Denver Urban Spectrum November 2018

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Volume 32 • Number 8 • November 2018

Too Rich Nigeria




To Be Poor Ethiopia



West Virginia

Uncovering The Real Buying Power of Black America...4

MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER Life is precious… Volume 32 Number 8

November 2018


We’ve heard these words often but when do we realize just how precious life is? Is it when we see someone being viciously killed at the hands of law enforcement? Or when we scarcely escape being the victim of a fatal accident? Or is it when we get news that a close friend or family member has died? These situations and others should be a wakeup call to appreciate and enjoy life every day. This month our cover story by Alfonzo Porter, Too Rich To Be Poor, looks at the plight of the Black buying power and how it is needed to achieve true freedom. Jamil Shabazz talks about an upcoming conference about genocide and slavery and the five speakers who will shed light on what needs to be done to help eradicate these issues. Ruby Jones talks about the ongoing dilemma of homelessness and housing. And because of the very imporant upcoming Election Day, we have many diverse voices sharing their views and opinions on who and what to vote for. These stories and others are fighting – fighting for a cause, fighting for a belief, or fighting for a right. But at the end of the day, when we see another human being killed, or when you miss a flight and learn that the plane crashed, or you get a call about the loss of a loved one, what does it all mean? Every day I realize how precious life is. Ten years ago on November 3, I received that phone call informing me that my Mother had passed away in a tragic and untimely incident. Senator Rhonda Fields got that call informing her that her son was killed in a senseless act of violence. And Marie Phason, who almost lost her six year-old son to a stray bullet, got that call as well. Along with Carlotta Walls LaNier and Rhonda Jackson, we all know that life is very precious. We are all grateful; we don’t sweat the small stuff, and we do what we have to do. Join us on our journey and enjoy life while you can and live it with love, joy, happiness and abundance – as it can be taken away in a heartbeat. Rosalind J. Harris Publisher

COLUMNISTS Kim Farmer FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Zilingo Nwuke Ruby Jones Alfonzo Porter Jamil Shabazz ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix MARKETING AND SALES CONSULTANT JaeTafari DISTRIBUTION Ed Lynch Lawrence A. James - Manager

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

LETTERS, OP-EDS, OPINIONS It’s time to act. People who buy their own health insurance in Colorado can do it between November 1, 2018, and January 15, 2019. After that, it’s too late, unless you experience what’s called a “life change event,” like getting married, having a child or losing the insurance that you had through your job. Too many people take their chances, betting they won’t need health insurance but in a time when a three-day hospital stay can easily cost more than $30,000, the numbers don’t back them up. The number of Coloradans with health insurance climbed from 86 percent to 93 percent of the population (more than 97 percent for children) in the four years since the law was fully implemented. In that time the number of personal bankruptcies in Colorado tied to medical bills dropped from 104,000 per year to 45,000, according to the Colorado Health Access Survey. Nationally it was the same story. The 1.5 million personal bankruptcies in 2010, dropped down to 770,000 by 2016. With the options we have available now, there is just no reason to leave your family at risk. If you don’t have health insurance already, it’s time to go to to see what kind of options and help are available to you. Editor’s note: Leslie Herod represents northeast Denver, District 8, in the Colorado House of Representatives.

Connect For Health Is Not Risky Business By Leslie Herod We have made great progress in Colorado since the Affordable Care Act became law but we still have work to do. Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans have gained protection for their family finances and opened the door to getting needed health care. The number of Coloradans who have health insurance is at an historic high, with 94 percent of the state’s residents covered. But many in our community live without the protections to their health and to their family finances that come with having health insurance. Often it is because they don’t know that they could receive monthly financial help to pay for health insurance. A single person can make as much as $48,560 a year and still get help buying health insurance. For a family of four the upper limit is around $100,000 a year. That help is like an 80 percent discount on the health insurance premium, on average. This year Connect for Health Colorado customers who qualify are paying an average monthly premium of $136. And it’s getting better. Connect for Health Colorado analysis shows those customers who receive financial help will see the amount they pay go down an average of 24 percent if they stick with the same coverage next year. Two out of every three Connect for Health Colorado customers now receiving financial help could get coverage next year for $0 net premium.

Why Proposition 110 Is The Only Real Option for Colorado Op-ed by Gabriel Guillaume With over $9 billion in deferred transportation infrastructure projects— and insufficient funds to complete

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


them—Colorado is officially in a crisis. This is especially true for Colorado’s low-income communities, where a lack of infrastructure can literally create life-ordeath situations for residents. Proposition 110 is asking for six cents on each $10 purchase to solve many of these transportation problems— including fixing and enhancing roads and bridges as well as addressing lack of bus routes, crumbling sidewalks, and non-existent bike lanes. This sales tax does not apply to groceries, prescriptions, and utilities. Forty percent of low-income communities have sidewalks, compared to 90 percent of higher-income communities even though children from lowincome families are twice as likely to walk to school as their peers from higher-income families. This correlates with statistics showing that African American and Latino people are twice as likely as white people to be killed while walking and over 20 percent more likely to be killed while bicycling than white people. Many of these deaths are a result of crumbling or non-existent walk and bike infrastructure in communities of color and low-income communities. For example, a recent study of the northeast Denver neighborhood of Montbello, a community of 34,000 residents, composed of mostly Latino and African American residents, shows that many of the neighborhood’s sidewalks have obstructions that crowd pedestrians off the sidewalk and into the street and many of the sidewalks are too narrow for two Continued on page 14

Too Rich to be Poor Creating Sustainable, Long Term Economic Wealth in the Black Community By Alfonzo Porter



ot long ago, President

Trump reportedly referred to African nations as “s-hole” countries. Not even the most gifted public relations pundit could put a positive spin on being compared to a pool of human feces. Clearly, the president’s disdain for Black countries and Black people, in general, has long since been stripped of any disguise. The impressions, which are apparently shared among many of his supporters, is no surprise given our nation’s long history of propagandized imagery depicting the African continent as nothing but diseased, corrupt, poverty-stricken, violent and insignificant. This narrative only serves to reinforce the biases and prejudices of those who find little value in Black people. This article is not a meant to deny that most nations in Africa struggle economically; yet, this fact does not render them worthless? Most countries, including the U.S., have their struggles. Information and pictures have tremendous power – particularly when presented in such a one-sided approach. Propaganda, by definition, means philosophical assertions, ideology, rhetoric and imagery meant to harm a people, a culture or a nation. It has long since been the policy of the U.S. to exemplify destructive reflections of Black people no matter where we exist. As with any message, there must be a counter narrative. Deception and manipulation arises when only one side of the story is presented. The truth is that nearly every country on the continent has thriving cities characterized by robust, burgeoning commerce and industry. It stands as a tes-



tament to the kind of economic activity needed to generate long term prosperity. Their richness in natural resources cannot be understated. For instance, The Democratic Republic of Congo has the largest deposit of cobalt in the world. The metal is used in numerous everyday products including the lithium-ion batteries needed to power cell phones and electric cars. Whimsically, it is a real-world version of Wakanda from the fictionalized feature film The Black Panther. Any nation, the U.S. included with all our wealth, can be made to look like an “s-hole” country. Last year, representatives from the United Nations were shocked at the impoverished conditions in American southern state like Alabama – saying that they had never seen such conditions in the first world. It all depends on who’s telling the story and the angle from which the story is told. With an overall GDP (Gross Domestic Product) nearing $4 trillion, the continent is primed to become the next frontier for development, expansion, growth and investment. Modernization projects are occurring all over Africa and what has traditionally been called the third world is beginning to catch up. So what does that mean for Black people in the U.S.? Like here in America, any instance of wealth and success among Black people are routinely discarded in favor of represen-

tations of hardship, distress and indigence. But what is the other side of the story for African Americans? According to a recent report by Nielsen, black buying power will soon eclipse $1.5 trillion. This reality has prompted African American leaders to strategize about how best to leverage our dollars in an effort to build longterm sustainable growth. Central to the notion of building our fortunes is increased home ownership, business development and community investment. The idea of building wealth in the Black community is not new. Efforts to extract ourselves from the grips of the dominant culture have existed since we were set free from bondage more than 150 years ago. As it turns out, our “separate but equal” truth, validated by the Supreme Court decision Plessy V Ferguson, in 1896 made it possible to build viable communities all around America. A considerable amount of our dollars were spent with Black owned enterprises and contributed to a greater degree of wealth for Black Americans. Today, according to the Northwest University Graduate School of Management, only three percent of our dollars are spent with Black businesses. This has a direct correlation to our impoverished conditions today. Over the past half century, we have spent considerable time seeking inclu-


Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018



sion, integration and diversity; some would argue, to our own detriment. As we became more intertwined within American society, so did our money. When Maulana Kerenga, then professor and chair of Black studies at California State University, established Kwanzaa in 1966, he purposefully included the concept of Ujamaa (ooJAH-ma) or collective economics to encourage African Americans to buy and spend with one another. If the 2016 election has accomplished anything, it has made it crystal clear that there will be no help from the federal government in focusing on Black economic issues. The plain truth is we really don’t need government intervention if we adhered to the basic prescription that Karenga and others stipulated more than 50 years ago. This has lead to the creation of a new movement called Black Wealth 2020 that has linked with our civil rights, civic and religious organizations to positively impact the economic outcomes of the African American community in the very near future. The group has three primary goals: 1. Increase home ownership among African Americans; 2. Strengthen black-owned businesses; 3. Increase deposits in black banks. These represent the essential foundations of economic growth. The long term aim is to draw the community’s attention to the importance of wealth building. Further, the organization is seeking to partner with established African American groups like the 224-year-old AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church. Founded in 1794, the AME church boasts a membership of some 3.5 million members world-wide. Specifically, the group wants to increase Black homeownership by 50 percent which would represent Continued on page 6

YES on 300 Op-ed by Federico Peña and Wellington E. Webb


he rule of thumb for new parents in 2018 is to save at least $250 per month for an in-state public 4-year college, $450 per month for an outof-state public 4year college and $550 per month for a private nonprofit 4-year college, from birth to college enrollment in order to pay for college. How is this realistic for most parents, especially in Denver where housing costs are growing every year? As former mayors who began programs and policies to spur economic growth in the Mile High City, we understand that investing in our youth by funding higher education will always result in a positive outcome for our dynamic city. Education is the passport to the future; and we must continue to support future generations of Denver students. This November, Denver voters can give thousands of Denver residents the ability to attain a quality education after high school by voting Yes on the 300 ballot measure. The door to higher education has remained closed for far too many of our bright young students, not because of academic ability, but because they lack the financial resources to keep pace with the rising costs of a higher education. Denver residents understand that providing the opportunity for deserving students to continue their education is a shared responsibility, which will produce lasting benefits not just for students but also to the city as a whole for decades to come. This is a minor investment with a major impact. Voting Yes on 300 will create a dedicated funding stream through a .08 percent Denver sales tax with a 12year sunset (amounting to less than a penny on a $10 purchase). A qualified advisory board of citizens will ensure the accountability of funds and will be responsible for overseeing the direction of scholarships for our students.

with students worldwide. We want to ensure that the future of our dynamic work force gives Denver students the chance to compete and give back to our city. Voting YES on 300 will help give our students the leg up by the alleviating financial strains of a higher education. We ask you to stand with us to Vote YES on 300. . Editor’s note: Federico Pena was the 41st Mayor of Denver who served in office from July 2, 1983 to July 15, 1991. He was followed by Wellington E. Webb, the 42nd Mayor Denver who served in office from July 15, 1991 to July 21, 2003.

