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mber 2 May 2015


MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR

Volume 29 Number 2

Mayl 2015

"Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs." -Stephen Covey

FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com

The above quote from the author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" defines the commonality between key stories in this issue of the Denver Urban Spectrum. Our cover piece demonstrates how an award-winning journalist is using her voice to make a difference in the lives of youth in South Sudan, the world's newest country. Her choice to have intimate conversations about HIV awareness and human rights will no doubt have a lasting impact. We are all probably still humming a tune or two from the three-week run of Motown The Musical in Denver. One of our stories follows the cast members off stage to an event organized by Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee and her “Bringing Back The Arts” initiative. The event brought the cast members together with about 50 middle school students and revealed how important it is to keep history alive. Yet another article shows how hip hop can be used to engage youth with positive messages. Fresh off a performance at the White House, EcoHipHop founder Ietef “DJ Cavem” Vita is soaring on a trajectory of success and endeavoring to bring as many youth with him in his effort to teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle by being mindful of the food they eat. In this issue we also welcome back columnist Hasira Ashemu, who addresses Jay Z's level of social responsibility according to actor and activist Harry Belafonte. Kudos to Chandra Thomas Whitfield, who served as guest managing editor for the April issue of the Denver Urban Spectrum. And no, we haven’t forgotten the most loved people of all time. Happy Mother’s Day!

ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris

GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James MANAGING EDITOR Angelia D. McGowan

CONTRIBUTING COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNISTS K. Gerald Torrence Dedrick Sims

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kim Farmer Angelia D. McGowan H. Soul

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Lorenzo Dawkins

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Ann Marie Figueroa Cecile Perrin

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Lorenzo Dawkins Lens of Ansar

ADVERTISING SALES CONSULTANT Robin James Byron T. Robinson DISTRIBUTION Glen Barnes Lawrence A. James Ed Lynch

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2015 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.

Angelia D. McGowan Managing Editor

Fix the Lack of Access to Diabetes Education

significantly underutilized benefit in the Medicare program for older adults. Legislation currently pending before Congress, the Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act, seeks to change that. The bill would recognize specially credentialed diabetes educators as DSMT providers in the Medicare program, a provision that does not currently exist and that, therefore, limits access to diabetes education. Studies show the bill would save the federal government up to $2 billion in health care spending. Congresswoman Diana DeGette is a lead sponsor of this bipartisan bill. We urge her colleagues in Colorado to support the bill, so that it will become law. This small, cost effective measure will save countless lives.

Editor: Diabetes is a significant problem for the people of Colorado. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of diabetes in the state has increased from 3.8 per 100 adults in 1994 to 7.2 per 100 adults in 2012. A diabetes diagnosis – more than 26 million Americans have already received one, and nearly 80 million more are at risk – can inspire uncertainty and fear. Diabetes is among the leading causes of blindness, stroke, lower limb amputations, heart disease and stroke in adults. It has been associated with higher rates of certain cancers. Diabetes Self-Management Training, or “DSMT” is a process by which people with diabetes learn how to manage their condition. The results are not to be taken lightly; actively and effectively managing diabetes can often reverse or dramatically slow the onset of diabetes related complications and improve the public health. In addition to improving an individual’s quality of life, diabetes education is also a simple dollars and cents issue. When people with diabetes learn how to effectively manage their blood glucose levels, they have fewer instances of these life-threatening diabetes-related complications, trips to the emergency rooms, and hospitalizations. Until such time as we have a cure for diabetes, diabetes education/DSMT is arguably the most effective way to address the diabetes crisis in Colorado by helping ensure that patients are able to manage this terrible disease and adhere to the treatment regimen prescribed by their doctor. Tragically, diabetes education is a

Deborah Greenwood President of the American Association of Diabetes Educators

Bad Decisions, Age is Only a Number

Editor: Two police officers - one from South Carolina and one from Oklahoma should never have pulled their handguns. Their decisions took lives and forever destroyed families and their own personal lives. One cop was just 33 and the other 72. A lot has been said about Michael T. Slager, a young man with a new baby due any day. His life is forever ruined by the decision to pull his gun and shoot Walter Scott in the back as he ran away. Much is also now being said about Bob Bates, a 72 year- old reserve cop from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He too made a very bad judgment that took the life of Eric Courtney and also forever changed lives.

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Police officers have gotten more than their share of bad publicity in recent months. They’ve earned it. No one feels happy about cops if they’ve ever been harassed or talked down to by a police officer. What person has not felt somewhat threatened when pulled over by a police officer? The police have the authority and guns. I am a supporter of the police. What kind of society would we have without them? If I need them I want them to show up. People should not resist arrest or run from police officers. There is no future in such actions. While I believe that most of our police officers are good, hardworking and ethical people there is the occasional lone idiot who has a badge and a gun; and that combination of lunacy, authority and weaponry is very dangerous. They will surely hurt somebody, destroy a family and make the news. They also make it really difficult for the good police officers. Continued on page 21 Denver Urban Spectrum Department E-mail Addresses Denver Urban Spectrum

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From Blog to Print, Journalist Tamara Banks Talks About Her Eighth Trip to the World’s Newest Country and Having “The Talk” with Youth By Tamara Banks

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Editorial contribution by Angelia D. McGowan

Photos courtesy of Tamara Banks

mmy Award winning journalist Tamara Banks traveled to South Sudan in January for a three-month assignment, returning in April. The Denver-based freelance correspondent worked in Bor, just north of the capital, Juba. This was Bank’s eighth trip to what is now the world’s newest country. South Sudan is located in Central Africa, and is about the size of Texas. It is one of the poorest country in the world, has 27 percent literacy rate. It is so underdeveloped that it has only about 35 miles of paved road. Its economy is driven by oil exports. South Sudan declared independence from the rest of Sudan on July 9, 2011. It was considered a huge success. But its first few years as a sovereign nation have been fraught with challenges. On this trip Banks was also a trainer, working for a Denver-based organization called Project Education South Sudan. PESS was founded by Carol and Richard Rinehart and several Lost Boys of Sudan 10 years ago. In Bank’s 2011 trip to South Sudan she followed a former Lost Boy of Sudan – who had been brought to Denver as a refugee — back to his home village. After 10 years in the United States, Daniel Majok Gai decided to move back to South Sudan permanently to help his country and become the South Sudan Director for PESS. In this most recent trip to South Sudan Banks worked with Gai to implement an HIV/AIDS awareness and youth leadership program for primary, secondary and college-age students. The model is a Peace Corps model in which young people are trained not only on the content but also how to train others. In the second half of the program PESS bought six sewing machines for the schools and community in which they worked. The sewing machines are a tool to make clothes, specifically, reusable washable sanitary pads. They also serve as a mechanism to empower girls and women to earn a living.

South Sudan and were able to back up Daniel, me and the manual with more detailed science about HIV and AIDS. For example, the lack of circumcisions here in South Sudan is a real issue, as David Majur explained. The virus and other sexually transmitted diseases can be trapped in the foreskin and spread from partner to partner. We also discussed how IV drug abuse can transmit the virus. This week Daniel and I are now prepping for the students training which will begin this week.

While most of the almost 50 students were from Bor, which was nearly destroyed in December of 2013 during an attempted coup, some of the college students were from other parts of South Sudan. Two South Sudanese with medical expertise joined Banks and Gai in training not only to help with the science lessons but to also help take the program nationwide. Banks and Gai interacted with a county commissioner and university leadership, but it was Banks interactions with the youth and young adults about what would be sensitive topics for any young person around the world that dominate her memories and blog posts at Journey of Hope 2015. Following are excerpts:

Role Playing Leads to Deeper Understanding

Just like most of us, the students in the HIV/AIDS Youth Leadership

Teacher Training

As we went through the manual (the same one we will use with the students over the next few weeks) the teachers really got animated and excited about the discussion around the cause, origin and spread of HIV and AIDS. We are fortunate to have joining our team David Majur and Rebecca Ding Mau. Both are professionals in the healthcare world here in

Awareness and Feminine Hygiene Program pick up complex information when the theories are illustrated in an exercise. One of the exercises that was not only the most effective but also a lot of fun was the one in which some students acted as adult elephants, one played a baby elephant and another acted as a lion. The adult elephants, like healthy cells, protect the immune

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2015

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system, portrayed by a baby elephant, from antigens, portrayed as a lion, like malaria, the flu, typhoid, etc. The last character was the role of HIV. If HIV attacks the cells (the adult elephants) the immune system is vulnerable, thus becoming sick, not from HIV but from whatever antigen is attacking the body. Sound confusing? It was a little, but the young people got the idea and had a great time fighting off the lion, rather the antigen! Then it was on to discussing AIDS and T cells. Things got very interesting when we moved on to transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS. The students’ eyes just about fell out of their heads when we told them we were going to demonstrate how to use a condom. I think they thought we were going to demonstrate how to use a condom! Fortunately for all of us, a clinic nearby lent us a “model.” The students acted maturely, for the most part, aside from giggles and funny faces from time to time. Although these young people, again, ages 13 to 20, have seen more in their young lives than most adults in America will ever see, they are still in many ways naive. Many had never heard of a condom let alone seen or held one. Each student got to open a package containing a condom as we explained how it is used. We lightened up the conversation by having them blow up the condoms like balloons and then decorate the classroom with them. Soon the energy and room felt like we were decorating for prom! One of the exercises in which we began to see a real shift in how girls realized their own power is when we asked the girls to explain a female’s menses to the boys. It was exciting to see the girls becoming more comfortable with talking and actually leading the discussion. The students were divided into small groups of about four or five, and we could hardly get them to stop talking when the session had run well past the allotted time! Continued on page 6


What’s The Big Deal with Culture?

diverse and with students from different backgrounds and with different approaches to learning. In conclusion, educators are responsible for ensuring that all children receive equal access to education so that they can maximize their potential. The school’s culture, or underlying values, beliefs, rituals and symbols, should reflect and celebrate the culture of each child represented in the building. This reflection and celebration can be made visible through culturally responsive teaching so that our minority children can achieve their greatest potential. 

