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Volume 29 Number 6 September 2015

Publisher Shares Memorable Moments of Return Visit to


Christy -A-Nuworkpor Photo by Rosalind J. Harris

Rosalind “Mum” Harris Talks Joy, Family, Smiles, Diplomacy, Gratitude, a First-timer and “Her Blessing”

RTD PUBLIC MEETINGS Proposed and Rail Lines Service Plan

With the opening of the A (East) and R (I-225) Rail Lines in 2016, service adjustments are proposed.

We want your input. Please plan to attend a public meeting. Aurora Aurora Municipal Building 15151 E. Alameda Parkway Aspen Room Monday, September 21, 2015 • 6:00 p.m. Downtown Denver RTD Administrative Offices 1600 Blake Street, Rooms T & D Wednesday, September 23, 2015 • Noon and 6:00 p.m. Denver Glenarm Recreation Center 2800 Glenarm Place Thursday, September 24, 2015 • 6:00 p.m. Swansea Swansea Recreation Center 2650 E. 49th Avenue Thursday, September 24, 2015 • 6:00 p.m. Green Valley Ranch Green Valley Ranch Community Center 4890 Argonne Way Monday, September 28, 2015 • 6:00 p.m. Montbello Montbello Recreation Center 15555 E. 53rd Avenue Wednesday, September 30, 2015 • 6:00 p.m. Stapleton Stapleton Foundation 8230 Northfield Boulevard, Suite 1350 (Shops at Northfield, next to Toby Keith’s Bar & Grill) Thursday, October 1, 2015 • 6:00 p.m. For details on these changes, see the Proposed A and R Rail Lines Service Plan brochure on buses, light rail, and at RTD transit stations or visit Access-a-Ride Routes with service improvements or reductions may impact ADA Access-a-Ride service availability.

Regional Transportation District | 303.299.6000


Volume 29 Number 6

September 2015

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris


CONTRIBUTING COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNISTS Kim Farmer Earl Ofari Hutchinson

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream. ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This issue of the Denver Urban Spectrum is dedicated to hope, and the strength it gives you to keep dreaming and moving forward. The cover story by our very own publisher Rosalind J. Harris chronicles her return trip to Ghana where she reconnects with loved ones and meets new family members, and is unquestionably re-energized in her efforts to support sisters and brothers in Africa through Beacon of Hope for African Child. An article on Denver-based playwright Kenneth Grimes sheds lights on his collaborative faith walk and work to bring a book, “Uncle Jed’s Barbershop,” to life through a musical that he hopes will have a long shelf life in the theatre world on a national level. You can also read “Big Hair Bigger Dreams, Summer Youth Camp Inspires the Real Future,” which highlights the Denver Urban Spectrum Youth Foundation’s journalism component of a program to instill hope for a great future among young girls. Jonathan McMillan provides perspective on the movie Straight Outta Compton in his piece called “The Strength of Street Knowledge.” You will be updated on the state of Black New Orleanians 10 years after Hurricane Katrina and how an organization called “The Advancement Project” is working to make things better. You will gain a better understanding of the housing situation facing our loved ones in “Housing Costs Climb Out of Reach for Older Adults.” In closing, I leave you with a vision of hope.


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Charles Emmons Angelia D. McGowan Melovy Melvin Rosalind J. Harris ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris



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

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2015 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at

Angelia D. McGowan Managing Editor


Justice Is Just US!

against the police today! The Sandra Bland incident is so obviously a lynching, and once again the police are unassailable. What can one do when criminal institutions can destroy and deny access to evidence of their wrongdoing? Richard Pryor was right when he jokes “Justice is just us!”

Editor: The shooting of Naeschylus Vinzant begs the question - was his death an orchestrated hit ordered by higher ups? It is difficult to imagine that a low-level foot soldier like Paul Jerothe would make such a decision on his own volition; if he did, he is a psychopath and does not belong on the Aurora police force or any other, unless of course they have hit men in their employ. If Vinzant’s death was ordered, why would those in positions of authority do such a thing? Were they sending a message to the rest of us? I’m not claiming Vinzant was a good person; I wouldn’t shoot a dog unless I had no other alternative. Was Vinzant attacking? Police are apparently above the law they are sworn to uphold. We should be wary of those who make an occupation of killing and feeling no remorse. They are different from the rest of us. We are all entitled to due process - even the worst of us. Or are we?! The Dallas police would have us believe Sandra Bland hanged herself in a jail cell with a garbage bag! Ha! If anyone believes that rubbish they will have no problem believing there are no Klansmen within the ranks of police. Black people know through their collective experience with the dominate group, what logically happened to Sandra Bland. They witnessed what happened to Eric Garner in New York in full view of the public. When white men came to get Emmitt Till, there was nothing his relatives could do but stand helplessly and watch him being kidnapped. They could not defend his life then, any more than you or I can defend ours

A Grateful Family

Antonius Aurora

Editor: Thank you for the lovely tribute that the Urban Spectrum paid to our late husband, father, and grandfather. It was beautiful. We are so thankful that you honored his family legacy last June, 2014. That held great meaning for him and he was honored to be remembered by you in what turned out to be his final summer. Sincerely,

The family of George Morrison Jr. Marjorie Morrison Vicki Morrison Sloan Trudi Michelle Morrison Simone D. Ross

President Carter, Fellow Submariner: I love you man

Editor: Sir, you recently publicly stated you are suffering from a very aggressive form of cancer. You and your family are in my family’s prayers. On a personal note, I am very grateful that in 1977, you drafted an executive order which ordered the U.S. Navy to de-segregate its military officer ranks. When you assumed CommanderIn-Chief duties, less than three percent of the U.S. Navy officer corps was African-American. After I had served 11 1/2 years as a Navy enlisted man,

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


coupled with three combat deployments in Vietnam, you authorized me being given a naval officer’s commission on April 2, 1977. Fact is, during that timeframe hundreds of AfricanAmerican men were specifically recruited by you as seagoing military officers. I joined the Navy (drafted) in 1965 and I was exposed to desegregation efforts by the Navy then. AfricanAmerican men were finally given the opportunity to work in technical specialties, instead of historical subservient jobs like cooks and stewards, where stewards cooked and cleaned the berthing areas of white shipboard officers. The negative of this desegregating effort was Filipino nationals were recruited to fill those menial jobs vacated by African-Americans, however, those Filipino sailors were simultaneously given a fast-track to American citizenship. I wish you fair winds & following seas ahead.

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

Denver Urban Spectrum Department E-mail Addresses Denver Urban Spectrum

Publisher Editor News & Information

Advertising & Marketing

Distribution & Circulation

DUS Publisher Highlights Return Trip to Cape Coast Slave Castle

By Rosalind J. Harris

Photos by Rosalind J. Harris and Marlina Hullum

In 1999, I had the rare but

extraordinary opportunity to visit

Dakar, Senegal and Accra, Ghana in

West Africa. The Honorable Wellington E. Webb, then Mayor of Denver and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, led a delegation of U.S. mayors on a mission to West Africa. In Senegal the delegation engaged Senegalese mayors in a discussion about municipal management while sharing ideas about how to solve problems that all mayors face in the U.S. and Africa. In Ghana, the delegation attended the Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan’s 5th African-African American Summit in Accra where Webb led dialogues on African policy and joined 10 African heads of state in the first ever presidential plenary of its kind. During our stay, we were treated like royalty but also met many of the locals. As an item on our bucket list, I recently revisited the Motherland with my very good friend Marlina who lives in Savannah, Georgia. This is my story of our weeklong venture with some of the natives. Our journey began with an unexpected send off from Washington D.C. Special thanks to our travel agent who booked us on the first inaugural nonstop flight to Accra, Ghana with South African Airlines. Before boarding, we were entertained by Ghanaians with dancing and drumming as other travelers joined in on the celebration. Even though the fanfare ended with the flight, when we stepped on African soil, we embraced the aroma of the continent and entered our own zealous welcoming.

My African Sons

Frances and Richard (1999)


When I first met them 16 years ago, they were somewhere between 17 and 20 years of age – Richard, Frances, Joseph, and Tony – searching, speculating and studying. I saw two of them on my recent trip but I saw all of them in the eyes and lives of others. Joseph, Richard and my two newfound sons Paschal and Michael escorted me and my friend Marlina, through the streets of Cape Coast, Elmina, Kumasi and Accra over a seven-day trek. We shared food, walked the beach, shopped the markets, toured, went sightseeing and visited the townships. Joseph, who lives in the states was home visiting and working on Beacon of Hope for African Child – a newly formed NGO (Non-Government Organization) of which I serve on the board. Richard, who has a background in fishing, blessed me with a five-year old granddaughter named Blessing, aka Bee. Paschal is a businessman and Michael is an economics teacher. I was unable to see Tony because he was travelling or Frances, who now lives in France.

free of pesticides – was always served by a very proficient wait staff. While taking our first stroll on the beach, we encountered some very young Tonys and Richards who warmly embraced us with smiles and funny gestures as we photographed them approaching us. They were eight to 11 years old and shared their names and ages as we took pictures together.

Memorable Moment: Understanding and revisiting my feelings while watching Marlina, a first timer to Africa, absorb the simple way of life.

Day Two

Embarking on our first real journey, bright red fabric blowing in the wind caught our eye which compelled us to stop and turn around soon after Paschal had starting driving. We discovered and visited with batik cloth makers. A mother, with twin daughters and two workers were preparing the wet cloth to sell to the market. Unfortunately, we were not able see them on Friday for a demonstration but the beautiful flowing cloth was like a scene out of the movie The Color Purple.

Day One

For first-timer travelers to certain parts of Africa, the images of poverty from town to town can catch you by surprise and be somewhat overwhelming. It is a way of life – simple and uncomplicated to a degree. The extent of police brutality was stopping and stalling drivers on the road to make a little money if you didn’t have a driver’s license. Fresh fish was bountiful and African wares were endless. Chickens and goats running around could be a pet one day and your meal the next day. Smiles from African children were astonishing. This is the simple way of life. After 15 years, the Coconut Grove where we stayed in Elmina was much the same. Although there was only one beach vendor, more horses in the stable and probably more crocs in the crocodile pond, it still was like I remembered – beautiful and serene. From the registration desk to the groundskeeper, the staff was meticulous and pleasant. The food which was delectable – fresh and natural and

Anyone who visits West Africa must visit the slave castles. There are three in Ghana and we visited two of them. Elmina Castle, the oldest and largest slave castle, was erected by Portuguese in 1482 in Elmina, Ghana. First established as a trade settlement,

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. Visiting the castles is very difficult and is a reminder of the anguish of our ancestors and the injustice against humanity. You will see peep holes, shackles, and dungeons that held hundreds of men and women where they lived, slept, ate, urinated and defecated. If you listen hard enough, you can hear; if you breathe hard enough, you can smell; if you look hard enough, you can see – sometimes through tears – antiquity. As luck would have it, we ran into some Americans while having dinner at One Africa. Bert and her husband, who is a former art teacher with relatives in Denver, retired about 20 years ago in Ghana and are living and loving Ghana life. He seemed more like a history buff as he talked about the history of the N- word, Christopher Columbus and Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah.

Memorable Moment: Meeting a group of female business owners with a true entrepreneurial spirit.