The new funding will underwrite scholarships, based on a sliding income scale, for eligible Denver residents between the ages of 18 and 25 who have lived in Denver for at least 36 months. Students with a high school diploma or GED may attend a Colorado-accredited public or nonprofit two- or four-year college, university, community college or technical college. Prosperity Denver funds the full range of higher-education opportunities available to Denver’s students. We must enable Denver students the ability to perform on a global level

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018







Too Rich To Be Poor Continued from page 4 approximately two million new homeowners. It seeks to grow the number of Black owned businesses from about 3.6 million to 5 million and raise gross receipts per business from $72,000 to $150,000. An app containing a listing of Black owned companies will be designed to help African American consumers target businesses. The cornerstones of this new movement, established two years ago, are unity, accountability and sustainability. It includes a variety of organizations from the Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Bankers Association, National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters, The National Urban League, the NAACP and African American political leaders like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). Others key members include Home



Free USA, Zenviba Academy of Arts and Sciences, Collective Empowerment Group, National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Enlightened Inc., and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; among numerous others. In an effort to learn from the lessons of the past, the organization insists that a broader approach is required. For example, leaders insist that the movement cannot depend upon a single individual or organization. Therefore, a tragedy like a death or assassination won’t derail the effort. Critical to the success of this new endeavor will be the 38 Black banks and financial institutions around the country. They will be critical to stabilizing the financial health of Black communities. The ability of Black entrepreneurs to access the needed capital to create and grow a business

is the single greatest challenge facing our business community. Simply redirecting 10 percent of our dollars could potentially create as many as one million jobs in our communities. The financial entities will serve as the vehicles through which we funnel our wealth making in possible to borrow money to start a business, invest in property, buy stock, mutual funds and plan for a successful retirement. It will present the opportunity for greater control of where our money goes and how it is being used. It will allow African Americans to create economic opportunities for ourselves and level the income gap between Black Americans which stands at $35,000 compared to a national average of $53,000 respectively. The movement will also bolster the position of our black banks as they continue to struggle to recover from the devastating effects of the 2009 recession. However, as we proceed, need to more closely define terms such as “buying power.” We should be careful, as the numbers may be a bit misleading. Many may confuse the concept of buying power with that of wealth building. There is a huge difference. Buying power is simply the total of what we purchase – wealth is what we save, invest and keep. So the $1.5 trillion dollars annually is what we give to others with virtually nothing in return. Our greatest challenge is that most of us Black folk ascribe to a poverty creation way of life. In other words, we spend more than we make. It does not matter how much we earn. Many of us struggle even when we earn a good, livable salary. The conspicuous consumption of material items finds us spending on over-priced, depreciating, low value items like clothes, jewelry and expensive cars. We borrow needlessly, paying high interest rates and fees. Investing for long term wealth is not a priority. This has led to our overall lack of group wealth. Conversely, in order to begin building real wealth we must learn to spend less than we make without regard to income. Use the Black banks and financial institutions to invest what is leftover. This will result in our earning interest, capital gains and div-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


West Virginia

idends. We should be investing in appreciating assets like stock, bonds, property and mutual funds. Our habits must change to invest first and spend last. So let’s not get lost with terms like buying power. It is merely a marketing phrase that refers to our ability to buy goods and services that companies want to sell us. There is no real relationship to how much money we actually have. Wealth refers to appreciating assets that are transferred from one generation to another. Therefore, Black Americans really have very little economic power in a capitalist system without the building of wealth over time; we just have the power to buy pre-determined items that others place in the market. In fact, many argue that the term, “buying power” is nothing but a tool used to provide a smoke screen for the intentional and structural economic system designed to insure inequality and strategically keep Black people as poor as possible. Here is the problem as we experience it. Financial institutions will provide loans for black people to buy, let’s say an automobile for $50,000 but will refuse that same consumer a loan to start a business, invest in property or engage in investments. Therefore, our “power” extends only as far as the purpose the bank deems worthy of a loan. That $50,000 is not money in my pocket for me to use as I see fit. If it were, that might align more closely with the notion of wealth. As our population rapidly approaches 50 million in the U.S., it is crucial that we begin to build and sustain wealth or forever be left out of the so-called American dream. It becomes all the more important as others have long since demonstrated a lack of respect for the Black dollar, zero support for Black owned businesses and Black spending power. The Black Wealth 2020 Movement is a promising sign that takes a new approach on a familiar strategy. In the short term our communities stands to realize significant economic expansion. In the long term, we may finally achieve what we have sought for centuries—true freedom. .

Global Down Syndrome Celebrates 10 Beautiful Years By Ruby Jones

On Saturday, Oct. 20, The Global Down Syndrome Foundation celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Denver. The foundation’s marquee event is the single largest fundraiser for Down syndrome research in the world, raising money for research and treatment to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families. Down syndrome is a genetic chromosomal condition that affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. The development of the condition occurs during early fetal development, when a random event during cell division, called nondisjunction, causes an unbalanced chromosomal translocation that leaves a sperm or egg cell with an extra copy of chromosome 21 before or at conception. The presence of a third chromosome 21 results in a mild to moderate range of cognitive impairment, as well as physical and intellectual development delays. While the chances of having a baby with Down syndrome increase with age, the condition is not affected by race, nationality, socioeconomic status, or anything that occurs during pregnancy. The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is working to change the perception that these delays prevent people with Down syndrome from living happy, fulfilled lives. In 1990, the Center for Disease Control released a report indicating that one in 1,087 babies were born with Down syndrome. However, in 2011, this number grew to one in 691, and rates are expected to increase. In 1983, the lifespan of someone with Down syndrome was approximately 25 years, a result of institutionalization and poor medical care. Today, with the end of institutionalization, people with Down syndrome are expected to live approximately 60 years, and the Global Down Syndrome Foundation is enthusiastic about advancements that will be made over time. The Global Down Syndrome Foundation was established in 2009 as part of a network of affiliate organizations that work to improve the lives of

Nate Borunda and Jamie Foxx

Michelle Sie Whitten, Zack Gottsagen, and Dakota Johnson...Photos by ???????????????

people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education, and advocacy. The primary goal of the organization is to support the Linda Crnic Institute for Down syndrome, and the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down syndrome at the Children’s Hospital Colorado, where families can receive consultation, medical care, and speech and occupational therapies to improve the quality of life for children with Down syndrome. In the ten years since its inception, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation has made great strides advancing medical care and helping people with Down syndrome reach their full potential. The organization hosts a variety of educational and advocacy programs, partnering with organizations around the world, but Global Co-Founder, President, and CEO, Michelle Sie Whitten, knows that there is still a long way to go before Down syndrome receives the research funding and attention it needs. “In the last 10 years, we went from no pediatric medical care to the best care in the United States,” she said, “We’ve had breakthroughs that allow us to redefine how we approach Down syndrome, but we need to have endowment funding in the future!” Down syndrome remains the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in the United States, but in 2001, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began to decrease funding for scientific research, making Down syndrome the least funded medical condition and creating inequitable conditions that actor Colin Farrell calls, “Criminal.” Farrell walked the red carpet in support of his son James, who was born with the rare neuro-genetic disorder, Angelman syndrome, and to bring awareness to the need for additional funding to support Down syndrome research and treatment. Farrell was the recipient of the 2018 Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award,

along with actor and Down syndrome self-advocate, Zack Gottsagen. Farrell and Gottsagen shared the red carpet with a host of celebrities, to include supermodel Amanda Booth, whose son Micah has Down syndrome, and Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx, who attended the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show in support of his younger sister, DeOndra Dixon, who is a Global Down Syndrome Foundation Ambassador and 2009 Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award recipient. The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is proud to work in partnership with celebrities and athletes who use their platform to bring awareness to the need for additional funding. By partnering with other health organizations, such as the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Global hopes to evoke public interest by revealing the correlation between Down syndrome and the countries most prevalent causes of death, including Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, heart attack, and stroke. Whitten addressed the relationship between Down syndrome and the general health of the U.S. population, “100 percent of people with Down syndrome with develop the neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease, and a huge number will get autoimmune disorders, so we should be studying not only to help those with Down syndrome, but people with those conditions. In addition, it’s extraordinarily rare for people with Down syndrome to suffer from heart attack, stroke, or solid tumor cancers.” When asked whether she thinks this information will increase public support, Whitten said, “I think if people knew about the correlation and how scientific research will help everyone, they would get involved, but people who have a heart for social justice will naturally get involved.” Whitten has spearheaded lobbying efforts, urging congress to increase

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


Kacey Bingham, Brittney Bowlen

funding for Down syndrome research. Along with attempts to end the discriminatory disparities in funding, she hopes that increased education and awareness will create a more socially tolerant environment. People with Down syndrome may encounter cognitive and physical challenges, but they have unlimited potential if given the opportunity. In addition to honoring advocates and people with Down syndrome with the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award, Global honors individuals with Down syndrome by selecting official Ambassadors who work to represent the foundation and raise funds while advocating for equality and government support. With their lives as fully integrated as possible, people with Down syndrome thrive in inclusive settings where there is tolerance for those who are “differentlyabled.” Actor John McGinley is a board member and international spokesperson for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation whose son, Max, has Down syndrome. McGinley is a key advocate for the Special Olympics’ campaign to end the use of the “R” word, calling it “Unacceptable.” When asked how to best educate the public on the hurtful effects of intolerance and the use of the derogatory term, McGinley said, “I try to guide people into inclusion and love.” The Global Down Syndrome Foundation has made a monumental impact in its 10 years of service, and with increased funding the organization will continue to provide education and advocacy, with a focus on the important research and medical care that will enrich the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families for years to come. . Editor’s note: To learn more about the Global Down Syndrome Foundation or to make a donation, visit

The Pursuit of Excellence By Zilingo Nwuke

Judge Wiley Daniel, a true role model for all children of color, is a prime example that the color of one’s skin should not, and does not put a limit on what he or she can accomplish in life. A law school graduate of Howard University, in Washington, D.C., Judge Daniel has a list of accomplishments that would impress anyone throughout his prosperous career. Born and raised in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, Judge Daniel is the son of Wiley B. Daniel Jr. and Lavinia Y. Daniel. He was an only child. He was born on September, 10th 1946. He is currently 72 years old. Being the child of two parents in the education field, Daniel naturally excelled in academically. His father was an elementary school principal. His mother was an elementary school teacher. With their guidance, Daniel managed to cruise through grade school and graduated high school with an acceptance letter into Howard University in 1964.

Daniel’s outstanding academic achievements followed him from high school into college. Originally, he entered college as Zoology major. Two years in, he embarked on the path to his passion in life. He eventually changed his major to government and history, and in his junior he decided to go to law school. Judge Daniel graduated from Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in government in the summer of 1968. Daniel began as a student at Howard University School of Law that fall. He graduated from law school in the spring of 1971 with a Juris Doctorate degree. “I liked law school. I did well. I finished near the top of my class academically. I thoroughly enjoyed the study of law, which then led me to pursue a career as a lawyer for 24 years, and then in my 24th year, as a United States District Judge,” Daniel said. “I was the first African American ever appointed as a Federal Judge in the State of Colorado.” Life after college led to a promising career for Daniel. As a lawyer, he was President of the Colorado Bar Association, served as an officer for other bar associations like the Sam Cary Bar Association and the Denver Bar Association, and was a member of the Supreme Court Grievance Committee. He spent six years in Detroit as an attorney and 18 years in Denver. “Gradually, I worked in big law firms. Although, throughout my career I did pro bono work for disadvantaged and poor people, while still working as a lawyer at several law firms,” he said. Eventually, his drive and passion for his work led him to one of the major accomplishments of his career. On September 1st, 1995, Daniel was sworn in as a U. S. District Judge and was appointed to the U.S. Court for the District of Colorado by President Bill Clinton; becoming the first African American to serve on the Court.

Following his election onto the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Daniel also had many other accomplishments. In 2008, he became Chief Judge of the Court. In 2013, he assumed Senior Judge Status. He currently presides over a demanding case load. From May 2009 to April 2011, he served as President of the Federal Judges Association. From August 2013 to April 2015, Daniel was appointed as a special mediator for the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy proceeding. From 2013 to the present he sits, by designation, on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. “It’s a job I think I’ve done well at and enjoy it,” Daniel says. He has been a judge for the last 23 years. His work clearly speaks for itself. Not many people have a list of achievements as extensive as his. Despite growing up in a difficult time, being a man of color is something that has never held Daniels back. He grew up in the segregated south. When he was younger, blacks and whites were not allowed to go to the same schools. In fact, everything was segregated. Daniel didn’t attend an integrated school until high school, but public accommodations were still segregated. He didn’t let that hold him back. He did what he had to do to succeed.

“When I grew up, I understood that there were some things that blacks couldn’t do because they weren’t allowed to. I understood that once those barriers were eliminated, that I wanted to have big dreams and do important things in life. I believed, even today, that institutional racism does exist, has existed and still exists. You have to be sensitive to it to make sure you don’t allow it to stop you from doing what you want to do,” he said. Daniel has accomplished a lot in his 72 years of life. He has gone above and beyond to create a legacy for himself and open doors for other people of color who hope to do what he did in the future. Hopefully, the next generation can learn from this and accomplish even more. Only time will tell, but an example has been made. Now it is time to learn from it. .

