Denver Urban Spectrum - October 2022

Page 1

Ed Dwight

Astronaut Trainee-turned-Sculptor is Out of this World with Talent…4 Talent… Mayoral Candidates Terrance Roberts and Leslie Herod Talk about their Why…8, 22 Breast Cancer Survivor Jackie Wesley Spotlights Survivors and Their Stories…10 Photo by David Bruce Stevens


Time... Volume 36

Number 7

October 2022

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alfonzo Porter MANAGING EDITOR Angelia D. McGowan COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNIST Barry Overton CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Angelia D. McGowan Alfonzo Porter Wayne Trujillo COLAB Tanya Ishikawa - Story Coordinator ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris OFFICE & PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Cecile Perrin GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix PHOTOGRAPHER Lens of Ansar

We won! Members of the Denver Urban Spectrum attended the Colorado Press Association conference and awards ceremony in September. The staff took home 12 awards for various categories including storytelling, advertising, and designs from 2021. More than that we had the opportunity to spend time with fellow journalists – veterans and newbies. All trying to navigate how journalism fits in today’s world of social media where everyone can truly tell their own story in their own way. Participating in the event was enlightening and exciting for us as we were preparing to finalize stories for this issue. This month writer Wayne Trujillo shares with us his interview with astronaut (trainee)-turned-sculptor Ed Dwight, who was recently featured on CBS Mornings with Gayle King. We also feature pieces highlighting a couple of well-known figures – Terrance Roberts and Rep. Leslie Herod – in Denver’s African American who are stepping into the Denver mayoral race. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we check in with 19-year cancer survivor Jackie Wesley about her passion for highlighting and supporting women on their journey with the disease. Understanding that cancer can impact us in other ways, we are underscoring awareness for prostate cancer. A takeaway from our conference is that we need more time to sit face-to-face and have simple conversations.


Angelia D. McGowan

DISTRIBUTION Lawrence A. James - Manager

DUS Managing Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR To give a Black person respect, a cop’s aggressive impulses towards Black people have to die. If the aggressive impulses die in a sense, the cop dies because he has to abandon his need to control. To be completely honest, Black people are still treated as though they are property in America. However, Blacks are not viewed as ordinary property. Blacks possess intellect and aspiration, making them a constant threat to white dominance. The boundaries of the physical plantation no longer exist, just as when they were physical, Blacks need constant reminding of where they are, and who demands compliance. Funny how we live in parallel worlds simultaneously where things change but remain the same. Life in America is as dys-

Life in America is Dysfunctional

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 2022 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 303292-6543 or visit the Web site at

Editor: What happened to the good ole days when the overseer or the “master” could come into the slave quarters and do whatever he pleases to the “slave” – his wife or children? Oh wait! The good ole days happened a little over a month ago when cops chased a young Black man who allegedly rolled through a stop sign, to his home, gained entry, and beat him down in front of his parents. Number 1: White people would never except this kind of treatment from police. Number 2: Over 400 years of beat downs, Black people have grown accustomed to maltreatment. A man’s home is his castle, but a castle affords no protection to a Black man and his family.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


functional as any relationship where a person is dominated by another who dispenses affection peppered with abuse. Colonized people are taught to love and worship everything white, while hating themselves. It’s not just whites who need psychotherapy, it’s for Blacks as well. Antonius Aurora, CO

Denver Urban Spectrum Department E-mail Addresses Denver Urban Spectrum Publisher Editor News & Information Advertising & Marketing

Soaring on the Wings of a Dream:

Ed Dwight’s Genius Takes Off in DEN Exhibition By Wayne Trujillo Sculptor Ed Dwight, Jr.


d Dwight, Jr. is accustomed to attention and accolades. His biography and artistry regularly appear on major media outlets, broadcast to international audiences. The latest toast to Dwight’s oeuvre takes place within a relatively brief drive from both his studio and residence, but will still play to an international audience of millions. Denver International Airport hosts the latest salute when the Mile High City’s international transportation portal honors the Denver-based artist later this month with an exhibit titled, “Soaring on the Wings of a Dream.” The airport, officially abbreviated as DEN, reported that more than 58 million passengers passed through the hub last year, which gives an idea of the sheer number that will gaze and marvel at Dwight’s preternatural ability to capture towering moments and characters in bronze. This latest homage comes on the heel of features in the Smithsonian Magazine, CBS Mornings and the New York Times. But, even those formidable podiums don’t have the size, scope and immersive reach of the DEN exhibit. The magnet of all this attention appeared surprisingly unaffected by his celebrity when he was interviewed at his Denver studio on a Sunday in mid-

September. Surrounded by bronze works of various sizes and subjects, the artist takes his success in stride. He’s obviously grateful for the encomiums, but he doesn’t allow them to inflate his ego or alter his priorities. And it’s obvious a supreme priority is family. Both his wife and daughter are present during parts of the interview; it’s obvious their presence, care and affection mean more to him than either his legend or the astounding artistry present in the studio. But, that legend and artistry can’t be ignored. Surrounded by statues of jazz titans and field hands, Dwight delves into the past, an improbable sequence of happenstance and stubborn diligence that conspired to produce one of America’s greatest artists. Frequently mentioned in media features on Dwight is a connected milestone and a lost opportunity – the milestone being Dwight’s achievement as the first Black astronaut candidate and the lost opportunity being that candidacy’s failure to launch Dwight – literally and figuratively – to the moon and back. However, Dwight’s unperturbed that he wasn’t an astronaut. Looking at the surrounding artistry, it’s not difficult to understand his indifference. His career, with or without NASA, was destined for stratospheric heights. Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


Media accounts fixating on Dwight’s missed opportunity have a point. The America of his childhood didn’t exactly encourage young Black children to venture past established societal parameters, let alone shoot for the stars. Born in Kansas City, Kansas 89 years ago, he expressed a dual interest in airplanes and art. He told the New York Times, “From the time I was a little itty-bitty kid, I was going to the airport every day. I began to study all the airplanes. This was my private fantasy.” However, in segregated Kansas City, that fantasy did indeed seem fantastical if not outright delusional. At least until he saw a newspaper photo of a captured Black pilot – and from his hometown no less. Armed with a role model, Dwight continued pursuing his dreams with the limited resources available to him. He mentions frequenting the library, pouring through flight manuals for recreation. This early discovery ultimately propelled his later decision to join the Air Force, which led to his historic astronaut candidacy. His extracurricular studies in the library also prepped him for the flight tests he took – and passed – years later in the Air Force. Art also occupied his nascent interests and activities. However, his father discouraged that less lucrative pursuit. Dwight compromised, enrolling in Kansas City Junior College as an engineering major. But, as he said, he applied his artistic talents to his engineering projects with imaginative architectural designs. With a glint in his eye, he relayed that he satisfied his father’s and his own wishes in a surreptitious and diplomatic swoop. Graduated from junior college, Dwight joined the Air Force and earned an engineering degree from Arizona State University with high honors. The combination of his smarts, education, abilities and aspirations positioned him as a perfect candidate to realize the

recounted Dwight. However, his commanders and colleagues didn’t confront or harass him. He has a simple but powerful explanation for their restraint. “I had a guy in the White House who had my back.” While the Kennedy administration promoted his candidacy, other lawmakers weren’t so enthusiastic. “The president had to sell me to Congress,” Dwight explained. Public sentiment was also mixed. The Black press and public cheered

Kennedy administration’s strategic ambition to send a Black man into space. While Dwight had the qualifications, his candidacy wasn’t a cakewalk. He recalled that while he received 1,500 fan letters a day, others tacitly opposed his candidacy. His white peers shrugged a cold shoulder when he entered Edwards Air Force Base Test School. He spent a lot of time alone. The consensus was that they’d “freeze him out, he’ll be gone in six weeks,”

his candidacy, but mainstream sentiment wasn’t so buoyant. He explained that groups within society weren’t keen on either Blacks or women in space. Plus, he added, he didn’t fit the ideal image of a heroic figure at the time – tall and white. In the embryonic space age, astronauts personified the concept of an otherworldly, celestial hero. Ultimately, Dwight didn’t make the final cut in 1963; after Continued on page 6










Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


Ed Dwight Continued from page 5

Photo by Wayne Trujillo

Photo by Wayne Trujillo

Kennedy’s assassination, Dwight’s historical candidacy – or at least any realistic expectation of its success in his estimation – collapsed. When asked if he has lingering disappointment of the denied candidacy, Dwight brushes off the past disappointment. “I understood the politics of it,” he simply stated. After the dashed hopes of soaring into space and literally moonwalking, Dwight rebounded. After leaving the Air Force, he entered the private workforce. A stint at IBM inadvertently led him to realize another childhood ambition – to become an artist. IBM’s staid business culture didn’t agree with Dwight’s imaginative wardrobe. Rather than frustrate Dwight’s sense of creativity, a boss encouraged him to transition into another role – designing company artwork. A series of entrepreneurial efforts, ranging from aviation to construction to restaurant services, followed. Dwight recounted that as a construction consultant, he welded together pieces of scrap metal into rudimentary but imaginative pieces. He displayed a scrapbook of photos of these early pieces. While they don’t approach the scale, grandeur or finesse of his later works, the inchoate talent is obvious. Dabbling in art awakened the dormant dream, but a pivDenver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


otal figure prodded Dwight to push it past infancy into the maturity that audiences around the globe know today. In the ‘70s, Colorado’s Lt. Gov. George Brown insisted Dwight fold his various business endeavors and pursue art full time. A half century later, he easily recalled Brown’s advice: “You’ve got to stop making all that money because there’s a calling for you.” Dwight not only gave up his various entrepreneurial exploits, he sculpted Brown along with tackling more than 50 other projects for the State of Colorado. “I was so excited,” he relayed. The pay wasn’t as exciting – he received a flat amount for those 50-plus projects – but that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm or ambition. The Colorado commissions introduced an unsuspecting public to Black contributions to the American West. Subsequent commissions from the National Park Service led to “huge projects,” including five memorials and an “Evolution of Jazz Series.” During the early artistic endeavors, Dwight – who recounted that he “never had an art lesson in my life” – made time to both earn a master’s in fine art and teach at the University of Denver. Over the decades, Dwight’s celebrity and fees have inflated to stunning levels. Even small pieces fetch thousands of dollars. He’s hobnobbed with Magic Johnson, Miles Davis and Berry Gordy (who decorates his home with Dwight’s sculptures). Dwight’s artistic contributions both amaze and educate about


Photo by Wayne Trujillo

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Photo by Wayne Trujillo

Black contributions to American and global culture. According to the University of Denver, their alumni’s work features “129 famous monuments, more than 18,000 gallery pieces and the artistic immortalization of the inauguration of America’s first Black president.” A scroll through his studio website highlights some of these works. In his studio, Dwight explained the precision involved in the Texas African American History Memorial outside that state’s capital building. The initial awe is of the work’s size and scale when he showed a photo of it and pointed out small figures dwarfed by the monument’s larger figures. But, the intricate detail of the supporting cast etched and recessed into the base may be even more impressive than the towering centerpiece. Dwight’s presence is all around Denver beyond his studio. In the ‘70s, at the dawn of his professional artistry, Brown and the State of Colorado Commissions initiated his quest to celebrate Black contributions. But, one work is arguably his greatest gift to the city and state he calls home. Last summer, two months before this interview, I stopped to marvel at the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in Denver’s City Park. At the time, I didn’t know its sculptor. I just gaped at it majesty, rising into the summer


sunset with a surrealistic grandeur. Onlookers appeared awestruck, reverently approaching the work to both kneel and snap photos. I took several of my own. It felt like a Louvre or Met moment. I had to snap those photos because words wouldn’t suffice. I was reminded of that experience in Dwight’s studio. His studio is not only a workspace – it’s an exhibit. Figures of the Underground Railroad, cotton pickers and anonymous cowboys share space alongside former U.S. President Barack Obama and music legends Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong. I’m struck by not only the statues in the studio. Dwight also dazzles. There’s an exuberance in both his step and words that deny his age and decades of experience. He flips through a series of poster-sized photos of his sculptures, narrating a backstory and description throughout. When describing his work, specifically the processes and results, Dwight sounds like an excited novitiate at his first showing. He certainly doesn’t assume the airs of a worldrenowned artist or a walking legend – the first Black astronaut candidate – feted on national television and in international publications. As we walk out of the studio following the interview, one thing stands out even in a two-hour visit that included numerous memorable exchanges, observations and displays. The most amazing work of art in that studio is the artist himself.. Editor’s note: For more information, visit



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Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


banking for good

The saga involving former gang leader, turned community activist, turned Denver mayoral hopeful, Terrance Roberts, appears to have again captured the attention of many across the Mile High City. The once notorious gangbanger spoke at an event at the Denver Press Club on September 8, looking like anything but a criminal. His pressed and polished presence was at once disarming while simultaneously concerning; leaving some perhaps questioning, is he for real? The two diametrically opposed images are reflective of the experiences of a vast number of young Black men across the city of Denver and the nation. Yet, for many Black men, his transformation and redemption hardly come as a surprise. An unlikely candidate for Denver mayor, Roberts now in his mid 40s, confesses that joining a gang is the biggest regret of his life. “I regret not using my intellect in more positive ways,” Roberts said “I regret the tears in my grandma’s eyes. I regret all the problems I caused my parents and regret how I represented the community that I love in such an ugly, negative and ultimately destructive way.” His association with the gang would land him in jail for 10 years. It was there that he decided to turn his life around. He emerged as an anti-gang activist founding a youth program called The Prodigal Son Initiative to steer young people in the community away from gang life. The program proved highly successful and was ultimately funded by the Department of Justice. Roberts began to hold a series of “Heal the Hood” rallies around the neighborhood that were well received by

The Improbable Candidate Former Gang Leader Turned Activist Terrance Roberts’ Quest to Become Denver’s Next Mayor By Alfonzo Porter political leaders and even began to win over wellpositioned funders. It was during one of these rallies that Roberts would shoot a rival gang member and end up facing another stint in jail. Ultimately, a jury found that Roberts acted in selfdefense. Despite his acquittal, he still faces considerable scrutiny and skepticism for his past affiliations. He said that his decision to run for mayor stems from his concern for his community and the city overall. His primary issues revolve around the city’s housing crisis, homelessness, youth violence, and the development of truly affordable housing. “I am worried about rising crime, the dramatic increase in the homeless population, and rapid development of what is billed as ‘affordable housing’ that no one can afford,” he said on Sept. 8. “I’m concerned that small businesses, the backbone of the local economy, are suffering. I am concerned about the massive amounts of resources being dedicated to policing and so little targeting housing.”

He feels confident that he can prevail in the election saying that he enjoys broad-based support for his campaign. “Currently, I am the frontrunner and have already secured the financial support needed to move my campaign forward,” Roberts said. One of his supporters is Theo Wilson, a local social justice advocate, poet and star of the History Channel program, “I Was There.” “Terrance is the epitome of a grassroots activist,” Wilson said. “As a matter of fact, he had to come from beneath the roots. He could have very easily been written off as a criminal— another statistic. I have literally watched him transform lives.” Wilson said that it is largely the reason that he supports Roberts’ candidacy. “I think that he understands how to lift up from the bottom. I believe that he has a better grasp on how to get things done,” he said. His participation in the Denver Press Club event comes on the heels of the release of a book by veteran reporter and

Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


author, Julian Rubinstein, chronicling how this unlikely story began to unfold. The book, titled “The Holly: Five Shots, One Gun, and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood,” was released earlier this year. The book is accompanied by a documentary, also by Rubinstein, under the same moniker. The striking duality of the two men, who on the surface, seem to have nothing in common has caused quite a stir among people of color. According to Rubinstein, many have accused him of using the plight of Roberts and the Black community to simply make money. “I first learned about Terrance through an article in the New York Times,” he said. “When I eventually met him, the media portrayals did not seem to match his persona. What I discovered was a multigenerational story of false narratives about the Black community.” Rubinstein admitted that initially he didn’t know whether he could trust Roberts. “I let him know that prior to launching the project that I would investigate him. What I found was a pattern of misrepresentation of Roberts and the Black community by the media,” Rubinstein said. Roberts admits that he grew up in a stable home, and was once an honor student whose future was bright when he decided at 12 or 13 years old to join the Bloods. “I never wanted to join a gang,” he said. “Being in that part of Park Hill, we were surrounded by Crips—another violent street gang. I could no longer walk around Park Hill safely. I began getting angry, grades fell off and the Bloods became my outlet, my community.” The intersection of 33rd Avenue and Holly Street, dubbed “The Holly,” became

the center of Blood activity. The same phenomena were occurring in cities across the nation in the wake of the crack epidemic and its collision with so-called “Gansta Rap.” “The music seemed to speak to the issues that were happening in our neighborhood. The idea of the gang just seemed a lot cooler than going to an afterschool program. It was a choice. Either you found it intimidating or invigorating,” he said. With the release of Rubinstein’s book, Roberts is again making headlines— though this time for drastically different reasons. “He continues to come up against extremely powerful interests,” Rubinstein said. The book asserts that police were actively working with gang members and that a local reporter covering his case was married to a federal agent. “We do need to have a proper conversation about