Day Three

Rising early to go to Kumasi, the Kente cloth capitol, we were amazed at watching the local fisherman throw nets. It was hardly daybreak as boats were at sea, barely visible, while several men were pulling in the net and two swimmers were fighting the waves back to shore. Still not sure of the process but simply watching it was incredible. The trip to Kumasi was about four hours both ways. And on the way and back, we experienced the extent of the police brutality about 10 times as they would periodically stop cars and glance inside for criminals and then beckon the driver to go. With no comparison to the viciousness of some police in America, I would welcome this abuse for my American sons any day. We travelled to the Bonwire Kente Weaving Village, located 18 km off the Kumasi Mampong Road. It is a settlement with hundreds of Kente weavers. Continued on page 6

Fathers Incorporated Partners With Omega Psi Phi Fraternity To Encourage 20,000 Black Fathers To Join “The Honorable Man� Campaign The effort seeks to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the upcoming Million Man March by focusing on the importance of Responsible Fatherhood

Current trends are showing that black fathers in America are spending more time day-to-day with their children than any other segment of the population. While no one thing can take credit for the shift in behavior or exposing more clarity on existing behavior, the news is something to be recognized and be celebrated. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the historic Million Man March of October 1995. It’s a perfect occasion to highlight the positive trends of black fathers. What better partnership to have than one with one of the most respected fraternities in the country; Omega Psi Phi, says Kenneth Braswell, Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated. The momentum is building for our Honorable Man campaign. In just a few short weeks the campaign has signed black fathers from more than 86 U.S. cities.� Omega Psi Phi represents over 750 undergraduate and graduate chapters, both nationally and internationally. Formed in 1911, the fraternity has built its foundation on its cardinal principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. “The Men of Omega firmly believe that neither the family nor the community will ever be complete without the contribution of the father or a Black male father figure. The lives of those in our communities will be better when our young Black Men are given the chance to live to their full potential and contribute their talents and skills to society. We are committed to help make this happen, says Antonio F. Knox Sr., Grand Basileus, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Up until the march, the Atlanta based not-for-profit and its partners will encourage at least 20,000 black fathers across the nation to sign the HONORABLE man pledge on its website in order to represent the new 21st Century dad at the Oct. 10, 20th anniversary celebration of the Justice or Else Million Man March in Washington, DC. As a member of the Talented Tenth we have a duty to be actively involved in working with our fathers through highlighting the importance of their being involved in the lives of their children. As we face these most difficult times the family structure with the father present provides a strong support element to ensure survival. We are committed to working to this end in every possible way, continues, Robert W. Fairchild, Chair, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative Activities include

a comprehensive social media campaign in order to generate conversation around the principles of the HONORABLE man, word of the week, video of the week and contest challenges to sign up fathers to take the pledge. The hashtag #honorableman will be used to capture the excitement created by the effort. Fathers Incorporated is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit (S) corporation and is

dedicated to strengthening the community and family infrastructure by encouraging and enabling the positive involvement of fathers in the lives of their children. Since its founding in 1911, Omega Psi Phi’s stated purpose has been to attract and build a strong and effective force of men dedicated to its cardinal principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. Over 100,000

men have been initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity throughout the United States, Bermuda, Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Virgin Islands, South Korea, Japan, Liberia, Germany, and Kuwait.  Editor’s Note: For more information, email Visit Join on Twitter @millionblkdads, Facebook at www.facebook. com/ millionblackfathers.

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Ghana Revisited

Continued from page 4 Kente, now Ghana’s national cloth is one indigenous handicraft that has won world-wide recognition. There are many types of Kente each with its own symbolism and name; and is used for different purposes and at different functions. It is used not only for its beauty but also for its representational imperative.

Kente is hand-woven on a horizontal treadle loom and strips measuring about four inches wide are sewn together into larger pieces of cloths. Cloths come in various colors, sizes and designs and are worn during very important social and religious occasions. In a cultural context, Kente is more important than just a cloth and it is a visual representation of history but also a form of written language through weaving. I would never encourage anyone to make this trip in a day but I must say it was worth it. Memorable Moment: Watching Paschal as he diplomatically dealt with the police officers all day.

Day Four

The last few days were thought-provoking and educational but we could not overlook the deprivation and distress that was in the communities and we felt the need to provide some community service in a small way. Joseph had previously brought crutches from the states in an effort to help some of the people in Elmina. As part of the Beacon of Hope’s mission, a gift of crutches was presented to about 15 disabled men and women, several who were in wheel chairs. They were extremely grateful. Board

Once again we visited sacred and irreplaceable space that one can only imagine and once again we walked through another Door Of No Return – only to return.

Memorable Moment: Seeing the joy and faces of gratitude for used crutches, new toys, books and flip flops.

Day Five

member, Benedict, spoke on behalf of the organization and translated their gratefulness in English. Paschal politely gave a monetary donation as well. The morning was bright for many but the afternoon was even brighter as we visited the Detlof Preparatory School housed in several adobe style open brick buildings. We were treated to song and dance from five and six year old boys and girls dressed in purple uniforms. We visited the school again on Monday and presented the students, head master and the proprietor with gifts of books, shoes and toys.

The next day was one of reflections, gratitude and blessings. Of all the thousands of people who crossed our paths, there were two that were full of life and love; one older and the other a young child that left deep-rooted marks on our hearts and minds. We experienced a day in the life of Christy and Blessing. We first saw Christy walking along the beach with a very large empty metal container balanced on her head. She had a strong and prophetic stride – one that was symbolic of the native women in Ghana. They appear as always on a mission. We asked to take her picture at which time she seemed flattered as we also offered her a Cedi (currency in Ghana) for the opportunity. We saw her later as she was returning to whence she came. Her metal container was full which provided an even more beautiful photo opportunity. After getting to know her, we discovered what she was going to do with the old dried-up coconut tree leaves. We were intrigued and waited with anticipation to watch her develop her craft by creating a large floor mat which could also be used as a room divider. Later, as we walked the community, we saw how they were used as covering for the outside of several homes. The day was also shared with Blessing – my newly found granddaughter who sadly lost her mother during childbirth. She has alluring eyes, a captivating smile and amazing intelligence. From a country of exotic animals, it was surprising to see her fear of horses when they galloped along the beach. But like most little girls, she enjoyed putting stickers on her body, coloring and painting, putting together a Doc McStuffins puzzle, wearing my sunglasses and sharing my lipstick.

After a short visit to meet family members, we headed to the Cape Coast Slave Castle. Words from the museum display described the legacy of the European trading powers and how contacts with Europe have left an indelible mark on Ghana. Today, the history of the slave trade remains a shadow of this contact that will never be forgotten, and shall never be dismissed. But many positive cultural, social, and political manifestations remain that have been incorporated into the very fabric of Ghana. In addition to new agricultural crops and animals, there was the concern for formal education, literacy and Christian religion as well as a political and judicial system. European missionaries set up a number of schools in the Central region that included the Wesley Girls primary school in 1844 and others.

A day in the life of Christy -A-Nuworkpor

Cape Coast Slave Castle Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Memorable Moment: Although everyone calls women “mummy,” hearing Blessing call me Mummy was extra special.

Day Six

Winding down our trip, last minute shopping was imperative. Mark, our personal vendor, had provided us with a lot of our take home memorabilia but heading back to the Elmina Castle provided an opportunity to revisit some of the vendors and take photos of the fishermen headed out to sea. It was close enough to walk so we savored the chance to see the sights and people, up close and personal. While walking, several young children would shout out “Bronyi” when they saw us. After a while, Joseph explained to us that they were calling us “white people” and we should respond by saying, “No, I’m Bibinyi,” which means Black. How ironic, only in Africa, could we be considered white. As we walked back to the hotel, guided by Richard who took us through the scenic route showing us the real ‘hood,’ we passed the drumming and dance class building. Although our mind was saying “yes” we’d go back later, our body said “no – go to the bar and have a closing trip drink.”

Memorable Moment: Seeing the smile on the gardener’s face that was tending the yard as Marlina gives him a candy bar.

Day Seven

Did I say all the shopping was done? Oops…we still had to check out the Art Market in Accra before heading to Kotoka International Airport to go home. As expected, the vendors can be brutal but with reason. Many

may have some of the same inventory and it is plentiful. But if you have the time and the patience, you will surely find that one of a kind gift that you are looking for at a great price. The most fun part was the bargaining which we left up to our overly protective sons.

Ending out the day was filled with sightseeing and touring. We visited the Kwame Kkrumah Memorial Park and saw the Flagstaff House – the presidents “white house� in Ghana. I don’t know if they thought we were homesick for American food but we were taken to KFC for dinner while our young men went to eat traditional Banku, a Ghanaian dish which is cooked by a proportionate mixture of fermented corn and cassava dough in hot water into a smooth, whitish consistent paste. It is served with soup, stew or a pepper sauce with fish. Before boarding the plane for home, we spent our last moments at the airport with Joseph, Richard, Paschal and Michael before heading back to the U.S.A. Memorable Moment: Watching the smile on Marlina’s face as Joseph and Paschal tied her shoes so she would not trip and fall when we headed to the Art Market.

Get Ready,

DENVER! While crossing the Atlantic Ocean with Ghana behind us, I thought about what has changed since my first visit in 1999 and I felt in my heart “not much,� at least not on the level from where and what I was seeing. Several areas of the city’s infrastructure are still deplorable. A lot of the common folk need assistance with basic needs. Health issues seem to run rampant and the schools are in desperate need of supplies. It made me realize there are the haves and the have nots and I am so proud and applaud my sons Joseph, Paschal and Michael for developing Beacon of Hope for the African Child to assist and educate the have nots. To all African Americans, you owe it to yourself to visit the Motherland – at least once in your lifetime.  About BOHFAC: Beacon of Hope for African Child is a newly developed NGO based in Ghana. The mission is to promote and provide opportunities for social and economic development in the areas of education, health, water and skilled acquisition. Programs will include educational tours to Ghana and the U.S. and community service projects for the betterment of Ghana residents. Editor’s note: To help the people of Ghana or for more information about BOHFAC call Bee Harris at 303-292-6446 or email

Paschal, Marlina, Michael, Joseph, “Mum� Bee and Richard


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KENNETH GRIMES: A Writer’s Walk of Faith

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop More Than a Decade in the Making By Angelia D. McGowan


ne of his

online profiles

states that he is an active playwright

in his spare time. It should also

include successful.

Kenneth Grimes has written, directed

or acted in dozens of plays since he was a teenager. In high school he

received a $500 grant to produce a

play he had written called, “Ride the Rugged Seas.” It played at Lincoln

Park Housing projects. He enlisted his friends as actors and used the grant to buy items for the audience, including popcorn.

“The appeal of writing is that you can create places that don’t exist,” says Grimes, a former Denver Public Schools English and drama teacher. “I loved to write, so much that I’d write other people’s papers” when he was in school. Today, Grimes is part of a team that has brought a popular book to life. Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, a new family musical created by Grimes, David Wohl, and Susan Einhorn, is based upon the Coretta Scott King Awardwinning – and popular Reading Rainbow — book by the same name, written by Margaree King Mitchell and illustrated by James Ransome. The musical is inspired by the atmosphere, language and music of the late 1920s through the early 1960s, evoking rural Arkansas near the Mississippi Delta. The all AfricanAmerican, 17-member cast, including

national and local artists, runs Sept. 26 - Oct. 18 at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD). The upcoming performances are the result of strategic collaborations and a walk of faith for Grimes that began more than a dozen years ago when he was contacted by Wohl, a composer seeking a writer to help him bring the book to life. Grimes, a director of the 4H Youth Program at Colorado State University Denver Extension, had built such a positive reputation with his spare-time activity that when Wohl asked, staff in the arts program at CSU recommended Grimes. “We got a pretty good draft and sent through a friend of a friend to Susan Einhorn, a director in New York. She liked it, but saw it could be better so we became a team,” says Grimes, who notes a great synergism in the creative process.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Each of the co-creators had different sleeping patterns that worked out to be productive for all involved. When everyone was setup at one of their homes, Grimes did early morning writing, around 5:30 a.m. The composer, a night owl, would join in around 9 a.m., and the process just jelled from that point for the musicians to working late into the evening on what had been written earlier that day. While that process was smooth, other components have not been. “To do this show has really been a faith walk,” says Grimes, who has a bachelor’s and graduate degree from CSU. “We don’t have systems of support in place to really help (independent) artists

Grimes online bio also says that he is a community activist that believes in the power of “collective visioning” as a means for “barrier removal” to get things done. That is true. His longterm commitment to bringing this musical to life along with his co-creators is proof.