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


Panel of Five to Present at Genocide and Slavery Conference at MSU Denver By Jamil Shabazz

In the United States, it is relatively

easy to ignore the devastating global atrocities that are slavery and geno-

cide. While hundreds of thousands of people are being enslaved and murdered worldwide; Americans reside far enough away to consider the epidemic “out of sight, out of mind,” even though slavery is still legal in the United States. Thanks to the 13th Constitutional Amendment, slavery is still legal in the United States. More than 15 state constitutions allow for the legal practice of slavery, including Colorado. That’s right! It’s 2018 and slavery is still legal in the state of Colorado. In November, voters will have the ability to abolish slavery in Colorado for good. But the better question to ask is what took so long? Why did we overlook it for so long? The most likely answer is a lack of awareness. Timing couldn’t be more ideal to inform, educate and bring awareness to the abhorrent conditions that allow “Man’s inhumanity to man” to continue. An upcoming conference at Metropolitan State University of Denver intends to do just that. In cooperation with faculty from Metropolitan State University and the University of Denver, the Coalition Against Global Genocide (CoAGG) will hold a panel conference on Genocide and Slavery: Awareness, Prevention Reconciliation and Reparations on Nov. 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Cajetan’s. A diverse panel of five educators and activists will participate in the event, which will be moderated by

author, educator and MSU Denver professor Alfonzo Porter. The conference will be split into two roundtable sessions with lunch in between. The first session will focus on awareness and prevention featuring contributions from activist Omhagain Dayeen, an artist and a Sudanese refugee. In the capital of the country, she studied and earned a bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s degree in education. She taught at the university until she was eventually forced to leave Sudan. As a displaced artist from the country and culture she treasured, Dayeen continued to create artwork canvassed in culture. Her U.S. work, which was put on display at the headquarters of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), showcased the beauty of a culture now under siege. As a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado, Denver, Dayeen continues her studies and activism with the hope of helping her people, by raising awareness about the victims of genocide, and teaching others that education is the key to a life of peace. Co-founder of Coalition for an Inclusive Colorado (CIC), Obeid Kaifo, is a first-generation Syrian-American

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Muslim. He was born in L.A. and raised in Aurora, Colorado. Kaifo’s parents are from Aleppo, Syria. His first and last trip to Syria was in late December 2008. He has lost four family members to the crisis in Syria and his family has made several dozen trips to southern Turkey, actively helping Syrian refugees since 2012. CIC creates and supports community events that protect and respect the rights of those who wish to call Colorado home. Kaifo works to bridge the gap between Syrian refugees, Muslim Americans and the Syrian Community. He aims to create an environment that can help integrate refugees and immigrants more effectively, while facilitating and supporting a normal way of life and an easier transition into Western culture and society. Charles “Charlie” Plenty Wolf of the Oglala Lakota tribe is a land activist and community organizer who has been a water protector for most of his adult life. He has lived and learned his traditional values under the guidance of his father Chief Lee Plenty Wolf. He spent four months at the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock Reservation, fighting for the rights of many and experiencing mistreatment in ways that he will never forget. Charlie is the promotion and recruitment manager for the Boulder Valley Indigenous Peoples Day Parade and Pow Wow. The afternoon session of conference will focus on Reparations and Reconciliation featuring contributions from attorney and entrepreneur Aubrey Ardema, who has a background in international criminal law and U.S. immigration law. She worked for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, an international court focused on the Rwandan genocide. She also worked with the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a hybrid domestic-international court focused on crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. Upon returning to the United States, Ardema opened her own immigration law practice in Denver. She

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


continues her interest in international law within Denver’s international law community and continues to reflect on the relationships among international courts, traditional and alternative domestic systems of justice, and national reconciliation. Dr. Douglas Mpondi is an associate professor and department chair of Africana Studies at MSU Denver. With a teaching concentration on research methodology, Mpondi will provide a critical view about the genocide in Zimbabwe. As an educator, Dr. Mpondi has a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and an M.A. in African studies from Ohio University. His M.A. and a B.A in African languages and literature, and postgraduate certificate in education, are all from the University of Zimbabwe. Dr. Mpondi has published book chapters on national culture and globalization in Zimbabwe. And, he is also fluent in four African languages. The fearless five individuals on the panel are guaranteed to bring a breadth of insight, information and collective experience, allowing for a much needed dialogue on how we can all improve our efforts in eradicating genocide and slavery. Genocide and slavery are not merely global atrocities, but rather a reflection of inhumanity. At the conference on Nov. 14, we will all get an opportunity to look at ourselves in the mirror. Editor’s note: The Genocide and Slavery: Awareness, Prevention Reconciliation and Reparations conference will be held on Nov. 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the MSU Auraria Campus, St. Cajetan’s Center, 101 Lawrence Way in Denver. For more information or sponsorship opportunities, visit:

TThe h e LLong ong R oad Road H o m e : Homelessness Home: and the Colorado Housing Crisis

By Ruby Jones

The homeless population in Colorado continues to increase as city officials and housing providers scramble to create sustainable solutions for affordable housing and find funding for supportive services that promote self-sufficiency. With several initiatives aimed at ending homelessness, it is imperative that citizens contribute to efforts to end the housing crisis through civic engagement. An individual experiencing homelessness does not have a permanent primary address where they reside, though they may not fit the traditional description of someone living on the street. Individuals, who stay in a shelter or transitional housing facility, occupy a motel room, “double up” with family and friends, or sleep in a vehicle, are part of a growing population of “invisible homeless.” A survey conducted by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative indicated that in January 2018, 5,317 people in the Denver Metro area identified as homeless. Of that population, over 4,000 individuals were identified as sheltered homeless; 1,596 individuals were identified as chronically homeless; and 1,060, or 20 percent of the homeless population, had become homeless for the first time within the year. Denver’s growing homeless population can be attributed to outrageous housing prices and a low inventory of affordable housing for people strug-

gling to make ends meet. In 2007, the median sale price of a home in the Metro Denver area was $157,000, but after the Great Recession in late 2008, Denver’s housing market experienced a substantial rebound; today, that number has increased to $348,000. At the height of the real estate boom, developers were building at record rates, but with an inflated cost of living and low wages that keep many families living from paycheck to paycheck, the vacancy inventory is at 7.4 percent, a number that housing experts predict will rise in the coming year. Homelessness is a year-round problem, but in Colorado, the changing seasons are especially brutal for those living on the street. In 2016, the City of Denver experienced a 500 percent increase in the enforcement of a camping ban that criminalizes homelessness and allows law enforcement officials to force homeless people out of encampments that serve as shelter against freezing winter conditions. In 2017, the city fell under fire for the heavy enforcement of the ban, and after months of protests by homeless individuals and community leaders, a civil lawsuit was filed to question whether the ban violated Colorado’s constitution. Denver Homeless Out Loud, one of many advocacy groups working to improve conditions for homeless people in Denver, created the “Right to Survive” initiative, which allows urban camping in city parks and on the 16th Street Mall. The group hopes to get the initiative on the city ballot in May of 2019. Organizations that provide housing services are bracing for major federal funding changes that will impact families by eliminating housing benefits, increasing rents, and imposing harsh work requirements on the most vulnerable populations. The current presidential administration is calling for a drastic $8.8 billion cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investments Partnership Program, which allow agencies to help decrease evictions and assist with emergency housing costs. In October 2018, Colorado service providers, policy makers, housing developers and real estate investors convened in Vail, Colorado, at Housing Colorado’s NOW! Annual Conference to address the financial, social and political cases and effects of homelessness in Denver and its surrounding cities. One of the conference’s main themes was the potentially negative effects of housing on health. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Administration, 20 to 25 percent of the homeless population suffers from some form of mental illness. The challenges involved in housing people with mental health make it difficult to carry out essential aspects of daily life, but housing providers are exploring ways to support the mental and physical well-being of their residents with on-site support services. Historically, there has been minimal funding allocated for support services that are provided in conjunction with affordable housing efforts. Dr. Megan Sandel, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Boston Medical Center, gave a keynote address at the Housing Now! Conference, in which she recommended housing providers form partnerships with healthcare institutions to secure funding for on-site services. Investments in housing partnerships by healthcare institutions would allocate funding for mental and physical health services, as well as effective case management to help families and individuals achieve self-sufficiency. These investments would contribute to an equitable and integrative housing marketplace while improving population health. The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) is an Ohio based company that promotes integration among public service systems. By working with the City of Los Angeles to strengthen healthcare and housing partnerships, CSH was able to secure a commitment from the city to develop 500 units of supportive housing over the next five years, which will reduce the homeless population by nearly half. Housing service providers in Colorado are seeking a similar commitment from state and city officials as a means to offset the high cost of supportive housing. In order to solve the homelessness crisis in Colorado, civic leaders, involved citizens, and professionals must work together to integrate public

service systems that maximize resources for people experiencing homelessness, and find innovative ways to prevent individuals from becoming homeless. In June 2018, the City of Denver launched the Denver Eviction Legal Defense Pilot Program to help residents avoid losing their homes. In addition to expanding an affordable housing fund and increasing the Colorado Division of Housing’s allocations of subsidies and low-income housing tax credits for the construction or preservation of affordable rental units, there are still many deficiencies that leave Colorado families vulnerable. Local organizations such as Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Denver Homeless Out Loud, The Gathering Place, Urban Peak, and Family HomeStead are part of a continuum of care that works to end homelessness. These groups are working diligently to alleviate gaps in federal funding but need the support of the community to maximize their impact and sustainability. Education, health care, and housing are some of the top issues for voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Voters should be aware of legislation that affects housing, to include the Middle Income Tax Credit, the Rent Relief Act of 2018, the Restoring Tax Credits Affordable Housing Act, the Distressed Zone Tax Credit, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, and Ballot Issue 7G. Housing service providers are hopeful that housing service partnerships will alleviate the prohibitive cost of development and make affordable housing attainable for Colorado residents, but it is imperative that citizens help stabilize housing conditions through civic engagement. By taking a coordinated approach to the delivery of housing and supportive services, lawmakers and housing professionals are confident in their ability to end the community-wide issue of homelessness in Colorado. .

Mable Sutton, CRS, GRI Independent Real Estate Broker

Office 303-313-8929 Cell 303-995-7621 Fax 303-313-9800 Email For all your real estate needs

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


Black and Blue and Bleu

100 Men Who Cook, Inc., To Host 6th Annual Fundraiser By Jamil Shabazz

Two days after Thanksgiving, the non-profit organization 100 Men Who Cook, Inc. will provide Colorado with a reason to keep giving; when they host their 6th annual black tie fundraiser to benefit several community organizations. The evening will be full of resplendent delicacies. In addition to the delectable edibles there will be live music from the Mary Louise Lee Band and DJ K-Tone will be spinning on 1’s and 2’s. Guests will also be able to participate in a silent auction and the Casino Royale. This year’s black tie gala’s signature color is blue. From sky to sea, the color is associated with confidence, imagination, intelligence, and regality – traits that will be presented bountifully on November 24th as the Gentleman Chef’s “don their hats” and showcase their exquisite cuisine to the benefit of three deserving organizations: The Colorado BeautillionCotillion, Inc., Boys Day and The Jazz C.A.F.E. “We are so proud and deeply honored, to be a beneficiary of the 100 Men Who Cook,” says Cheryl Williams-Carter, co-founder of The Colorado Beautillion-Cotillion, Inc., a multi-cultural all-inclusive mentoring and recognition program designed to expose Colorado’s high school juniors and seniors to personal development experiences, cultural/social development activities and recognize unsung youth from various communities. “When we founded the Colorado Beautillion-Cotillion we wanted to have a program that was community-oriented and accessible to young men and women who may not have the financial ability to be able to participate in a program like this. The contributions from 100 Men Who Cook, in conjunction with the fundraising we have the young men and women do, allows us to accomplish that goal. Their organization has been a tremendous support and a great resource. We’re very humbled and tremendously grateful for all that they’ve done, and continue to do.”