proper policing, not using active gang members or dangerous informants for police to get information,” Roberts said in an interview with the Denver Post. “We know that there’s going to be informants who need to be used to break up crime rings and solve cases. I’m not saying that you can’t use them at all. But an active gang member has no business getting paid with taxpayer dollars to act like he’s stopping the gang problem.” Rubinstein said that he began his research looking at conditions in the city in the 1950s. What he discovered was a vicious cycle of falsehoods aimed at undermining the truth about the Black community. “The coverage of the community was completely different from what I was witnessing. I became disillusioned with the coverage. I found it strange that no one covering the community and Terrance’s experiences

looked like the people in the community,” he said. As he continued to investigate Roberts’ case, he started to fear for his safety, he said. “The deeper I got the more dangerous it got,” Rubinstein said. “It was clear that I was getting into some very uncomfortable truths. The book, according to Rubinstein, takes a look at life in Park Hill over multiple generations and noticed that the same cycle continued to occur in the Northeast Denver neighborhood and many others just like it around the nation. “Black activism seemed to be under attack from all sides, from the system designed to disenfranchise the community, to police crackdowns and odd relationships between law enforcement and those who are known gang members,” he said. “You find federally funded anti-gang programs run by people who are actively

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


engaged in gang activity.” Yet, he said, none of these machinations ever see the light of day and revealing them can prove hazardous. “Most of these things are happening in the shadows, and that’s purposeful. I knew this story was going to highlight historical and political themes, but it really illuminates the problems with institutional racism, the criminal justice-industrial complex, and how Denver has become highly tied to both developers and federally funded criminal justice efforts — which are sometimes closely connected. It’s a new way to see the city,” he told the Denver Post. For Roberts, his quest to become Denver mayor may be an uphill battle and he admits that he continues to receive threats but remains undeterred. “I still fear for my safety in this,” he said. “But I’m determined to change my city. .

Striking a Chord for Breast Cancer Survivors By Angelia D. McGowan


ast month the United States marked the anniversary of 9/11. The horror of that day in 2001 was compounded exponentially for Jackie Wesley, who received a diagnosis of stage

Jackie Wesley

111B invasive carcinoma breast cancer over the telephone while she was in a grocery store. She was 39. She did not isolate herself. She reached out, turning her battle into an opportunity to support others. Eventually she established her nonprofit, Fighting Together to Save Lives. The organization’s goal is to be a vehicle of hope in the community and to help those diagnosed with resources in their

own a home to house your dreams. own your tomorrow. Homeownership isn’t just for now—it can build wealth and community for the future. Colorado Housing and Finance Authority’s (CHFA’s) mission is to strengthen Colorado by investing in affordable housing and community development. We believe everyone in Colorado should have the opportunity for housing stability and economic prosperity. We appreciate the opportunity to get to know you. Celize with her family, CHFA homeownership customer, Colorado Springs

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


everyday lives. On Oct. 15, the organization will host its 7th Annual Dancing with Breast Cancer Stars at the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton in Denver. The theme for the black-tie event is Violin for Victory. During the event, 12 women will be honored for their fight with and victory over breast cancer. It’s an opportunity for family and friends to honor those who have been through something horrific and to honor those they weren’t sure would be alive, according to Wesley. Over the years the nonprofit has hosted various forms of entertainment and activities, including comedy shows. This year, contemporary violinist Dominique Hammons and musical director Tony Exum Jr. will provide a musical backdrop as each woman walks through the ballroom as her story is told. More than 50 women have been honored since the event was established. They do not come to her through written guidelines and criteria. People who know her story and her mission send women to her. The organization helps with any number of items from rent, food, rides to the doctor and plane tickets. When one family is back on their feet, that family helps the next family in need. She understands that a breast cancer “diagnosis creates a sound in our spirit. Each string played creates a sound, just as those infamous words a woman or man hears… ‘you have breast cancer.’ Each of these ladies has a sound that has created their journey in their lives,”says Wesley, who from the age of 15 to 35 experienced multiple illnesses, namely early stages of uterine cancer requiring a complete hysterectomy. Wesley may have started on the journey a long time ago, but her passion for the work is as strong as ever. Her website reads: “My spiritual journey began when God instructed me

Jackie Wesley and breast cancer survivors

Gomez Howard Group Fueled by passion. Driven by purpose.

to help others fight for their life and to tell my story, and through telling that story is when Fighting Together To Save Lives was born. My story was told though a stage play: Living with Breast Cancer through Christ.” Wesley features a piece from the play in the form of a monologue each year at the annual event. More than 30 people volunteer to make this event a reality for survivors and their loved ones. It has grown from its first year where 80 people attended. They are expecting 500 at this year’s event. VIP tickets include private reception, pictures with Jackie Wesley and husband Bernard Wesley

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the artist, and early entrance into the ballroom. General admission tickets include a three-course meal, the opportunity to witness these beautiful breast cancer survivors, and a night of dancing. Through her year-round outreach, she advocates for women to educate themselves. “Go to the doctor with a notebook,” says Wesley, who takes her husband and son with her when she goes to the doctor. She also asks for everyone to listen to their body. Paying attention to that little something right now can help avoid major issues later. “It doesn’t take but a second for a life to change,” says the 19year breast cancer survivor and true believer that early detection saves lives.. Editor’s note: For more information on Fighting Together to Save Lives, visit or call 303-704-

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


Barack and Michelle Obama Revel in ‘Family Reunion’ in Return to White House for Official Portrait Reveal By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with permission from Denver Weekly News/National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)

Former President Barack Obama declared a family reunion at the White House on Wednesday, Sept. 7, as official portraits of him and former First Lady Michelle Obama were unveiled during a ceremony in the East Room. “It’s great to be back,” Obama declared in a ceremony that included several officials and staffers from his administration. Former presidents and first ladies usually have their official White House portraits unveiled by their successors. However, former President Donald Trump spent much of his presidency attempting to erase Obama’s legacy and never held the traditional ceremony. “Welcome home,” President Joe Biden declared to the Obamas. Biden, of course, served as Obama’s vice president for two terms beginning in 2008. “Believe it or not, it is still a bit odd for me to stand in this historic space, see this big, beautiful painting staring back at me,” Michelle Obama remarked about the portraits. The former first lady’s portrait was painted by Sharon

“When future generations see these portraits by Robert McCurdy and Sharon Sprung in the White House, I hope they get a better, honest sense of who Michelle and I were. And I hope they leave with a deeper understanding that if we could make it, they can do remarkable things, too.” -President Barack Obama

Sprung, while Robert McCurdy painted the former president. “Growing up on Euclid Avenue, I never could have imagined that any of this would be part of my story, but even if it’s all still a bit awkward for me, I do recognize why moments like these are important, why all of this is absolutely necessary,” Obama insisted. “Traditions like this matter, not just for those of us who hold these positions but for everyone participating in and watching our democracy.” She continued, “You see the people, they make their voices heard with their vote. We hold an inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power.

Those of us lucky enough to serve work, as Barack said, as hard as we can for as long as we can, as long as the people choose to keep us here. And once our time is up, we move on, and all that remains in this hallowed place are our good efforts and these portraits. “Portraits that connect our history to the present day. Portraits that hang here as history continues to be made. So, for me, this day is not just about what has happened. It’s also about what could happen because a girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolley Madison. “She was never supposed to live in this house, and she defi

nitely wasn’t supposed to serve as first lady.” Barack Obama spoke of the people he and Biden had worked with and fondly recalled his time in the White House. “When people ask me what I miss most about the White House years, it is not Air Force One that I talk about, although I miss Air Force One,” Obama reflected. “It’s the chance that I had to stand shoulder to shoulder with all of you, to have a chance to witness so many talented, selfless, idealistic, good people working tirelessly every day to make the world better.” The former president continued, “And for eight years and even longer for some of you, I drew on your energy and your dedication and your goodness. You inspired me, and I never wanted to disappoint you. “And I tried to reflect the same heart and character that you displayed every day. Even during the toughest times, it was all of you that kept me going. So, it’s good to be back to have a chance to see all of you and to once again say thank you.”.

