It made me fearless. The one thing I was afraid of up until I was fifteen was that my mother would die, and then she did. It made me very aware of my mind, in that, if you worry about something it usually realizes itself. I try not to worry about anything. Because my mother spoiled me, and she wasn’t there to spoil me anymore, it made me the business savage that I am. I wanted to maintain that lifestyle. At the time, my pops wasn’t going to be able to give me that, so I had to do it myself. I think in a strange way, if my mom was still here I wouldn’t have made the history that I’ve made, because nothing would have felt so urgent. Someone


can teach you how to survive, but you really don’t get those skills until you have to. [Her passing] made it where I had to, and she taught me well. Allison Kugel: You refuse to take a paycheck. You’re someone who has to have ownership in everything you do. Speaking for myself, I can say there was a time in my life when I asked myself if I was for sale, or if I was not for sale. Can you recall a defining moment when you asked yourself that same question, and determined that you were not for sale? Damon Dash: I’ve been a street entrepreneur since I was very young, since my mother died, because I had no choice. I’ve never had a boss. I’m from Harlem and I think I’m cooler than everybody, so it would be hard for me to have someone telling me what to do. It’s not about working for somebody, because I always have equity. I have something, and then I may need to take it to another level, so there would be a business relationship or a partnership. But I would always walk away from certain partnerships, because I didn’t like the moral value of that person. I would probably end up having to strangle them because it’s very frustrating when people don’t have principals and morals. It’s offensive when someone that I don’t respect presents me with an opportunity to work for them and tries to control me. I don’t even know what that means, working for someone else. It’s not a mathematical equation that makes sense to me. Allison Kugel: How do you define God? Damon Dash: You can’t define God. That’s how I define it. It’s undefinable. I can’t fathom God; just one entity controlling everything. I have no idea, and the 90 percent of our brain that we can’t use or access, we can’t really fathom what that is. Maybe if I had access to more of my brain, I could begin to fathom that. Allison Kugel: You don’t have a sense of knowing, or belief about it? Damon Dash: If there is a God, it’s a woman. Allison Kugel: And why do you say that? Damon Dash: Why wouldn’t it be that way? Men are stupid. God could never be a man, because men are too insecure. There are wars we fight. It’s illogical and stupid. That’s all insecurity. I don’t think God would have those characteristics. Allison Kugel: What did you learn about love from your time with Aaliyah? Damon Dash: I learned exactly how happy love can make a person. It was a feeling that I never knew existed before. What it did teach me is to recognize love, and to appreciate love. It also taught me never to mess with an artist, because they’re always on

the road. You never see them. The more you love them, the more you miss them. It made me appreciate what I had in that moment and it made me recognize love with my girl Raquel (Dash’s girlfriend and business partner, Raquel Horn). I knew that feeling. It was familiar to me, because I felt that with Aaliyah. Allison Kugel: Describe Aaliyah’s character; the person you knew her to be. Damon Dash: Aaliyah loved life. She loved to laugh. She was color blind, a great soul, a ridiculous amount of swag and great taste. And those were the same exact qualities I saw in Raquel. For me, the greatest thing about Aaliyah was that we were both from somewhat of an extreme circumstance, you know, urban, in the hood. And we both had such a desire for things that were so unhood. But in those environments that were unhood, we would still have that hood swagger and we could laugh at things. Aaliyah and I used to spend a lot of time laughing at the corniness of life. We both found people’s insecurities very funny. Allison Kugel: How many times in your life have you had that feeling? Damon Dash: Two. Aaliyah and Raquel. Allison Kugel: Would you like to see a movie made about your beginnings, during the rise of Roc-A-Fella Records, and that time in your life? Damon Dash: That’s inevitable, whether I make it or somebody else does. I am very aware and clear of what I have done, and my impact on this world. They’ve already made Aaliyah’s story, and I was in that. Let’s say they don’t do my story, everyone else’s story that I’ve been a part of, I’ll be in there. At the end of the day, I like to control my likeness, so I’ve already started that process. This movie, Honor Up, is about me and my ideals growing up. Allison Kugel: We’re going to get to the movie, so don’t comment on it yet because we’re going to go in-depth with it. Damon Dash: I love when a woman tells me what to do (laughs). Allison Kugel: (Laughs) What is your opinion about how the media has cast you over the past decade? What have they gotten right, and what have they gotten wrong? Damon Dash: I’ve been able to manipulate them exactly the way I’ve wanted to. I’m very aware that an independent person like me that does things on his own, my success would mean other people’s failure. Everyone that’s getting robbed, and everyone that’s doing the robbing, would fail. I’m the guy that doesn’t rob and does everything honorably. If I can show that I can do things honorably, that would make other people need to do