By Dedrick J. Sims CEO Sims-Fayola Foundation

T

eachers who are not taking a student’s culture into consideration may make statements like “I don’t see color, just children” as a way of saying color is not an issue but what they are indirectly and unintentionally saying is that they don’t recognize their culture. If teachers pretend not to see students’ racial and ethnic differences, they really do not see the students at all and are limited in their ability to meet their educational needs and all the students in the class will be treated the same. This is one mistake that culturally unaware teachers make. But for teachers who are knowledgeable of the influence that culture has on learning, a student’s diverse cultural backgrounds is central. We must understand the culture of minority children if we are to gain insight into their learning styles. “Color-blind” teachers equate sameness with equality when they are not equal at all. They do not understand that their perceptions of minority students interfere with their ability to be effective teachers. Let’s use a scenario I read in “DreamKeepers” by Janice Hale. In a classroom of 30 children a teacher has one student who is visually impaired, one who is wheelchair-bound, one who has limited English proficiency, and one who is intellectually gifted. If the teacher presents identical work in identical ways to all of the students, is she dealing equitably or inequitably with the children? The notion of sameness only makes sense when all students are exactly the same. Whole class instruction is not necessarily “uniform” at a process level. Equity and fairness are insured not by treating all children identically, but by differentiating among children to provide them the most effective opportunities to learn. Teachers need to present information in a variety of formats (discussion, lecture, questions) so different learners are provided the opportunities to gain access to instruction via their strength. In particular, traditional methods of uniform instruction seem to be ineffective with a student group that is very

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2015

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South Sudan and The Talk Continued from page 4

Graduation Day!

The last weekend of the HIV/AIDS Awareness Youth Leadership and Feminine Hygiene Management Program was filled with high energy! The students were even excited about taking a biology quiz! Understanding T-cells, knowing the exact names and pronunciation of the parts of the reproductive system, and understanding the difference between HIV and AIDS can be a bit of a challenge for anyone. But the students in PESS’ HIV/AIDS Awareness program are getting it! And they want to talk about it, even brag to their classmates who are not in the program. Some of the students, for example, are taking biology in school right now. Paulino Ngong Alier and Gideon Mach puffed out their chests when they told us how they are ahead of the other students in their biology class discussing HIV/AIDS at Langbaar Modern Academy. PESS wants the young students to walk away with at least some basic knowledge about how to stay healthy. And they are! They are armed with knowledge and confidence and they’re ready to pass on their knowledge to their peers, family and community.

Controlled Chaos!

Feet pedaling. Hands dashing. Fabric flying. The PESS Sanitary Pad Production Sewing Program is off to a great start! To say the women and girls are excited about the program would be an understatement. PESS purchased six brand new sewing machines which will be distributed between Sunlight Primary School, Langbaar Modern Academy, John Garang University and the town of Pagook (one of the villages where PESS first began building schools 10 years ago) once the sewing program is complete. The Sanitary Pad Production Program is the second phase of the

current mission here in Bor, Jonglei state, South Sudan. The first phase was the HIV/AIDS Awareness and Menstrual Hygiene Management Program. Many girls here in South Sudan, if they are allowed to go to school at all, miss several days of class a month because of their menses. Sanitary pads can be expensive and in cases some girls can’t make it to the market to purchase them because they live in the bush (the country).

Academy, John Garang University and the town of Pagook arrived on the first day of sewing class. Their eyes lit up! Very few know how to sew but that didn’t stop them from jumping in and giving it a try. In the U.S. we are lucky to have electric powered sewing machines that can do a lot of the work for us. But in South Sudan the tailors use foot-operated machines. Oh, and by the way, it’s about 100 degrees in the classroom!

PESS is committed to making sure girls get an education and providing them with the skill of sewing sanitary pads is part of that goal. Joining the team for the month every Saturday is Athiang Alier, a tailor. Thank goodness we are not relying on my sewing skills here. I staple my hems. No, seriously! The program is so popular and the women and girls want to spend more time learning to sew so we are adding Friday afternoon to the schedule. It was like Christmas morning when the women and girls from Sunlight Primary, Langbaar Modern

But the women and girls would have stayed until midnight if we’d let them. These young women and girls have big plans for their future. For example, Kuie Achiek Anyang, senior 4 (senior year) at Langaar Modern Academy and PESS-sponsored girl is grateful for the sponsorship. She plans on continuing her education and becoming a doctor, “Because in our community there are not many doctors. I will be a doctor to support the children of South Sudan.”

Tradition vs. Human Rights

It was a very busy week as the PESS team in Bor, Jonglei, South

Sudan doubled up their work. After a lot of persistence and maneuvering we were able to schedule John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology, JGMUST to do the theory portion of the HIV/AIDS Awareness Program. University teachers have been on strike which has hampered our planning and the students are scattered. But thanks to Daniel’s determination we finally were able to make it work by holding night classes during the week for them. I thought since these students from the university are older than our primary pupils they would be significantly more aware and informed about HIV/AIDS, the reproductive system, etc. Not necessarily so. It was eye opening, for me at least, to see that just because the students are older didn’t mean they knew more about this deadly virus and the importance of understanding, I mean truly understanding, the reproductive system. However, these students are critical thinkers and had a lot of high level questions about the science of HIV/AIDS. But what really surprised me, although it makes sense, is that the older students are more steeped in tradition. For example, when discussing human rights I asked the class, “What is a Human Right?” And, “Do men and women have different rights?” One of the brightest students in the class, Morial Akoon Chok shot up his arm and shouted out the answer at the same time. “Yes!” He proudly replied. Really? How so? “Well, girls don’t have the right to inherit property or express their dissatisfaction about sex in their marriage.” Oh. Alrighty then. And it’s a man’s right to have multiple wives but a woman does not have the same right (and she shouldn’t have that right… inferred in the tone of discussion.) It occurred to me we were talking about two different things: cultural tradition and human rights.

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Eventually, we did finally agree that there is a difference between cultural tradition and human rights. That every human being has the right to an education, to live safe from harm and not be oppressed (even if she is a woman). Which was a nice segue into the topic of stigma and discrimination. Again, a lively discussion. And what do stigma and discrimination have to do with HIV/AIDS awareness? If people are worried about being stigmatized and discriminated against they are less likely to get tested to the virus and worse, less likely to talk about it… even when sharing their knowledge.

Putting It All Together

This past week it was time to put practice to the test. The women and girls were thrilled to finally sew their first ever reusable sanitary pads! They finally saw the practice drills we’d been running through make sense. Langbaar Modern Academy continues to be our host for the PESS Pad Production Sewing Program. The classroom we typically use is transformed in to a sewing room for the pupils with stations set up in each corner: One area to learn how to apply the snaps with the snap tool, another area to get comfortable using sharp heavy fabric scissors and cut fabric (our ‘practice’ fabric before we cut in to the expensive material brought from the U.S.). And the sewing machines in the middle whirring away! As frustrated as they once were the women and girls are now elated to finally start putting it all together! They finally finished their first pads and are proud of their work! At the end of training on Saturday… one sewing student from Pagook, Ayen Gai, stood up and gave a five-minute speech (without notes) about how grateful she is for the pad production program. “We no longer have to feel ashamed when we ride a bota bota (motorcycles used for public transportation). I don’t have to throw way our underwear. I will now just add to my collection!” The sewing pad production has been so wildly popular we added an additional day to the program: Friday evenings. There are quite a few special moments in the midst of the sweaty determination. Saturday morning a woman came to the classroom door. She had heard her daughter Elizabeth Awal Agot was going to be learning to sew. She just couldn’t believe what a great opportunity this was so she asked if she could come in and watch Elizabeth sew. Mom just beamed as she saw how well her daughter was doing. “I never had the chance to

learn,” she told me as David Majur translated. ”This is the first time (for anyone) in our family to learn to sew!” As Abuk Ayen Ayuen (not a sponsored girl but a fine candidate) exclaimed, “If you know how to sew you can buy your own machine and sew your own clothes. Or you can open your own business which is very good. As a woman your future will become as bright as the sun!”

Last Mango in Bor

The highlight of the week of course was the last few days of the sewing program. Frustrated frowns turned into bright smiles as the women and girls developed their sewing skills. The hum of sewing machines was accompanied by singing. The women and girls harmonized and sang songs of praise. It was magical to see and hear them sewing and singing music. Their songs of praise illustrated how happy they are to be learning a skill that will transform their lives. Then it was time for our graduation ceremony. Each woman who completed the course received a certificate and a gift bag containing brand new sanitary pads sewn by women in the U.S. and other personal items. After the testimonies and words of encouragement each school and the community of Pagook was given sewing machines, scissors and all the notions and tools they need to continue on their own. Christmas in the springtime! Hugs and even tears rounded out the day as the sun began to sink into the horizon and we said goodbye. At least once a week I have a mango cosmopolitan, sans the cosmo part. And at the end of this last week in Bor I relished over my last Mango in Bor, which Ayen (Daniel’s sister who cooks for me) so generously prepared for my last night in Bor. As I reflected on the past three months I thought about the work my brother Daniel and our team have accomplished here in Bor. But more importantly, I thought about how impressed I am by the work and commitment of the South Sudanese people. The world’s newest country is still fraught with challenges and a power struggle for leadership continues. But one thing all can agree on: Black lives matter, including those in South Sudan.  Editor’s Note: Excerpts were pulled from Tamara Banks blog by Angelia D. McGowan, managing editor of the Denver Urban Spectrum. To read Banks’ complete blog, Journey of Hope 2015, visit http://joh2015.blogspot.com. To learn more about Project Education South Sudan visit www.projecteducationsudan.org. Banks will use footage from the trip in future journalistic projects.