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Groundbreaking CNN Anchor Bernard Shaw Dies at 82 By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with permission from Denver Weekly News/National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)


roundbreaking and original CNN anchor Bernard Shaw, 82, died of pneumonia on Sept. 7. As CNN’s first chief anchor when the network launched in 1980, Shaw immediately showed why he was the man for the job. When John Hinckley Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan, Press Secretary James Brady also took a bullet to the head from the would-be assassin. Clamoring to break the news, anchors across the nation and on CNN rushed to proclaim Brady’s death. Shaw refused to join the misguided bandwagon. “When conversing with Shaw about why he was the only anchor covering the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan to not report that Brady was dead, Shaw said that he didn’t go on air with the information because he didn’t have confirmation with ‘anyone in the room,’” CNN analyst Jack Cafferty said during a Jan. 4, 2006, spot on the network’s “The Situation Room.” “Shaw didn’t report the erroneous information when all the network anchors did,” Cafferty recalled. Shaw retired from CNN after more than 20 years on Feb. 28, 2001. At CNN, he reported on some of his generation’s most memorable news stories. Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


CNN anchor emeritus Bernard Shaw accepts the 2007 NABJ Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism, August 2007, at the National Association of Black Journalists Annual Convention and Career Fair in Las Vegas, Nevada. He anchored coverage of the infamous Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, the first Gulf War in Baghdad in 1991, and the 2000 presidential election that featured Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Shaw attended the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1963 to 1968. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, including stints in Hawaii and at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C., where in 1962, he was a “Message Center” specialist as a Corporal, E-4. He enjoyed a passionate interest in the print media, clipping articles from newspapers, often traveling on weekends to Washington, D.C. (“Big W”). Shaw began his broadcasting career as an anchor and reporter for WNUS in Chicago. He cultivated an acquaintance with Walter Cronkite and had an interest in baseball. According to the African American Registry, Shaw then worked as a reporter for the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company in Chicago, moving

later to Washington as the White House correspondent. He served as a correspondent in the Washington bureau of CBS News from 1971 to 1977. In 1977, he moved to ABC News as a Latin American correspondent and bureau chief before becoming the Capitol Hill senior correspondent. He left ABC in 1980 to move to CNN as its principal anchor. The African American Registry noted that most remember Shaw’s question to Democratic U.S. Presidential Candidate Michael Dukakis at his second presidential debate with George H. W. Bush during the 1988 election, which Shaw moderated. Armed with the knowledge that Dukakis opposed the death penalty, Shaw asked Dukakis if he would support an irrevocable death penalty for a man who hypothetically raped and murdered Dukakis’s wife. “Dukakis responded that he would not; some critics felt he framed his response too legalistically and logically and did not address it sufficiently personally. Other critics thought the question inflammatory and unwarranted at a presidential debate,” researchers at the registry reported. “CNN’s beloved anchor and colleague, Bernard Shaw, passed away yesterday at 82. Bernie was a CNN original and was our Washington anchor when we launched on June 1, 1980,” Chris Licht, CNN chairman and CEO said in a statement. “He was our lead anchor for the next 20 years, from anchoring coverage of presidential elections to his iconic coverage of the First Gulf War live from Baghdad in 1991. Even after he left CNN, Bernie remained a close member of our CNN family, providing our viewers with context about historical events as recently as last year. The condolences of all of us at CNN go out to his wife Linda and his children.”

Shaw’s family said they would schedule a public memorial later, but they had plans for a private funeral immediately following his death. “In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Bernard Shaw Scholarship Fund at the University of Chicago. The Shaw family requests complete privacy at this time,” the family said in their statement provided by former CNN CEO Tom Johnson..

Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


A Break Before a Breakdown

Kate Pitones

Denver Student Hopes Wellness Room Soothes Youth Mental Health Crisis By Amanda Horvath, Rocky Mountain PBS

“Getting back up, that’s the hardest part.” Kate Pitones is part of the generation experiencing one of the greatest mental health crises ever in Colorado. She recently started her sophomore year of high school at Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy in Denver. At 15 years old she has lived through unprecedented times as a teenager and sometimes struggles with her mental health.

Jessica Hawks, Ph.D.

“It’s okay for it to weigh you down. You just can’t let it stop you completely,” she told Rocky Mountain PBS when speaking about what she has learned about mental health care in the last few years. And she is not alone in her struggles. “We have been experiencing chronic stress across society for the last almost three years now, and chronic stress has a real significant impact and a long standing impact on our mental health over time,” said Jessica Hawks, Ph.D., a clinical child and

adolescent psychologist and the clinical director of the Pediatric Mental Health Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Hawks and other mental health professionals around Colorado are waiving the red flag, saying the state of youth mental health is still getting worse, not better. “It’s pretty alarming,” she said. “Since the beginning of the pandemic to now, we’ve seen a doubling … in the rates of mental health concerns for youth.”

Children’s Hospital Colorado first sounded the alarm in May of 2021 declaring a “state of emergency” for youth mental health. The goal was to really capture the attention of Coloradans and policy makers and communicate the true severity of what kids were going through. Comparing numbers from the beginning of 2019 to the beginning of 2022, Children’s Hospital saw a 103% increase in the number of patients who arrived in a crisis. In just the last year, the hospital saw a 23% increase of patients in crisis. While these numbers are alarming, Hawks said there is another statistic that worries her more. “Only about 22% of youth in the state of Colorado that need mental health services because of the significance of their mental health concerns are actually receiving the treatment that they need,” said Hawks.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


For Pitones those numbers track in her world. “There’s at least one or two people in a friend group that … they have some type of depression or anxiety or, like, at least a plan of suicide,” said Pitones. She has faced some mental health challenges of her own, which started when she was having trouble with physical health. She was dealing with chronic back pain at a young age with a family history of arthritis hitting at the same time as a growth spurt. “So I had to go to Children’s Hospital to get some … physical therapy. And I also had a therapist to talk to there. So it’s just like, ‘Why is your mental health declining?’ Because I can’t do this. I can’t, you know, play my regular sports. I cannot play volleyball or soccer anymore because everything hurts,” Pitones explained to her therapist. She said through the work with her therapist, Pitones realized how to change that mindset of “I can’t” to be less restrictive and celebrate what she can still do. “I feel more energized to, like, actually get outside and try something even though I know it’s going to hurt, but it’s going to make me better,” said Pitones. Outside of her personal journey, this school year she is working on a project to help her peers. Pitones is on the Youth Action Board with Children’s Hospital Colorado mental health institute. This board consists of nearly 20 teens across the Denver-metro area who are interested in raising awareness and de-stigmatizing mental health issues. Pitones became involved last year and helped come up with plans to build a “wellness room” inside her school. “It’s like a decompression space where, like, students can go in and … just relax and take a break,” said Pitones, “because school day is pretty long.”

Kate spends time with her brother on the computer

The wellness room will be built in a space in the school’s library and include items like bean bag chairs and sound proof headphones. The hope is it becomes a place to take a break and keep students from completely breaking down. “As best as you can try to get through the day without, like, having the idea of ‘Oh, my God, I’m so overwhelmed. I don’t think I’m going to make it through this day because I’m going to have, like, a mental breakdown,’” Pitones explained. This wellness room won’t be up and running until late October or November because they weren’t able to work on it this summer. However, Pitones is excited for students to use it and has heard they are eagerly waiting for it be open. “The point is you can decompress and go back into class with a better mindset and not just ditch the entire class and get a failing grade for the day in that class,” she said. For the beginning of the school year, especially this year, kids will have to deal with an increasing amount of stress in other ways. “We consistently see increases in mental health concerns at this point in the school year, and that’s because the return to school is just inherently stressful for everybody. There’s going to be more academic pressures. You’re around your peer group, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation,” Hawks explained.