100 Men Who Cook was initially established in 1984 by the regional director of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Vivian Kerr. The yearly signature black tie gala helped to raise money for scholarships for students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU’s). Due to a series of unfortunate events, the gala exited from public consumption twice. Resilient and buoyed by community demand Moss reached out to Norma Paige and in 2012 the duo along with several ambassadors (volunteers) revived the 100

enjoyed that. The resources and the relationships that I’ve been able to establish and sustain through and with 100 Men Who Cook have been extremely valuable. We still continue to partner when we can and work together and help each other. And that’s what it’s all about.” While no longer an official beneficiary, the 100 Men Who Cook, Inc. continues to contribute to the Struggle of Love. Good food has great balance. Flavors complement each other; no matter the recipe. Since inception, the 100 Men Who

Men Who Cook has Cook been a platter Fundraiser for of success. good. One of The elegant the inaugural affair has beneficiaries been manof the revitalaged and ized 100 Men staffed only Who Cook by ambassaFundraiser dors and volwas the unteer chefs Struggle of many, whom Love have been Foundation. Founded in 2008 with the gala since the mid 1980’s. the Struggle of Love Foundation “One of the most impressive things (SOL) is a community based non-prof- about the 100 Men Who Cook events it organization created to provide is the size and scope of the event. For community awareness, involvement as large as it is, there are a few comand social activities, for the poor and mitted people that come together to underprivileged individuals. pull this off,” Tracey Grant, The foundation is run by Executive Educational Leadership Director director(s) and Co-founder(s) Joel and of Jazz C.A.F.E. reflects during our LaKeshia Hodge. midday meeting. When reached by “People in the comphone LaKeshia Hodge munity are really dediEVENT DETAILS cated to helping youth, had nothing but warmth to share. “I had 100 Men Who Cook, Inc. not just giving lip servthe privilege of speakice about helping. They Saturday, November 24 ing at the event for the invest their time, ener6 p.m. to 1 a.m. first time last year. I got gy and money to supRenaissance Denver a chance to tell everyport students who are Stapleton Hotel body, about my experidoing positive things. I 1-800-998-5984 ence with being a benethink all of us coming ficiary and, just particiwww.100menwhocook.c together with a compating in the gala over mon goal, and working Blue/Formal Dress the years. I really together to execute that

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


goal is one of the most beautiful things about 100 Men Who Cook.” The Jazz C.A.F.E. (Cultivating a Future of Excellence) is an innovative youth music program created to positively impact youth in the Denver metropolitan area. Following students from grades 6 through 12, the program is designed to promote excellence in students through music and leadership development. Thanks to the partnership and support of the 100 Men Who Cook, the program vision has expanded. Love, loyalty and devotion are a few of the ingredients that have helped to make the fundraiser a successful mainstay in the Colorado community. In 2012, 100 Men Who Cook President Chuck Moss invested $3,000 of his own funds to bring the gala back to the community. Vice-President Norma Paige, who will celebrate 40 years of marital bliss with her husband Larry just two days after the black-tie gala has been diligent about ensuring the legacy and sustainability of the event remain intact. “We like to call the fundraiser A Party with a Purpose,” Paige rejoices on a Friday afternoon. “That’s the goal here – for all of us to work together, use our connections, abilities and gifts to help better the people around us. For example this past summer The Struggle of Love and Vision Performing Arts Company partnered with us for our First Annual Harvest Festival at City Park. We were very happy with the turnout so we’ll be doing it again next summer as well. Ultimately it’s about cultivating relationships, nurturing and sustaining those relationships. In everything that I’ve been blessed to do, I’ve gotten the chance to pass down what I’ve learned to the next generation. And since we’ve brought back the 100 Men Who Cook Fundraiser, every year my son Samir has taken on a larger role, I’m very proud of that. I’m also grateful for the Denver Urban Spectrum for always being in our corner. Like I said earlier it’s all about working together.“ With a desire to bring more of the community together during the blacktie gala, organizers will be offering a reduced price ticket for $30 for the non-dining portion of the event which will take place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Those guests will be able to enjoy live music from the Mary Louise Lee Band, DJ K-Tone and partake in Casino Night. Every year the theme color changes, yet the theme song remains the same. Every year as the spirit of fundraising and fellowship permeate, lyrics from the McFadden & Whitehead classic resonate, “Ain’t no stopping us now, we’re on the move.”.

Colorado’s First African-American Dental Board Member Transitions Out of Dental Practice Husband and Wife Duo Leaves Family Dentistry After More Than 40 Years Recently named a “Top Dentist” by 5280 Magazine and the only African-American to serve on the Colorado State Board of Dental Examiners, Dr. Collis Johnson Jr., D.D.S. has transitioned to a professor of dentistry at the Colorado University School of Dental Medicine. After more than 40 years practicing dentistry Johnson and his wife, Marsha, served the greaterDenver community as a “husbandwife team,” treating thousands of patients over the years. “This is not retirement,” Johnson said. “I’ve enjoyed treating patients from all walks of life at Family Dentistry, and serving my community in this capacity for more than 40 years. But I now look forward to enjoying dentistry in the capacity as a professor.” “It has truly been a privilege to help Collis serve our Denver community,” Marsha Johnson said. “It’s not a secret that our patients have been loyal to us, and have spread positive, trusting messages throughout the Colorado community. We will miss them, miss hearing their stories, and miss sharing their life’s journeys.” Johnson grew up in Okmulgee, Okla. where he overcame poverty and discrimination to earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree in biochemistry from Langston University. After graduating from college in 1969, his plan was to teach science or work on the farm with his grandfather. But, a college professor encouraged him to apply to dental school. In 1973, Johnson graduated from the historically black Meharry Medical College — School of Dentistry in Nashville, Tenn., and completed a family dentistry residency at Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles, Calif. After practicing in Minneapolis, Minn., he moved to Denver in 1977 to open his own practice. His son, Dr. Jonathan Johnson, started an endowment fund at Meharry Medical College in his parents’ honor. Each year, a scholarship is awarded to an outstanding, third-year dental student chosen by the dean of the School of Dentistry. Johnson started gifting to Meharry in 1983, and now he also gives toward

the scholarship found his son foundinter ed. In an interview, Johnson said, “Finances hin should not hinder students, scholar so if scholarships can, in some way, reduce the level of stress, then I feel it a privilege and honor to pay it forward.” He remembers struggling during his dental school years, and feels a responsibility to help the young people who will be future health care leaders. This year, Johnson was named to the Board of Trustees at Meharry. Dr. Johnson was appointed to the State Board of Dental Examiners in 1997 by Gov. Roy Romer, and reappointed to a second term by Gov. Bill Owens in 2001. He completed eight years on the Dental Board as the only African American to serve. Johnson is a life member of the American Dental Association (ADA), the Colorado Dental Association (MDDS), and the National Dental Association (NDA). He is a six year member of the local chapters of the Prosthodontic Dental Society, and the Academy of General Dentistry. He has been Involved in numerous non-profit boards and community service organizations, such as Kids In Need of Dentistry (KIND). He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Delta Eta Boulé and Shorter Community A.M.E Church. Dr. Johnson and Marsha have three children, Jonathan, Rachael and Laura..

DUS 30th Anniversary Theme Song Available on CD Baby Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


The Deep Red Line “Undesign the Redline” Examines the History and Legacy of Segregation in America. By Alfonzo Porter How you experience Denver depends largely on where you live. That’s largely due to the historical legacy of redlining, which drove a system of de facto segregation in housing based on race. Redlining created two realities: One lived by white people, and one lived by African Americans as well as Latinos and other people of color. One reality fueled a future that was filled with affluence and prosperity. The other led to generations of poverty and inequity that many still fight against today. How did this happen? It was designed to. When the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created in 1934, as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, it made credit more available to lenders. Ostensibly, the FHA existed to make housing more accessible to low and middle-class families. But that housing was widely accessible only to white homebuyers. That’s because the FHA endorsed a practice of color coding neighborhood maps by race. Black neighborhoods and even those close to black neighborhoods were drawn in red; hence the term “redlining.” The maps were then used by banks and mortgage companies to refuse loans to projects with “incompatible racial elements.” By 1945, redlining was common practice at the FHA. White families were incentivized to move to the growing suburbs, while African Americans were kept in urban areas. Housing projects, another product of the New Deal, further segregated neighborhoods that had once been integrated. In Denver, Five Points, Park Hill, Montbello, Globeville, and

Barnum and many other neighborsuch economic disparities between hoods were redlined, which meant white and black communities around individuals and families who lived this nation today.” within their boundaries were unable Redlining reinforced a mistaken to build wealth through real estate. belief, held by many white people, The racial divide in home ownerthat when people of color moved into ship grew significantly wider after the a community, the value of the properpassage of The Housing Act of 1949, ty in the area was compromised. which was ostensibly designed to Whites were convinced that African address a severe housing shortage caused by waves of veterans returning home from WWII. Through the G.I. Bill, white veterans were able to access low-interest FHA-insured mortgages to buy houses. African American vet-erans were not. Those who did purchase homes were preyed upon by greedy and abusive loan companies. According the Charleszine Nelson, Senior Special Collection and Community Resources Manager at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, the greatest impact on the viability of the black commu-nity in Denver and throughout the country was the gov- Photos courtesy of Denver Public Library, ernment’s denial of full bene-- Western History Collection. fits to black veterans, which was devastating for the economic health of black communities. Americans in particular would place “The G.I. Bill made it possible for their loans—and their ability to insure white veterans to buy homes, particitheir loans—in jeopardy. That fear was pate in training programs, go to colat the root of redlining as well as the lege, and begin to build wealth,” says early housing discrimination that first Nelson. “Black soldiers were denied took root in cities including St. Louis, access to money that had been promBaltimore, and Louisville, where ised to all veterans. That is why we see restrictive ordinances prevented black residents from buying houses on streets where whites lived. The ordinances followed the so-called “one family rule”—similar to the “one drop rule” that suggested that if a person had one drop of African American blood, they were black. Similarly, if one black family lived on a block, it was deemed to be at-risk. Sadly and ironically, the opposite was actually true. Because of discrimination, African Americans were required to spend more money than their white counterparts for essentially the same property. As a result, the value of properties increased when blacks were allowed to buy. Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


The history and impact of redlining and other discriminatory housing policies are explored in depth in “Undesigning the Redline,” an interactive exhibition that helps audiences of all backgrounds understand the impact of redlining. Presented by The Denver Foundation and Enterprise Community Partners, “Undesign the Redline” combines historical artifacts, interacstorytelling, photographs, and interac tive displays that illustrate redlining roots and lasting repercussions. As the exhibition makes clear, redlining’s long-term influence on minority communities was deep and wide: It encouraged racial segregation in housing, increased group tribalism, destroyed community cohesion, and negatively impacted the economic and educational opportunities of millions of Americans. “Our goal is to provide a tool through which we help residents resiunderstand how our living and resi dential patterns developed over time,” says LaDawn Sullivan, The Denver Foundation’s Director of Leadership & Equity. “It is designed to spotlight the government’s role in maintaining segregation.” “Undesign the Redline” was created by the New Yorkbased firm Designing the We and has been pre presented throughout the nation, with stops in New York, Chicago, and Baltimore, among others. Throughout its two-month run in Denver, The Denver Foundation and Enterprise will present programming that explores the past, present, and future reach of redlining. The Foundation will also share how it seeks to correct that legacy through grantmaking and programs in basic human needs, economic opportunity, leadership and equity, and education. “We are working with all of our nonprofit partners, local communities, and constituencies on developing actionable steps to dismantle these long-standing systems of discrimination,” says Sullivan. “We must work at all levels to deconstruct these zoning policies.”. Editor’s note: All photos are courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Collection. “Undesign the Redline’ is presented by The Denver Foundation and Enterprise Community Partners, will be on display at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15, and at the Wellington Webb Municipal Building.


stories of tribulation, courage, and triumph

Ruth Boyd

(Told by Rosalind “Bee” Harris)

By Ruby Jones


lder abuse and neglect affect one out of six adults over the age of 60. Healthcare professionals and human rights activists are scrambling to prevent the mistreatment of this vulnerable population, but unfair exploitation and abuse are the norm for many in the world’s elderly population, with rates expected to increase as the rapidly aging global population more than doubles from 900 million in 2015 to approximately two billion in 2050. Denver Urban Spectrum Publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris is all too familiar with the devastating effects of elder abuse. In 2008, Harris lost her 80-year old mother, Ruth Boyd, in a tragic and untimely incident, prompting Harris to pledge her support for the protection of aging adults. In her soon-to-be-released memoir, “The Story of Ruth,” Harris tells the story of her mother’s southern upbringing, her family’s migration to the North, and the devotion she showed in raising her family. By sharing her mother’s story and shining a light on the nearly invisible epidemic of elder abuse, she hopes to prevent others from having to experience the heartbreaking loss of a loved one at the hands of an abuser. On Nov. 3, 2008, people across the country gathered in anticipation of the

next day’s historic presidential election. Harris spent the evening at a Democratic campaign rally in Denver, where First Lady Michelle Obama urged people to vote for her husband, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. At the end of the evening, Harris received a barrage of phone calls that interrupted her excitement and turned her life upside down. The night before Obama was elected President of the United States, Harris learned that her mother had been violently killed in her Grand Rapids, Michigan home. When a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Boyd’s death revealed classic signs of elder abuse, Harris turned to advocacy to spread awareness. Ten years after her mother’s death, Harris established the Ruth Boyd Elder Abuse Foundation to provide education and resources to elders and caregivers. Elder abuse is defined by the American Psychological Association as the infliction of physical, emotional, sexual or financial harm on an older adult, and includes neglect. With today’s social landscape producing increasingly severed intergenerational relationships, it is important that caregivers and loved ones know what signs to look for, and what to do if someone they know is a victim of abuse. Elder abuse occurs when the vulnerabilities associated with aging are exploited. Aging is accompanied by numerous physical challenges, including decreased strength and agility, poor coordination, and memory loss. Additionally, several emotional

changes increase susceptibility and the risk of abuse. Harris, whose mother had welcomed a younger relative to live in her home, acknowledges the difficulty many people face while aging independently. “Sometimes they want a family member there because they need a little help around the house, and they don’t want to be alone,” she says. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) estimates that 51 percent of people over the age of 75 are living alone. Loneliness has a significant impact on health, increasing the risk of obesity, stress, depression and dementia, with effects on the body comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. While elder abuse is more likely to be reported by people living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities where staff may be poorly trained or overworked, living alone leaves elders more susceptible to codependent relationships that result in mistreatment, exploitation and neglect. Neglect occurs when caregivers fail to provide adequate assistance with mobility, the administration of medications, and general care. Neglect is often characterized by an unkempt appearance, malnutrition, and the repeated occurrence of avoidable health and hygiene issues. Financial abuse and exploitation occur when the financial resources of an elderly person are misused or taken. Fraudulent business operations target the elderly to collect personal information for the falsification of records and unauthorized financial transactions. Though it is often difficult to identify, several signs indicate financial abuse, including unpaid bills, the disappearance of valuable belongings, large withdrawals from bank accounts, and checks written to “cash.” Financial abuse involving close friends and loved ones is often accompanied by emotional and verbal abuse, including threats and intimidation to silence victims. Abuse and neglect are not easily detected, but caregivers and family members should watch for signs and behaviors that may signal a problem. While there are some obvious physical signs of abuse, such as bruising and repeated unexplained injuries, most signs of elder abuse are invisible. Many strategies have been implemented to prevent abuse and identify signs that often go unrecognized by family and friends. Healthcare professionals use screening tools to examine uncharacteristic changes in behavior and appearance, while nursing homes and residential care facilities have mandatory reporting procedures that criminalize failure to report suspected abuse. Providing care to an aging adult can be challenging for caregivers who