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On The Go With DJ Cavem, Founder of EcoHipHop By Angelia D. McGowan

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ollow 29-year-old Ietef “DJ Cavem” Vita around the country as he uses the platform of hip hop to spread the word about healthy eating and you’ll see a man on a mission. Let’s start at the White House and work our way back to Denver where the self-proclaimed O.G. (organic gardener) has been making an impact in the wellbeing of his community for more than a decade. On March 23 of this year, a press release from the White House announced the talent line-up, program and activities for the 2015 White House Easter Egg Roll, a tradition in its 137th year and the largest annual public event at the White House. In the line-up was Denver-based talent DJ Cavem. The release stated, “The Eggcited to Cook Stage features chefs Sunny Anderson, Chris Cosentino, Bobby Flay, Aarón Sánchez, Gail Simmons, and Michael Symon along with DJ Cavem and Alkemia Earth as they prepare delicious recipes showing

easy ways to incorporate healthy eating into everyday meals.” The road to the White House was an eventful one for the founder of EcoHipHop and Going Green Living Bling. Both organizations promote healthy eating, using music as a communications vehicle. Particularly, in the past year DJ Cavem has been nominated for the

2014 Music Educator Grammy Award, highlighted in Oprah Magazine for his award-winning curriculum, which is an album called “The Produce Section.” He also premiered his first short film, entitled, "From Gangs to Gardens" at the Hollywood Film Festival. Produced by JLove Calderon, the film has received distribution with Fubu TV and SIMA and has been nominated for the Social Impact Media Awards. He recently received recognition from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who proclaimed June 14 as “Keep It Fresh Day,” named after one of DJ Cavem’s educational and cultural programs. Riding high on all of this love, Vita recently spoke at Tedx Manhattan in New York City. The talk would lead to him meeting Debra Eschmeyer, the executive director of Michelle Obama's “Let's Move” initiative, celebrating its fifth anniversary. A week later he received an email inviting him to be part of the White House's Easter activities. “We made the top five most exciting performance of the Easter Egg Roll based on crowd response,” says DJ Cavem, who performed with his wife, business partner and DJ, Alkemia Earth. They both met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama through a private introduction in the White House, away from the crowd. “It was very surreal. It happened quickly. I do (remember it), but I don’t,” said Earth. In addition they saw the “whole Power Rangers cast” and "the real" Elmo from Sesame Street, according to DJ Cavem, who was excited by the whole scene of celebrities. These are great tales to bring back to youth he works with year round in

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Denver Public Schools, even more so to officials wanting him to help them with gang intervention and to help increase grades through awareness of proper nutrition. Studies have shown that grades go up when students are eating healthy. DJ Cavem and Earth are preparing for summer camp workshops, expecting to serve 1,200 students, double the participation of last year. He wants the participants to walk away knowing about homeopathic wellness, food-related health and to learn how to grow, sell and prepare food. Last month in Denver, EcoHipHop kicked off its Hip Hop Green event where they are introducing communities to vegan meals. He has partnered with national vegan chain restaurants to help them market to the urban communities. “We are feeding communities their first vegan meals. We use hip hop to bring people to the event and then feed them their first vegan meals,” says DJ Cavem, who acknowledges that there can sometimes be resistance from people citing that it's too expensive to eat healthy or that they do not want to change their family recipes, which integrate lots of meats. He and Earth work to help them understand the positive outcomes of making better food choices. “We want them to look a little deeper into what they are eating and why,” says Earth. In the meantime, the duo has been asked to return to Washington, D.C. by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help it launch its farmers market on the National Mall on May 1. Later in the month they’ll be participating at an event in Wheatridge, Colorado for the Vitamin Cottage. As the conversation for this article wraps up, the two are packing bags for a road trip to do a presentation in Colorado Springs before jumping on an airplane to Oakland, California. Always on the go, there seems to be no end to DJ Cavem's energy and desire to make a difference. Editor's Note: For more information about EcoHipHop visit, www.gofundme.com/ ecohiphop.


THE NEST MATTERS

DIG Joins National to Tackle the 30 Million Word Gap

By Cassandra Johnson, Sena Harjo and Dorothy Shapland

Editor’s note: The Nest Matters (TNM) is advice from “egg to flight” from early childhood educators and leaders. TNM focuses on early child development from prenatal (the egg phase) through the stages of tweens when children prepare to leave the nest (the flight phase).

“We the People can close the 30

Million Word Gap!” is the theme for this year’s National Black Child Development Week (May 10 to 16) headed by National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) and over 24 of their affiliates across the country. DIG stands for the Denver Interest Group of Black Child Development Institute. The group has been aggressively completing the process to acquire Affiliate status, aligning with NBCDI’s mission “to improve and advance the quality of life for Black children and their families through education and advocacy.” With only a few months remaining until the group is officially chartered, DIG members are excited to join forces with the National office and other state Affiliates to participate in Black Child Development Week that will include a week of events involving literacy. Research shows that children from low-income families are exposed to, on average, eight million fewer words each year than their middle-income and high-income counterparts. That

DIG and NBCDI recognizes that parents and early childhood educators can work to close the 30 million word gap by increasing the quantity and quality of their verbal interactions with their children. Through the course of Black Child Development Week, DIG and NBCDI have created a series of activities that challenge children and adults to be more deliberate in how they express themselves.

means that a child from low-income families experiences 30 million fewer words by the time they turn four years old. Children exposed to fewer words in their first years have a hard time excelling in school, and this word gap then contributes to an achievement gap that grows as the years go by. In spring of ‘2014 The Nest Matters featured an article titled The 3 T’s to share Thirty Million Words (TMW) Initiative, launched to tackle this issue. Tune In by paying attention to what your child is focused on or communicating with you. The signals your child gives will change rapidly since a young child’s attention span is short – staying Tuned In is a dynamic activity! Talk More with your child using lots of descriptive words to build the child’s vocabulary. Think of your child’s brain like a piggy bank – every word you say is another penny you invest. There’s no limit to how many words you can invest to fill your child’s bank and build his or her brain! Be as descriptive as possible to build your child’s vocabulary. Take Turns with your child by engaging in conversation. Your child is never too young to have a conversation with you! Respond to your child’s signals to keep the turns going.

encourages parents and early childhood educators to spend time talking to your child and/or class as they help you with daily activities or tackle new problems DIG’s Literacy Event will take place Saturday, May 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in conjunction with the Li’l Teeth Health Fair at Evie Garrett Dennis Campus, 4800 Telluride St. in Denver. 

Editor’s note: For more information on each of the daily activities planned for Black Child Development Week check out DIG’s social media sites Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DenverInterest Group.BCDI, Twitter Handle: DIGofBCDI, LinkedIn Group Page: Denver Interest Group of BCDI

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Bringing Back the Arts Initiative Goes Who knows Marvin Gaye? Who

By Angelia D. McGowan

knows Gladys Knight and the Pips? Who knows Diana Ross? Who knows Michael Jackson? The very thought that every being on the earth does not know these legendary artists is an atrocity to older generations that can recall a Motown hit for every emotion that comes to mind. But when cast members from Motown The Musical posed those questions of about 50 middle school students, the sound of crickets overwhelmed the room. Eventually hands shot up as iconic names were called, but it was nervewracking to witness the initial silence and young eyes searching the room for answers. The cast members were not derailed. They successfully con-

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nected the dots for the students by informing them of the Motown influence, naming the movie “Sister Act,” which featured Motown hits. The students and cast members were brought together by the Bringing Back the Arts Foundation, created by Denver’s First Lady, Mary Louise Lee, to restore art programs in Denver Public Schools, expand access to the city’s cultural institutions for all residents and spotlight local performing artists. And that’s exactly what this two-hour gathering succeeded in doing. The students from Hamilton Middle School and Florida Pitts Waller learned about the Motown influence and also took the stage to share their own talents when invited by the professionals. They danced, sang, rapped and

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played the piano in front of the cast members who were genuinely impressed. Lee handed out Motown memorabilia to those courageous enough to share their talent. “It’s important they have an appreciation for the arts. That’s the purpose of having them here,” says Lee, who held the event at Cableland, the 19,500 square-foot official residence of the mayor of Denver. “I want to make sure I introduce them to not only local but national artists.” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and the First Lady initially saw the show on Broadway in New York. Upon their return to Denver, she let the Denver Center know how great it would be for it to be in Denver. “What an opportunity for youth and citizens of Denver to experience Motown,” said Lee, who saw the show at least five times during its three-week run at the Buell Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts complex. It wouldn’t be a Motown event without hearing the Motown sound. Several hits including, “Get Ready” and “Dancing in the Streets,” were performed by cast members Clifton Oliver, Martina Sykes and Patrice Covington. The students also learned tidbits that the general public may not know or have forgotten, including the fact that Berry Gordy, Jr. documented Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches on records. The two youngest cast members, 13-year-old Leon Outlaw, Jr. and 14year-old Reed L. Shannon, who alternate as young Michael Jackson, also performed a medley of Jackson’s songs. During the conversation with the local students they shared their performance history and the fact that they still needed to study and do their homework on the road. In addition to learning about Motown’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, the young artist also learned about social issues ailing

today’s society. Keith Shannon, Reed’s father, said the show was in St. Louis during the Ferguson riots in November 2014. They were 15 minutes away from the infamous city during the unrest following the announcement by the St. Louis County grand jury not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9, 2014 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Shannon travels with his son on the tour. “We could see the fires from our hotel room,” said the army veteran who stresses that he was not planning to have certain conversations with his son until he was older, but because of Ferguson he was forced to do so. It was perfect timing for him to explain the stories behind the music of Motown. Yolanda Greer, assistant principal at Hamilton Middle School, thanked the First Lady for holding an event “to connect the students to the arts in real time. Also to show professionals to students, and also share the space for students to show their talents.” There’s a popular saying that you’re never too old to make your dreams come true. Linda Stewart, who heads the public relations for the tour, left the students with a variation of that saying: “You are never too young to see your dreams manifest and come true.” Sykes, who plays Mary Wells in the show, said to the students who wanted to be artists, “Smile and do it with boldness. Share your gift.”

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Clearing Up The

Where great futures take root.

Myths

There is so

By Kim Farmer

Venture Prep is a public charter high school with a lofty goal: To ensure that every student succeeds academically, develops character, and leaves with a college-bound or career-driven mindset. And we deliver! ‡ Exceptional academic growth ‡100% college acceptance ‡Career exploration opportunities ‡ Personalized guidance for each student ‡Outstanding parent satisfaction

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much confusion surrounding the myriad of diets that are available to us that it is no surprise that the health effects of various types of sugar is also perplexing. Does eating too much sugar cause diabetes? Is it always better to eat sugar from natural foods? Read the

following points to clear up the sugar confusion. Overconsumption of sugar is not the direct cause of type II diabetes. The main cause of diabetes is overweight and/or obesity and an over assumption of any food causes that including sugar. However, according to a JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) study, the prevalence of diabetes increases by 1 percent for every additional 150 calories of added sugar which indicates that there may be a more direct impact but it is not the primary cause. Bottom line: Eating excess calories including sugar increases your chances of weight gain which could lead to a higher chance of contracting type II diabetes. Hidden sugar counts toward your caloric intake even though it is hiding! Surprisingly, sugar can be found in packaged oatmeal, peanut butter and many beverages, and to make it more confusing, food labels aren’t always clear. Many packaged foods contain both naturally occurring and added sugars. Nutrition labels currently combine both types of sugar although the FDA may eventually require food manufacturers to split the two so we will know how much of each type we are getting. But unless or until that happens, it is up to us to be label detectives and figure it out on our own. A good rule of thumb is to look at the label and find the amount of sugar grams and the names of any type of sweetener. If you see anything listed such as cane juice, corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, and malt syrup then that is an added sugar. If the ingredient is at the top of the list then there is more of it than the other ingredients listed. Bottom line: Become a food label detective and avoid foods with added sugar. Some types of sugar are better than others. The type of sugar that is found in fruits, vegetables and dairy products is naturally occurring sugar meaning that it is not manufactured.