The other hurdle students will face this year is increasing expectations to “return to normal” when so much growth and development was missed. Outside of academic setbacks, especially depending on age, students missed out on socialization and the structure of inperson learning. “If you think about the young kids in school for second, third grade – their first couple of years in grade school was completely unlike anything any of us have ever experienced. So, they’re actually reentering school almost for the first time,” said Hawks. While stopping stressors isn’t always achievable, Hawks emphasized youth and parents there are actionable things they can do to truly make a difference and even save a life. One of the most important things that youth should remember when they’re going back to school is to get back to the basics. It’s amazing what a difference all the basic health, hygiene sorts of things can have on our mental health,” said Hawks. “The number one thing that adults can do to support their kids is to check in with them regularly and spend quality time together.” In her work, Hawks said she often works with parents and their children in tandem on how to improve mental health and develop healthy coping skills. She said it’s common for parents to feel guilt over their child’s depression, anxiety or

Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


mental illness. She encourages parents to not focus on the guilt but on how they can help moving forward. “The really great thing about youth is that they are profoundly, positively impacted by the adults in their life,” said Hawks. “Pay attention to your kid, and ask them, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ And actually listen to what they’re saying and then figure out a plan. If your child is struggling, get them the support that they need.” For Pitones, she wants to tell kids to watch out for themselves and each other and know help is out there. She shared a story of when a friend was showing signs of concerning behavior- ditching class, not eating, hanging out with “the bad crowd” as she put it. Pitones and her friends talked to this girl and found out she had plans to harm herself. That’s when they made the hard decision to tell a teacher. “They had her pulled into the school counselor’s office, and it was kind of a scary moment because it was, like, ‘Is she going to be mad at us for getting her that help?’” Pitones explained. “No, she was very relieved with us for us doing that.” Pitones said that friend was able to find a therapist and just spoke to her recently. She is doing well and happily welcomed a new puppy with her family. Recent years have taught Pitones a lot about mental health, but most importantly the power of talking about the struggles and helping to take away the stigma of asking for help. “At least talking about it or making it known … that you’re there for them, that’s a very big help,” said Pitones. “They’re not going to be as afraid to reach out.”. Editor’s note: This story is brought to you by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative.

Our Struggle for Justice is Indeed at Stake with the Next Election

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It seems that at every election we hear that the current one is the most pivotal and important to our future, that so much is at stake and our participation is vital to securing our community’s wellbeing and opportunity. As Senator Michael Bennet pointed out at a recent event with African American women, it is true that each successive election is the most important and pivotal especially for communities of color and the most vulnerable in our society. As we know only too well and the Senator emphasized, with the gains we have made as African Americans throughout our history in America, from Reconstruction through the Civil Rights Movement and right past the monumental and historic election of Barack Obama as the first African American President, our progress is real but extremely fragile and increasingly vulnerable to erosion and outright erasure. Nearly every issue that has defined our struggle for justice and equity for the past decades is still at stake in 2022. Senator Bennet identified a few of those at the forefront - growing income inequality, mass incarceration, increasing incidents of police violence and hate crimes perpetrated against African Americans and people of color, educational and health dispar-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


ities, immigration reform, access to affordable housing and higher education, and the assault on fundamental constitutional rights such as a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions without government intrusion and of course, voting rights which affect all of these issues very directly. We also know from prior elections that when races are tight and competitive, our votes often make the difference. So once again, we find ourselves on the precipice of a critically important election this November 8th. With our strong support, Senator Michael Bennet can win reelection and with his proven track record on issues important to the African American community and people of color, continue to be an advocate for our communities’ needs in Washington. He needs our votes and support, and we need him there fighting on our behalf. Please join us in voting to reelect Senator Michael Bennet to the US Senate and spread the word that this is a critically important election and that our votes do matter! Hon. Allegra “Happy” Haynes Chair African Americans Supporting Bennet for US Senate

The HOPE Center Board of Directors Appoints Cassandra Johnson as President & Chief Executive Officer Johnson brings over two decades of early childhood education experience and a vision for growth


HOPE Center, one of the city’s oldest early childhood education preschools serving and impacting children of color in northeast Denver, has announced that the board of directors appointed Cassandra Johnson as president and chief executive officer. Johnson enters her new role with a wealth of experience, having been with the Hope Center for more than 25 years, serving as the chief operating officer, and most recently, as interim president and chief executive officer since May 2022. ”We are pleased that Cassandra will lead the HOPE Center in its critical mission, which has transformed the lives of so many of our youngest pupils and those in our community who are often marginalized,” said Kevin Robinson, HOPE Center board chair. “Cassandra’s more than two decades with the organization only enhances the board’s confidence that the future is bright and will be focused on enriching the legacy of the HOPE Center in the Denver community and beyond.” Throughout the years with the HOPE Center, Johnson said she has cherished the opportunity to welcome every child and their families, knowing they will receive a high-quality and

culturally rich early childhood learning experience. She looks forward to continuing the center’s rich legacy of building the foundation for children to become lifelong learners and the future of the HOPE Center for the next 60 years. “The mission of Hope Center pumps through my veins. It is more than an organization; it’s a living pillar of HOPE for so many individuals, children, families, and our Denver community,” she said. “Our roots are strong, as the Hope Center was founded on equity, and we ensure our programs and services uphold the highest level of quality and excellence!” Johnson has a bachelor of science degree in management and an MBA. Additionally, she holds a Level VI Credential, is director qualified, and received a graduate certificate in early care and education leadership from the University of Denver. Participating in the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program awakened her passion for learning about the science and research of children’s brain development during the first critical five years of life and their social-emotional and cognitive development. Johnson is a founding member and affiliate president for the National Black Child Development Institute Denver Chapter and a founding member of the Righteous Rage Institute for

Healing and Social Justice. She is a mother of three who attended the Hope Center and has a granddaughter who recently enrolled..

About HOPE Center The HOPE Center is an institution for early childhood education and vocational education for adults with disabilities, founded in 1962 with six children and two teachers. Through its programs, the Hope Center aims to build the foundation for children to grow and adults to thrive. Today, the nationally recognized center has a yearly enrollment of more than 200 children and 35 adults, with an average staff of 30. The HOPE Center has received numerous awards for its curriculum and high-quality learning experiences. The HOPE Center is a strong community advocate for education equity and equality in the communities served, including northeast Denver and Park Hill. For more information, visit


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Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022



Montview Hosts Distinguished Lectureship with Dr. Jemar Tisby Montview Presbyterian Church will host its annual Distinguished Lectureship on Nov. 5 and 6. This is a free event and open to the public. This year’s lecturer is Jemar Tisby Ph.D., the author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Color of

Compromise: The Truth about the Church’s Complicity in

Racism.” Other books include “How to Fight Racism” and “How to Fight Racism: Young Reader’s Edition.” Tisby is the co-host of the “Pass the Mic” podcast. He speaks nationwide on racial justice, U.S. history and Christianity. The lectureship features two workshops: How to Fight Racism and The Church’s Complicity in Racism. Montview Presbyterian Church is located at 1980 Dahlia St.

For more information visit or call 303-355-1651.

Nominations Sought for African American High School Females EspeciallyMe is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of African American young ladies recognizes their work in the community. Award nominations are open for African American high school seniors who exemplify personal, academic, and social selfvalue. Nominees must demonstrate these attributes and display them in the community. In 500 words or less, nominators must explain how the nominee meets these criteria. The deadline for all nominations is Nov. 11. Awardees will be recognized in December. EspeciallyMe has hosted The EspeciallyMe Conference since 1999 and to date, has served close to 15,000 participants and awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships. For more information and to download the nomination form, visit

CHIC Celebrates Five Years of ServingWomen Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities (CHIC), a nonprofit organization is dedicated to building women’s economic, social, and cultural capital. To celebrate five years, CHIC is inviting the community to The Coloring Book- Sharing the Colors of Our Stories Gala on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at the Sturm Grand Pavilion Ballroom (located inside the Denver Art Museum) for an evening of fun and inspiration with a glimpse into CHIC’ World through art, colors and storytelling. The event will be capped off with a Night at the Museum at The Denver Art Museum! For more information, call Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities (CHIC) at 303-366-9312 or visit Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


Getting Your Family in The Black When It Comes to Home Ownership By Barry Overton