About Uncle Jed’s Barbershop – The Musical

to pull off productions on this scale without a lot of angst. Securing grants can be difficult with timing, and funding cycles are not conducive to production. The risk becomes more on the person doing it. It’s a real challenge.” Meeting the challenge “entailed going to New York to do a portion of the play and having it critiqued by the country’s best producers. One of the producers was Stephen Schwartz, who served as the moderator sponsor of the New York review. Schwartz has written such hit musicals as Godspell, Pippin, and Wicked, and has won three Grammys, three Academy Awards and six Tony Awards. Certainly, Uncle Jed’s had hit it big with such and audience. Not quite. Grimes and his co-creators had to pay to travel to New York for that prestigious round of critiques. To do that, a concert reading of a few songs for the show was held at CPRD in 2004 as a fundraiser. It was primarily loved ones who supported the concert reading. And it was enough to take the show to the Big Apple. Once in New York, they had to produce 15 minutes of the musical and then return in three weeks with 30 minutes. Since that time the musical has been recognized by a number of reputable arts organizations. Finding a location in Denver for the upcoming show has been a challenge, but fortunately one of Denver’s cornerstone arts organizations, CPRD, is able to accommodate the show’s run. Cleo Parker Robinson is the choreographer for the musical and Michael Williams is the musical director. Grimes says, “Cleo, she is a force of nature - really great to work with her. It’s amazing all the things they have going on over there.” CPRD, celebrating its 45th anniversary, is a multifaceted arts institution that has developed into an internationally esteemed organization that operates beyond the traditional performing arts model. There are four pillars of the organization, namely, the

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is a musical celebration of the only Black barber in 1928 Monroe County, Arkansas, Jedediah Johnson (“Uncle Jed”). In 1962, 43 year-old Sarah Jean Carter has returned from Detroit to her childhood home of Monroe County in order to attend the funeral of Uncle Jed, her favorite relative. After finding herself unable to speak at the funeral, Sarah Jean encounters her 10-year-old self. Adult Sarah Jean and Child Sarah Jean embark on a journey that takes them back and forth between their shared past with Uncle Jed and the present. Their interacting and conflicting memories of him challenge Adult Sarah Jean’s willingness and capacity to take Child Sarah Jean with her into her future. When she was younger her uncle took her along with him on appointments on customers’ porches, living rooms and sharecropped fields. He also lets her in on his plans to finance and build his own barbershop. To Child Sarah Jean, Jed’s confidence and reassurance are “like money in the bank!” The musical follows Jed and Sarah Jean’s travels and interactions with family, friends and members of their vibrant community. The cast features Mary Louise Lee, singer, actor and First Lady of Denver; Ken Prymus from Broadway shows Cats, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and the Wiz; Nora Cole from Broadway shows Jelly’s Last Jam, On The Town; and Terry Burrell from Broadway’s original Dream Girls, among its principles. Editor’s note: For more information and tickets visit

CPRD ensemble, academy, theatre, and education programs. Working in concert, CPRD programs have created an oasis where a varied population by gender, race, age and ethnicity gather to study and appreciate a modern, cross-cultural approach to creative community development. Today, CPRD represents one of the largest cultural arts institutions in the Rocky Mountain region serving more 60,000 people each year. Gwendolyn Brewer, longtime CPRD board member and current board chair, says, “Most people only think of them for their performing side. Education has been a cornerstone since their inception 45 years ago. Every week (CPRD) is in schools and recreation centers working with kids. They try to fill the void when funding left for the arts in public schools.” Coming off its 6th annual fundraiser for community education programs, “Dancing With the Stars” with an estimated 700 in attendance, CPRD is poised to keep it moving not only with performances like Uncle Jed’s but also Bamboula: Musician’s Brew set to debut at the University of Denver Newman Center the same night that Uncle Jed’s kicks off. “We have no small thoughts,” says Parker Robinson, who revels in the two companies within CPRD that allow her to be involved in two events in one night. “I hope Uncle Jed’s goes to Broadway.” Grimes adds, “We are hopeful that this will launch us to take it nationally. We are proud that Denver should be more of an exporter (of artists) versus always importing. Both are good, but we have some great talent in Denver that needs to be seen locally and nationally.” Over its run, certain performances of Uncle Jed’s Barbershop will be devoted to youth, seniors, sororities, higher education and even producers. Mitchell, author of the book, is expected to attend one of the shows.


Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


From College Student to Just Growing Up: Ready or Not? By Melovy Melvin

Melovy & Friends Sydney and Siale

As each day comes to an end, it brings us a day closer to that time of the year again. Back to school season has reached us once more and from a kid coming straight out of high school, why wouldn’t the emotions be slightly misinterpreted? It truly is a mix of emotion, no doubt about that. One can be full of anticipation, so excitedly so that it will be the beginning of a new chapter in your life. When a person graduates high school, many can feel accomplishments. To know the never ending possibilities lies ahead makes people happy especially for “the young.” Or one might feel a little grief. Change can sometimes be one of the hardest things to acquire. The reason is it allows us to go from “what is now” to “what used to be.” And then there is the curiosity. Anyone who finishes high school has to have dreams. You cannot help but wonder what could be or where will your dreams take you. Will we go out into society and place our mark in the world? Or who among us has a bigger calling in life? Where will I be a year from today? We are curious about the future simply because it is the one thing that remains uncertain. Being youthful and having ambition indicates you are an easy target in the world. Not because you are naïve but because it is your time and anything can happen. It is the time to go out and explore what is out there, the time to learn new things and face growing up, and the time to see what you can do and perhaps discover who you are. I think that with every new generation that walks up to the plate and prepares themselves to take their hit on life, all is the same. Regardless of what or how you feel, where you come from, what languages you speak, what you want to be, you are ready. When I walked off the stage with a diploma in my hand last May, it really hit me. The fact that the strange idea that you are still unsure on what lies ahead, yet you do not seem to mind because whatever life decides to throw at you, you are ready to take on its challenges. High school for me was a journey and I am glad to have gone through it. High school taught me many things from learning my lessons of procrastinating to knowing the true meaning of friendship. It is part of growing up, they say. And as great as it sounds, it can still be little confusing and scary for many of us. I cannot say I know what to expect as I attend college this fall but I do know this: we, as human beings of nature, are expected to do something. If you really think about it, we are. Some are expected to do big things, some are expected to provide for their families, some are expected to help those less fortunate, and even some are expected to make a difference in the world. Priorities change, interests differ, and realizing that NOW is the time that matters. It has come to THIS. Being unsure can determine if you are ready for the “unexpected,” whether it is on your way to college or just growing up because life is full of the surprises, but I guess that is what makes it so interesting. After all, is it really a surprise if you already know what it is?

Denver Urban League Announces Award Recipients for Upcoming 2015 Whitney M. Young Jr. Annual Gala

The Urban League of Metropolitan Denver (ULMD) is pleased to announce the award recipients for its upcoming Whitney M. Young, Jr. Annual Dinner scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Denver Marriott City Center in downtown Denver. During the event, the ULMD will present the “McKinley Harris Distinguished Warrior Award,” given annually to organizations or individuals that exhibit strong commitments to youth, education, community, or The League in general. In addition, Board Chairman Wayne Vaden will be presenting the Chairman’s Award, which is presented each year to an outstanding area leader. McKinley Harris Distinguished Warrior Award: Comcast Corporation

Comcast is a national company dedicated to bringing together the best in media and technology, and drives innovation to create the world’s best entertainment and online experiences. They have a rich and long partnership

with the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver where they have provided financial support as well as board leadership, along with program support through internships and job training. David Cole, Principal David Cole & Associates

David Cole is one of the area’s biggest names in government and community relations, and he has been a longtime friend to the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, providing political advice and leadership support for policy and political issues that impact The League and the communities it serves. He has more than 40 years of combined experience specializing in corporate lobbying; member-based associations; political campaigns; and community involvement. David’s commitment to the greater Denver Metropolitan area

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has literally changed the landscape of Denver and made for a better quality of life for all. Grant Jones, Founder and Executive Director; Center for African American Health

Grant Jones is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for AfricanAmerican Health (CAAH). Under his leadership, CAAH has played a critical role in reversing the health disparities that have persisted in the African American community. Grant’s professional journey can easily be framed as one with a life-long commitment to community improvement and the overall health of the African American community. Syl Morgan-Smith Retired Media Pioneer

Syl MorganSmith is a pioneering communicator and community leader. She was one of the first African American television news anchorwomen in Colorado and further broke the journalism color barrier as a sportscaster, a television talk show host, and as a newspaper editor. She is equally known for her dedication to honoring outstanding community leaders with the creation of the Colorado Gospel Music Academy & Hall of Fame where she has honored more than 450 individuals over a period of 31 years. Chairman’s Award

Dawn Bookhardt, Founder Bookhardt O’Toole Law

Dawn Bookhardt is an award winning attorney and founding partner with the law firm of Bookhardt & O’Toole, a small, boutique law firm

that ranks consistently as one of the country’s top law firms in the area of project development and public finance. Dawn has become a life-long friend to the Urban League, providing financial and strategic planning support and has established herself as a champion for education here in Denver.

About The Event: More than 600 area patrons are expected at this year’s event that will feature attendance from a variety of community leaders and elected officials, a “State of the Organization” address by new president and CEO Sean Bradley, and a keynote address.

About The Urban League: The Urban League of Metropolitan Denver was established in 1946. Since that time it has worked tirelessly to assist African Americans and others of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds in need who reside in the greater Denver metropolitan area with securing a first class education, achieving economic opportunity, and obtaining equal respect of civil rights by providing exceptional programs and services in a highly diversified city. Sean Bradley is the current president and CEO. The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City, the National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its local affiliates through the development of programs, public policy research and advocacy. Today, there are more than 100 local affiliates in 36 states and the District of Columbia, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people nationwide.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Black Journalists Recognize 2015 Media Award Winners


ers Noelle Phillips, Monte Whaley, Lisa Kennedy, John Wenzel, Colleen O’Connor, Mary Stevens, Terry Frei; and KOA radio’s Jerry Bell. Denver Post theatre critic Lisa Kennedy was recognized as Print Journalist of the Year. CBS4 morning reporter Rahel Solomon was honored as Broadcast Journalist of the Year. The Gomez Howard Group won twice – principal Jeff Howard was recognized as Public Relations Professional of the Year and the firm received the SIE award for Campaign of the Year for Destination Health 5K, presented by the Center for African American Health. N’Dea Carter, a sophomore at the Community College of Denver (CCD), received a matching scholarship. Dr. Everett J. Freeman, president of CCD, was in attendance to present her the award. CABJ officers include Gabrielle Bryant, president; Julius Vaughns, vice president of professionals and treasurer; and Danielle Nelson, secretary. 