These types of foods are healthier for you because of the abundance of nutrients naturally found in them, especially the fiber. Natural fruit juices contain a lot of sugar and even though it is naturally occurring, the high amounts of it are enough to take note of. For example, an 8 ounce serving of apple juice contains 26 grams of sugar and the same size serving of orange juice contains 24 grams. By comparison a 16 ounce bottle of coke contains 39 grams of sugar. The extra sugar intake from any beverage should be added to the sugar that you’ve already consumed through the foods that you typically eat, potentially contributing to overconsumption. Bottom line: Eating whole foods like fruits and vegetables also contain sugar but eating these types of food is healthier for you since they contain other vitamins and minerals that contribute to heart health. The average American consumes and overabundance of sugar. More specifically, there are 4 grams of sugar in one teaspoon and one teaspoon of sugar contains about 16 calories. Most of us consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day and most of this added sugar comes in the form of processed and prepared foods and sugary drinks. The American Heart Association suggests an added sugar limit of no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons) for most women and no more than 150 calories per day for men (about 9 teaspoons). We can take control of the amount of added sugar that we eat by simply reading the labels on our food and making better choices. Focus on eating whole foods like fruits and vegetables which do contain sugar but it is naturally occurring and comes with a myriad of other benefits that are good for your body.  Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness. Mile High Fitness offers in-home personal training and corporate fitness solutions. For more information, visit www.milehighfitness.com or email inquires@milehighfitness.com.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2015

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Summer Tuition Support for Preschool Students Available Through the Denver Preschool Program

Kids can be good at hiding abuse and neglect.

Denver Children Entering Kindergarten This Year Are Eligible

The Denver kindergarten Preschool Program ready.” (DPP) tuition support The Denver for Denver families’ Preschool Program preschoolers has been has served nearly extended through the 37,000 Denver chilsummer months for dren at 250 qualitystudents enrolled at rated preschools any of DPP’s qualitysince its approval by rated communityvoters in 2006. based preschool proNearly 90 percent of grams located across students attended the city. Denver votertop quality schools s’ approval of during the 2013-14 increased funding for school year. DPP Denver’s dedicated tuition support is preschool sales tax scaled to income last November made and the quality of this opportunity avail- Denver children entering Kindergarten this year school attended are eligible to receive summer tuition support for able for Denver stuincentivizing propreschool through the Denver Preschool dents who will be grams to achieve Program. Visit www.dpp.org to find out more. entering kindergarten high quality and this fall. parents to choose it for their children. “This is an incredible opportunity Accessing Summer Tuition for our children to stay engaged in Support learning activities during the summer Many DPP community preschools and be ready to hit the ground runoffer summer learning programs. ning when they reach kindergarten,” Since space is limited, parents are Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “In encouraged to act quickly. Parents addition, this program expansion prointerested in enrolling their child can vides working parents with the ability contact their preschool provider or call to continue their daily schedules dur303-595-4DPP.  ing the summer months and receive Editor’s note: For more information about help with covering the rising costs of a the Denver Preschool Program visit preschool education.” www.dpp.org. Value of Summer Preschool About the Denver Preschool Program: Studies conducted over the years The Denver Preschool Program makes continue to confirm the long-term quality preschool possible for all Denver value of summer learning programs families with 4-year-old children. Funded for children. For example, research by Denver’s dedicated preschool sales tax, indicates that more than half of the first approved by voters in 2006 and achievement gap between lower- and renewed and expanded in 2014, DPP has higher-income children can be provided $64 million in tuition support to explained by unequal access to sumhelp nearly 37,000 Denver children attend mer learning opportunities. As a the preschool of their families’ choice, estabresult, low-income children are less lishing each child’s foundation for lifelong likely to graduate from high school or learning and success. enter college (Alexander et al, 2007). In addition, children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007). 333 S. Eaton St. “Data spanning 100 years shows Lakewood, CO 80226 that students typically score lower on Phone 303-937-3000 standardized tests at the end of sumwww.eatonseniorcommunities.org mer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the Affordable Independent Senior Housing and Services summer,” Jennifer Landrum, DPP’s President and CEO adds. “Providing our city’s pre-kindergarten children with a summer quality learning experience further supports our promise to A Heritage of Care, Com fort and ensure every child in Denver is Com m unity since 1980

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The Emperor Has No Clothes: Jay Z vs. Harry Belafonte Revisited By Hasira Watson or H-Soul

I

“Hip-Hop has been hijacked by a Luciferian conspiracy. People have used Hip-Hop in a lot of ways that cause a lot of mind problems. They use the word wrongfully. They use it to mean a part instead of a whole.”

ntrinsically, early Hip Hop through the Golden Era was true to the underlying Hip Hop ideology of collective resistance. The Soul Sonic Force reminded us that we are “nature’s children” and “Mother Earth…is our rock” and The Furious 5 penned new anthems that resonated every bit as much as James Weldon Johnson’s… warning “Don’t push me ‘cause I’m close to the edge.” Rap music, as the vocal element of Hip Hop, continued to advance, articulate, debate and refine Hip-Hop ideology through the mid-1990s (and continues to do so in the underground). But with the corporate takeover of mainstream rap, an individualism and embrace of the capitalist mindset also came; priming the ground for the rap music’s reigning king Jay Z. Without question Jay is a phenomenal lyricist, with flow that weaves words through beats so expertly, so melodically, that it envelopes and possesses, drawing listeners completely into the experience, causing chests to heave, heads to bob, hips to sway, eyes to roll back until we are completely enraptured by the song as an experience that melds into our person. And while Hov has long proclaimed himself “Hip Hop’s savior,” it is unclear whether what we are experiencing is Hip-Hop or simply the smoothest, corporate-sponsored, media-made, (Illuminati-crafted?) rap of all time. You see, rap is not something new. It wasn’t birthed with Hip-Hop 40 years ago. No, rap is bigger than Hip Hop (no pun intended). Rap is something that our grandmothers warned us about. Every scam, every scheme begins with rap. Rap is game…It’s the sweet sound of Satanic beckoning’s that whispered in Adam’s ear. Rap made glass beads glisten like precious gems, scarlet-fever riddled blankets feel as warm as the sun, and rottentooth smiles disarming and endearing, setting the stage for Indian genocide

– Afrika Bambaataa

and African slavery. Rap makes panties drop for two-bit pimps. It makes 70-year-old women entrust their life savings to Bernie Maddoff. Rap makes freedom fighters into terrorists, warmongers into commander-in-chiefs, and sweatshop labor performed by hungry thirdworld Brown children the “low prices” that save first-world Brown cousins. Yes, as rappers go, Jay Z is among the best. Most of us have fallen for his rap, hook, line and sinker. But it has always been the role of wise elders, to redirect us when we stray. Harry Belafonte has long been an admirer, advocate and loving critic of Hip Hop. He is of a particular class of public figures…in the vein of Paul Robeson and Muhammad Ali, who understand the stages they occupy to not only to serve their art, but also the collective advancement of the people. As such, Belafonte fully engaged in freedom struggles from Civil Rights, to antiApartheid, to global peace. And given his position, his immeasurable contributions, and his age, Belafonte now regularly challenges younger artists to pick up the mantle. And Jay Z is not immune. Given their immense fortune, access and power, both Mr. and Mrs. Carter were recently challenged by Mr. Belafonte to be more “socially responsible.” And while it stings to be called out on your stuff, it is the duty of those who are older and wiser to do so, especially in adherence to African traditions. However, rather than accepting Belafonte’s critique and using it as an opportunity for selfreflection, Jay retreated to the realm and egotistical self-aggrandizing positioning.

“My presence is charity,” Jay retorted, as if this were some inconsequential beef with Nas or Mobb Deep, rather than an engagement with an 86year old veteran who has given his blood, sweat and tears to make it possible for Hov to even exist. And what does Jay do with that existence? Does he listen to the counsel of elders? Does he hear the cries of the young ones who are coming behind him? Does he advance the cause in substantive way? Does he demonstrate appreciation for what has been given? Does he even understand the complexity and contradiction of his own lyrics? In his own Moment of Clarity he confesses, “I dumb down for my audience and double my dollars….If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli. Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense (But I did five mil) I ain’t been rhyming like Common since.” And this is what, in all of his narcissistic glory, is missed. If Jay could be Talib or Common, then if they so choose, they could be him. Instead, they choose to use their art to uplift and empower the collective, rather than simply enriching themselves. This choice, to mitigate one’s individual enrichment for the sake of the whole, is the essence of Hip-Hop; it is the core of the 5th element of Hip Hop (knowledge) embedded in the core of freedom fighters of every hue. Elder Belafonte challenges Jay to recognize this choice and walk the righteous path. So while some may have been too afraid to proclaim that Jay has become hollow, that he has acted as a forktongued rapper selling snake oil to get rich off the backs of his own people, that his actions belie his potential greatness, that he is walking through life wearing a very expensive invisible cloak that reveals the fraudulent

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2015

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nature of what lies beneath, the brave ones must call out his nudity. And while these critiques may feel like an attack, they are not that at all. Heeding the very wise counsel of Mr. Belafonte, we are simply doing what family does…stating the obvious – that the Emperor has no clothes and inviting him to make a different choice, one that centers the whole and returns him to Hip Hop’s fold. Editor’s note: Hasira Ashemu is a prolific writer, speaker, progressive social activist, and communications professional with more than 20 years of experience as an award-winning columnist and radio/television journalist. Hasira also lived in Ghana, West Africa for more than 10 years working in the non-profit and governmental sectors as a communication specialist. Currently, Ashemu is the producer of two-online publications and a syndicated TV show by the same name Soul Progressive on Free Speech TV. He attended East High School and is a Howard University alum. Follow Hasira Soul: Website:www.soulprogressive.com; Twitter: @SoulWatson; and Facebook: Soul Progressive.

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Ground Rules

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

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. Tia Terlage is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Laurence Washington is the creator of BlackFlix.com.