When you hear about companies that are declining or successful, you hear about their business either being in the red or in the black. Being in the black is where you want your company to be. It means that your business is profitable. It’s thriving and it’s positioned to be able to expand for further growth. As African Americans, it’s important that we also look at home ownership in much the same way. Over the last decade there has been a decline in African American home ownership in the US. A recent study showed that 43.4% of African Americans are homeowners. Approximately 10 years ago we were at 44.2%. We are currently almost 30% lower than white Americans as homeowners, who are at 72.1%. Becoming a homeowner has been synonymous with the American dream and still we spend far too much time only dreaming and not looking at ways to turn the dream into a reality. Through this article, we will discuss the importance of home ownership and how it will help build a financial legacy as well as eventually getting you to the dream home that you’ve always desired. The important thing to remember is your first home is just that, the first. It’s a start. It’s a way of getting yourself into the home

buying game versus standing on the sideline as a renter. Some important facts to remember when considering becoming a homeowner are as follows. Wealth Building: A recent US bureau census report revealed that the biggest contributor to wealth in our country is home ownership. This is because of equity. Take this example, one person can rent for five years while another purchases and owns for five years. They both spend the exact same amount for rent as the other does for mortgage payment. The person that is paying a mortgage is gaining equity on a property that increases in value. Equity creates leverage that allows you to be able to purchase other homes, purchase investment properties, or invest in other ventures or businesses. Renting is the equivalent of pouring money down a drain. Many multimillionaires attribute their wealth to buying real estate. And for many of them, it just started with the first home. Stability: An important aspect of being a homeowner is stability. In most cases, you can get a 30-year fixed rate on your mortgage, and you know exactly what your mortgage payment is going to be year after year. And typically, that payment does not change, but on the other side of being a renter, not only does the rent have the potential to change at the end of every lease, depending on who the landlord is, if they decide to sell the property,

it could put you in a position where all of a sudden you were looking for a new place to live. Tax Credits: Another huge benefit are the tax credits. This is something you would have to speak to your accountant about, but depending on the current tax laws, the interest that you pay on your property can be tax deductible. This can end up saving you thousands of dollars per year that you’re paying in taxes. Freedom: Another aspect of home-ownership that is always nice is the freedom to do with the property as you please. If you want to paint the walls of certain color or grow certain bushes or trees in the yard, there’s no one to ask, because you are the owner. But as a renter, permission is often needed and, in many cases, denied. So having the freedom to make a home, your home goes a long way in regards to your own happiness. Legacy: And finally, being able to build a legacy out of your first home that may grow into other homes or multiple homes, or even multiple properties that become investment opportunities is an important aspect of growing a real estate portfolio. While the Denver market over the past several years has been difficult to get into as a buyer, the timing couldn’t be more perfect than it is right now. With special grant programs and down payment assistance programs, along with getting better prices for housing, the time for a buyer to strike is now. For more information, please feel free to reach out to me or any other real estate professional to answer any questions that you may have.. Editor’s note: Barry Overton is a licensed Real Estate eXp Realty, LLC. He has been an agent since 2001 and started investing in real estate in 1996. For more information, email: barrysellsdenver@ or call 303-668-5433.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


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cials together, she developed and successfully championed the Caring For Denver ballot initiative. Caring For Denver addresses mental health and substance misuse prevention, treatment, and recovery. Herod currently leads the organization and, in just a short period of time, $83 million has been distributed to 188 community organizations to get people the help they desperately need. Working with both community members and law enforcement, Herod also launched a successful alternative policing program that deploys trained mental health workers and paramedics to respond to 911 calls involving mental health crises, homelessness and substance misuse.The program ensures that people receive the health care they need instead of entering the criminal justice system. Recent studies show that the program has had a positive effect on reducing crime rates in Denver. “Leslie Herod has spent her entire career bringing groups of people together to collaborate and

Leslie Herod Launches Campaign for Denver Mayor Herod pledges to bring change and meaningful results to city issues

Community leader, social justice reform advocate and state representative for House District 8, Leslie Herod, launched her campaign for Mayor of Denver. Herod vowed to refrain from a businessas-usual approach, and instead focus on bringing people together to meet today’s challenges and create real results. “I’m running for mayor for a very simple reason — our city is struggling as it changes and I have the record of achievements and experience to chart a new path forward for Denver,” said Leslie

Herod. “I’ve always put results over politics, bringing meaningful change for people. As Denver’s first female mayor, I will focus on addressing the day-to-day issues impacting our lives: affordable housing, safer streets for our families, and the homelessness crisis. Denver is ready for a mayor who will get things done; and I’m ready to meet that moment.” Herod has dedicated her life to producing results on important issues to people throughout Colorado. After gathering mental health professionals and city offi-

solve the most complex problems in our community. She creates real results and concrete change,” said Dottie Lamm, Leslie for Mayor treasurer and former first lady of Colorado. “Leslie is not a business as usual candidate. She is exactly what Denver needs now.” From her early childhood, Herod learned the value of public service and sacrifice. Her mother was an officer in the Army Nurse Corps and raised Herod as a single parent on Army bases around the world. In grade school, she would meet the people that she would eventually call her bonus parents. Herod’s father was a law enforcement officer who further entrenched her belief that serving the public is a noble calling. Herod’s mother was an executive with a Colorado Springs utility company. All of her parents’ examples motivated Herod to run for office and help improve the lives of people in her community. Having broken barriers by becoming the first LGBTQ+ Black Continued on next page

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Why Is Prostate Cancer Still the Leading Cancer in Men? Prostate cancer is still the leading cancer in American men. Today over 3.1 million men are living with a diagnosis. In 2022, more than 268,000 men will find out they have it – and a projected 34,500 will die as a result. This is an aggressive growth from the 2021 levels of approximately 192,000 new diagnoses with 33,330 fatalities according to the American Cancer Society. “We want all men to be aware of their risk level for prostate cancer, and to have an open dialogue with their healthcare provider about getting an exam. High-risk individuals should start talking to their doctor about getting screened at age 40, normal-risk men at 45,” said Ana FadichTomsic, MPH, CHES, vice president of Men’s Health Network (MHN). Men between the ages of 55 and 84 are at the highest risk for developing prostate cancer, with the most frequently diagnosed ages being 65 to 74. High-risk groups include non-Hispanic Black men, those with a family history of prostate cancer, and men who have been exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. Extremely concerning is the disproportionate number of Black men who are diagnosed, and have worse health outcomes. “While prostate cancer affects men of all races and ethnicities, African American men are approximately 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed and at least twice as likely to die from it,” said Dr. Jean Bonhomme, MD, MPH, founder and chairman, National Black Men’s Health Network. “Delayed diagnosis, inadequate public awareness and lack of connection to the health care system are contrib-

uting factors to this unfortunate outcome.” Early detections of prostate cancer through screenings like the Prostate-Specific Antigen test (PSA) and digital rectal exams (DRE) have significantly increased the survival rate and early detection rate, leading to better outcomes for men and families. “On the bright side, there are new urine screening methods that help doctors decide whether a prostate biopsy is really needed,” commented Dr. Bonhomme. “Also, radiation therapy for prostate cancer has improved dramatically over the past 10 years with much more precise targeting and fewer complications.” MHN encourages men to discuss prostate cancer screening options with a doctor. Health professionals are optimistic about the advancement in technology leading to better outcomes for men with prostate cancer. “Thanks to modern therapies, when caught early, prostate cancer can be successfully treated close to 95 percent of the time – with low risk of long-term side effects,” says MHN’s Senior Science Advisor Salvatore J. Giorgianni, Jr., PharmD. Despite the achievements of modern medicine, an estimated 12.6 percent of men will have prostate cancer in their lifetime. The rate of new cases has in recent years begun rising – for the first time since 1995. Since 2014 there has been a 2.6% increase in cases according to the National Cancer Institute. “Prostate health continues to be a very important part of male wellness, particularly for older men,” says Giorgianni. Men need to become knowledgeable about the signs of prostate problems, particularly prostate cancer, and then do the most important thing and ‘manup’ by contacting a health care provider to ‘Get It Checked.’ If you don’t have a provider, ask family and friends to recommend one.”

A common misconception is that prostate cancer only affects men very late in life. On the contrary, award-winning urologist Dr. Paul Turek distinguishes a concerning trend for younger men, “Worldwide, the incidence of prostate cancer has steadily increased in men ages 15 to 40 years at about 2% per year for the last 30 years.” An increase that is concerning for the future of men who typically are outside of the high-risk age group for prostate cancer. Men’s Health Network is committed to maintaining a nationwide strategy to increase prostate cancer awareness throughout the year. Organizational partnerships and media engagement are key in making sure men of all ages know the importance of getting their prostate checked, and encouraging loved ones to do so. Editor’s note: For more information about the Men’s Health Network,

Leslie Herod Continued from previous page woman elected to the Colorado General Assembly, Leslie set out with one goal in mind: bringing people together to get real results that improve the lives of people in her community. Now, Herod is ready to bring that same approach of putting results over politics to the Denver Mayor’s office. “Denver is ready for change, and we are ready to tackle our toughest issues of homelessness, crime, and affordable housing. We will build the plans with the community to achieve results that improve the lives of everyone in our community. A path that ensures Denverites can afford housing. A path to make our transportation system quick, clean, affordable and safe. A path where anyone who is struggling can quickly get the help they need, and a path to keep our parks vibrant and safe for everyone,” said Herod.. Editor’s note: To learn more about Leslie’s vision for Denver, visit