things honorably. The way they were portraying me in the newspapers, it wasn’t very intelligent. Allison Kugel: Do you think you’ve been caricaturized? Damon Dash: In the beginning, it was more brazen and arrogant, and about me pouring champagne on women, which was a character. That was Champagne Dame. They never showed Damon Dash the businessman; Damon Dash, the single father raising his son alone from the time he was eight years old; Damon Dash living with Type 1 Diabetes; or the man who’s running all these different companies. Allison Kugel: Where did the negative portrayals of your character come in? Damon Dash: I didn’t want to do Rock-A-Fella anymore. I wasn’t trying to just do music. I didn’t want to be typecast. I wanted to do fashion. I wanted to do things that were multicultural, and I wanted to run around the world. And I knew walking away from Jay Z, that all Jay Z fans were going to start with me and try to get at me. I know that controversy sells papers. At that point, I was like, “Yo, I’m about to Makaveli myself (a reference to the late Tupac Shakur). I’m out. I don’t really need to be here no more. I want ya’ll to leave me alone.” I needed everybody to think I wasn’t doing well so nobody would ask me for nothing no more. But all those years, I owned Rachel Roy, a $75 million company. I was running around the world, I had galleries and things like that. But Dame was under the radar. And they left me alone. I always thought it was funny that they made me the underdog. I could have been nice. I could have worked with these people that have no morals and no values and spent their money instead of having to keep re-investing my own money. Allison Kugel: But you walked away. Damon Dash: I decided freedom was priceless, happiness is priceless. I needed to raise my daughters. It wasn’t conducive for my daughters in a hip hop environment, because you have a bunch of young, insecure, aggressive men. And I didn’t want to have to go to jail for nothing. I realized that with the internet there is no buffer, and I can tell the truth whenever I want. No one can stop me. Whoever wants me will come find me, and they’ll see the truth. Allison Kugel: Let’s talk about your new movie, Honor Up. You wrote and directed this movie, you play a central character, and you put up your own money to make it. How long has this story been in you, wanting to come out? Damon Dash: I always knew I would tell this story, but what made me want to tell it now, and in this way, was a moment when I was hear-

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ing a lot of things about people I was close to from my past, that contradicted all our morals and values. It bugged me out; because these were the people I respected the most. I just couldn’t believe it, and it hurt. Then there were other things going on that were bringing me down. [Director] Lee Daniels (Precious, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) owes me $2 million. He’s doing well and he’s running around, and he’s not paying me. The shit is pissing me off. Where I’m from, he would have ended up in a trunk. You know what I’m saying? I can’t do those things, and I’m not going to do those things. So I made a movie about it. I want people to understand my morals and principals, why I don’t look the other way and who taught me. I also ran into my OG (a mentor of Dash’s named Daniel Jenkins), who I hadn’t seen in about twenty-five years. He was a guy who was very influential in the neighborhood. Because he was cool with me, all the dangerous guys looked at me a certain way as well, so I never had to be scared. One day I saw him walking across one of the toughest blocks in Harlem and he had his kids with him. He was fresh, his kids had little motor cars and they were fresh, and I was like, “That’s the kind of dad I want to be.” I want to be that guy as a dad. That was probably the most impactful lesson he ever taught me, because I’m a great dad and that’s more important than anything. When I finally got back with him, I knew I had to make a movie about our story.

Allison Kugel: This movie, Honor Up, will help people to better understand you and what makes you tick. Damon Dash: I think people need to know the rules. Maybe people aren’t living by them now, and that’s the reason I kind of stay in my bubble. Maybe now people will understand why I don’t compromise, why I won’t Continued on page 28