Get Hard

 By Samantha Ofole-Prince

Get Hard

It’s not hard to get laughs out of

this satirical male-buddy comedy about two unlikely characters that

strike an unusual and potentially lifechanging deal. It all begins as Will Ferrell’s character James, a ridiculously wealthy and entitled hedge fund manager is indicted for fraud. Given 30 days to get his affairs in order before a stretch in San Quentin, he asks his car detailer Darnell (Kevin Hart), who he assumes has been in jail because he’s Black, to help him prepare for a life behind bars. A struggling but focused entrepreneur, Darnell has never been to jail, but rises to the occasion, as the $30,000 incentive would help his ailing business. Together, the two men do whatever it takes for James to “get hard” and, in the process, discover how wrong they were about a lot of things – including each other. Both Hart and Ferrell make a fine, unlikely team, seeming to enjoy each other’s company even when saying the craziest of things. That comic energy also defines their onscreen partnership as a couple of guys woefully mismatched in every possible way starting with the height disparity that comes in handy when James has to use Darnell as a human barbell. They are poles apart on everything from their worldviews, to their taste in music. The movie deals with stereotypes in a funny, clever way and makes fun of all of them. There’s plenty of jokey sadism, which involves tossing every imaginable racial epithet as Darnell takes James through a crash course in jail preparation. He turns James’ pala-

tial digs into something resembling a maximum security prison, complete with floodlights and barbed wire, his tennis court is turned into a prison yard and he is put through a lot of physical tests to toughen up. There are several hilarious scenes including one where Darnell goes crazy, representing different groups that James might encounter in the prison yard. Joining Ferrell and Hart as they try to whip James into shape for his jail stint, are T.I. “Tip” Harris who plays Darnell’s estranged cousin, Russell, a genuine gang-banger and head of the formidable Crenshaw Kings; Alison Brie as James’ socialite girlfriend Alissa, who ditches him once he’s

Home

arrested and Craig T. Nelson as Alissa’s wealthy father. Edwina Findley (HBO’s “Treme”) rounds off the main cast as Darnell’s wife, Rita.

Denver Urban Spectrum — www.denverurbanspectrum.com – May 2015

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A jailhouse comedy is not going to be funny if it doesn’t work past all the checklists regarding lockup: shanks, skinheads, sexual favors and showers. Get Hard takes all the requisites and delivers the humor. Directed by Etan Cohen, the movie’s story is nothing to write home about as its pretty routine but what makes it satisfying is the wit. With a quirky and funny dialogue, it has its share of effective moments – most of which come courtesy of stars Hart and Ferrell.

HOME

 By Tia Terlaje

B

ig Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons witty voice brings out the delightful humor as the star of DreamWorks newest animation HOME directed by Tim Johnson. Along with R&B star Rhianna, HOME is enjoyable for kids of all ages. When Boov aliens invade Earth, lonely Oh (Jim Parsons) a banished Boov, and the last girl on Earth, Tip (Rhianna) creates a friendship along their journey around the world. Oh promises Tip to help find her mom (Jennifer Lopez) while escaping the invasion led by Boov Captain Smek (Steve Martin). During their time together, Oh and Tip compromise differences with teamwork and overcome all the obstacles along the way. The story has a strong ending that may bring a tear and a laugh. The importance of friendship, believing in oneself and keeping a promise are just a few lessons that children will pick up from the film. Original music from Rhianna can be heard throughout the movie. This animation is available in 3D, but not worth the price. Although colorful and adventurous, HOME lacks the special effects, which is disappointing.


Furious 7: A Testament to Paul Walker’s Legacy, says producer Neal H. Mortz By Samantha Ofole-Prince

Director James Wan and Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto on Photo: Jaimie Trueblood the set of Furious 7.

Production on the summer block-

buster Furious 7 was well underway in November 2013 when the lead actor Paul Walker died in an explosive car crash. Walker was 40 years old and enjoying a successful run with the hugely successful Fast & Furious franchise when he died in a high-performance sports car driven by his friend and business partner Roger Rodas. For film producer Neal H. Moritz, cast members Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez who had been with Walker since the beginning of his career, the initial thought was to scrap the project. But after weeks of deliberation, production on the 7th Fast & Furious installment continued.

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with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), while Brian struggles to acclimate to suburban life with Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their son. Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) are celebrating their freedom by living the playboy dream. Unfortunately for the crew who are settling back into civilian life, there’s a cold-blooded British black ops assassin, played by Jason Statham, with a score to settle. Beginning his reign of terror with the brutal murder of their friend Han (Sung Kang) in Tokyo and the attempted assassination of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in Los Angeles, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is systematically hunting down those who took out Owen (Luke Evans), his little brother, during their last mission. With their lives in danger, the Furious 7; Dom, Brian, Hobbs, Letty, Roman, Tej and Mia reunite for a final mission to find and eliminate Shaw. “We had shot most of the movie with Paul, but we wondered how we were actually going to make this work,” Moritz continues. “I have to say, he was looking down on us, because of unused footage that we had from previous movies and the use of new technology, we were able to complete the film inspired by his spirit and give him and his best-known character a perfect cinematic send-off.”

(L to R) Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Brian (Paul Walker) and Tej (Chris Ludacris Bridges) in Furious 7

“It dawned on us that Paul would want us to finish it,” shares Moritz, who along with the studio (Universal Pictures) asked Paul Walker’s brothers Caleb Walker and Cody Walker to act as stand-ins. “Vin and I talked about it, and we agreed that we had to do whatever it would take to finish this movie for him. We had to continue not in spite of what happened, but actually because of it.” Directed by James Wan (The Conjuring), Furious 7 picks up more than a year after Dom’s (Vin Diesel) and Brian’s (Paul Walker) crew has returned to the States with their pardons. We find them transitioning into life on the right side of the law, but home has taken on a surreal quality. Dom tries desperately to reconnect

Photo: Scott Garfield

There’s action, and plenty of it in this latest installment that includes veteran performer Kurt Russell, who steps into the role of an enigmatic government official. British actress Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones) plays a genius computer hacker and Djimon Hounsou rounds off the new cast as a Nigerian mercenary named Mosi Jakande. From an explosive ride along the steep jagged peaks of Colorado to several brutal battles in Abu Dhabi, the stunts, the action scenes and the fight sequences are most outlandish, but it all makes this film the standout chapter as the fast-moving action is captured at every angle. “To lose a member of our family in the middle of production was utterly

devastating,” adds writer and executive producer Chris Morgan. “To be able to have everyone link arms and pull together, and finish this movie in a way that is beautiful, is something we’re all so proud of. I know that Paul would really love it.”

Loni Love Talks Mall Cop 2 By Samantha Ofole-Prince Loni Love on the red carpet.

S

he’s smart, friendly, slightly selfdeprecating, and has earned a reputation as the hilarious host to watch on Fox’s daytime show “The Real.” A talk show where she shares her perspectives on topics ranging from the day’s news to relationships, along with four other women, Loni, who’s long charmed audiences in comedies Soul Plane and the sitcom “Girlfriends,” is combining comedy and action as the sassy security guard in Mall Cop 2. “She’s called Donna Ericone and she’s a feisty mall cop who works for Mall of America in Vegas. She’s the only mall cop that can actually fight and that was put into the script on purpose to give her some character. It was a challenge to play,” says Loni. It’s certainly an overdue opportunity for the Detroit native who packed in an electrical engineering job to purse an entertainment career in 2003. “I was a bad engineer and did that to please my mom as she always stressed to get an education and get a good job,” admits Loni. “But there is so much more that I wanted to do in my life than just sitting at a desk. Standup allows you to express yourself, so I did my engineering job during the day and did standup comedy at night.” With stints at various comedy clubs, her comedic flair and vivacious personality earned her a role in the major motion picture Soul Plane alongside Tom Arnold, D.L. Hughley, and Snoop Dog. With smaller roles in the television sitcom “Girlfriends,” Loni continued to hone her acting craft appearing in theater productions; 12 Angry Women, Devil’s Journey, and in the Bad Ass film franchise alongside Danny Trejo and Danny Glover.

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Mall Cop 2 - Paul Blart (Kevin James) with Gino Chizetti (Vic DiBitetto), Khan Mubi (Shelly Desai), Donna Ericone (Loni Love) and Saul Gundermutt (Gary Valentine)

“Entertainment is a whole different spectrum and that’s why I started getting into it. There is so much trouble in the world that you want people to escape for a minute and entertainment does that. That’s what keeps me going,” adds the comedian who is also a recurring panelist on “Chelsea Lately” and a regular Guest DJ on “The Ellen Show.” In Mall Cop 2, the likeable hero Kevin James is back in the amiable sequel as an over-zealous, overweight security guard whose mission is to ‘observe and report.’ It’s been six years since he gained fame for his daring rescue of the West Orange Pavilion Mall and he’s being recognized for his heroic efforts with an allexpenses-paid trip to a security convention in Las Vegas. When he discovers a criminal threat to the hotel, America’s favorite security guard and his cohorts spring into action. Filmed at the world-famous Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, returning to join Kevin James in this sequel are Raini Rodriguez, who plays his daughter, Maya, and Shirley Knight, who plays his mother. “We had a great time making this movie. Kevin allowed us to improvise,” continues Loni. “We did the script as written and then he allowed us to add to it and that’s what kept doing take after take interesting and fresh. He hired a lot of standup comedians he has worked with so I knew a lot of people there and we had a great time. Plus being in Vegas for two months is not bad at all.” A non-offensive, lighthearted comedy about the perils of mall security, Mall Cop 2 offers ample action for a comedic flick. There are plenty of chases, a variety of cool gadgets and since it’s a PG comedy, you can expect lots of falling down and running into things. “It’s a family film that has comedy and action and I’m glad Kevin made me a part of it as I always like to make people laugh. There are certain scenes where you will see Donna getting emotional and you will also see her squaring off with another woman. It’s a film that will keep everybody’s attention.”