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


Immediately following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, notable media personality Jemele Hill urged her peers to put the monarch’s passing in perspective. “Journalists are tasked with putting legacies into full context, so it is entirely appropriate to examine the queen and her role in the devastating impact of continued colonialism,” Hill tweeted. Elizabeth’s legacy isn’t necessarily complicated, but filled with enough ambiguity and action and inaction, that it might be easy to understand why people of color might view her different than the adoring throng mourning outside of Buckingham Palace. The longest-reigning British monarch’s history on race will forever exist as part of her legacy. “Reminder that Queen Elizabeth is not a remnant of colonial times. She was an active participant in colonialism. She actively tried to stop independence movements and keep newly independent colonies from leaving the Commonwealth. The evil she did was enough,” Twitter user @YaaAsantewaaBa wrote. While her role in colonialism and its devastating impact on Black people continue to gnaw at many, the latest generation had an up-close view into the Queen’s relationship with her mixed-race daughter-in-law Meghan Markle. “A low point was when [Prince] Harry was asked by a family member ‘how dark Archie’s skin might be,” Markle told Oprah Winfrey in a 2021 interview.Archie is Markle and Harry’s son. Markle revealed that she began having suicidal thoughts while pregnant with Archie in early 2019. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” Markle told Winfrey. “And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”

Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy Through the Lens of Colonialism and Black Lives By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent Editor’s note: This article is reprinted from Denver Weekly News/National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)

Elizabeth’s legacy isn’t necessarily complicated, but filled with enough ambiguity and action and inaction, that it might be easy to understand why people of color might view her different than the adoring throng mourning outside of Buckingham Palace. The longest-reigning British monarch’s history on race will forever exist as part of her legacy. Harry expressed frustration over the lack of family support when British media members and others launched racially motivated insults at Markle. “For us, for this union and the specifics around her race, there was an opportunity – many opportunities – for my family to show some public support,” Harry stated during the same interview. “And I guess one of the most telling parts and the saddest parts, I guess, was over 70 female members of Parliament, both Conservative and Labor, came out and called out the colonial undertones of articles and headlines written about Meghan. Yet no one from my family ever said anything. That hurts.” Earlier, many in Great Britain and around the globe called on the Queen to deal with the fallout over complaints that Buckingham Palace had no official response to the murder of George Floyd and the global Black Lives Matter Movement. However, the palace offered

only tepid responses. Before and during Elizabeth’s reign, journalists claimed the royal family looked the other way – and even enabled – racism. “These incidents aren’t just historical — royal family members have been ignoring accusations of racism since as recently as June 2020, when the Queen failed to respond to accusations that the royal honors medal is ‘highly offensive’ and resembles the killing of Floyd,” Royal Insiders Mikhaila Friel and Rachel Hosie wrote in 2021. “It’s hard to imagine the Queen showing support for BLM — and anti-racism in general — when in her 69 years on the throne, she has failed to address the racism that undeniably exists in the institution of the royal family,” the duo concluded. Further, a 2021 exposé in The Guardian revealed documents that shed light on Elizabeth’s continued exemption from race

Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


and sex discrimination laws. Investigative journalists David Pegg and Rob Evans said they discovered papers at the National Archives as part of an ongoing investigation into the royal family’s use of an arcane parliamentary procedure, known as Queen’s consent, to influence the content of British laws secretly. “They reveal how the Queen’s chief financial officer once informed civil servants that “it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint colored immigrants or foreigners” to clerical roles in the royal household, although they were permitted to work as domestic servants. Pegg and Evans wrote that the Queen had remained exempted from equality laws for more than four decades. “The exemption has made it impossible for women or people from ethnic minorities working for her household to complain to the courts if they believe they have been discriminated against,” the journalists found. They said Buckingham Palace didn’t dispute their findings. Instead, officials offered without explanation that there’s a separate process for hearing discrimination complaints. In 2020, when Antigua and Barbuda marked 40 years of independence from Britain, calls grew louder for slavery reparations. Frustration with the Queen and colonialism also grew palpable. “I think most Antiguans would want to replace the Queen now,” historian Ivor Ford told BBC News during the celebration. “Young people can’t relate to the Royal Family; they don’t understand their purpose. Even older people like me would love to see us become a republic. The head of state should be someone who is elected like in America,” Ford concluded. Antiguan businesswoman Makeda Mikael recalled how as a child, she attended cere-

monies that celebrated the Queen against her will. “We didn’t know as much about our history then as we do now,” Mikael related. “In school, I wasn’t taught African or Caribbean history. So I knew everything about British and European history and nothing about ours.” She told the BBC she and others would continue to demand reparations. “England has enjoyed the benefit of our slave labor right up to today, and they need to be honest, admit it, and find a way to reconcile,” Mikael insisted. “Most people couldn’t care less if [Elizabeth] is head of state or not. The Queen is not a significant part of anybody’s agenda.” With a reported net worth of nearly $12 billion, Elizabeth has never publicly spoken about reparations. “Along with a number of colonies in North America, the Caribbean formed the heart of England’s first overseas empire,” explained David Lambert, professor of Caribbean History at the University of Warwick. Lambert also authored White Creole Culture, Politics and Identity During the Age of Abolition, and Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen’s African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery. In a white paper for the British Library, Lambert explained that from the early 17th century, people from other European powers, including France and England, settled in the Caribbean. “The English settled St Kitts in 1624, Barbados, Montserrat, and Antigua in 1627, and Nevis in 1628,” Lambert wrote. “Around the same time, France established colonies in Martinique and Guadeloupe. In this way, the Caribbean came under the control of many competing European countries, join-

ing Spain, which had established its first colonies in the region more than a hundred years before.” Further, Lambert noted that the system of slavery saw its dismantling in the early 19th century, and the enslaved received freedom in the British Caribbean in the 1830s. A system called “Apprenticeship was put in place from 1834 to 1838 across most of the Caribbean,” Lambert offered further. “This was intended to provide a transition to freedom for the formerly enslaved people and the planters who relied on their labor. Even after Apprenticeship was ended, things remained very unequal.” Born Apr. 21, 1926, the eventual Queen’s given name was Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. Her father, Prince Albert, was the youngest son of King George V, and Albert’s place in the family presumably gave Elizabeth little chance to ascend to the throne. However, in a stunning move, Albert’s brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry an American woman, which allowed for Albert’s ascension as King George VI – thus making Elizabeth heir to the throne. On Nov. 20, 1947, Elizabeth married her distant cousin, Lt. Philip Mountbatten of the Royal Navy. The former Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, Philip then took the titles of duke of Edinburgh, earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich. The couple’s first child, Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, was born on Nov. 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace. On Feb. 6, 1952, King George VI died after a months-long illness, and Elizabeth became Queen – though her coronation took place more than a year later at Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth also gave birth to Princess Anne in 1950, Prince

Andrew in 1960, and Prince Edward in 1964. With Elizabeth’s death, Charles became the first King since his grandfather’s death more than 70 years ago. “Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know Her Majesty, and she meant a great deal to us,” former U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement. “Back when we were just beginning to navigate life as President and First Lady, she welcomed us to the world stage with open arms and extraordinary generosity. Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, how she put people at ease and brought her considerable humor and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance.” President Joe Biden said Elizabeth had a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who

Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


have never known their country without her. “An enduring admiration for Queen Elizabeth II united people across the Commonwealth. The seven decades of her history-making reign bore witness to an age of unprecedented human advancement and the forward march of human dignity,” Biden stated. “In the years ahead, we look forward to continuing a close friendship with The King and The Queen Consort. Today, the thoughts and prayers of people across the United States are with the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in their grief. “We send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, who are not only mourning their Queen, but their dear mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history and the story of our world.”.