Illustration by Kyle Malone

Works published by the Denver Urban Spectrum were recognized at the Colorado Association of Black Journalists at its annual media awards and scholarship banquet held at the Denver Marriott City Center on Aug. 14. The event, emceed by CBS46 anchor and former CABJ president Gloria Neal, awards scholarships to aspiring African American journalists and recognizes the talents and contributions of CABJ members in the areas of print, television and radio as well as public relations and the lifetime achievement. CABJ is the Denver-based chapter of the 3,500 member National Association of Black Journalists, marking its 40-year anniversary this year. NABJ founding member Sandra Dillard was recognized with a standing ovation as a pioneer during the banquet. CABJ also recognizes exemplary coverage of Colorado’s African American community with the Scribes in Excellence (SIE) award, in which the Denver Urban Spectrum was recognized four times. Tamara Banks was recognized for the May 2015 cover story, “Black Lives Matter in South Sudan.” Charles Emmons was honored for January 2015 cover story, “Duane Taylor: Saved for the Next Level.” Photographer Lorenzo Dawkins was recognized for his images that accompanied the cover story on Taylor and for the Sept. 2014 cover story, “Racing to Advance Our Future.” The SIE awards were also presented to CBS4’s Rahel Solomon, Brian Maass, Bill Masure and Kevin Hartfield, Mark Ackerman; 9News’ Byron Reed, Nelson Garcia and TaRhonda Thomas; Denver Post writ-

Photo by Bernard Grant

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


As You Like It is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Walk the Extra Block and Become a Block Captain

Montbello, East Montclair, Northwest Aurora and Stapleton. be well Block Captains are on the ground listening to neighborhood

As a Block Captain, Mosby believes that her success comes from building relationships. She connects with people where

Community Volunteers Get Residents Moving

Jo Mosby has 30 plus years of community work and was board chair of the Greater Park Hill Neighborhood Association when she started disseminating information about be well programs. These programs are part of the be well Health and Wellness Initiative’s be EPIC (Exchange of Power to Impact Change). In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Stapleton Foundation, be EPIC was introduced to help respond to the health disparities in key African American communities and the lack of physical fitness resources to combat chronic health issues. The core of the be well/be EPIC Initiative is the Block Captain program. Nearly 90,000 residents live in the six be well Zone neighborhoods of Greater Park Hill, Northeast Park Hill,

concerns and getting the word out about be well programs in the community. Levels of participation vary. If Block Captains aren’t able to commit to seven weeks of training or the monthly meetings, they can become “Connectors” – these are individuals who work with Coaches and Captains to get be well information out and in the hands of neighbors.

they work, live, play and pray and distributes be well flyers to neighborhood retail shops, barbershops, salons and other small businesses. She often replenishes the supply of flyers, utilizing 8-9 Connectors to canvass Park Hill. “To me it is the first organized community effort to get the word out about being healthy and providing resources for people that are in immediate need, short-term and long-term,” said Mosby. “And for the most part free of charge. So that is like an unheard of concept.” High rates of obesity contribute to hypertension which can lead to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes which are some of the leading causes of death for Blacks. The CDC’s Health Disparities & Inequalities Report found that in 2010 the prevalence of diabetes among African American was nearly twice as much as that for whites. These disparities are evident for numerous reasons. Most are attributed to unequal access to healthy food as well as amenities that encourage physical activity. be well/be EPIC and

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


its block captains are seeking to change that. “There are some people that are not in the best of shape, and I will meet them on their front porch. I will talk with them about diet and lifestyle, and just make them aware of what they can do about their health issues,” said be well Block Captain Manly Daniel. Daniel is a former Aurora Public School educator who after retiring earned a certificate in community health from the Community College of Denver. For Daniel be well offers the opportunity to get out into the neighborhood and start conversations about health, current disparities, and individual solutions. “A healthy community is a thriving community, and those are the types of movements you can pass on to younger generations – being healthy, eating right, getting exercise – having those conversations is what makes up the family,” said be well Block Captain Wayne Huff. Huff has been a Block Captain for four years and works with 20-25 Connectors in Park Hill and Northwest Aurora. “What does it take to get there? I think when you synergize the community with these programs that help, all these programs with be well are free educational programs.” Find out how be well can help you, your family, and your neighborhood. An End of Summer Tail Gate Party is planned for Sept. 19 from 3 to 6 p.m. in Park Hill’s Skyland Park adjacent to the Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center. There will be music, free family fun activities, giveaways, food, and information about be well resources such as free fitness and cooking classes at be well Centers and heart health screenings. Organizations that register and have the most participants attend the Tailgate are eligible to win a $1000. The public is invited to come out and join the fun. It is time to take charge of our health, because healthy communities start with us.  Editor’s note: For more information, visit or call 303-4683239.

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson


year before the first GOP presidential debate, the thought that retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson could be anything more than comic relief in the 2016 presidential contest was pure delusionary. But Carson is not only still around in the GOP’s crowded presidential field, he, like Donald Trump, is gapping the supposedly more serious GOP contenders in poll numbers. The bigger surprise is that Carson actually has become something of a minor cash cow in raising money and there’s much talk of super PACs for Carson in the works. This is pretty heady stuff for a candidate who before Trump started zipping out a stream of silly, outrageous zingers on immigration and women, and anything else that came to mind, had the franchise on spouting ridiculous inanities. Carson hasn’t exactly reformed his ways and become the model of civility in expression, witness his blast of the Iran treaty deal as antiSemitic. He’s also prompted more than a few eyes to roll with his inference that Planned Parenthood is some kind of nefarious conspiracy to damp down the black population. This stock Carson silliness won’t mean much, though, if the poll number that Carson tabs in Iowa holds up. It shows him with a solid numbers base to build on in the state. This is

crucial. The first out the box Iowa primary is the traditional make or break primary for Democratic and GOP presidential candidates. Carson could have political strengths there that Trump can’t hope for. There’s a strong core of ultra-conservatives, with an evangelical bent there. They can be rebellious and independent when it comes to backing a candidate willing to buck the party regulars. If Carson is willing to spend money, time, build a real party organization in the state, and come up with a modicum of coherent policy initiatives, he could actually be the surprise in the primary. A strong showing here would put a stiff wind in his campaign sails in other primary states especially in the South where his act could play even bigger and better. Much of this depends on Carson. He’s stuck around this long mostly because he’s Black, has a compelling rags to success, up by the bootstraps story, and he could always be trotted out to take heavy handed shots at President Barack Obama. He’s also been willing to take chances. He took his travelling act to Harlem recently and held forth at Harlem’s famed Sylvia’s Restaurant. He then walked the block spouting his standard platitude about how liberal, Democratic polices have supposedly failed Blacks and especially the Black poor. This won’t win him any new Black converts to the GOP. But it did show that he’s capable of delivering his retrograde anti-government message to someone other than fawning packs of GOP ultraconservatives. Carson has turned this tactic into a studied art with Black conservatives such as Clarence Thomas. Carson, though, has

always made far better copy than the Sphinx-like Thomas, because, unlike Thomas, Carson could always be counted on to say something just ludicrous enough to get attention. Carson’s candidacy fits a triple bill. He gets even more attention for the GOP. He’s African-American with that great personal story and this seemingly gives lie to the notion that the GOP is strictly a no-nothing party chock full of unreconstructed bigots. The notion of Carson as a presidential candidate touches a deep, dark, and throbbing pulse among legions of ultraconservatives who think that Obama and many Democrats are communists, that gays are immoral, and that the healthcare-reform law is “slavery,” as Carson infamously quipped, meaning a tyrannical intrusion by big government into Americans’ lives. Mainstream GOP leaders can’t utter this idiocy. They must always give the appearance that they are above the dirty, muddy, hateslinging fray, so they leave it to a wellpaid stalking horse like Carson, and to some extent Trump, to do their dirty work for them. The road to the 2016 GOP presidential nomination will be a knock-down, drag-out, bruising, low-intensity war. The main contenders Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Chris

Christie and a cluster of popular GOP governors have money, means, and a dedicated, entrenched following. They have wooed and courted the key state party leaders and potential party delegates who will make or break a candidate in the key party primaries later next year. Their work has been ongoing, and it requires a team of professional, connected, and financially stout party officials to do the hard leg work required. A well-placed Carson sound bite or pithy remark won’t cut it. He’ll also need a program. Carson’s poll surge, though, does show that he’s got the eye and ear of legions of GOP rank and file voters. And in a season when voters again seem sick of the business as usual political crowd in Washington, and want some real excitement on the political stump, Carson may have more shelf life than he deserves. That’s enough to ensure that Carson, for now anyway, is no laughing matter. Editor’s note: Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Los Angeles and KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.




Unfortunately, Ben Carson is no Laughing Matter

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Xavier Ammons, a student at Lowry’s Mile High Montessori, is one of 37,000 Denver children who have received tuition funding through the Denver Preschool Program.

For 4-year-old Xavier, Preschool Made Learning Become Fun

As a stay-at-home mother of an only child, Jaharri Asten enjoyed the opportunity to help her son Xavier develop academically. “He’s always been pretty smart but I don’t always have the patience, which gets frustrating for both of us,” Jaharri said. “Once he started preschool, though, I noticed that learning wasn’t a struggle. It became fun for him and he was excited about telling me what he had learned.” While Xavier grew academically, the biggest change that his parents noticed was his social and emotional development. “His first few years were spent mostly with me and his dad. During that time, he would hide from new people. But now, when we go to the playground, he runs up to other children and is excited to meet them,” Jaharri adds. “Being in preschool taught him to share and how to function in a group. That’s not something that I could ever teach him at home with me.” Xavier is one of 37,000 Denver chil-

“Being in preschool taught him to share and how to function in a group. That’s not something that I could ever teach him at home with me”

dren who have attended one of the 250 quality-rated preschools where the Denver Preschool Program (DPP) has been helping families with tuition funding since its approval by voters in 2006. Available for every Denver child to prepare them for kindergarten, DPP tuition support is scaled to income and the quality of school attended. Follow-up studies confirm that children with Denver Preschool Program experience show better literacy and math skills than their peers in public school. “Not only are children better prepared academically, most rate high for factors to lifelong success such as

he t r o f s Join u mmer


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initiative and self-control,” notes Jennifer Landrum, DPP’s president and CEO. “Our teams of preschool providers located in every neighborhood in the city are highly committed to giving Denver’s children a smart start to kindergarten and a great start to life.” Jaharri advises other parents to get their child in preschool. “You can’t teach your child everything that they need to in order to grow.”  Editor’s note: For more information on how to enroll your child in a quality preschool and the tuition funding available for your family, visit or call 303-595-4DPP.

rty! a P e t a g l i a T

Get your tail in tip top shape at the End of Summer Tailgate Party while helping your favorite non-profit win $1000!! Mark your calendar for the End of Summer Tailgate on September 19th from 3-6pm at Skyland FOR MORE INFORMATION: or call 303-468-3239

be well Health and Wellness Initiative

Park adjacent to the Hiawatha Davis Rec Center. Enjoy free food, participate in the first ever fitness concert and register for the Be EPIC challenge - a chance to win $1000 in

support of your favorite non-profit! The organization with the most attendees will take home the cash, so spread

the word!

Sign up at or call 303-468-3239. The End of Summer Tailgate Party is sponsored in part by be well/be EPIC (an Exchange of Power to Impact Change), a community partnership of the Stapleton Foundation’s be well Health and Wellness Initiative. The


partnership works to increase access to physical activity opportunities among African Americans. Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Center for African American Health Event Attracts Hundreds of Supporters

On Saturday, July 25 hundreds of individuals, families, volunteers and participants of all ages converged on the Pavilion at City Park for the 5th Annual Destination Health Walk/Run/Learn event presented by the Center for African American Health. Folks came out on a spectacularly beautiful morning to participate in the 5K and 1 Mile event and a variety of activities designed to encourage active and healthy lifestyle behaviors. The pre-event stage, hosted by SLiM from Jammin’ 101.5, included a warmup session with fitness trainers Chessa Hallman and Jionni Paige who got the crowd going with stretching and other moves designed to get everyone ready for the walk/run. One of the hottest drum corps around, The Denver Marching Knights, led the participants to the start line. The entertainment and awards ceremony stage was hosted by Becky Taylor with her iconic smooth jazz voice who also is the host of the Winter Park Jazz Festival. Entertainment was provided by the Mary Louise Lee Band along with free line dance lessons led by Mr. Charles Let’s Start Dancing, LLC. The Expo area and children’s health and safety zone featured dozens of exhibitors and organizations who provided free health information, demonstrations, and resources. Chef Keith Jones, spokesperson for the Honey Smoked Fish Company and Stella Nash, Registered Dietician, teamed up to present three interactive edutainment cooking demonstrations inside the Pavilion. Additional Pavilion attractions included massage therapy, mini-facials, face-painting, balloon-twisting and an opportunity to sign up to get paid to lose weight with the Weigh and Win program. New Hope Baptist Church reclaimed the travelling trophy for

largest church team. Other groups receiving trophies included largest children/family team – Hope Center; and largest community-based team – Clinica Tepeyac. President and at-large member of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education Allegra “Happy� Haynes and Rev. Rodney Perry served their second year as co-chairs for the event. State Rep. Rhonda Fields, honorary chair for the annual fundraiser, encouraged event attendees to take responsibility for their health and to participate in the Center’s many programs. The Center’s board chair and Denver Broncos legend Haven Moses said, “Destination Health is an excellent opportunity for the Center for African American Health to partner with participants, volunteers and sponsors in providing health information and resources and promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors. We can all do a better job of treasuring our health and taking actions to make healthy activities in our lives a top priority,� as he addressed the attendees. Proceeds from Destination Health will benefit communities that are served year-round by the Center for African American Health. The Center provides culturally-appropriate disease prevention and disease management programs on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, wellness programs for seniors, and health literacy. The Center is also a certified Connect for Health Colorado assistance site. Plans are already underway for the 2016 Destination Health: Walk/Run/Learn 5K. Mark your calendar now to save the date for The Urban Spectrum Saturday, July 23, 2016.  Editor’s note: For more information about 1 the Center for African American Health visit or call 303-3553423.