Why Using the N-Word Will Bring Fox’s Empire to Ruin By Yasmeen Muqtasid

F ox’s new hit series, Empire,

Sick

broke records and rules during its 10week introduction to the new world. Empire revealed a new viewership thatGooch’s shatters all myths Transmission that people won’t tune in to seeSpecialist a majority Black cast with its winning ratings and non-stop social media chatter. The Empire has already conquered a Myron viewership of more than 14 Gooch, Manager million weekly. However, if Empire 760 Dayton Street producers follow the CO suggestion Aurora, 80010 of its leading male star – Terrence Howard 303-363-9783 – a powerful empire of the show’s transmissions well fans andMaking non-fans alike might strike for 22 years . back and quickly kick-drop what has

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become a weekly ritual for many African Americans and viewers of all backgrounds. Recently in March, Terrence Howard in an Access Hollywood interview said that using the N-word in Empire would be more authentic and be in step with keeping true to everyday Black life. In a bizarre series of rationalizations, Howard says “that as long as you remember to take out the “er” then anyone can say it,”—he also said that his white friends use it with him. This suggestion comes on the heels of Howard’s nasty divorce in 2011, which he reported in court documents that his estranged ex-wife allegedly “hated black people” and would often call him names such as “monkey” and “n**ger.” Lucious Lyon – we are thoroughly confused. Which one is it? Is it ok or is it not ok? Obviously, Howard understands the sting of the word from his marital woes, but does he really understand the historical stench that permeates from a word birthed from such a hateful place. To introduce the N-word to Empire would be to devalue the very power that the cast has established both onscreen and off-screen. Using the word on Empire would be akin to African slaves tasting their freedom having established new free settlements in the North, only to decide that they miss their Masters and are willing to give up their freedom and to be enslaved again. And that’s what the N-word does every time we allow oth-

ers to say it – unchecked, whether one is Black or white – it’s a step backward not forward for Black people. Using the N-word is an indication that one is still not free – mentally. If you were free, you would not desire to use the word, because you would understand that the word takes us as a people back. The word weakens the empire our ancestors built so that we might exist today. I wonder if the same people who advocate for using the Nword would dare to say it in the presence of a Dr. King, Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Emmet Till. Let’s give Howard the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he has not thought about the lasting consequences that such a change in the tone would have if Taraji Henson a.k.a. “Cookie” called him out of his name on the regular with an N-word here and there. We must ask ourselves what would be the worldwide ramifications of having the Nword on such a popular show that touches the minds of millions of people. This is a question for all artists on television, film and music – what’s the impact of this word when it’s memorialized in such powerful mediums. Is that what we want our Black empire to be remembered for – the N-word – and a continual resurrection of the word in pop culture? We must let this word die. It’s ludicrous that Howard would even suggest in conversation to Lee Daniels, creator of Empire, that the Nword be incorporated. I wonder if Jewish actors have ever insisted that Steven Spielberg use the K-word in his latest production. Yes, there is a derogatory word for Jews, but guess what – they don’t use it amongst one another, and their community will ensure your demise (as it should) if you try to drop it casually and say, “it’s a term of endearment.” In the midst of such supreme success with Empire, one has to question Terrence Howard’s mindset to have

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even thought to share the suggestion that the N-word be used. What should anger Howard and all of us, is the fact that so many Black people past and present were killed and still are being killed by someone (white, black, etc.) who dares to think that we are “N**gers” and feels justified in treating us as sub-human. The progress of our first Black president, our first Black attorney general, and our first Black female attorney general in waiting way, are all contrasted against the real drama of the daily murdering and terrorizing of unarmed Black men and women by police and vigilante American citizens. Considering all of the recent killings and beatings of unarmed black men and boys from the University of Virginia – where honor student Martese Johnson was brutally beaten to the murder of Anthony Hill, an unarmed, naked U.S. Air Force veteran to 12-year-old Tamir Rice’s execution, why on earth would Terrence Howard think it a good idea to incorporate the most vile word known to black humanity into the Empire storyline. The N-word is the last word that far too many Black souls audibly or symbolically heard on this side of heaven. Whether they heard it while being sold from their parents, while being lynched, while being beaten, or while being raped – one thing is clear, that the aggressors in each of these very real life horrors thought of Black people as sub-human N**gers. Words have power – and if we think there’s no power in what we call ourselves and allow others to call us – well – therein lies the reason why the only formidable “Black Empire” that will ever be realized is in the fictional world of Lucious and Cookie.  Editor’s note: Yasmeen Muqtasid is the founder of Black Women Matter, Inc. Black Women Matter was founded in 2010 to address matters that are important to Black women. BWM uplifts, encourages and empowers black women. Yasmeen is a California native and UCLA graduate. Find her at: @bwmatter; info@blackwomenmatter.com.


Honoring Our

Service Members

On Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, we honor men and

By Marian Lark, Social Security

women who died while courageously serving in the U.S. military. We also recognize

active duty service members, especially

those who have been wounded. Cities and

towns across the United States host

Memorial Day parades to thank our service members and their families for their sacri-

fices. Policymakers put into place laws and benefits to protect our heroes and their families. For example, Social Security provides survivors, disability, retirement, and Medicare benefits. Not only does Social Security have benefits to protect veterans, we also provide family benefits to protect service members’ dependents. Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. You can learn more about Social Security survivors benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors. Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their dis-

ability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total (P&T). Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive benefits. You can get answers to commonly asked questions and find useful information about the application process at www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors. Service members can also receive Social Security, as well as military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit doesn’t reduce your Social Security retirement benefit. Learn more about Social Security retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement. You may also want to visit the Military Service page of our Retirement Planner, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/veterans.htm. Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare. Learn more about Medicare benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare. In acknowledgement of those who died for our country, those who served, and those who serve today, we at Social Security honor and thank you.

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he long awaited findings of the U.S. Justice Department investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department contained no new news for African Americans. The Department of Justice report detailing the pervasive, systemic and structural forms of racism in the police department and city government comes as no surprise to those who live out this reality every day. The African American victims of these and other oppressive racist regimes in state and local governments across this nation didn’t need the Justice Department confirmation of what we already knew. America and its cities and municipalities are rife with racism. The Justice Department’s finding that the Ferguson police department and city’s municipal court engaged in a “pattern and practiceâ€? of discrimination against African Americans, targeting them disproportionately for traffic stops, use of force, and jail sentences is at least partial vindication for the thousands of Ferguson area residents and supporters who marched and protested after the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. As reported and reviewed by CNN, among the findings from 2012 to 2014: •85 percent of people subject to vehicle stops by Ferguson police were African Americans; •90 percent of those who received citations were Black; •93 percent of people arrested were Black. This occurred while 67 percent of the Ferguson population is Black. In 88 percent of the cases in which Ferguson police reported using force, it was against African Americans. During this period 2012-2014, Black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops but 23 percent less likely to be found in possession of contraband. Additionally, Blacks were disproportionately more likely to be cited for minor infractions: 95 percent of tickets for “manner of walking in roadway,â€? essentially jaywalking, were against African Americans. Also 94 percent of all “failure to complyâ€? charges were filed against black people. African Americans were also 68 percent less likely to have their cases dismissed by a

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Ferguson municipal judge and overwhelmingly more likely to be arrested during traffic stops solely for an outstanding warrant by the Ferguson courts. The illumination of these realities while welcome, is not dispositive of the long standing practice of state and local governments in balancing its financial books on the backs of blacks who are many times mired in poverty and the least able to afford these unlawful and unconstitutional violations, which are perpetrated under the guise of law and order and the public safety needs of the community. These oppressive and unconstitutional violations against African Americans are not isolated in their occurrences. Across this country, local, municipal, and state courthouses are full of black people in disproportionate numbers as compared to whites. Take a look at any representative municipal courthouse and you will find sometimes 90 to 95 percent black people, as if blacks are the only ones committing traffic violations or other crimes. Consequently, it’s no wonder why Americas’ jail cells overrepresent African Americans at a rate of over 65 percent, even though we represent less than 13 percent of the general population. This latest development in the Ferguson case is eerily reminiscent of the case of Donald Sterling, the billionaire former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise, whose racist comments ignited a social and political firestorm resulting in a forced sale of the team. We’ve seen this movie before! The cable news networks and political pundits will use their enormous social and political influence to portray the toxic racist environment in the Ferguson police department and city government as an isolated incident. This only serves to preserve a culture of systemic racism and white supremacy, while prescribing a quick fix with a few token gestures of “change� which do not address the systemic and pervasive nature of racism in every facet of American culture. This allows the system to continue unabated while the root causes of the problem remain unchecked. This is akin to treating the symptoms of a disease without addressing the cause. It’s impossible to provide an effective cure without a proper diagnosis. It’s no wonder that this country fails to make any real progress toward eradicating racial discrimination in this country. Those who continue to profit from the culture of white supremacy see the dismantling of the centuries-old system as a threat to their monopoly on wealth and power. Look at the makeup of the U.S. House and Senate. It’s a sea of white men and white women with a darkie thrown in here or there for the


sake of appearances. More than 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Negro is still mired in a system of white supremacy which leaves them marginalized and oppressed. This culture of white dominance and Black subjugation filters down from the executive office through the halls of congress to state and local governments, tainting courts, administrative offices and the officials and staff that run them. If there ever is to be real change in the cultural, structural and endemic racial inequality in America, we must first acknowledge and recognize a society that in many ways is the same as it was before the Emancipation Proclamation. Justice Taney voiced the true feelings of white America in the Dred Scott decision which denied the Negro status as a citizen: “the Negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.” This pronouncement by the highest court in the land undergirds the cultural and social fabric of America today, just as it did over 150 years ago when Taney purported to speak for all civilized people of the world when he called the Negro “an unfortunate race that is enslaved for his own good” White America didn’t view the Negro as an equal then, and they don’t view us as equals now. Until there is a fundamental change of this reality, the more things change, the more they will remain the same. Now that the curtain has been pulled back, and the systemic oppression and systematic targeting of Blacks has been exposed in Ferguson, what is the remedy? A consent decree between the city of Ferguson and the Justice Department are only a start. Any true and meaningful remedy must address and redress the economic, social and psychological injuries to the tens of thousands of African Americans in Ferguson who were victimized by its racist and unjust system. Liberty and freedom was lost due to systemic and discriminatory incarceration; homes and living quarters were lost due to inability to make mortgage and car payments. Monies earmarked for food and shelter were siphoned from family budgets, to fund the corrupt city and local governments which in turn perpetuated the cycle of predatory and systemic oppression of Black people. This form of economic and cultural genocide was not done to minorities, i.e., white women, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, or any other multitude of individuals under Americas’ new smorgasbord of stated and unstated protected classes. It was done to Black people! Americas has apparently forgotten, and removed the Negro from its’ consciousness as the original minority in this country. Ferguson is only the tip of the iceberg. These types of racist policies and structures in police departments,

courts, and state and local governments, are rampant throughout this country. Every municipality is guilty and therefore culpable and responsible for the solution. Justice demands that the Federal Government not end its investigation at Ferguson, but conduct a state by state, city by city, municipality by municipality audit of policies and practices, and expose the true picture of America. The ugly truth is that the United States of America is a country rife with racism and injustice, while hiding behind the façade of fairness, human rights, and democratic values. How dare America condemn Communist, Socialist, and autocratic regimes when it continues to maintain its 400 year legacy of systemic and structural deprivation of rights and equality to the Black man? There must be a nationwide review of policies and practices of Federal, municipal, state and local governments to root out and remedy these continuing constitutional abuses. Now that we’ve documented the problem to the extent that the racist practices cannot be rationalized or theorized beyond the cold hard facts, it’s time to fashion a remedy. Call it reparations or call it a remedy. You can call the legal and economic mechanism used to address and redress these continuing harms to African Americans whatever is most palatable to the power brokers in the halls of Congress and the Executive Branch. (Just don’t call it a hand out. This money is owed!) But whatever you call the remedy, it must be comprehensive and it must not only address the problem and the solution, but also the victims and the financial harm that they have suffered. Economic redress for the systemic, racist policies and practices of state and local governments must be a part of any solution or comprehensive remedy. No matter what the cost, no matter how long and laborious the process, if America is serious about correcting a system of governance which has engaged in patterns and practices of discrimination which are deeply rooted in the fiber and fabric of this nation, it must be done and it must be done now. If America can spend a billion dollars a day to finance imperialist military interventions across the globe, it can afford to redress the continuing civil, constitutional, and human rights violations of its most marginalized and historically oppressed people, African American citizens.  Editor’s note: Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions from TheTruthTeller at the-truthteller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.