Damon Dash

Continued from page 27 bend over for a dollar. Because I was taught the right way by certain kind of people. With this movie, I want people to hear the voice that taught me, from the voice that taught me. When you see this movie, you’re going to see my real OG, the voice I heard when I was fifteen. Allison Kugel: A big theme in Honor Up is the street code of not being a snitch, not talking to the police. Let’s set up a scenario. In December 1990, John Gotti was arrested by the FBI and NYPD. He was indicted on multiple counts of racketeering, extortion, jury tampering and murder. He strongly believed in the oath of silence he took as a “made man” with the Gambino family. He didn’t provide any information to the government; he didn’t strike a deal with prosecutors. John Gotti went away for life and he died in prison. Weighing everything: family, life, everything… had that been you, would you have stuck to the street code like he did, and gone away for life? Damon Dash: You’re joking right? Allison Kugel: No. I’m not joking. Damon Dash: If you’re gonna do the crime, do the time, period. Two people sign on to a contract, whether everybody else’s principals are different, you sign on to a contract, and you have to abide by it. Allison Kugel: You do know that a lot of guys don’t abide by it. Damon Dash: That’s why I made the movie. That’s why I got out of the streets. I knew that at some point I would have to kill, or I’d have to go to jail and I would have to do the time. Allison Kugel: You would not make a deal or rat anybody out. You would go away for life. Damon Dash: Yeah, if I did the crime? Yeah. That’s the game. You think I would be so low as to put one of my friends in jail? Someone that I hung out with, I know their kids, I know their girl? Just so I don’t go to jail, I put him in jail? Nah, I couldn’t live with myself. If you make a conscious choice to do something, you got to stand behind it. Now if you’re a civilian, and let’s say someone accused you of doing something you didn’t do, you never hustled and all that other stuff, you didn’t sign on to that game. That’s a different story. But for someone that signed on to the game, you know you’re not supposed to be doing that. Allison Kugel: Is there a spiritual component to your beliefs? Damon Dash: I understand spirituality. I read “The Seat of the Soul” [by Gary Zukav]. That book changed my life. That was actually the connection between Aaliyah and me. Allison Kugel: Did you read that book together?

Kanye West and Damon Dash

Damon Dash: All of those books, yes. And I made my whole crew read that book. Me and Aaliyah – that was our connection. We read all of those books. That book scares me, because when she died I had all those books around me. I had one book called, When You Lose Your Soulmate right on the bed. I was so into that, that I almost felt like it was to prepare me for her death. If I hadn’t read those books, I don’t think I would have dealt with it the same. Allison Kugel: Have you read, Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss? That’s my favorite one. Damon Dash: Yes, I did. I read so many of those books. That’s what got me through [Aaliyah’s] death. But I had so many of those books scattered around my room. At every bed post I had something related to the soul and the evolution of it. I think I’m about at a deep purple right now. Allison Kugel: (Laughs) Your crown chakra is fully activated. Damon Dash: I’m floating. Allison Kugel: Kanye West executive produced your movie, Honor Up. The two of you go way back to when you launched his music career. What was different about working with Kanye on a film, versus musically? Damon Dash: This time I’m the artist and he’s the businessman. Whereas, I used to showcase his art, he’s now showcasing mine. He used to play his records for me. Now, I was coming back and playing cuts of the film for him. It was a total role reversal. It was a great example of the OG being happy that someone younger than you can have more power than you with certain things, and can help you. You build people, so they can build you. I wasn’t expecting him to do all that he did. You never know what Kanye’s going to do, but I know that he’s inspired by art. It was the first time that, instead of me helping somebody, somebody was helping me. He gets it. Some people don’t understand that helping people makes you

the happiest. The happiness that Kanye got from helping me, it was contagious. Allison Kugel: Can you see you and Kanye West forming an ongoing partnership with a film production company? Damon Dash: We just started one, that’s what we’re doing! You know me; I don’t play. I hit you with flurries. I’m prepping to shoot my third movie right now. This film was the first time, to my knowledge, that I have ever seen Kanye put his name on something that he can’t control. The fact that he acknowledged my art in that way shows that this is some real art. Kanye is not going to co-sign something corny. But the respect level was there, which is what I appreciated the most. Allison Kugel: What do you say to people who feel that a movie like Honor Up, which does depict street violence, is perpetuating a stereotype, or that it’s a negative influence on your younger fans? Damon Dash: Any movie that’s about war, you have to show the war to learn from it. Whoever looks at it like that isn’t from the street. They don’t understand. I’m not trying to preach to the converted. That was my reality, and that’s what I learned from. That’s what smartened me up. I hope that people can see every element in this movie. The story is authentic. There are so many different artistic levels. It’s not just bullets. It’s about the message. Its art and I think anyone who really looks at it will recognize it as art. Allison Kugel: When you wake up in the morning and your feet hit the floor, which is foremost on your mind, making money or making art? Damon Dash: Making art. Never making money. I think money is overrated. That’s why I spend so much of it. I don’t even want to hold it; get it out of here. It makes people go crazy. I wouldn’t do anything for money that I wouldn’t do for free. Allison Kugel: A lot of people may not know that you are a Type 1 Diabetic and