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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015



Youth Services


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Rev. Dr. James E. Fouther, Jr., Pastor 4879 Crown Blvd., Denver, CO 80239 303-373-0070

Coors Light And Denver Parks & Recreation Commit To Refresh Basketball Court In Globeville Donations Will Restore Court, Fund Major Improvements at 51st and Broadway Park

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock speaks about the importance of programs like Coors Light Full Court reFRESH that benefit communities in need.

Kenny “The Jet” Smith, TV analyst and former NBA star, discussed Coors Light Full Court reFRESH in Denver.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

and TV basketball analyst and former Denver Nugget star, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, joined senior staff from MillerCoors to announce a $35,000 donation to restore a community basketball court, as part of Coors Light Full Court reFRESH. Located adjacent to the Stapleton Recreation Center in Globeville at 51st and Broadway Park, the donation will refurbish the basketball court surface. Funds from the Trust for Public Land, LiveWell Colorado, the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative and Denver Parks and Recreation will contribute

Now in its second year, the Coors Light Full Court reFRESH program is designed to restore community basketball courts in need. For every tweet using the hashtags #fullcourtreFRESH and #over21, Coors Light will make a donation towards the refurbishment of community basketball courts in participating cities across the country.

Editor’s note: For more information, visit Kenny “The Jet” Smith, TV analyst and former NBA star, joined Coors Light to make a $35,000 donation to Denver Parks and Recreation on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Pictured from left to right are Scott Gilmore (Denver Parks and Recreation), Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Kenny Smith, and Joe Sargent (MillerCoors). Photos courtesy of MillerCoors/Evan Semon

to a new Fitness Zone and other areas of the park. “Denver takes great pride in having one of the best urban park systems in America,” Mayor Hancock said. “This collaborative partnership is an excellent example of our shared investment in the community.” In his remarks at Jake’s Food and Spirits, Smith, who played his last season as a professional with the Denver Nuggets, said, “I always felt the basketball court, or the park, was kind of the centerpiece of the community. So when that centerpiece doesn’t look the best, I think intrinsically, you don’t feel the best about your community. That’s why programs like Coors Light Full Court reFRESH are so important, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Labor Day

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


AHF Celebrates Julian Bond: “A Champion of Freedom for All People…Giving Voice to the Voiceless.”

Bond offered inspiring keynote speech at AHF’s ‘Keep the Promise on AIDS’ March in Cleveland in 2013. “Once again a people’s movement is seeing wrong and acting against it, seeing evil and bringing it down. Relying not on the noted but on the nameless, not on the famous but on the faceless.”

JULIAN BOND Cleveland ‘Keep the Promise on AIDS’ March May 11, 2013

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) President Michael Weinstein released the following statement on the passing of Julian Bond:

“Julian Bond, a giant of the civil rights movement, has died at 75. This is a particularly poignant moment for AHF because Mr. Bond delivered an inspiring keynote speech in May 2013 in Cleveland for AHF’s ‘Keep the Promise on AIDS’ March. For those of you who were fortunate enough to hear him that day, you know that he was a champion of freedom for all people. He was an early and strong supporter of LGBT rights. In a world of screaming narcissism he had a strong, but strangely soft-spoken voice. He came to prominence in the ‘60s as a young African American legislator in Georgia; then as the head of the NAACP; and he then spent his entire career giving voice to the voiceless. Julian Bond - we celebrate your life.”

To read Julian Bond’s full keynote speech at the May 2013 ‘Keep the Promise on AIDS’ March in Cleveland, visit #/archives/16352. To view a video clip of Bond’s speech and the KTP March, visit, and for a full Flickr album of the KTP event, visit

About AHF: AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest nonprofit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to over 451,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook: /aidshealth and follow us on Twitter @aidshealthcare

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble Premieres BAMBOULA: Musician’s Brew

Launching its 45th anniversary season, the internationally renowned Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble premieres Bamboula: Musician’s Brew for two performances only, Sept. 26 and 27 at the Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts, University of Denver. Bamboula: Musician’s Brew is a collaborative project, commissioned through the National Endowment for the Arts National Dance Project. This interdisciplinary work, choreographed by Millicent Johnnie, is set to compositions by jazz greats Donald Harrison and Charles Vincent Burwell, whose music will be performed live by The Isaac Points Jakarta Band. This powerful work emerges from Johnnie’s research into the connections between the Zulu minstrel parades of New Orleans and the Minstrel Carnival in Cape Town, South Africa. The work strips away the blackface veneer to reveal the deeper traditions most notably retained within the cultural expressions of the Mardi Gras Indians. Highlights of this performance include a Mardi Gras Indians cameo by Donna Crump, a member of the Guardians of the Flame, founded by Donald Harrison Sr. in New Orleans. The Bamboula concert will also reflect iconic works from CPRD’s 45year legacy of dance, including Star of Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


the Show (2013) by Jeffrey Page, Serendipity (1984) by modern dance legend Eleo Pomare and To My Father’s House an excerpt from Parker Robinson’s memorable Spiritual Suite (1971). Performances will take place Saturday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. at the Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts, University of Denver, 2344 East Iliff Ave. in Denver. Tickets are $45 for adults; $38 for seniors and active military and $32 for children and students. For tickets or more information, call 303-870-7720 or visit 

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Mayweather vs. Berto to Be Presented Live in Select U.S. Cinemas on Saturday, September 12

Fathom Events and Mayweather Promotions Bring Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s Last Fight to the Big Screen Live from Las Vegas

Fresh off of a historic victory in

May over Manny Pacquiao in a fight that captured global attention, Fathom Events and Mayweather Promotions are pleased to present Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s next bout in select U.S. cinemas. This fight between Mayweather, the 12-time world champion and boxing’s number one attraction and Andre Berto, the twotime welterweight champion, Mayweather vs. Berto will be broadcast live on Saturday, Sept. 12 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT/6 p.m. MT/5 p.m. PT/4 p.m. AK/2 p.m. HI. Mayweather vs. Berto has truly historic implications, as a win for Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) brings his undefeated record to equal the late great heavyweight world champion Rocky Marciano (49-0). Tickets for Mayweather vs. Berto go on sale August 21 and can be purchased online by visiting, or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in select movie theaters through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network. For a complete list of theater locations visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change). Floyd Mayweather Jr. (48-0, 26 KO’s), an 12-time world champion in five weight divisions, remains boxing’s biggest attraction, wowing crowds and generating record numbers every time he steps into the ring. In fact, Mayweather was recently named the world’s highest paid athlete by “Forbes” magazine for a second consecutive year. During his extraordinary career, he has amassed wins over world champions such as Manny Pacquiao, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Robert Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez. Andre Berto (30-3, 23 KO’s), of Winter Haven, Fla. is a former amateur standout and 2004 Olympian for Haiti. A veteran of eight world title fights, all at 147 pounds, he won the WBC Welterweight World Title in

Market Areas® (including all of the top 50). For more information, visit

June 2008 and made five successful title defenses over the next two and a half years before losing the title in April 2011. Berto won the IBF Welterweight World Title in September 2011. “Over the past several years, fight fans have filled movie theaters all across the country to see Mayweather square off against some of the best boxers in the world,” said Fathom Events Vice President of Programming Kymberli Frueh. “Now, with this being Mayweather’s last fight, what better place for those fans to witness this historic bout than up on the big screen once again?”

addition, Fathom Events’ live digital broadcast network (“DBN”) is the largest cinema broadcast network in North America, bringing live events to 820 locations in 177 Designated

About Fathom Events: Fathom Events is the recognized leader in the alternative entertainment industry, offering a variety of one-of-a-kind entertainment events in movie theaters nationwide that include live, high-definition performances of the Metropolitan Opera, the performing arts, major sporting events, music concerts, comedy series, Broadway shows, original programming featuring entertainment’s biggest stars, socially relevant documentaries with audience Q&A and much more. Fathom Events takes audiences behind-the-scenes and offers unique extras, creating the ultimate entertainment experience. It is owned by a consortium called AC JV, LLC., comprised of AMC Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: AMC), Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK) and Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC), the three largest movie theater circuits in the United States. In

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


About Mayweather Promotions: Appropriately based in the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas, Mayweather Promotions was established in 2007 by 12-Time World Champion and currently undefeated boxing icon, Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Mayweather Promotions seamlessly promotes all forms of live entertainment including sporting events, live musical and theatrical events as well as film and television productions. Mayweather Promotions is poised to break more records, generate more revenue, and chase excellence as it incrementally solidifies itself as the past, present & future of sports & entertainment.

Editor’s Note: For more information visit


Big Hair Bigger Dreams, Summer Youth Camp Inspires the Real Future B

Ginnie Logan (far left) is pictured with summer camp participants and guest speaker Andrea Mosby (2nd from left)


By Melovy Melvin

Photo by Lens of Ansar

n this time and age, it can sometimes be impenetrable to figure out ways to inspire and assist the future generation to learn and grow so that they will be the new succeeding leaders of our world. Ginnie Logan, founder of the Big Hair, Bigger Dreams foundation had no problem with this task. The Big Hair, Bigger Dreams partnered with the Denver Urban Spectrum and Compu Girls to host a four week summer youth camp for girls with interest in journalism and technology. Over the course of the program, I had the honor to be the editor of the paper, The Perspective, a publication that the participants completed during the first two weeks of the journalism camp. I worked with Logan in assisting the program and also working with the participants in helping them develop their stories for their publication. Day after day, within those two weeks, was always an adventure in the camp. Whether it was teaching a new dance move to Rosalind “Bee” Harris, publisher of the Denver Urban Spectrum or just listening to the many controversial topics that really mattered to the girls, I looked forward to what each day held. The program offered substantial privileges and opportunities for the girls, such as attending the Mayor’s inauguration, meeting with Denver Post editor Greg Moore, driving to Wyoming for Cheyenne Frontier Days, and even having their own bake sell. I observed the girls with huge admiration not because of how wonderful of a group they were but simply because of how proud I was to see them learn things and really apply it to themselves. On August 14, the Big Hair, Bigger Dreams celebrated its first summer graduation for the nine participants. The ceremony, emceed by Logan and planned and prepared by the participants was filled with so much laughter and smiles. The ceremony acknowledged all those who made the summer youth camp a success and congratulated the girls on their accomplishments for completing the program. Ginnie Logan truly deserves recognition for the wonderful work she did not only for starting the foundation but also for the girls that she profoundly inspired. She put in work effortlessly for the girls as if they were her own and went beyond the call of duty to assure they got the very best. She taught them to work hard, the meaning of girl power, and how they really can become princesses and queens of anything and everything. What may seem like just another summer youth camp turned out to be an experience that encouraged the future generation of girls of color to someday be the next leaders in line. 