With Friends Like

These …. By Oscar H. Blayton

When President

Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dine with him at the White House, in 1901, the Southern white press condemned President Roosevelt while many African Americans hailed him as a friend of the “Negro.” But delving into the background of Roosevelt, it is not difficult to find troubling instances of his belief in white supremacy. One such instance involves the most famous narrative about Teddy Roosevelt. As school children, we were taught that in the Battle of San

Juan Hill, the courageous Teddy Roosevelt led his valiant Rough Riders to victory against a larger enemy force during the Spanish-American War. But that narrative is far from the truth. Modern-day research has brought to light a different story where Black troops, from the 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) and other units, led in much of the fighting of that campaign and even rescued Roosevelt and his Rough Riders

from annihilation. According to Jerome Tuccille, author of “The Roughest Riders: The Untold Story of the Black Soldiers in the Spanish-American War,” Roosevelt “straggled up there (the top of San Juan Hill) with just a handful of the remaining Rough Riders” after Black soldiers had taken the hill and the fighting was over. Soon after that battle was won, Roosevelt praised the Black soldiers for their valor and steadfastness. But as time passed, he walked back his praise, and by the time he was running for re-election as president in 1904, and needed Southern votes, he denied that Black soldiers had participated in the battles in any meaningful way. It was bad enough that Roosevelt, through the skillful manipulation of the press, was able to center himself in a narrative of American heroism. But what is worse is that he diminished the sacrifices of Black sol-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


diers and hid the story of their valor from history. Roosevelt believed himself to be a friend of, and advocate for, people of color. But his advocacy was for the gradual adjustment in the minds of whites, who through their belief in their own racial superiority, would accept the challenge proposed by British writer and poet Rudyard Kipling to “take up the white man’s burden” and civilize the non-white people of the world. With friends like Roosevelt, people of color did not need enemies. Today, there are many selfproclaimed friends of people of color. These friends are quick to point out what is best for us and assure us that the path they want us to take is superior to any other. This scenario plays out in education and industry, as well as in every other area of American life. But nowhere is this phenomenon more inju-

rious to our interests than in the political arena. Experienced politicians have cajoled people of color into having faith in a political process that has yielded pitiful gain and still leaves us on a precarious ledge over the abyss of overzealous policing, electoral disenfranchisement and a legion of other socio-economic and racial disadvantages in American society. While we have allies, and indeed friends, people of color should not allow politicians to credentialize themselves by vouching for their own authenticity as racially aware individuals. The struggle ahead of us is too critical to our well-being for us to be hamstrung by people claiming to be our friends while counseling a “go slow” approach to “securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Politicians claiming to be our friends have been attacking junior members of color in the U.S. House of Representatives because those junior members choose to faithfully represent the voters who sent them to Washington rather than engage in a complicated political dance that prioritizes remaining in office over representing the people. Four of these junior members, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, are known as “The Squad” and they have

been attacked by Democratic politicians who self-identify as moderates or liberals. While it is very easy to identify someone like Donald Trump as a threat to all people of good conscience, it takes close scrutiny to recognize the problematic characteristics of those who call themselves our friends. But it is for our own sake, and the sake of those who come after us, that we must scrutinize critically anyone who advocates against what we know to be in our best interest. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his 1963 letter from a Birmingham jail, “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.” His letter was in response to a statement in friendship from eight white religious leaders of the South who had cautioned him against his nonviolent protests and questioned why he had come to Birmingham. The members of The Squad are in Washington because there is injustice in America. And we cannot allow politicians who think they are our friends to hobble those congressional representatives who are prepared to fight for our best interests. With friends like these who attack The Squad, who needs enemies.. Editor’s note: Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia. His earlier commentaries may be found at


Denver Urban Spectrum — – October 2022


By Rick Scott, Great Scott Productions


eyboardist Myron McKinley has a clear vision for his own creative expression, but perhaps more importantly, he has a clear vision for providing a necessary impetus to shatter the boundaries and stimulate the evolution of jazz. Dropping

JUST US presents...

to grow and listeners to open their minds. He offers “Will You” as a tribute to Nat King Cole, who long before he was known for seducing and charming with his elegant and silky voice, he was a remarkably dexterous pianist. Another track on which McKinley performs all the instruments is “Matrix,” a wildly adventurous instrumental rooted in elements that are seemingly polar opposites: bebop and European electronic club music. In the company of guitarist Morris O’Connor and trombonist Reggie Young, the keyboardist stretches out even further on “Crowded Club,” referencing early 1970s funk and jazz fusion hybrids created by The Headhunters and Herbie Hancock. McKinley fuses straight-ahead jazz, hip hop beats and electronic dance music on “Let’s Just See,” the result of which is a vividly ingenious recording. Sensual and somber elements spawn “Remembering You.” An all-star lineup illumines the centerpiece selection “Tunisian Morning.” Grammywinning saxophonist Gerald Albright solos amidst fellow saxman Gary Bias, bassist Reggie Hamilton and percussionist Munyungo Jackson.

& Myron McKinley, musical director for Earth, Wind and Fire brings his trio to the Mile High City!

“I got the chance to play at Nelson Mandela’s birthday party and while we were there celebrating, I heard all these different types of rhythms. I thought it was amazing. So, I kind of took a Bob James approach to the melody but using the rhythm that I heard over there and then had everybody play on it. I was blessed to have all those musicians play on it. They had so much fun doing it. I literally had to stop Munyungo from adding more tracks. He wanted to do more, but he had filled it up so much that you don’t even notice that there’s no drums on the track,” said McKinley. Visuals are an important aspect to McKinley’s approach for “Sound Alchemist” thus three videos were created with a fourth in the planning stages. On the auspicious date of Sept. 21, McKinley’s tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire dropped and his “Imagination” video is quite personal. For the past 20 years, McKinley has toured with the legendary band, serving as their musical director for the last dozen years. The group’s energizing bass player Verdine White plays on the track featuring falsetto singer Danny McClain. The video consists of McKinley’s photos from two


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Oct. 28 on the Dark Elf Music label, the ten-song “Sound Alchemist” is a learned thesis of sonic exploration and experimentation written and produced by McKinley as a mélange of contemporary, straight-ahead and fusion jazz; hip hop, R&B and soul; and multicultural nuance. While the music industry continues to shift towards singles as singular musical statements, McKinley prefers taking listeners on a complete journey via an album. “Sound Alchemist” does just that. Deftly, he offers enough of the familiar allure, such as recording The Carpenter’s “Close to You,” Sting’s “La Belle Dame San Regrets,” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Imagination,” and Drake and Jhene Aiko’s “From Time,” but he reinvents each one – sometimes radically – making you forget the source material. McKinley’s own compositions are just as far-reaching and ambitious, challenging jazz

decades of touring the globe with EWF. The “Let’s Just See” video arrives Oct. 5. The clip depicts the real-life story behind the song. McKinley explains, “I was in New York City, and it is just so loud. I was trying to practice and then kept getting distracted by the noise. Finally, I decided to go hang out at the club and I brought a melodica. I went in there and the DJ was playing. He gave me a mic and I started playing melodica there with him. It turned out really cool. Everybody was enjoying it and I had a lot of fun. The DJ played a bunch of different stuff and we just fooled around, and it became a thing for about a good hour. For the video, I had to write a script and time everything. It was the first I’ve ever done anything like it. I had to write the timeline and tell the animator what is supposed to happen in each cartoon. We had a lot of fun creating that.”

The animated video for “From Time” is slated to hit October 21. What drew McKinley to the song was the lyric “I love me enough for the both of us,” which is sung in dreamlike voice by Denaine Jones. “I think that statement is going to resonate with any man because that means you’re not going to have to supplement for her what she’s supposed to have already. When I heard the song, I fell in love with what she’s saying. For the video, I was thinking how a lot of people play music and do other things while they’re messaging people. I thought it would be nice to have her texting a guy about how she feels. ‘I love me enough for the both of us.’ You see her sitting up against the wall in New York, texting during the solo and at the end. I thought it was an interesting journey to add a lot of feeling to it,” explained McKinley, who will perform music from “Sound Alchemist” at Denver’s Soiled Dove Underground on Oct. 22.

Los Angeles native McKinley studied classical and jazz piano, including under the tutelage of Grammy-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. But hip hop’s influence in his works is just as prevalent as jazz and classical. “I grew up in the hip hop era. I was listening to A Tribe Called Quest and Oscar Peterson on the same radio station. I loved all of those. When you come up like that, it’s still a part of you, even though you have classical and jazz. It still becomes a part of your DNA musically. I think ‘Sound Alchemist’ shows a lot of that. You can hear church aspects, classical aspects, jazz aspects and it also shows hip hop aspects.” In addition to his long-time duties with Earth, Wind & Fire, McKinley has toured with Whitney Houston, Kenny Lattimore, Stanley Clarke, En Vogue and Shai. He has written, co-wrote or produced songs for EWF, Clarke, Doc

Powell, Silk, Vesta, Cherokee and Howard Hewett. He’s also composed music for film and television scores, contributing to “Soul Food,” “Romeo Must Die,” “The Best Man,” “Think Like A Man,” “Shaft,” and “The Godfather of Harlem” among many others. McKinley’s bold spirit and intrepid scope heard throughout “Sound Alchemist” are purposely sprawling, purposely edgy, purposely youthful and vibrant, and purposely inclusive. That’s where he believes jazz needs to go in order to thrive again in relevancy. “I don’t think musically right now the boundaries are being pushed. I could have easily done (recorded) something else and directed it towards a certain genre and left it there without pushing, but musically, to really make things grow, it takes adventurers to push the genre.”. Editor’s note: For more info, visit

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