Letters to the Editor

Continued from page 3 Putting a North Charleston, South Carolina officer Michael T. Slager, age 33, in jail recently for shooting a man eight times in the back was the right thing to do. He has zero business being a policeman. Bob Bates a 73 year-old reserve officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said he was reaching for his stun gun but instead pulled his real gun and killed a man already on the ground. He has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Two men are dead. Their families are in pain. Two police officers are going to jail. Multiple families are ruined forever. Bad decisions were made by people young and old and on both sides of the law.

Glenn Mollette gmollette@aol.com

Sen. Tim Scott, “AWOL-MIA” in Killing of Walter Scott

Editor: I am not shocked by Sen. Scott’s failure to get involved in resolving this tragic situation. Like Walter Scott, Sen. Scott is also a native son of North Charleston, SC. Walter was shot and killed like a dog by a white police officer in North Charleston, SC. Sen. Scott is your typical Black Republican that fears retaliation from the GOP base, if

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they ever speak out on injustices heaped upon unsuspecting Blacks. Murdering of Blacks in South Carolina by cops is rather common to my family. In the early 1960s, my 13-year-old unarmed step-brother gave some gruff to white cops in Calhoun Falls, SC. I was also born there. They handcuffed him and drove him down to the Savannah River and tossed him into the water. There was no public outcry back then. We simply buried my brother and moved on with our lives. I fault the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) as much as I do Sen. Scott. He isn’t a CBC member because it would anger his GOP base. The empty suits-dresses that comprise the CBC should call Scott out.

James J. Tenant Lt. Commander, U.S. Navy, Retired Centennial, CO


CWCC Honors Pat Cortez as ATHENA Award Recipient

The Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CWCC) named Pat Cortez, senior vice president, of Wells Fargo Bank, the 2015 ATHENA recipient on April 14 at the ATHENA Award Gala. The 2015 ATHENA Award is given to an outstanding woman leader, who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession, provides valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in their community and assists women in reaching their full leadership potential. Pat Cortez is senior vice president and manager for Wells Fargo’s Community and Government Affairs team in Colorado. Under Cortez’s leadership, Wells Fargo has received

HATS OFF TO

community service awards from the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, Museo de las Americas, corporate award from Anti-Defamation League, corporate award from the Salvation Army, the 2012 Civil Rights award from NEWSED and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, Cortez was awarded the prestigious “Woman of Distinction” award by the Girl Scouts of Colorado as well as being recognized by the Colorado Asian Round Table Award. Cortez oversees Wells Fargo’s charitable contributions in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana which makes up the Rocky Mountain Region. A Colorado native, Cortez has more than 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry, all of it with Wells Fargo. Cortez is actively involved in the Denver community and serves on many diverse boards including the Board of Directors of the Denver Zoo, Visit Denver, Metro Chamber Foundation, Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Denver Health Foundation, the National Sports Center for the Disabled, and is the chair of the board of trustees for

the Latin American Educational Foundation. Cortez was a founding member and past chairperson of the Colorado Scholarship Coalition. She previously served as a trustee of the Denver Public Library; a mayoral appointee of the planning commission for the City and County of Denver; and director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Colorado Chamber Connect Announce 2015 Class Fellows

The newest Fellows of the Colorado Chamber Connect were announced and they include John Adams III, Rebecca Gibbs, Phebe Laasiter, Micheline Merriwether, Alisha Powell, Ola Akinrinola, Nikki Gill, Andrea Law, Amber Mitchell, Blake Russell, Obafemi Alao, Ashley Howard, Cyndi Littlejohn, Aaliyah

Muhammad, Mark Surratt, Brandon Bruce, Stephen Jackson, Chevy Lowe, Summer Nettles, Terik Tidwell, Micah Desaire, Demetrius Johnson, Chijoke Mbakogu, Kurt Ogbewele, Tanika Vaughn, Cameron Florence, Derek Jones, Ericca McCutcheon, Dawanta Parks, and Sarah Woodson. The Chamber Connect Program is facilitated by the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado. The mission of this program is to help participants become more effective, well rounded, and influential leaders in the areas of business, politics, and community leadership. Just recently, the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation changed their name to the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado. Developing well rounded leaders entails that the Colorado Chamber Connect participants will be educated in many different subjects and has comprehensive understanding of opportunities that will meaningfully impact their communities. In order to do this, the participants must learn from one another’s field of interest, listen attentively to the panels, conduct in depth reading on successful leadership techniques, and attend social events.

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Community Art Show and Reception, On Being Blue

“On Being Blue� will feature over 15 artists from the local community showcasing work that explores both the color and sentiment of BLUE. Artists will express their choice, ranging from any shade of blue, or expressing the emotion. Curated by Helen Littlejohn, the show will be in the Cousins Gallery at the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library, 2401 Welton St., Denver. An artists’ reception will be Saturday, May 9 from 1to 4 p.m. and will feature a live painting demonstration by John Davis, poetry by Michelle Sisk and a panel discussion on the intersection of art and mental illness. The show runs May 2 to 30. Featured artists include Alistair Bane, Jay Paul Apodaca, Rob Yancey, Irving Watts, Teresa Duran, Tammy Yancey, Rochelle Johnson, Patricio Cordova, Adrienne Norris, Christine Fontenot, Kiyasha Newson, Stevon Lucero, and Randy McNaulty. For more information, call 303-9074589 or email helenwlittlejohn@gmail.com.

The Miss Beautiful Black Scholarship Pageant

The Miss Beautiful Black Scholarship Pageant is now accepting applications for four divisions of the pageant. Organizers are looking for African American girls ages 6 to 18 interested in being crowned the first Miss Beautiful Black. For more information, visit www.missbeautifulblack.com or call 720-838-4071.

Five Points Jazz Festival Returns To Denver

Denver Arts & Venues’ 12th Annual Five Points Jazz Festival will be held on Saturday, May 16, celebrating the music, culture and roots of Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood. The festival features more than 30 bands playing live music on eight stages throughout the day. The Five Points Jazz Festival is a free event. The free festival offers one of the most culturally diverse lineups to date providing Denver with an afternoon filled with several types of jazz to experience - Latin, blues, funk, trios, youth-focused programming and more. Other activities include an art and food marketplace, car show and youth area featuring a climbing wall, stilt walking clinic, performances on the Youth Stage, Pedal Positive bike activities, face painting and the Mysto

COMMUNITY NOTES

Mysto magic show. The Five Points Jazz Festival will be Saturday, May 16, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Welton Street between 26th and 30th. For more information, visit www.ArtsandVenues.com and find them on Facebook.

A Whirlwind Week In Whittier

On Sunday, May 24, at 3 p.m., the Whittier Neighborhood Association will be hosting its Whittier Dayz Neighborhood Celebration at 28th and Race. The event is a potluck (main dish provided) with entertainment, activities and the opening of the Whittier Alley Loop Project. On Friday, May 29th, the Whittier PTA presents the 6th annual Walk for Whittier and Community Fun Night from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Whittier School, 25th and Downing. The event features a community walk, silent auction, non-profit fair, carnival, food and entertainment. For more information, email gkmortimer@gmail.com.

New Guide For Renters

The Colorado housing financial assistance guide provides information on over 100 resources statewide. This new guide provides resources to those who face challenges staying in their home or finding a new place to live. The guide is available in both English and Spanish at www.caahq.org under resident resources.

Women’s Luncheon Planned

The 2015 Shiloh Women’s luncheon will be held Saturday, May 16 at 11 at the Doubletree Hotel, 4040 Quebec St. in Denver. Tickets are $35. For information call 720-353-2181 or 303-322-5983.

Bayaud Enterprises Family Health Fair Planned For June

Bayaud Enterprises would like to welcome the Denver community to the Healthy Family Fair on Wednesday June 10 to come for a day of health-related fun and learn about health services available to the community. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is free. During the event there will be workshops, games, raffles, exhibitors, and free stuff. For more information, call 303-8306885 or email danielle.travis@bayaudenterprises.org.

June 6 and 7. Hundreds of volunteers are needed every year to assure the success of the People’s Fair and the enjoyment of the many fairgoers. Volunteers are needed for the booths, check in/out, entertainment, kids and family area, set-up/tear down, and other areas. People’s fair volunteers receive a 2015 People’s Fair official volunteer tshirt, an invitation to the annual Kickoff Party, complimentary soft drinks and snacks, and complimentary beer after shift for those 21 and older. To sign up to volunteer, visit www.peoplesfair.com. For more information, email andreafurness@chundenver.org.

67 Minutes: Celebrate Nelson Mandela Day With AfricAid On July 18

Every year, on Mandela Day, people around the world are asked to spare 67 minutes to serve others. AfricAid is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Colorado educating girls in Tanzania to become leaders and change agents in their communities. In honor of Nelson Mandela, AfricAid will teach school girls in Denver about Nelson Mandela, leadership principles, and how to be a leader in their community. Join these inspirational young women and the AfricAid community on Nelson Mandela Day to beautify the oldest park in Denver, Curtis Park by painting benches, cleaning up trash, and weeding gardens for 67 minutes of service. The day will end with a brief presentation with photos and a video. The program will be July 18 at Curtis Park on 32nd and Arapahoe in Denver. Registration and a light breakfast will be from 8 to 9 a.m., 67 Minutes of Service from 9:30 to 10:37 a.m., and discussion and videos from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Packet levels and prices range from

Lost Your Joy?

The 44th Annual People’s Fair Call For Volunteers

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Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, Inc., (CHUN) is recruiting volunteers for the 44th Annual CHUN Capitol Hill People’s Fair to be held at Civic Center Park on

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

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free to $67. For more information or to purchase a packet, email info@africaid.com.