Transforming Young Lives Through Film

The excitement rippled through the screening room. Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA) students chatted nervously with each other, clutching their popcorn and soda, waiting to see their films on the big screen. After being submerged in the filmmaking process for two and half weeks, students were eager to see their stories come to life. This year, DAVA, in conjunction with the Colorado Film School at the Community College of Aurora, hosted another free Summer Film Camp for middle and high school youth.

Camera Management

“Film Camp offers students the opportunity to learn the basics of filmmaking, and also prepares them to face the challenges inherent in any professional role, like critical thinking, problem solving and working together as a team,” said Susan Jenson, DAVA executive director. “DAVA students are aided by Colorado Film School teachers to help them transform their artistic visions into complete short films.” The Summer Film Camp started in 2009 when the associate professor at

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Film Students

Colorado Film School, Geoffrey Chadwick came to DAVA with college students to teach the art of making movies. “In the beginning of this summer’s classes at DAVA, Job Training - CAL (Computer Art Lab) students were brainstorming ideas, developing and writing basic storylines for their movies,” DAVA Job training manager and CAL teacher Luzia Ornelas said. “We had 23 powerful stories based on the students’ own personal experiences as teenagers and vivid imaginations. We ended up producing nine short films, both fictional and non-fiction. The students created works that ranged from silent drama and action to animated films and educational documentaries.” They focused on the theme of ‘transformation’ – DAVA’s overarching theme for 2015 – to help guide the film plots. Eighth grader at Aurora West College Preparatory Academy and DAVA student Ireland Reynold described the value that she found in

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Film Camp, saying, Editing Station “My mom kept telling me she has never seen me so focused and excited about something. I was the first one in the editing room every day and the last one out.” Reynold has been involved in DAVA’s programs for the past four years, and this was her third how to work with each other, how to Film Camp. Reynold proudly listed off lead each other, how to do a job witha wide range of technical software proin the context of making a film and to grams she has now mastered through come through for each other.” DAVA’s job training program and Film “One of DAVA’s core values is to Camp including Gimp, Inkscape, teach students’ skills that prepare Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After them for college and careers,” Jenson Effects and Final Cut Pro. said. “We intentionally focus on inteAs technology advances and grating life and work skills into every becomes more widely implemented in project. It’s inspiring to see how our schools across the country, the benefit programming continues to transform of knowing how to use these programs is invaluable. Film Camp is one young lives.” Some of the short films are available to view at DAVA’s way DAVA prepares youth with the YouTube channel. Students plan to necessary skill set and tools to be sucshowcase their films at a screening cessful in today’s world. The technological skills learned at Film Camp are scheduled on Sept. 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. at DAVA, 1405 Florence St., Aurora. not the only focus of the program. As Editor’s Note: For more information to Chadwick explained, “We don’t neclearn more about DAVA and its programs, essarily expect them all to grow up to be great filmmakers, but they learn visit

Colorado Black Women for Political Action Hosts 36th Annual “Tribute to Black Women” Award Luncheon

Colorado Black Women for Political Action (CBWPA) announces its 2015 “Tribute to Black Women” award recipients who will be honored at CBWPA’s 36th Annual Award Luncheon on Oct. 10, at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver. Seven outstanding African-American women will be recognized by the organization for excellence in the categories of education, politics, business, cultural arts, community service, legend (senior citizen) and youth (recent high school graduate, college–aged youth). In addition, the organization will recognize Rosalind “Bee” Harris, Publisher, Denver Urban Spectrum, with a Special Recognition Award for Lifetime Achievement and Excellence.” The CBWPA President’s award will be presented to Lady JaneFrances Echeozo, RN, MSN, Community leader, Organizer and Administrator from Nigeria. The 2015 “Tribute to Black Women” honorees are: Education - Barbara Allen, founder, Denver School of History, School and Debate, retired Denver Public Schools teacher;

Politics – Rev. Dawn Riley-Duval, CoFounder, “Black Lives Matter 5280”, political advocate and social justice advocate; Business – Hon. Claudia E. Abernethy, small business owner and tenant rights activist; Cultural Arts – Dr. Claudette Sweet, vocalist and musician, specializing in promoting cultural awareness and Negro Spirituals; Community Service – Jandel AllenDavis, MD, vice president, government, external relations, and research, KaiserPermanente; Legend – Jeweldine Blair, life-long civic leader, community volunteer, and recipient of “Women of Courage: Unsung Sheroes Award”; and Youth – Daryn Alexandria Fouther, East High School graduate, teacher’s assistant and tutor with Girls, Inc., entering Colorado State University in August, 2015. The CBWPA “Tribute to Black Women” Luncheon will be held on Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver. The event starts at noon; doors open at 11:30 a.m. Editor’s Note: For more information about the event, tickets, ads or sponsorship opportunities, visit or contact Toya Nelson at or call 303-552-4261.

On behalf of the Center for for African African American American Health and Destination Health Co-Chairs, Co-Chairs, Happyy Ha Happ Haynes ynes and Re v. Rodney Rodney P Per errry, we er we w ant to thank our sponsors, sponsors, suppor ters, ter s, Rev. Perry, want supporters, vvolunteers olunteerss and par olunteer ticipants for for suppor ting the 5th Ann ual Destination Health 5K. participants supporting Annual OUR GENER GENEROUS OUS SPONSORS

See y you ou next next year year – July Jul Jul uly y 23, 20 2016 16 - Sa Save ve the date! Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015



Ground Rules

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

Editor’s note: Samantha Ofole-Prince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Tia Terlage is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Laurence Washington is the creator of Like On Facebook, Follow On Twitter Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton


 By Samantha Ofole-Prince

easoned with sharp performances from up-and-coming actors, there’s not a dull moment in the two-hour plus running time of Straight Outta Compton. Filled with a little humor, hard truth and vivacity, it exudes a raw and infectious energy that seems to radiate from several places at once – from the stars, the story, and, most tellingly, from the music. A film, which follows the meteoric rise of the group N.W.A. who in the mid-1980s revolutionized Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood, the powerful opening sequence kicks off in Compton, Calif. in 1986. A drug-dealing Eric “Eazy-E” Wright (Jason Mitchell) is unsuccessfully trying to collect cash from his supplier. Things seem likely to get ugly as words are exchanged and guns are pulled out, but Eazy-E manages to flee just as a SWAT team raid unfolds. The following scenes then introduce audiences to his fellow cohorts; Andre “Dr. Dre” Young (Corey Hawkins), a skilled deejay with big dreams and empty pockets and lyricist O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson (played by producer Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson, Jr.). This

all sets the scene for their eventual collaboration and after a series of scenes showing them getting pushed around by the police in their poverty stricken Compton neighborhood, the trio, who are tired of dead ends and hungry for change decide to form a group called N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitudes). Eazy-E fronts the cash, Ice Cube pens the lyrics and the beats are put together by Dr. Dre. His counterpart DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) are also invited to join the group. The film then follows the group’s

Dre and Ice Cube rose from the roughand-tumble streets of Compton to sleek million-dollar homes in Los Angeles’ wealthiest enclaves will find it here.

swift rise as they are quickly signed by manager Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) who gets them a major label contract. Things are initially great as the group tour nationwide enjoying the perks of stardom, but after a contract dispute, Cube and Dre eventually split from the group to pursue successful solo careers. The film’s final act then focuses on Eazy-E’s brief battle with AIDS, their attempt at reconciliation and his ensuing death. What makes the film so affecting is the no-nonsense direction of F. Gary Gray, whose feature credits cross genres from actioners like The Italian Job (’03) and dramatic thrillers such as The Negotiator (’98). Gray understands the story’s theme, and captures the gritty feel of their world without ever falling into exploitation. In this, he is lent excellent support from a fine cast of newcomers, all eerie clones of the characters they portray, from Marlon Yates Jr., who plays The D.O.C., to R. Marcus Taylor as Suge Knight. Even fans of Eazy-E will find a thrill in watching actor Jason Mitchell bring him back to life. The film covers many important events and songs and sparkles during its concert scenes. With moments of greatness, there’s plenty here to attract more than just N.W.A.’s core fan-base. Audiences eager to know about the birth of West Coast rap and how Dr.

hopes for MI:III (‘06) after the two previous Mission Impossible films. But I was so disappointed with MI:III, I never gave


Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation  By Laurence Washington

’m officially back on the Mission Impossible bandwagon. I had high

Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


the fourth installment a chance. Don’t worry, I’ll catch it on cable. Now comes Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation, an adrenaline-pumping thrill ride from the opening credits to end. As a bonus, there’s an excellent storyline that doesn’t suffer from action sequences, where lesser movies use action as filler. There are no false moves in Rouge Nation. Every scene is believable from Tom Cruise hanging on the outer fuselage of a departing jet, to highspeed motorcycle chases and claustrophobic underwater sequences. The plot seems simple enough, however, things are never what they seem in Mission Impossible movies. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and the IMF team (Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg) have been shutdown by a congressional oversight committee that believes the IMF is running unsanctioned covert operations. In reality, declared dead IMF agents have built their own counter intelligence network, and have been undermining Hunt’s team for years. As a result, Hunt goes after the rouge agents through a maze of spies and counterspies that will keep you guessing who is on whose side – especially British spy Lisa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Hunt’s love interest. Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation is easily one of the best popcorn movies of the summer.


Fantastic Four


Fantastic Four 1/2 By Tia Terlaje

ll these recent action/sci-fi adventures start off the same: The audience is introduced to the character’s pre-superhero lives, followed by how they gain their powers, a long scene ensues with them using their superpowers, then facing the bad guy, and (the best part of ANY film) – defeating the villain and saving the day. Director Josh Trank had the task of retelling a familiar story for a new generation of Marvel comic book fans – rebooting the Fantastic Four. The premise? Childhood friends Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) have worked together for five years on a teleporter. They demonstrated a working prototype at their high school science fair, which despite causing some minor damage, catches the attention of Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara), who coincidently, are working on a similar project yielding the same destructive results. Impressed with Reed’s invention, Dr. Storm and Sue invite the pair to study at their New York City laboratory. Last to join the team is Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), Dr. Storm’s son. Storm had also recruited Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), a stubborn former student whose idea of the teleporter is already in use to study a new dimension to help understand more about Earth. Dr. Storm is hoping to bring back natural resources to help sustain mankind. Through a teleportation mishap, the team returns with tremendous powers. Reed can stretch his body, Johnny can turn himself into fire, Sue can become invisible and Ben’s body is trapped inside of rocks. Victor Von Doom, who has consumed so much

power, wants to destroy everything in his path – including Earth. The film’s beginning, middle and end are uneven. Too much time is spent telling the story we already know, rather than expanding the short battle scene at the end – perhaps a flaw in editing? It makes one wonder what scenes were deleted. A little more humor and overall balance would’ve made this film…well…fantastic.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.


 By Laurence Washington

ans of the popular 1960s Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV show shouldn’t go into this film expecting the same degree of homage Mission Impossible pays to its television roots. That’s not to say, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a bad film, in fact, it’s quite clever and exciting. You have to get used to the idea that its director Guy Richie’s reimagining. Like the James Bond films, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. keeps the original character’s names and little else. They didn’t even keep The Man From U.N.C.L.E. theme music, which this baby boomer thought was rather cool.

But, ah, there’s the rub, this Man From U.N.C.L.E. is made for a new generation of moviegoers who probably never seen the original. So here’s the plot: Set in the 1960s, suave thief Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is recruited by the CIA to smuggle a sexy East Berlin auto mechanic Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) into West Berlin to find her father, one of Hitler’s top rocket scientist, who is reluctantly building a nuke for a group of Nazis, who by the way make wonderful movie villains. During the extraction, Russian spy Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) tries to stop Solo and kidnap Gaby to help the Russians find her father. The pair beat the hell out of one another the first half of the movie. But at last, barrowing every buddy cop cliché, sparring partners Solo and Kuryakin eventually team up and go after the Nazis bent on nuclear destruction. Well casted, witty, edge-of-the-seat excitement and high-style extravaganza, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., coming on the heels of an overdose of superhero movies, is a refreshing surprise to the late summer fare.