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


do not seek support and assistance. Caregivers may become overwhelmed neglecting their own health and personal needs while attempting to live normal, fulfilling lives. A 2018 report on caregiving by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving revealed changing characteristics among caregivers. Instead of middleaged adults caring for aging family members, nearly 10 million millennials between ages 18 and 34 are providing care for aging family members and friends, often while struggling to balance full-time employment. Organizations like the National Center on Elder Abuse, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the National Council on Aging have increased efforts to support caregivers with interventions that provide support, education and training. These organizations also provide opportunities for aging adults to connect with their communities, recognizing that feelings of belonging in a community are essential for quality of life. Harris is excited about the Ruth Boyd Elder Abuse Foundation’s plans to provide safety resources and financial assistance for people in need. “The foundation will cover the cost of electronic medical alert devices for people who cannot afford them,” says Harris, whose primary concern is the ability for elders to communicate in the event of an emergency. In addition to establishing the foundation in her mother’s memory, Harris looks forward to the upcoming release of “The Story of Ruth.” The loss of a loved one can be incredibly difficult for caregivers. For Harris, the process of learning about her mother’s life while researching and gathering information for her book was healing. She still struggles to cope with the loss, but attributes her positive attitude and ability to endure to the support of friends and family, as well as feeling her mother’s presence in everything she does. Harris is also preparing to open a bed and breakfast that captures the warm, loving essence her mother left behind. “Big Ma’s Place” will be a cherished establishment where people can gather and be well. “Life is precious. It can be taken away in a split second,” says Harris. “Don’t take life for granted.” The most vulnerable members in our community must not be taken for granted. As society moves further away from community and collectivism, we all share the responsibility of honoring our beloved elders and protecting them from harm.. Editor’s note: To make an anonymous report of suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, contact the Adult Protective Services Hotline at 720-944-4347.

we’re lovin’ the colorful stories Carlotta Walls LaNier... Ollie Marie Phason... Rhonda Jackson... Senator Rhonda Fields... Ruth J. Boyd...

THANK YOU Sharing Caring...

Colorful, Beautiful, Inspirational


Mable Sutton, CRS, GRI



See Me, Hear Me Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


CBAM Exists To Increase Opportunities for African American Artists and Arts Organizations Through Broad-based Partnerships, Collaborations and Events

Proud to sponsor and support five stories of triumph,corage and tribulation.

Thank you for your contributions to women of Denver and society.

Making transmissions well since 1983.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


The Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation Celebrates 30 Years of Dream Making By Kelie Kyser

A recent report from the Institute

for Higher Education Policy asserts that more than 95 percent of colleges are unaffordable for low-income students. The profiles of “real Americans” are outlined, and the results illustrate that the decline in the number of opportunities for advancement in our society is in direct correlation to social inequities. Researchers state, “Equality of opportunity and upward mobility for hardworking citizens are fundamental American ideals – yet currently only the wealthiest Americans have reasonably affordable higher education options. Our nation has grown incredibly wealthy yet incredibly unequal, and our college affordability problem is fundamentally one of inequity as well.” The paper concludes with a firm recommendation that proactive measures are required on behalf of individuals in positions of authority to correct the nation’s course. Nearly four decades ago, businessman Eugene Lang was inspired to act on this dilemma after returning to the elementary school he attended in East Harlem to deliver a commencement speech to the graduating class. Troubled by the outlook of the student’s in the auditorium, Lang promised a college education to all who graduated high school. He shared the essence of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and his belief that everyone should in fact have the chance to pursue their dreams. Lang’s noble gesture in 1981 inspired a movement nationwide and fashioned a sustainable prototype for other philanthropists to emulate. “What Eugene Lang taught all of us is that it takes one person to stand up and say that ‘I’m going to do whatever I can to see that young people have every opportunity to not only graduate but succeed in life,’” said Rachael Gazdick, CEO and president of Colorado “I Have A Dream” Foundation. The Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation (CIHAD) was founded in 1988 by community leaders in Denver who sponsored a cohort of 61 students from Harrington and Wyman Elementary Schools whom were fondly referred to as Dreamers. To date, CIHAD has impacted the lives of 1,160 Dreamers, and this year the organization will celebrate their accomplish-

Oscar Olivas

ments and the three decades of educating, empowering and building Dreams during their 30th Anniversary gala on Nov. 8. The Foundation’s mission is to empower children living in underserved communities in Denver to succeed in school, college, and career by removing barriers and providing academic enrichment, financial, social, and emotional support. Dreamers are customarily adopted in the third grade and continue in the program through college. Most Dreamers are the first in their families to not only graduate high school but also college, and the majority of them come from low-income families. Throughout the years, cohorts were comprised of students from neighborhoods throughout the city. However, in 2014 CIHAD partnered with STRIVE Prep Ruby Hill to adopt an entire school, now consisting of 519 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. It is reported that 90 percent of Dreamers involved in CIHAD finish high school and are three times more likely to receive a bachelor’s degree than their peers in low-income brackets. The measure of success is evident in the numbers and the many stories shared by alumni of the program. Recently, Dreamer Nethania RuizEscobar graduated valedictorian of her high school and was awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships. She is currently attending CU Boulder and plans to be an architect when she graduates. She affirms the strength of the CIHAD model and states, “The program helped me create bigger goals for myself and not settle for

Nethania Ruiz

what was expected of me.” Fellow Dreamer, Oscar Olivas whose vision is now on becoming a vice president at

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


his current company, echoes this sentiment, and elaborates on the positive influence of the program’s mentors. “In addition to providing things like tutoring and afterschool programs, CIHAD provides the intangible things nobody sees,” explained Olivas. “They are people there to love you – it’s more than just the education.” CIHAD encourages their students to dream big and puts them on a path to achieve those dreams. Today, alumni of the program can be seen working for Lockheed Martin, Bellco Credit Union, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver Public Schools, and the Denver Fire Department. Yet for many, their education pursuits continue as they work to obtain their PhD’s and medical degrees. But for all these Dreamers the goal is the same, to make a difference in the lives of people the same way that it was done for them. “For 30 years, our student success has influenced our continued work because it shows us that if we give all kids the same access to opportunities, they can succeed,” said Gazdick. “I truly believe that all kids have talent, but they don’t all have opportunities.” In 2017, Eugene Lang passed away at the age of 98 leaving behind a legacy that will positively influence future generations for years to come. The businessman set a precedent for other leaders to follow as he provided a blueprint for them to help others acquire the American Dream. Founders of the Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation have upheld his legacy by garnering support from Dream Makers compelled to pave the way for Dreamers to make a better life for themselves and affect positive change in the community. . Editor’s note: To learn more about Colorado “I Have A Dream” Foundation and how you can get involved visit

Eating Strategies to Successfully Navigate the

Holiday Season By Kim Farmer


he holiday season is just round the corner and for many people it is time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, this is also the time of the year when people over eat and gain weight. On average, this holiday binge eating leads to an extra gain of one to three pounds each year and while it may not seem much, over a lifetime it can easily add up to 20 plus pounds! Eating during the holidays does not have to lead to an enlarged waistline. This can be avoided by focusing on a healthy balance of fun, activity, and food. Following are some simple tips for healthy eating during the holiday season. BE REALISTIC: The holiday season is NOT the time to stress about trying to lose weight. Make it your goal to at least maintain and to try avoiding any gains. You’ll need to plan ahead of course, a little more food here, means an extra walk or time on the treadmill there. It’s always about balance. DON’T SKIP MEALS: We are often tempted to do this during this time since we know the annual family holiday party at grandma’s house is coming up or the office potluck is just around the corner. Make sure you continue to eat small healthy meals throughout your day, as eating frequently (making good choices as you go along) keeps you from being tempted to overindulge. Always have a light snack (veggies and a low-cal dip or something small, but high in fiber) before heading to your next celebration, will fill keep you from tackling the buffet upon arrival. PROVIDE HEALTHY CHOICES TO YOUR GUESTS: Most of us have at least one opportunity to entertain others during the holidays, so make sure you provide some great choices for your guests. Veggie trays with a choice of low-fat or low-cal dipping options (hummus is a wonderful choice), flavorful crackers with high fiber, and low fat cheeses are great too. Don’t forget a tray of cut fresh fruits with a low-fat yogurt dip for those with a sweet tooth. GET LOTS OF FIBER: Fiber is an excellent way of helping you feel full quicker and longer without adding too many extra calories. It also helps to prevent heart disease and other harmful health conditions. Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


PACK HEALTHY FOOD FOR TRAVELING: We all know airport food is not cheap and often not the healthiest, but you can plan ahead when traveling. Pack some healthy snacks for your trip; this keeps you from being starved when you reach your destination. If you need something more substantial, you can opt for a salad (always better with some protein like chicken or tuna) once you are on your way to your gate, to eat in-flight. EASY ON THE ALCOHOL: The holidays of course are THE time of year to raise your drink in toast to another year past and hope for what lies ahead; however, it’s a sneaky way to add lots of extra calories. If you must indulge, keep your serving size small and limit the number of drinks you choose. You can always find some lower calorie options of most of your favorite drinks. IF YOU ARE FULL....STOP! This might be the hardest thing to do this time of year because everything tastes so good. Decide in advance that when you feel full you will stop (and be mindful of when you reach that full feeling). You may end up leaving some food on your plate, but it really is okay. If you have always been a member of the “clean plate club” then start out with a smaller plate. Eat what you want but perhaps just a taste of several different things. Don’t forget to throw some veggies or fruit on your plate too. And no cheating, don’t give in to the temptation to refill that “small” plate. MAKE SMART CHOICES WHEN COOKING: When you are preparing holiday meals and treats, opt for half-fat or lower fat choices. It’s usually hard to tell much difference with regard to flavor and taste. You ultimately win by creating a lower fat/lower calories creation. And don’t forget spices for extra zing! DECIDE WHEN TO SAY YES TO HOLIDAY TREATS: If you plan ahead and adjust your eating on days you know you are headed for a celebration with great food, you can say yes to some of your favorites. Eating light and making good choices throughout the day can help offset the more tempting choices you might make when you arrive at the next celebration. STAY POSITIVE: We spend so much time beating ourselves up. This is not the time of year to indulge yourself in that pastime. It’s easy to get off track, but IF you plan ahead and decide to focus on the joy of the time spent with family and friends, you’ll find yourself on the other side, ready to face a new year and back on track with your healthy eating and fitness plan. Thanks for reading,happy holidays! Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit or email

Stapleton Denver Introduces Its Final Frontier:

The North End Neighborhood Final neighborhood will boast 1,300 lots, largest pool and only waterslide in community It has been nearly 20 years since Stapleton Denver began its transformation from airport to neighborhood and now the community is all grown up—home to nearly 30,000 residents, 12 neighborhoods, 50+ parks, six community pools (and counting), 18 schools, and more than 100 retail shops and award-winning restaurants. But the opportunity to buy a new home in Stapleton Denver is drawing to a close, with the launch of the 12th and final neighborhood: North End. This new neighborhood is located north of 56th Ave., east of Dallas St., at the Northern edge of the community, where “a great city meets the great plains.” “Perhaps the best thing about North End is that it’s part of something bigger: a vision that started two decades ago–brought to life by the residents who have so fully embraced it,” said John Lehigh, CEO of Forest City Stapleton. “The North End neighborhood will stand as a fitting tribute to some of Stapleton’s most exciting ideas. And yet, it is something altogether inspired in its own right— the culmination of everything that we have learned from the last two decades.” North End is a tangible contrast from Stapleton’s earlier neighborhood—aptly named South End — which embraces a distinctly urban vibe and extends Denver’s historic grid system. Instead, North End is a place that turns its attention outward, to the high prairie and breathtaking open spaces... where the city becomes country. One of the largest neighborhoods, it will consist of 1,300 homes and will boast the community’s largest swimming pool, which includes a two-story waterslide, a zero-depth entry on one side and a six-lane lap pool on the other. “As the community grows up, so do its residents, so the new pool is a nice complement to the other six pools, as it is geared to the tween/teen set and many of these kids have grown up spending their summer days at the Stapleton pools,” said Community Development Director Lisa Hall of Forest City Stapleton. The new pool and its surrounding park happens to be situated in the heart of the North End neighborhood, which also offers active play equipment for all ages, including teens, and will feature basketball/sport courts, picnic tables, a big lawn, trails and walking paths, and space for a future

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baseball field. The neighborhood also features a variety of unique gathering spaces, like an elevated deck called “The Perch” and “Observation Point” meant to take in the breathtaking views. “At Stapleton, urban-infill development also means embracing the surrounding natural habitat and integrating the benefits into the community,” said Hall. “Our North End neighborhood will, in many ways, be a fitting tribute to the overall community vision.” Staying true to Stapleton’s DNA, the North End neighborhood will offer a variety of market rate home types at a wide variety of price points from the $300s to over $1M. The diversity of choice – in shape, size, character and price – is an opportunity for anyone looking for a home to find one. Some will include rooftop decks, some with impressively sized kitchen islands and other interesting features. The builders have taken their cues from the best of mid- century modern, craftsman, and prairie architecture and the latest, “modern farmhouse,” a movement unto itself, inspired directly by Colorado’s high plains, designed intentionally to take advantage of the rolling landscape and sweeping views. Every home in North End can be built as zero energy ready, with features that improve health, comfort, and durability – not to mention lower energy bills. Stapleton residents are 15 minutes from downtown, 20 minutes from DIA and easy access to the Colorado A Line’s Central Park Station where The University of Colorado A Line provides an easy way to change your scenery.. Editor’s note: For more information, visit

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Hetero Men,

We Need To Talk! Op-ed by Theo E.J. Wilson

Gentlemen, are

we pathological? The consistency with which we violate the minds and bodies of women is so predictable; you can damn near set your clock to it. In fact, I’ll argue that any man who disagrees with this hasn’t faced the true work. The blood on our hands is undeniable, and often...literal. To believe I thought myself among the “Good Ones” seems laughable to me, now. I convinced myself that because I always ask for and obey consent, I’ve never beat a woman, never raped, never left any fatherless kids out there, because I am very kind and conscientious to the women in my life, that somehow I had the authority to address the male of the species on ally ship. I mean, I’m a poet for crying out loud. And that was just my problem; good with words – in fact too good. So good, I flat-out tricked myself. The vice of half-truth telling and emotive lies hid even from me the breadth and depth of what I had become, and my relationship was broken because of it. Sifting through the pieces, I wondered why we try to live in the worlds we create in other people’s heads. “But Theo, don’t we all bend the truth a little? What about women’s lies, and their high-heels, wigs, weaves, makeup, and perfect selfieangles? What makes men’s lies and issues so dangerous?” Well, physical size and strength always plays a part in endangering women, something that you’re taught before you leave

middle school. But there’s something even more insidious and dastardly in how men are raised that gives a clue to the pathology in heterosexual, cisgender men of every race. We men are taught to compartmentalize from an early age. Don’t underestimate how problematic this is. It’s...everything. There is a fracturing of our wholeness that comes with male conditioning. When you’re first tackled on the football field, the first time you get punched in the face, the other boys dare you to cry. Emotional suppression is a badge of honor. At first there was a good damn reason for this. When men were expected to charge up the hill into enemy gunfire, they couldn’t afford to be in their feelings. Emotions had to be put aside for the war effort. In a society that could draft boys into military service at any moment, the sons of the nation needed a lifetime of preparedness before the battle field. Add to this that when men fall in love for the first time, it’s usually not with the woman they will marry. Heartbreak visits most of us before we leave high school. To silence the pain, our culture allows and often encourages us to sleep around. We then began to cultivate the practice of having sex while our heart is in a different place. It hurts at first, but then we get used to it. This is a fracturing. Player/Mack imagery and culture

then re-enforce this devil-may-care attitude into our social circles. Men indoctrinate other men with the idea that, if they didn’t have feelings in the first place, they wouldn’t have been vulnerable to the gnawing heartache that propelled them into strange women’s beds. Best never feel love, or let a woman in close enough to touch your heart, or else. This in particular is my story, and the source of the deepest schism in my identity and wholeness. There is a price for all this. We can sometimes live in these separate compartments for long periods of time. After a while, they gain their own momentum. For example, if a guy goes to war for several years, he often divorces himself from his compassion, attention to nuance, feelings of inner peace and wellbeing. We call that, PTSD. But, what happens when these fragments stop talking to each other? What happens when you have different life activities associated with these compartments? We men get tricked into believing that these fragments don’t leak into each other. We believe these fractures don’t show up, but they do. Compartmentalization is why we think we can hide that violent streak with no therapy. Compartmentalization is why men can have sex with seemingly no attachments. It’s why we think she’ll never find out about the affair, but probably already knows. These are the things that destroy men’s lives over time, and destroy the lives of women who love us. The only answer is the slow, tedious, painful work of the re-integration of the self. No one gets out of personal work – no one. These separate parts have to be made whole again. These compartments have to start talking to each other. Integration of the self is linked to another word: Integrity. The fracturing of our true selves as little boys endangers us to a living a life out of integrity with our best and whole selves. A person with integrity is literally an integrated person, their compartments’ walls are

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


broken down and talking to each other. A person with integrity knows the universe is an impeccable record keeper, and all of our deeds matter. The closer the picture we project outwardly is to our true selves, the better our time on this planet will be. In fact, integrity and wholeness seem to be the very things life judges us the harshest on. Believe me, the work you do will manifest in due time, and will be encapsulated in one of these two statements: either, “The Bill Comes Due,” or “It All Pays Off.” Trust the process, fellas. It’s real. Finally, we must face the gauntlet of our “Brotherhoods.” This is arguably the hardest test to overcome. I mean, when other guys are unfaithful, verbally abusive, cat calling, or misogynistic, peer pressure tends to silence the little conscience in our minds that rejects that kind of behavior. Make no mistake. That tiny voice, the one with the compass always pointed north, the one who told you the right way from day one is the voice you will answer to in the end. As gentle as it is before your mistakes, it’s equally as loud and cruel when those mistakes are exposed. Trust me. Do not let your virtue slip away just because life didn’t seem to reward it. Never underestimate that you are a social creature. Your best self is always in danger to being lost to the will of the mob. In the end, our women are spiritual God-Mirrors, showing us ultimately how well we measure up to our highest potential. If you should see your reflection, and you find it grotesque, disfigured, and unrecognizable, do not run from it. Stand in the fire. Let it consume you. Let it burn away the parts of you that you didn’t need. Let it unwrite the programs that compel you to be your own worst enemy. They’re just programs, and they have run their course. The past cannot be undone, so embrace the future healthy, honest, and the powerful man you are being called to be..

Our American Character and You the Voter By Tom H. Hastings


hen we speak of people from a particular identity group—ethnicity, nationality, regional group, state, town, or one of many others—we often essentialize, that is, generalize. Sometimes that’s fair, sometimes not. Of course, it’s always inaccurate unless it’s stated as a tendency, not an absolute, and unless it’s offered as a viewpoint, not proven fact. What are we to think about our character, as Americans? How do we square the following observables? Donald Trump occupies the White House, busily alienating allies and befriending dictators, pulling out of any international agreements that keep the peace or protect the planet, and appoints top officials who operate with stunning head-in-the-sand obduracy in those arenas. Like Hitler’s Sturmabteilung, the Proud Boys support Trump and routinely engage in violence at his rallies and in the streets of our cities, targeting immigrants, gays, and Muslims. Republicans rule the Senate, the House, and the Supremes. Republicans use endless dirty tricks and chicanery to gain and remain in power. I mean, is it fathomable that Brian Kemp, the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia is the official responsible for overseeing the elections and he’s at the top of the ticket, running for governor, and sitting on 53,000 voter registrations, overwhelmingly from African Americans, and his opponent is also African American,

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Stacey Abrams? This is buck-naked overt racial voter suppression. And in Texas, same game, Republicans have tried and often seriously succeeded in suppressing African American voters, always by lowdown tactics such as switching address requirements at the last minute and effectively stealing the franchise from thousands of black college students, as they just tried on the students at black university Prairie View A&M. Merrick Garland. I mean, cripes. Could Republican Mitch McConnell be more unethical? Dubious. With the exception of the last minute victory for democracy in Waller County, when the glare of publicity forced officials to allow the Prairie View A&M students to vote, we Americans have allowed all these travesties and many more to stand, all the while wondering if public protest is OK or not, and debating how demure we need to be in the face of the ruination of the first modern democracy, our American experiment. We can take the first steps back from the ledge very soon, on November 6, Election Day, if we might like to regain our balance, our democracy, our power as citizens. From local races to ballot initiatives to statewide offices to our federal elected officials, we will either continue our trend away from a strong democracy—one which protects the rights of the minorities with as much vigor as it bows to the decisions of the majority—or we will begin to roll back the poor policy decisions of the past two years (more if we consider the antidemocratic measures of the Republican Senate in the past several years). It is up to us. No one can vote for you and your vote matters—we have seen many elections decided by just a few votes and several decided by a single vote. You are important. . Editor’s note: Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director and on occasion an expert witness for the defense in court

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Full Day Kindergarten: The Right Choice for Colorado Op-ed by Senator Angela Williams


ur state

has an education problem: Colorado ranks 43rd in the nation when it comes to per-pupil funding for K-12 education and 49th when it comes to our ability to bridge achievement gaps for students in poverty. Students of color perform and grow at lower levels than their White and Asian peers across all grade levels and subject areas, according to results from the 2017 Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS). The results also show that Colorado currently has the second largest achievement gap in the country. If we want to close the achievement gap and give every Coloradan a fair shot at success, then we need to get serious about funding full-day kindergarten. Several studies have found that full-day kindergarten leads to better long-term and short-terms gains. In the short-term, full-day programs help students achieve better academic outcomes the following year and boosts self-confidence. In the long-term, fullday programs can help narrow the achievement gap because teachers can provide more personalized attention and better identify and address learning challenges. In fact, some of the greatest beneficiaries of full-day kindergarten are students from disadvantaged backgrounds, according to the National Education Association. While the Colorado Department of Education doesn’t require school districts to offer full-day kindergarten programming, we’re fortunate that most do. But the state only covers a little more than half a day of programming, leaving school districts to find money for additional instruction by cutting other programs, finding outside funding, or charging parents tuition. While the actual cost of full-day kindergarten varies by school district, most monthly tuitions vary from $200

to $400 according to the Denver Post. The monthly tuition for full-day kindergarten in Denver Public Schools varies by family size and monthly pretax income, but ranges from $0 to $375 per student. That means that enrollment in a full-day kindergarten program in Denver can cost more than $3000 per child. That extra cost puts financial pressure on low-income and middle class families. Those families who can’t afford full-day kindergarten have to worry about shifting work schedules and finding childcare. The average annual cost of child care for a four-year old was more than $18,000 for in-home care and more than $26,000 for centerbased child care according to the 2017 Child Care Aware Report. That is a significant burden, forcing families to allocate a large portion of their income towards child care. If Coloradans vote to pass Imitative 93 in just a few weeks, an increase on income taxes for those earning more than $150,000 will raise $1.6 billion for preschool, kindergarten, special education, and more. But we need to make this commitment to our children regardless of what happens at the ballot box. An investment in our children is an investment in our economy and our future. The Economic Policy Institute and Committee for Economic Development found that there was a three dollar return for every dollar invested in early childhood education thanks to better grade retention rates and lower dropout rates later in life. Full-day kindergarten shouldn’t just be a luxury available to those who can afford it. We – as parents, educators, and education advocates – have a responsibility to ensure that every child has a strong foundational background that sets them up to succeed throughout their life..