American Transplant Foundation Presents Transplant Hero Awards Gala

The American Transplant Foundation will announce the recipients of its Transplant Hero Awards recognizing heroes who have gone above and beyond to advance the transplant community and to save lives through living organ donation. The Transplant Hero Awards is a special evening designed to support the American Transplant Foundation’s mission to save lives by reducing the growing list of women, men, and children who are waiting for a transplant by maximizing living donation. Today 2,600 Coloradans are waiting for an organ transplant that can come from a living donor. The foundation is helping save these lives by providing valuable educational resources and financial assistance for potential living organ donors both locally and nationally. The event takes place Sept. 25 at the Ritz Carlton, 1881 Curtis St., Denver. Learn more at www.americantransplantfoundation. org.


REFLECTIONS OF LIFE

Gone but not forgotten - Rest In Peace

Janet Minor-Kennedy-Trosper

The sun rose on the life of Janet Inez Trosper Minor-Kennedy on May 19, 1948 in Omaha, Nebraska when she was born to Thomas Wilson and Audra Trosper. The second of four children, Janet had two brothers, Thomas and Rodrick and one sister, Sandra. As a child, she was motherly to her siblings. Educated in the public school system, Janet graduated from Technical High School in Omaha. She continued her education at Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado where she earned degrees in Paralegal and CPA. Janet was united in marriage with Midge Minor in Omaha. To this union were born two children, Randall and Deanna. The marriage was later dissolved. A loving mother, Janet was also blessed with grandchildren, Stephen, Kenneth and Randall, Jr. A woman of faith, Janet was a member of the United Church of Montbello. She served the Lord and her church on the

Church Council. She was employed with Wendy City Wireless in Aurora in the position of paralegal and CPA. She had previously worked at Western Finance. She enjoyed singing, dancing, spending time with family and friends and helping her church. Her love, strength of character, caring and beautiful smile will be deeply missed by all who were blessed to have shared a part of this lovely lady’s life. To know Janet was to love her. The sun set on the life of Janet Inez Trosper Minor-Kennedy on March 8, 2015 when the Lord called her home to eternal rest. She is preceded in death by her father, and daughter, Deanna. Those left to cherish her memory include her son, Randall Miner, Sr. of Denver, CO; mother, Audra Wilson of Omaha, NE; brothers, Thomas Wilson and Rodrick Wilson, both of Omaha, NE; sister, Sandra Lockett of Aurora, CO; three grandchildren; three great grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends including her girls - Connie, Linda, Judy and Sophie.

Gerald “Jerry” Emerson Underwood

Gerald Emerson Underwood was born on September 17, 1933 in Wichita, Kansas to the late Adrian and Velma Underwood and was one of their 10 children. Gerald, also known as “Jerry,” was preceded in death by brothers Richard, Warner, Val Jean, Orlando, Lloyd and two sisters Wanda Williams and Nadine Reed, and one son, Gerome Emerson Underwood. He attended the Wichita Public School System: L’Overture, Horace Mann and North High School. On March 25, 1955 he married Juanita Underwood. They recently celebrated

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60 years of marital bliss. To this union three children were born: Gerard, Gerome and Iris. He later served The United Sates Army earning the rank of Staff Sargent and received the Silver Star for gallantry in action. Following his honorable discharge he attended Emily Griffith Opportunity School where he learned and mastered the craft of automobile transmission repair. He also attended Dale Carnegie School of Business in 1966 to hone his business acumen. In 1964 Jerry opened Metro Transmission and Gear, a Colorado Corporation doing business over the next 25 years. For pleasure, Jerry began drag racing in 1964 and enjoyed several years of success through 1970. In 1971 he studied for and received his private pilot’s license. He was also an avid snow skier, fisherman, golfer, bowler and motorcyclist. On April 2, 2015, he left to cherish his memory, son Gerard (Rhoda,) daughter Iris Underwood, daughter in law Janet Underwood, brothers Frank (Trudy) and Floyd – all of Denver; and three grandchildren Gerred, Christopher and Danielle and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.


AROUND TOWN - WWW.DENVERURBANSPECTRUM.COM - AROUND TOWN - WWW.DENVERURBANSPECTRUM.COM - AROUND TOWN

Up Close and Personal with SuCh! at Jazz@ Jacks

Photos by Lens of Ansar

Motown the Musical - Opening Night in Denver, Colorado

Flavor loves company.

$

1

each Price and participation may vary. A la carte only. ©2015 McDonald’s. • 678863.1

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Four Reasons Why Rosa Parks Should Be On the New $20 Bill

Civil rights icon, Rosa Parks, is now in the finals in a grassroots campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill by the year 2020. She is one of four women that will be chosen. The other finalists are Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt and Wilma Mankiller. Here are good reasons why Rosa Parks should be chosen: 1) Everybody Loves Her: She is a civil rights icon who is credited with creating change for African Americans who faced discrimination and racism, but people of all races like her. Even back in 1955 when she refused to change her seat on that bus, people of all nationalities supported her for being heroic. 2) America Needs to Prove Its Diversity: America now has a very diverse population and even a Black president. It would be a huge milestone, and America would be the first first-world country to do it. 3) It Would Bring Attention to Women’s Rights: There is no better way to bring attention to the issue of women’s rights than to put a woman on the $20 dollar bill – or any bill for that matter. It also would be a huge motivation to tackle other major injustices that women face. 4) She Already Has Her Own Bowtie: That’s right! The final reason why Rosa Parks deserves the winning spot is... she already has her own bowtie. Get your very own Rosa Parks printed bowtie at www.BlackHistoryBowties.com.

Jackie Robinson Day – Why This Baseball Legend Is Still Being Celebrated 68 Years Later

Wednesday, April 16, 2015, marks the 68th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier. In commemoration of him, the world celebrated “Jackie Robinson Day” and his former team, the Dodgers, announced they will erect a statue of him at their ballpark.

NATIONWIDE - BLACKNEWS.COM

During his time, Robinson was a six-time All-Star player. In 1947, he was the Major League Rookie of the Year, and in 1949, he was the National League MVP. That same year, he also won the league’s batting title. But his success came with quite a bit of racial bullying, and he endured a lot. Experts say that Jackie and his wife Rachel opened up a whole new world of opportunities that had been closed to so many African-Americans simply because they were Black, but this took a lot of courage. Their family endured a lot of threats, verbal abuse, and sometimes even physical attacks. But Jackie was always commended for maintaining his composure. His legacy has been honored throughout the years, and his number 42 was even retired throughout the league back in 1997, with players already using the number grandfathered in. New York Yankees player Mariano Rivera was the last player to wear it in 2013. Many agree that Robinson deserves the credit for Major League baseball’s improvements in diversity, but there is room for improvement. Currently, only 8.3 percent of all players are identified as African-American, according to Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. That was a slight increase from 8.2 percent last year with 27 percent Hispanic.

All-Natural Product For Men With Erectile Dysfunction Reaches Out To The African American Community

Alpha RX Plus LLC announced that it will soon partner with selected African American brick-and-mortar retailers around the country to offer its all natural product for erectile dysfunction, which is currently sold online. J.R. Scroggins, founder of the 2-1/2year-old company based in San Diego, Calif., said customers have been reporting over the past 2 years, Alpha RX Plus works as good or better than Viagra, Cialis or Levitra to improve their Erectile dysfunction. The fact that the product is made of all natural herbs, and has no reported side effects is a plus. Scroggins also mentioned customers honestly send feedback stating Alpha RX Plus makes them feel as if they’re back to their teen years sexually.

Alpha RX Plus recently received approval to issue GS1 bar codes to sell its product in retail stores. For more information and/or to place an order, visit www.alpharxplus.com.

Stop Running From The Police, Open Letter To Unarmed African Americans from Orrin Hudson

In a situation with the police, it is not immediately who is right or wrong, it is about staying alive. If the police are making a wrongful arrest, this can be corrected later at a safer time. Too many unarmed African American men are losing their lives to white police officers, and most of the time justice is not being served. Five things to keep in mind when interacting with the police: Although running from the police should not be a death sentence, it often ends up that way. So don’t do it! Doing so will heighten the aggression of the officer especially if they do not know whether or not you are armed. A police officers duty is to serve and protect, but if they are out of line/bullying you, continue to be respectful. Say “sir” and “no sir,” “may I” and “thank you.” This will keep the situation from escalating. Do not make the officer feel threatened in any way. At all times, keep your hands visible. Many officers will feed into stereotypes, and could assume you have a weapon or because they feel you are up to no good. If you feel that you are being wrongfully arrested, you do not have to speak on it because it will likely not change the officer’s mind. Keeping quiet protects you legally and also keeps the situation calm and peaceful. If you are being pulled over for speeding, sign the ticket and leave. Signing the ticket does not mean you are admitting guilt; it is only a promise to appear in court on the date listed on the ticket.

Former Police Officer Launches How to Survive Police Brutality Workshop for Urban Teens

Orrin C. Hudson, a former Alabama state trooper, has launched a free new workshop series for urban teens called “How to Prevent, Deal With, and Survive Police Brutality.”

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The workshop will be presented in middle schools, high schools, community centers, and churches across the country that will cover various topics including: •What to do if the police officer is verbally abusive •What to do if the police officer is physically abusive •Where to put your hands when interacting with a police officer •How to stay calm and humble, even if you are 100% innocent •How to respectfully talk to a police officer •Things to be legally aware of Hudson was a state police officer for 6 years from 1986 to 1993. Since then, he has founded ‘Be Someone,’ a non-profit organization in Atlanta, GA, that inspires young people to make better decisions. Since, 2000, Orrin Hudson has presented his powerful workshops to more than 40,000 people in 21 states and three countries.

Web Site Reveals Top 60 Funding Programs For Women

GrantsForWomen.org, an online resource for women looking for funding, has published a listing of the top 60 programs for women in 2015. The programs help women get scholarships and funding to start a business, a non-profit, and more. It was created to help elevate and empower women, so that they can have successful careers, businesses and organizations. Although women make up 51% of the world’s population, they are still a minority in many ways. In the workplace and sometimes their homes, they face gender discrimination, underestimation, and even harassment. Some have to deal with domestic violence and abuse. Every year, millions of dollars are allocated to programs for women as investments in their talent, creativity, intellect and determination. Research confirms that women are huge contributors to the economy, the workforce, global entrepreneurship, and to the development and management of non-profit organizations.


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Denver Urban Spectrum May 2015  

Based in Denver, Colorado, the Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication that has been spreading the news about people of color since 1...

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