The Strength of Street Knowledge By Jonathan McMillan

The docudrama Straight Outta Compton is a nostalgic ride back through my formative years. The film begins in 1986. I was still a naive, relatively innocent middle school student. By the film’s closing credits, sometime around 1996, I was among other things, a two-time felon and single father who had long ago lost his innocence to the street life I was living. N.W.A. and the “gangsta rap” genre of music they created provided both the soundtrack and blueprint for

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Straight Outta Compton

that life that I, and thousands of young Black men, led. A Radio Shack version of a Sony Walkman and a cassette tape copy of Straight Outta Compton changed my life Christmas of 1989. I listened to that tape every day. I was a sophomore at Denver’s George Washington High School. Gradually more and more of the friends I grew up with began to either associate themselves with, or flat out became full-fledged members of LA style gangs. We imagined ourselves the actual Dopeman that N.W.A rapped about. They convinced our generation that they were the super-successful, invincible, gangbangin,’ drug dealin,’ hyper-sexualized superstars. Nevermind, the reality was that Eazy E, was actually Eric Wright, a 25-year-old exdrug dealer who got out of the business due to too many close calls with the law and brushes with death. Experiences like that make Straight Outta Compton such a good film. The screenplay is written from such an authentic place, that the audience relives scenes like a shared memory. This film shows us that we talked and felt the same things they did 25 years ago. Because it’s a biopic, almost everything about the movie is familiar, but thanks to the actual members of N.W.A.’s (and Eazy’s widow and coexecutive producer, Tomica Wright’s) involvement in the writing and production, fans are treated to untold details and even some dirty laundry. N.W.A.’s reaction when they first heard Ice Cube’s diss song, “No Vaseline” is one of the funniest scenes of the movie. It’s a visceral experience to see Dre’s encounter with some racist police directly outside of the studio that inspired Ice Cube to write the groups (and maybe hip-hop’s) most notorious song. Continued on page 24

Continued from page 23 Because the music is as important as the story, many times during the screening the audience would rap along out loud, just like we were back in 1990 listening to a cassette tape at a house party. The few times that new music is heard, you can tell it’s Dre’s signature sound and it compliments the movie. Surprisingly, the film is as funny and emotional as it is dramatic. Authentic dialog creates many laugh out loud moments, and great casting and skilled transparent acting from a mostly unknown cast, even during some of the most highly charged scenes allow you to forget that actors – are only portraying the superstars many of us are familiar with, not the actual people. The highly entertaining 147 minute film takes every second to reveal the details about Dre’s relationship with Suge Knight and Death Row, Ice Cube’s solo career, Eric’s illness and the current state of N.W.A. Rather than end the film with the dissolution of the group, the film details the aftermath of the breakup. Straight Outta Compton benefits from the 20-plus years of movie mak-


ing experience from both co-executive producer O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson’s and F. Gary Gray Friday’s and their combined passion. Not only is this one of the best films of the year, but the best film about a musical group since Robert Townsend’s 1991 film, The Five Heartbeats. (’91) Times and society have changed dramatically since “N——z With Attitudes” exploded on the scene. I remember vividly reporters said exactly for what the “N” stood when they discussed the controversial new rap group N.W.A. Today you would never hear the title of this group spoken on air. The debate continues how negatively N.W.A. impacted culture or how much they are responsible for the downfall of those who looked up to them as role models. N.W.A. were controversial pioneers who paved the way for contemporary hip-hop artists who are less “journalist,” as Ice Cube once described himself, and more exaggerated characters in the vein of Eazy E. Straight Outta Compton - both the album and the film delivers on the promise that you would witness the strength of street knowledge. 

Monday-Friday, 6-9am

Good Looks Pays Off For Marlon Yates M

By Samantha Ofole-Prince

arlon Yates Jr. is too handsome to play Dr. Dre. That’s what the model turned actor was told when he initially turned up for an audition for the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. “I originally went for the Dre role, but was told I might be a little too handsome for the role.” As luck would have it, Yates, who was on the verge of giving up acting, got a call from the studio just weeks later offering him the part of The D.O.C. who often wrote for and toured with the group. “I had no idea who he was,” Yates says, “but I did my research and saw that he is this hip-hop legend. It was like reading a book and seeing the layers unfold as I had no idea The D.O.C. had a huge influence on N.W.A.” After a test read with the lead cast; Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube) and Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E), Yates says he received a congratulatory text from the film’s director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, Set It Off) that he had the part. A major break for the actor who says he was at a huge crossroads with his acting career. “Hollywood was something I fell into. Football was my main priority and when it didn’t work out, I didn’t know what to do with my life,” says the 26 year-old South Central Los Angeles native. “I was going to give myself till I was 31 to get my first movie or TV show before giving up on this Hollywood thing, so when I booked it, it was definitely a blessing.” The film follows the meteoric rise of the group N.W.A. who in the mid-1980s revolutionized hip hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood. “These are young inner city kids who went against the grain and accomplished something. They made their dreams come true and it shows that you can make if, if you take a chance,” says Yates, who runs an after school program for kids in the inner city community through his newly founded organization BCAA. Directed by F. Gary Gray, who made his feature directorial debut with the 1995 comedy classic Friday, which starred Ice Cube, Gray, Yates says, was the perfect director.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


“He allows the actors to be artists and allowed us to improvise certain scenes, and if it worked we would keep it. He was so focused and is very passionate about his craft.” Research was key for Yates, and to perfect his part, he checked out music videos to see how The D.O.C.’s mannerisms were and paid particular attention to how he walked and talked. “I also learned he was an alcoholic and always had a drink in his hand, but he was one of the brains of the business and really understood the business.” The research obviously paid off for Yates as The D.O.C who popped by the set a few times and offered several words of encouragement. “Due to certain legal rights, they couldn’t release some of his music, but he was there and talked about some of the scenes that he saw.” Straight Outta Compton marks his foray into feature film, but Yates has had commercial success modeling for brands such as Nike, McDonalds, Timberland and Skechers and although his good looks barred him from playing the lead role, he cites being part of the film as a “huge blessing.” “I got to work with guys I grew up listening to and I had the opportunity to work with a great cast and it was the best time of my life.”

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Venture Prep Welcomes New Executive Director

Erin Quigley is the new executive director at Venture Prep High School, an award-winning public charter school located at 2540 Holly Street. Quigley comes to Venture Prep with 15 years of education experience, nine of those as an English teacher. Most recently, she served as assistant principal and co-director of the Manhattan Business Academy, a high school she co-founded in 2009. In her extensive career, she notes her good fortune working with thousands of students from all backgrounds. “They taught me that my most important job is to take care of them as individuals and make sure school is giving them what they need to achieve their dreams,” she adds. “That’s no small task, but I find great joy in fulfilling that responsibility every single day.” Quigley is excited to join the Venture Prep staff as they continue their work preparing students for college and career success. She attributes much of the school’s ongoing achievements to its three-fold vision of building community, fostering a growth mindset, and doing work that matters. She says, “At the heart of my work, I want students to learn joy, caring, curiosity, and courage. These are the aspects of humanity that are worth fighting for and passing along to the next generation.”

Community College of Denver Foundation Receives $40,000 Through Denver Post Charities

Season to Share Campaign Funds CCD’s Urban Male Initiative Mentor Program for Males of Color The Community College of Denver Foundation received a $40,000 grant through Denver Post Charities, a McCormick Foundation Fund, with funds raised from the Season to Share campaign. The grant funding will support the Community College of


Denver (CCD)’s Urban Male Initiative (UMI) mentor program for lowincome males of color. Founded in 2011, UMI’s goal is to serve CCD’s urban male students by recognizing the unique challenges they face as well as provide them with academic resources and educational planning assistance through mentoring. Through UMI, CCD works to develop these students as leaders by helping them invest in their own intellectual capital, build meaningful relationships, and attain skills, such as compassion, civility, integrity, and listening. “CCD’s UMI program provides our students with an on-campus support system and teaches them valuable networking skills,” said Ryan Ross, dean of CCD’s Student Development. “Founded on the principal of leadership and service, UMI strives to find ways for our students to get involved in campus activities and events as well as provide opportunities for them to get involved in leadership development.” UMI is listed in the American Association of Community College’s Minority Male Student Success database, which provides information about programs nation-wide whose goal it is to improve the success of minority male students at the nation’s community colleges. To learn more, visit A total of $2,350,000 was distributed to 53 nonprofit organizations across the Denver metropolitan region through Denver Post Charities in this grant cycle. With more than 10,000 students, CCD is the third-largest community college in Colorado and a leading point of entry to higher education for the city and county of Denver. CCD provides a cost-effective, high-quality college education to nontraditional students, along with access and opportunity, workforce development, training resources for local organizations and community partnerships. CCD is a federally funded Hispanic Serving Institution and is one of 13 community colleges in the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). Learn more at About Denver Post Charities, a McCormick Foundation Fund, and the Season To Share Campaign: Established in 1992, through Denver Post Charities, a McCormick Foundation Fund, supports local nonprofit organizations with programs that focus on child and youth education, health and wellness, homelessness and hunger. Grants are made possible with the generosity of Denver Post readers, the general public, and

corporate donations to the Season To Share campaign, the primary fundraising campaign for Denver Post Charities. Since inception, more than $66 million has been distributed to improve the lives of those in need in metro Denver. To learn more about Denver Post Charities Season To Share, visit About the Robert R. McCormick Foundation: The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is committed to fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic programs, Cantigny Park and museums, the Foundation helps develop citizen leaders and works to make life better in our communities. The Foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The McCormick Foundation is one of the nation’s largest foundations, with more than $1.5 billion in assets. The McCormick Foundation’s Communities Program continues Col. McCormick’s legacy by partnering with media outlets, such as the Denver Post, sports teams and philanthropic organizations across the country, to raise money and provide matching dollars, which increase the impact of charitable giving. To learn more about the McCormick Foundation, visit

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Ten Years after Hurricane Katrina, Black New Orleans Has Not Recovered

Racial Justice Groups Launch, a Website Detailing the Decade-Long Neglect of the Black Population in New Orleans

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana. More than 1,800 lives were lost and 600,000 people were left homeless.This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the storm and provides an important opportunity to reflect on the ways New Orleans has changed since Katrina. Today, Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization and Friends and Families of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), a grassroots juvenile justice organization based in New Orleans, launched The website details how African Americans in New Orleans have been left behind in the city’s recovery efforts and the decade-long displacement and neglect this community has suffered.

“ is a direct response to the erasure of Black struggle post-Katrina,” said Judith Browne Dianis, advancement project co-director. “The facts and data presented on this website invite a more nuanced look at the progress in New Orleans following the storm. What you will see is that the progress touted by the city and state completely disregards the lack of progress for Black New Orleans. This is both nonsensical and reprehensible. “What we saw during Katrina was abandonment of the Black population in New Orleans,” said Gina Womack, executive director of FFLIC. “Black people faced the storm alone 10 years ago and have faced the recovery alone today. We cannot and should not forget that in the days following the storm, Black people were targeted as looters, were shot at by police and racist vigilantes and rounded up and held in horrific conditions in the Superdome. This disregard for the lives of people of color continues today through the disinvestment of the Black community and the debasement of Black livelihood through aggressive gentrification and privatization policies.” “Plain and simple, the recovery efforts of the last 10 years in New Orleans mostly benefitted White residents,” said Ernest Johnson, FFLIC’s statewide juvenile justice reform campaign and policy director.