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


LETTERS, OP-EDS, OPINIONS Continued from page 3 people to walk side-by-side. The study also found that crosswalks along residential streets were almost non-existent and in many cases the crossings lacked necessary markings and a lack of bus routes or stops. Proposition 110 will give local governments dedicated funds to improve multimodal transportation options. Community groups and leaders will have an opportunity to work closely with their elected officials to advocate for these local investments to be invested in improving poor infrastructure usually found in lower-income areas. With those improvement residents will gain the ability to move around their neighborhoods and cities or towns without a car and link lowincome people of all ages and abilities, regardless of whether they are traveling as drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, or public transportation riders. This ballot initiative is endorsed by hundreds of elected officials, both Republicans and Democrats, including Governor John Hickenlooper. What these supporters realize is that 110 is the only proposal that provides an immediate, adequate, and sustainable source of funding to fix the backlog of transportation infrastructure issues at state and local levels as well as to address multimodal projects that will improve the quality of life for all Coloradans. Equally as important this initiative will not commit the state to billions in debt without creating a source of repayment, and it won’t divert money from other programs, such as education, health care, and routine transportation maintenance. Further, it simply asks everyone to pay their fair share, including cyclists who want wider shoulders, drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles, and the nearly 40 million tourists who visit Colorado every year. Proposition 110 will dedicate 40 percent of the revenue to local projects in municipalities and counties. Local governments will have full flexibility in utilizing their share of the funding. This will allow communities to address their own unique needs, whether it is street repaving and pothole repair or wider shoulders to accommodate cyclists or improved intersection signals for better pedestrian safety. Proposition 110 recognizes the importance of regional projects, including rides for senior citizens and those with disabilities, bus services, and other important transportation investments that all Coloradans need. A vote for Proposition 110 is an investment in your community, your safety, and your quality of life.

Editor’s note: Gabriel Guillaume is president and CEO of LiveWell Colorado, a statewide nonprofit organization with a mission to increase access to healthy eating and active living by removing barriers that inequitably and disproportionately affect low-income communities and people of color.

The Khashoggi Affair: A Murder Mystery in Four Acts By Mel Gurtov Act 1 (Washington, DC): Upon learning of the disappearance and possible murder of the Saudi journalist and critic, Jamal Khashoggi, Pres. Trump expresses concern and vows to get to the bottom of the case. Turks say they have indisputable evidence Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Trump says he won’t use arms sales as leverage—it would hurt Raytheon et al.—and besides, Khashoggi isn’t a US citizen. Act 2 (Washington and Riyadh): Trump reports that in a phone conversation with Mohammed bin Salman, the “reformist” crown prince, Salman vigorously denies having anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance. Trump says “rogue killers” may have been responsible, implies Salman’s denials are believable. Meantime, many invitees to “Davos in the Desert” drop out, but US officials participate. Act 3 (Riyadh): Trump dispatches Mike Pompeo to “investigate” the case. He is warmly received by Salman, who touts the alliance and says the two countries will face the future together. “Absolutely,” Pompeo chimes in. They go into private session, where Pompeo apologizes for the “headache” this “incident” must be causing the king. The king smiles, says he appreciates Trump’s “helpful” comments, tells Pompeo he’s coming around to the “rogue killers” idea. Act 4 (Riyadh and Washington): Pompeo reports that the Saudis are cooperating in an investigation and are “adamant” that the royal court was not involved. Salman speaks to the Saudi people, sounds contrite, vows to pursue justice. (Meantime, nearly all the hit men have been sent out of the country; one has been executed.) Trump professes relief; Jared Kushner urges a refocus on “the Middle East peace plan.” Trump sends Salman warm regards, looks forward to overcoming this tragic affair. Congressional critics find little support for sanctions on Saudi Arabia. The US-Saudi alliance is saved,

Salman’s rule is saved, and Trump tells Kushner to “lie low for a while” with his friendship with the king. Next day, Trump lashes out at the Washington Post for convicting the king before any proof has been found. Editor’s note: Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

Help For The Homeless Is Needed and Possible Op-ed by Mike Sawaya Studies of homelessness in America reveal that lives of homeless people are almost completely disconnected from the lives of those who have some kind of home. They are treated by the rest of society as if they do not have a real identity – people do not even look them in the eye. People do not interact with them, indicating they have no social worth and treat them as wasted lives. This is true even for those who try to have some sort of gainful employment. When my grandfather had a store in Trinidad, Colorado during the Great Depression, he would give food to the “bums” or “hobos” as they were called. Anybody who came to his store and asked for food would be given a can of potted meat and crackers. My grandmother used to say there would be days when he gave away more than he took in. The transient bums and hobos must have had my grandfather on a list of those who would help them out. The bums would ride the rails, meaning that they would hop in freight trains to travel from place to place. Decades ago, the poor were apparently not treated as utterly different from the rest of society. When I was younger, I had a friend who was a former hobo and he would tell me stories of what it was like to live in a hobo camp. It was a story of disconnection from employment, but it did not sound as if they were forever relegated to a life separated from the rest of society. Something has happened to the way society looks at those who are not in the mainstream. It seems that most folks are comfortable looking the other way when they see homeless people. For African Americans, this might be something that feels familiar. Stereo typing based on appearance alone is a default that American society has apparently been comfortable with for centuries now. This may be something that humans in general, no matter

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


where they live, are prone to doing. Still, on the surface, it sure seems like Americans do it to an extreme. Americans certainly venerate wealth and status. We judge everyone by their relation to others, not by what we might consider to be their inner worth. Sociologists and historians can all give their explanation of why this is true. But, for us ordinary folk, we are stuck with the ugly truth that we don’t take care of the least among us. We don’t leave much of anything at the margins that the ultra-poor and down-and-out can take for their survival. In so many ways, it shows how we have failed as a Christian society and how we have become comfortable with amoral ethics. It is hard to see this in anything other than a negative light, just as it is hard to feel good about the way that we incarcerate Black and brown men in prison for felonies when so many of them clearly are not worthless and don’t need to be separated from society for our own safety. It seems we have let the socalled conservatives make the decision that we should treat the lesser among us as those of lesser worth. The ethic of Franklin Roosevelt gave way to the ethic of latter day “liberals” that welfare was bad and it should be rationed to those who have jobs. Better to have “working poor” than worthless poor, or so they would say. The only way to find places for those we have marginalized is to make a way to bring them closer to the mainstream. This is true of those who grew up in generational poverty, those who feel marginalized by their appearance, their color, those who are different in their sexual orientation, and those who have run afoul of the law, and so on. The principle is the same. The old Chinese philosophy said that prisons should be like way-stations, not places to warehouse people. The answers are not going to come easily. It seems that we have all gotten comfortable ignoring those of lesser means. Giving to charities is always a good thing, but we all know there are not enough resources in our churches and major charities to take care of the many folks who have become marginalized. We will all need to search our souls for our true principles that include others. We should insist that our political leaders address these issues in a meaningful way. Find places for the poor to live. Let all those men and boys out of prison who are not a threat to others. Treat the least among us as worthy human beings. I know it sounds too good to be true, but the truth is that this is the only way that things will get better for those outside the mainstream..

Intentional or Incompetence Voter Suppression

Where We Live By Wim Laven


n Oct. 15, early voting in Georgia started. I arrived at my polling place at 1:56 p.m. and completed voting at 4:19 p.m. It is reported that county officials were not prepared for the turnout. That’s what I observed and experienced. There were not enough barriers to queue the long line, we broiled and steamed in the humid outdoor heat while waiting, and there weren’t enough parking spots either. I counted more than a dozen cars parked illegally while looking for a spot before, I confess, I went to a nearby McDonalds. I’m in pretty good health, but I left dehydrated. I watched two people treated for symptoms of heat exhaustion. The first older gentleman collapsed while standing up. He was scary pale, and rescue workers were called to assist him. I cheered for him when they let him into the building to vote, it took about 20 minutes of supervised recovery, and I was worried he’d need to be hospitalized. First responders also assisted a woman suffering from the heat. Her blood pressure of 74/48 brought several of my line neighbors to tears. We talked about how crazy it was that only people over 75 were being let into the air conditioning early, that the conditions were just not suitable for so many different medical conditions. Umbrellas were brought out to protect people from the sun. There was no water available until another line neighbor retrieved a case of water bottles from her car. They were consumed in a matter of minutes, and I saw the look of disappointment on the faces of people who missed out. I reflected on the reports of waiting 6-8 hours in Florida in 2000. We imagined taking turns to fetch food; I fantasized ordering pizza to a polling line. It was broadly understood that if all the people who’d wanted to vote for Al Gore had been able to vote for him, that he’d have won the election. Along with many other irregularities, this means George W. Bush won the office of the President because of voter suppression. Election thieves must feel emboldened.

Once we were finally inside we were reminded of Georgia voting laws prohibiting the use of cell phones. We also saw the law requiring that people over 75 or with disabilities be advanced ahead of the line. One of my neighbors who identified her disability to a polling staffer asked, “How come it says that people with disabilities shouldn’t have to wait in line, but I was told I had to wait in line?” The worker’s response was that the person who told her that probably hadn’t had the training. I personally observed at least three individuals identify that they had disabilities told they could only receive accommodation if they were over 75 years old. You might stop at questioning the degree to which the right to vote is protected when you hear stories about long wait times and medical hardships incurred in exercising the right to vote. But in Georgia, in 2018, Brian Kemp is the Republican candidate for Governor, and he also has official oversight over Georgia’s elections in his role of Secretary of State. He did not acknowledge any conflict of interest, but I find it hard to see it as anything but corrupt opportunism. Cobb County, where we were, voted for Hillary Clinton. Any reduction in voter turnout at my polling place would be good for his chances. If it is intentional, then it is criminal, he is directly responsible for protecting equal voting access, and he hasn’t. If it is accidental, then is demonstrative proof of his rote incompetence. In 2018 we see many clear efforts to suppress voting demographics. In North Dakota P.O. boxes do not work as addresses for the purposes of voting. This is an effort to hand a Senate

seat to a Republican candidate, because the population whose votes will be taken away – Native Americans living on reservations – favors the Democrat candidate. In Georgia we’d already watched Brian Kemp freeze 53,000 vote registrations, which were predominantly African American voters—who favor the Democrat candidate and his political machine tried to slash black voter participation in a rural county but was foiled this summer. In Florida the website for online registrations was down (and not repaired) for the last two days of signing up. Online registration favors those who have poor mobility, like disabilities or those who don’t own cars, which end up being predominately Democrats. Black students in Texas were cut out and eventually only some allowed voting because their struggle became a national story. These are numbers games, this is dirty business, and it is figuratively and literally heart attack serious. Votes

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


are regularly being decided by small margins; small manipulations have huge consequences. The vote is the most sacred feature of a democracy, but more and more it seems that winning by any means is everything. People are standing in long lines to get their voices heard, and I watched the scene turn into a potential matter of life and death for the most vulnerable – democracy is not only for the most physically fit. We must hold those responsible for these maleficent tactics accountable, and it is all clearly intentional. I waited in line for two hours today, I waited because someone didn’t want it to be easy for me to vote, and I told them “No!” Now it’s your turn. . Editor’s note: Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice, worked on reconstruction in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami, is an instructor of Political Science and International Relations at Kennesaw State University, and on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association.