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have been since the age of fifteen. Damon Dash: I made it public a long time ago, but people don’t talk about those kinds of things. I always thought it was important to bring awareness to it, because I’ve had it since I was fifteen and I have noticed all the misconceptions that come with it. It’s a 24-hour disease. And for me, as a diabetic, I always want to hear about another diabetic’s story. I know if they are winning, that I can win. And there are a lot of celebrities that have it, and they don’t want to talk about it. I’ve never understood that. They think it’s a weakness, whereas I think its strength. I want people to know that every great thing I’ve done, every time I’ve made history, it’s always been as a diabetic. We started a network called the Dash Diabetes Network. We talk about diet, working out, mental well-being and just being healthy, overall. When you’re a diabetic you have to live a healthy lifestyle. You have no choice. I’m a vegan. Well, let me say I eat a plantbased diet. I can’t say I’m completely vegan, because I still own a leather jacket or two and I have leather seats in my car. Rocky (Dash’s nickname for his girlfriend and business partner, Raquel) has created a vegan handbag as part of our Poppington fashion line. Allison Kugel: Let’s talk about your network, Dame Dash Studios. It features your films, your radio show, musical projects, your Poppington fashion line, Dash Diabetes Network and your personal travels around the world. It’s like a VIP ticket to all things Dame Dash. Tell me about the vision for this studio… Damon Dash: At the end of the day, the direct to consumer relationship is the new wave, and it keeps me independent. I can stay uncensored and I can say what I want; can’t nobody fire me. I can do whatever I want, and above and beyond anything, I can pass it down to my children. I can pass it on to my wife. Raquel is wifey for lifey. She is the one who inspired me to embrace my artistic nature after watching me make everybody else famous. Falling in love, embracing art, that’s why I say that I’m purple right now (referring to the color associated with spirituality), because I’m elated. I’m happy. I just love the fact that I’m being artistic, that I’m being unapologetic about my point of view and fearless about speaking on my art. Damon Dash’s movie, Honor Up, hit select theatres and On-Demand February 16.. Editor’s note: Allison Kugel is a syndicated entertainment and pop culture journalist, and author of the book, Journaling Fame: A memoir of a life unhinged and on the record. Follow her on Instagram @theallisonkugel.


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2018 DUS African Americans Who Make A Difference & World Love Music with Goatfish & Friends Sunday, February 11, 2018 at Live @ Jacks - Photos by Byron Russell - Special thanks to Xcel Energy

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Remembering Bertram Alfred Bruton May 18, 1931 – January 19, 2018

Making transmissions well since 1983.

Bertram A. Bruton was born May 18, 1931 in Jacksonville, Florida to Lula Wormack Bruton and George W. Bruton, Sr. Bertram was last of the couple’s nine children. He was preceded in death by his siblings: Robert Sr., Willie, Mozelle, James, Wilbert, Bismark, Leola Stroughter and George. Bertram graduated from Jacksonville’s Stanton High School, a structure that he would renovate years later when he became a professional architect. His interest in architecture was encouraged by an African American teacher at the school, who in the 1940s had been discouraged from entering the field. Recognizing Bertram’s talent, the teacher encouraged his student to do what he been unable to do. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Howard University’s School of Architecture, Bertram returned briefly to Jacksonville. Although impressed with his outstanding work, none of the area’s architectural firms were willing to hire an African American. Bertram left Jacksonville and entered the Air Force. At Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, Bruton began gathering experience as a practicing architect. Later, he was on a plane that made a brief stop in Denver. Within a week of his arrival in the city of 1956, Bertram was not only employed, but became Colorado’s first licensed African American architect. Through the decades, BAB Associates handled numerous architecture projects in Denver and Jacksonville. The firm was associate architect for the Webb Municipal Office Building, Mile High Stadium, expansion of the Colorado Convention Center and the passenger terminal complex at Denver International Airport (DIA). Other projects included full architectural services on the Sakura Square Commercial and Residental Development, Five Points Community Center, East Side Health Center, Wellshire Post Office, Park Manor Nursing Home, the remodel of Cole Jr. High School, and creation of more than 50 housing developments with nearly 4,000 units of low-income housing. A devoted member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Bertram gave his time freely. He served a variety of organization, including the American Institute of Architects, the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver and the National Organization of Minority Architects. For more than a decade, Bertram was also a member of the Colorado State Board of Examiner of Architects, an organization he led for two years as president. Bertram is survived by his wife of 48 years, Dorothy (Dottie) Bruton, daughters Michelle Bruton Brown and Sabra Scoggins, grandchildren Dustin Caldwell, Dani Hernandez and Adia Brown plus a host of nieces and nephews. .

2900 S. Peoria St. Unit D1 - Aurora, CO 80014

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Denver Urban Spectrum March 2018  

Our cover story, penned by managing editor Laurence Washington, tells how and why Gerie Grimes was selected by the Colorado Women’s Hall of...

Denver Urban Spectrum March 2018  

Our cover story, penned by managing editor Laurence Washington, tells how and why Gerie Grimes was selected by the Colorado Women’s Hall of...