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

Night School

Malcolm D. Lee, the director behind Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins, Soul Men, The Best Man and more, knows how to incorporate the funny and seriousness into his films. Night School not only makes you laugh but gives you inspiration. In Soul Men, Sam Jackson’s Louis Hinds thinks he’s a washed-up entertainer. But Bernie Mac’s (rest in peace) Floyd Henderson perseveres to get Louis on board so they can make a comeback in music. When they worked together through their hilarious trials and tribulations, they recognized their true potential and had a comeback performance at the Apollo. Lee’s characters struggle with pain either in real time or in their pasts. But when they recognize their worth, they overcome the pain often in a hilarious way. Night School mixes the comedy stylings of Hart and Haddish into a class of funny all its own that you don’t want to miss. But the scenes with vomit, pubic hair and awkward butt-grabbing were unnecessary. The soundtrack is also on par, playing classics from T.I., and OutKast instead of today’s mumble rappers.

at the hands of a police officer, the uneasy balance between these two worlds is shattered as she’s thrust into a situation that seems insurmountable. A powerful and evocative coming of age story that explores Black familial life, race, social justice and identity, Tillman (Soul Food, Barbershop) once again elicits powerful performances from his actors that include Russell Hornsby, Regina Hall, Anthony Mackie and Issa Rae as a community activist who rallies the community to demand justice for Khalil. It’s a moving drama, which opens in the Black Garden Heights neighborhood with Starr’s father, Maverick (Hornsby), a reformed ex-gang member who once served time in prison giving his children The Talk, a lesson Black parents use to protect their children from the danger police can pose to their safety. Fast-forward and we meet Starr’s best friends Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter) and Maya (Megan Lawless) and her white boyfriend Chris (K. J. Apa) at the predominately white private school she attends 40 minutes away from her downtrodden Black neighborhood. It’s a complicated

The Hate U Give

world. Starr narrates at Williamson Prep School and forced to put on a façade, she hates herself for that. Color is carefully used to visually differentiate between the stark realities of these two worlds; warmer hues for the hood and blues to depict the colder brighter atmosphere of the mostly white world. On the weekends, Starr gets to hang out with her Black best friend in the hood and listen to hip hop, but everything changes when Khalil is killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop as he reaches for his hairbrush. The community is enraged and the tragedy forces Starr, who we discover lost another friend earlier to gang violence, to take action. Remarkably adept at shooting with a sympathetic and not too heavy

lll1/2 By Khaleel Herbert


eddy Walker (Kevin Hart) thinks education is for the birds and the day of his SAT test, he quits and drops out of high school. Years later, Teddy has the life he’s always dreamed of: he’s the top salesmen at a barbecue grill store, he has a beautiful fiancé (Megalyn Echikunwoke) who loves and respects him and he’s not living at home with his parents. But when the grill store goes up in flames (literally), Teddy struggles to find employment. His friend and financial adviser (Ben Schwartz) suggests that Teddy get his GED for a marketing position at a bank. Teddy reluctantly returns to his old high school with his former nemesis as the new principal. But with the help of a strict teacher (Tiffany Haddish), she enrolls him into her night school class. Night School is the lovechild of 1985’s The Breakfast Club with Hart’s Central Intelligence but without the action and The Rock (which isn’t all bad). Hart brings his classic aggravated side out while Haddish brings some of her wild-child side from last year’s Girls Trip and a heavy dose of no-sh** attitude. The cast includes Romany Malco, known for his work in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Think Like A Man, and rapper Fat Joe, who plays a convict attending night school via Skype.

llll By Samantha Ofole-Prince Director George Tillman Jr. Delivers a Heartbreaking Drama


t’s a tough book to read, and an even tougher film to watch. George Tillman Jr.’s screen adaptation of Angie Thomas’ book “The Hate U Give” is one of the most extraordinary films to be released this year. The film tells the story of Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a 16-yearold Black girl who is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly Black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. After witnessing the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith)

Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


hand, Tillman takes the audience through the constant challenges to Black family life – poverty, drugs, crime, and the prospect that an encounter with the police can have deadly consequences. He skillfully connects the fictional world of the movie to the long line of high profile police shootings of young Black people that have sparked several protests in recent years. “If you had stopped a white guy, wearing a suit in a white neighborhood, would you tell him to put his hands up or would you shoot first?” Starr, in one scene asks her uncle Carlos, a Black police officer who is played by Common. His answer is a reminder of the stereotypically racist view many cops have of young Black males as Carlos is forced to admit some hard truths about himself and his own bias. Despite its subject matter, the film isn’t all bleak. Tillman presents Starr’s parents as positive Black models. Her father Maverick is a reformed ex-gang member who grew up in Garden Heights and once served time in prison but is now a family man and valued member of the community who owns the community grocery store. Her mother, Lisa (Hall) is a nurse and of course there is Uncle Carlos the Black cop. Music is also a very important aspect of the film for the spirit of Tupac hovers over the story through the title and in the soundtrack. The Hate U Give is an emotional rollercoaster and a guaranteed tearjerker. Tillman, who is well known for his family and community centered portrayals of African-American life assembles a perfect cast and expertly executes a brilliant screen version of Thomas’ book.

Bad Times at the El Royale llll By Samantha Ofole-Prince


brilliant blend of mystery and murder, Bad Times at the El Royale is an engaging movie that follows seven shifty strangers who converge at a once thriving hotel over the course of one night. It’s a great setup, as the film begins with a mysterious flashback to 1958, where an anxious guest hastily buries a duffel bag beneath the floorboards of his room. Later that night, someone pays him a visit and shoots him dead. Who is he? Why was he there and what did he bury beneath the boards? Fast forward to 1969 and those questions are slowly revealed as we are introduced to several hotel guests who include Darlene Sweet (Cynthia


Erivo), a soul singer with money worries, Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), an old and rather demented priest who appears rather anxious and fidgety and Laramie Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm), a pompous traveling salesman with the gift of gab. There’s also Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson), a hippie with a bad attitude, Chris Hemsworth, an enigmatic cult leader called Billy Lee and the hotel resort’s 20-year-old sole employee, Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman) who is a bit of an odd character. Over the course of the evening, the plot thickens as we learn more about the guests and as more characters are slowly trickled in the tension builds. Each guest has a hidden agenda and a reason for passing through the ram shackled hotel, which was once a glorious resort, but has since fallen – like its visitors – into disrepute. Ominous and mysterious, it’s fun to watch the stellar ensemble play their parts. The charismatic Hamm, who plays the seedy Southern salesman, is entertaining with his rambling monologues. Father Flynn (Bridges) with his ill-fitting collar offers clues that he may not be who he claims to be and the first time we meet Miller (Pullman), it’s clear that he has plenty to hide. Although every one of the Thespis make a strong impression and truly immerse themselves in their individual scenes, the film’s shining star is Erivo (Broadway’s The Color Purple) who gets to showcase not just her acting but her outstanding vocal skills. With several guests, one strange host along with many more twists, turns and secrets, no one is entirely innocent in this stylishly violent thriller. Director and writer Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) perfectly stacks the deck with crazy and dangerously exciting characters and offers a fresh, unique movie laced with sinister humor.

It’s a complex and chaotic drama with a claustrophobic feel, which certainly hooks you in, as except for flashbacks to the characters’ backstories, all the action takes place at the El Royale hotel.

First Man

lll By Laurence Washington


efore we get started, let’s establish the fact that First Man is not a flagwaving patriotic movie. And it’s not a make Making America Great Again film either. It’s about a reluctant hero, who jeopardizes his marriage and his life, so his country can have the first moon landing. Through personal and on-the-job tragedies, astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) is thrust into the history as being the first man to walk upon the lunar surface. The film has received numerous complains that there’s not a scene with Armstrong planting the American flag on the lunar surface. Relax, there are plenty of patriotic moments, and the film just doesn’t hit you over the head with them. And for the record, audiences do see the American flag on the moon. Apollo 13 (‘95) and the Right Stuff (’83) are a couple of favorite Hollywood NASA space movies. And audiences might be expecting more of the same treatment as in the other films. You know a lot of bells and whistles, and maybe a speech or two. However, the filmmakers took another approach. First Man follows Armstrong’s person life, the Apollo

space program and all the space hardware that launched America into the 1960’s space race. The film stock is grainy by design. No Hollywood glitz, overt special effects and bombastic music. The film is shot from the astronaut’s perspective. Inside the space capsules Mercury, Gemini and finally Apollo, the thin walls squeak, contort, shake, rattle and roll during liftoff. They make the audience wonder why anyone would get inside one of those soup cans, which might fly apart at any moment during lunch, not to mention reentry. But there were those who piloted those crafts and paid with their lives. The film follows Armstrong’s seven years of sacrifices, deaths and failures. The filmmakers highlight the things the general public probably didn’t know, think, or even cared about at the time. The press and public wanted to see a space pioneer, which Armstrong was, but he was also flawed like the rest of us. The only difference is, when Armstrong went to work, his family and friends knew he might not come back home. There’s a heart-wrenching scene where Armstrong sits his two boys down and tells them that he might not

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be coming back from the moon. In fact, NASA halfway expected the mission to fail, but took a gamble to beat the Russians to the lunar surface. To the film’s credit, it does give screen time to the hundreds of protesters who thought the millions of dollars spent on the space race would be better spent at home on the poor and disenfranchised. That fact is punctuated by musician Gil Scott-Heron’s politically charged and poignant poem, “Whitey’s On The Moon.” But with that being said, First Man is a fresh perspective of an event that most people think they knew about.

COMMUNITY NOTES DFAF To Distribute Thanksgiving Baskets To Denver Area Families Denver Feed A Family Foundation (DFAF) will distribute Thanksgiving baskets to Denver area families on Saturday, Nov. 17 starting at 9 a.m. at the corner of Bruce Randolph and High Streets in Denver. The DFAF program continues the legacy of the late “Daddy” Bruce Randolph, who began donating thanksgiving meals to Denver families in 1964. To manage the distribution process, families must sign up in advance online at by Nov. 5. Approximately 1,000 volunteers are needed to help distribute the baskets. Volunteers, also, need to register online at the DFAF website. Tax deductible contributions can be made by check or by visiting For more information, call Epworth United Methodist Church at 303-2966287.


27th Annual Harambee Award Luncheon Slated For December The Denver Section - National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) will present the 27th annual Harambee Founder’s Day Award Luncheon in honor of NCNW Founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune on Dec. 1 at the Park Hill Golf Course (4141 E. 35th Ave.) in Denver. NCNW was founded in New York City in 1935; the Denver Section was founded in 1947. Harambee, which means “All Pull Together”, is a cultural celebration of the past, present, and future. This year’s theme, “A Call To Action, Planning for the Future,” will focus on the national initiatives of economic empower and financial literacy; entrepreneurship; education and STEAM; health; and public policy. To celebrate women entrepreneurs in the community, a Vendor’s Marketplace will offer creative and unique items for pre-holiday shopping. Tickets are $65 and may be purchased at Eventbrite or by calling 303296-4359. For vendor information, call Pamela Miller at 303-887-0693. For more information, call Dr. Claudette Sweet at 720-561-9905.

Girl Scouts Of Colorado Honors 2018 Women of Distinction Last month, Girl Scouts of Colorado honored the 2018 Women of Distinction during the Thin Mint Dinner at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. The 2018 Women of Distinction for the Denver metro-area were: Janine Davidson, President, Metropolitan State University of Denver; Ruth Fountain, community leader; Therese Ellery, Rose Community Foundation; Gretchen Hammer, Medicaid Director; Peggy E. Jennings, Eide Bailly LLP; Lisa Zúñiga Ramirez, Segall Bryant & Hamill; Meshach Rhoades, Armstrong Teasdale LLP; Terri Richardson, MD, Kaiser Permanente Colorado; Tinesha Ross, United Launch Alliance; Becky Takeda-Tinker, Ph.D., president and CEO of Colorado State UniversityGlobal Campus; and CEO of Beyond Campus Innovations, Inc. Nearly 450 gathered at the event, which was chaired by Women of Distinction Pat Cortez ’04, senior vice president, Wells Fargo Government and Community Relations Group; and Brook Kramer ’16 senior vice president, Wells Fargo Private Bank. The honorees were selected by a committee of their peers led by Selection Chair Tasha Jones ’15, director of marketing, Forest City. Since 1997 Girl Scouts of Colorado has recognized 436 Denver-area women. More than $2 million has been raised in 20 years by Women of Distinction for Girl Scout programs.

by Historic Denver at the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa on October 24. This historic Denver award was created to honor people who have made significant contributions over their lifetime to historic preservation in Denver. Together, former Denver Mayor Webb and former First Lady Wilma J. Webb have created a legacy of public service that has revitalized Denver, emphasizing civil rights, affordable housing, cultural heritage and equality in education. Mayor Webb oversaw the development of the Central Platte Valley, the rehabilitation and reuse of the Auditorium, and the preservation and revitalization of the Lower Downtown Historic District. He supported the creation of the innovation downtown historic district, which protects 43-high profile landmarks. He and Wilma are also responsible for the creation of the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. The library, which opened in 2003, preserves and showcases the many contributions of African Americans to Colorado and the West. As the First Lady of Denver, she chaired the Mayor’s Commission on Art, Culture and Film, and secured major art pieces for Denver.

Former Hempstead Mayor Bestowed With Street Naming

Ric Urrutia Photography

Wellington and Wilma Webb Honored by Historic Denver Former Denver Mayor Wellington E. and former Colorado State Representative Wilma J. Webb were recognized with the Keystone Award Denver Urban Spectrum — – November 2018


Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb attended and spoke at the village of Hempstead, New York's 375th year anniversary in September. Highlighting the event was the renaming of a street along Village Hall in honor of Long Island’s first Black mayor, James A. Garner. Nichols Court, which runs between Washington and Main streets, was dedicated as James A. Garner Way. In his remarks, Webb regarded Garner as his mentee, friend and supporter and congratulated Garner and his wife, Ruby.

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