“America’s comeback city is one where the Black median income remains less than one half of the White median income. It is a city where the Black unemployment rate is nearly three times the rate of White unemployment rate. It is a city where only 30 percent of residents in the predominately Black Lower 9th Ward have been able to return to their homes. It is evident that recovery was out of reach and unavailable to African Americans.” The website provides information on eight issue areas: housing, education, criminal justice, income inequality, environmental justice, LGBT, health and the overall state of Black New Orleans. Nowhere is it more apparent that Black New Orleans has not recovered than in education. Three months after Katrina, the Louisiana legislature passed Act 35 allowing the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) to take over 107 New Orleans public schools previously controlled by the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). The implementation of RSD’s real agenda is to privatize public education by recklessly closing or converting all district-run schools. In May 2014, RSD closed the last five public schools, becoming the first all-charter district in the nation. “Under the guise of education reform, corporate profiteers and politicians zeroed on

New Orleans after the storm,” said Thena Robinson-Mock, project director of the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Campaign. “Today, most Black students are still trapped in failing or near-failing public schools and experience a deeper, more severe form of charter school “push-out” through suspensions and expulsions.” “Hurricane Katrina destroyed so much and there is still much work to be done,” said Browne Dianis. That is why we must counter any narrative that whitewashes or fails to highlight the lived experience of Black New Orleanians.”

Editor’s Note: Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras. Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) is a grassroots membership-based organization working to transform the systems that put children at risk of prison. Through empowerment, leadership development, and training we strive to keep children from going to prison and support those who have and their families.


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Colorado Gospel Music Pioneer Rev. Hobbs To Be Honored

Rev. E. Hayward “Butch” Hobbs, a trailblazer in gospel music is a gifted pianist, organist, singer, songwriter, and choir director. He has served as the Minister of Music for many churches. Throughout his dedicated and anointed music ministries, Rev. Hobbs has influenced, inspired, mentored and blessed many lives. This year marks his 71st birthday and his 63rd year of music ministry. He will be honored at a tribute luncheon featuring a special musical reunion of “Our Father’s Children,” a powerful gospel group Hobbs founded in the 1970’s with the Gospel Music Workshops of America. The luncheon will be held on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Scott United Methodist Church, 2880 Garfield St., in Denver. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are available. For more information call Carol at 303-3455-6524 or Ada at 720-941-7710.

Owl Club of Denver Celebrate 74th Year for Founder’s Day

The Owl Club of Denver will celebrate its 74th year of existence at the Founders’ Day Program on Saturday, Sept. 26 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Sam Gary Library, 2961 Roslyn St. in Denver. The public is invited to history learning event, share memorabilia and artifacts, and tour the library. The program is free and the attire is business casual. Refreshments will be served. The Owl Club of Denver, Colorado was founded in 1941 and received its charter from the State of Colorado in 1949. The Owl Club was organized as


a men’s social club at the prestigious University Club. In time prominent local African-American leaders and businessmen became members of the group. Members attend monthly membership meetings where they schedule and implement programming of educational, cultural, civic, social and recreational activities. Beginning in 1951, the group selected its first 10 African-American female high school seniors from Manual and East High Schools, on the basis of scholastic performance and community service rather than socioeconomic status, for a debutante ball. The Club annually recognizes outstanding African-American young women through the Debutante Cotillion and also sponsors community service projects that have a positive impact. For more information, call Ron Washington at 303-525-6115 or email,

We Need to Talk Seminar Offers Tips for Talking with Older Drivers

Denver area caregivers, families, and concerned friends are invited to attend an informational session hosted by Seniors’ Resource Center. The free seminar helps participants learn to talk with their loved ones about remaining active and participating in the community when it is time to limit or stop driving. Among the topics covered: identifying opportunities to begin a dialogue, recognizing the warning signs that indicate an older adult may need to limit or stop driving, and developing a plan using local alternate transportation so the older driver can stay connected to their community. The free seminar will be held at the Seniors’ Resource Center, 3227 Chase St. in Denver on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. By 2030, one in four drivers will be age 65 and older. More than 30 million older drivers will be on our roads. Their ability to remain safe on the

road and mobile in their community can be compromised by changes in their health. The We Need to Talk seminar is designed to assist family and friends to have successful conversations about when and how an older person can stay mobile when it is time to limit or stop driving. Space is limited. For more information and to RSVP early, call 303-8071763.

Faith Base/Women’s Support and Counseling Group

Pastor Polly Sanders-Peterson, founder of Covenant House of Love will host a free 10 to 12-week support and counseling group that will cover emotional healing and how to experience love and acceptance and how to overcome past and current hurts. Sessions begin on Tuesday, Sept. 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and every Tuesday for 10 to 12 weeks at Open Door Fellowship, 1567 Marion St. in Denver. For more information and to register, call 877-744-2122 or email Feel free to bring a Bible.

RAAP Host 2nd Annual FNE Warriors Homecoming Parade

On Saturday, Sept. 26 at 10 a.m., the Regional Athletics and Activities Program and the FNE Warriors invite the Denver metro region to the 2nd Annual FNE Warriors Homecoming Parade. This year’s event will honor learner athletes, activities and FNE community including Buffalo Soldiers of America West, the world class Drum Line, GVR Giants, FNE elementary and high school and local businesses as they enter their float, performances. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Green Valley Ranch Blvd and Chambers Rd. and end at the Evie Dennis Campus, 4800 Telluride St. in Denver. After the parade, RAAP will host a block party at the Evie Dennis Campus with fun

activities, food, music and entertainment for the whole family. The event will culminate with the biggest football game of the year at 1p.m. when the FNE Warriors face Northglenn High School at the Evie Dennis Campus football stadium. The parade is free. Tickets to the football game will be available for purchase at the stadium. For more information, email or visit

Learn How to Shop Smarter and Healthier with Project L.I.F.E.

Partnering with Project L.I.F.E., Cooking Matters will be hosting an interactive nutritional, bud get-friendly presentation on how to shop smarter and healthier at the grocery store. Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program focuses on empowering low-income families with the culinary skills and nutrition knowledge they need to fee d their families on a tight bud get. Project L.I.F.E. is a non-profit organization offering job training and life skills enrichment programs to lowincome, disadvantaged, homeless and disabled adults and residents of the Clayton and other inner-city neighborhoods of Denver. The presentation will include information on nutrition models, food labels, and samples of our signature recipes for all participants. Upon seminar completion each participant will receive a reusable Cooking Matters grocery bag, recipe/resource book, and a $10 gift card to King Soopers. The community is invited to attend this event on Saturday, Oct. 3 from noon to 2 p. m. at Project L.I.F.E., 3840 York Street Suite #100 in Denver. Attendance is limited to 40 participants and registration is recommended. For more information and to register, call Jyona Slay at 303-292-0016 or email info@

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Tips for Fall Fitness

Have you

By Kim Farmer

ever considered how many New Year’s holidays many of us have used to make new fitness or weight loss goals? Have you been able to stick with your resolutions past March or April? January is typically known for setting new goals relating to physical health, but why wait until then? The fall season is a GREAT time to start or revamp your fitness program because you will create new habits that can last

through the tough holiday season which is when we really need the push. Read the following five tips to stay motivated as the season changes: •Change your mindset. If you are a parent then this is the time of year when your schedule changes since your kids are going back to school. Think of it as the time of year when your schedule also changes with the start of a new fitness regimen. Perhaps you have to start taking your kids to the bus stop, driving them to school, picking them up from practice or other activities? This is the perfect time to integrate your own new exercise schedule into the routine. •Appreciate the cooler weather. The cooler weather is perfect for exercising outdoors and with Colorado’s picturesque scenery, we should all take advantage of being outside. The environment is perfect for walking, hiking or riding a bike and you might be tempted to increase your duration since the weather is not too hold or cold. Discover new trails near your home and make it convenient to throw on your shoes and get out. Throw a Frisbee with the kids or play fetch with your dog in a nearby park. If you live near a lake, try kayaking or canoeing with are both great wholebody workouts.

•Burn calories by raking leaves. Did you know the average 150 pound person burns 235 calories in 45 minutes by raking leaves? Kill two or three birds with one stone by 1: Doing something that needs to be done anyway, 2: Burning calories while doing it, and 3: Performing a good deed by doing something nice for your neighbor (which means you burn twice as many calories!). Of course the faster you work, the more intense your workout will be so get moving! •Try something new. Most local gyms create new schedules during this time of year and add classes that are considered ‘in.’ Pick up a Tabata class for some serious intervals, TRX to train using your own body weight, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for a mixture of cardio and strength or an Aerial class to create a lean, toned appearance. This is a great time to learn new skills and challenge muscles you don’t normally train. •Remember the 30 day rule. Experts say that it takes about four weeks to turn an action into a habit but unfortunately many people fall off within the first couple of weeks. Making changes and sticking with it is hard, but not impossible. When the weather changes and it gets colder and darker in the morning, don’t hit the snooze button no matter how

tempting it is. Stay on track with your new mindset and stick with your commitment, and you will start seeing the results you are looking for. Whenever the going gets tough, think about these 3 C’s: Convenience, consistency and commitment. Making exercise convenient with your schedule, staying consistent with your routine and making a commitment to yourself (and someone else!) will help you stick with it well past 30 days and you will look great in your swimsuit next year. While making New Year’s resolutions is a great way to start the new year, there really is no reason to wait for it. Start now with a new season which means changes in your own life with regards to your exercise routine. Doing something different will challenge your body in a new way, giving you improved results. Take a friend with you to a new fitness class or just start a new walking routine in your own neighborhood while enjoying the changing colors that Fall brings. Stay committed, be consistent and make it convenient! Editor’s note: Contributor Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness offers in-home personal training and corporate fitness solutions. Visit onaltraining or email inquires@mile

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Housing Costs Climb Out of Reach for Older Adults

While Colorado has experienced an increase in property values and new construction is booming throughout the state, an unintended consequence has resulted for older adults. One of the hardest hit are older adults who are living on limited incomes of less than150 percent of poverty and who rent, rather than own their own homes. Colorado gives some relief in housing costs to property owners. Years ago a constitutional amendment that allows individuals age 65 and over who have lived in their own home for 10 years or more to qualify for a Property Tax Homestead Exemption to reduce the amount of property tax by 50 percent on the first $200,000 of value on the home, regardless of income. Applications must be filed by July 1 of the year prior to the taxes being due with the County Assessor’s office. An application has to be filed only once. Hardest hit are single individuals who have been renting the same apartment for a long time, sometimes as long as 20 or more years. While the landlord has steadily increased the rent over the term of the lease, today these individuals are seeing rent increases that are sometimes as much as $300 or more per month, making the monthly rent as much as $1000 or $1200 per month. The attitude of the landlord is “pay or move,” not easy for someone who are 80-years old with a limited support system and few family members. Many landlords are also selling buildings to developers who are looking to change the use of the property to the “highest and best use,”meaning the existing building is demolished to

make way for new construction or the existing building is converted to new condominiums. Another group of older adults that are affected by the current real estate environment include traditional senior buildings that are owned by church groups and other nonprofit organizations. The boards of directors of these community-based organizations make business decisions to sell the property resulting in displacement of very low income seniors who have been longterm tenants. In recent years through a combination of tax credits, special bonds, and housing authority initiatives, some new construction has been built and continues to be built to meet the needs of moderate income individuals. While these units meet a significant need, the monthly rent plus utilities represents more than 50 percent of many Social Security beneficiaries’ monthly income, resulting in significant hardships. With more and more health care costs shifting to the Medicare beneficiary, increased food costs and increased rent, many older adults are experiencing more expenses than the monthly Social Security income. Even moderate income buildings which offer lower rent are often not an available option. Low income seniors who usually pay 30 percent of their income for rent, with the balance paid by housing vouchers are having problems finding affordable housing due to lack of availability. Another effected group is residents in nursing homes. They are not being discharged through the Money Follows the Person program because of the lack of affordable housing. While some vouchers are available for this program to help with paying the rent, finding landlords that are willing to accept a housing voucher is very difficult, oftentimes causing individuals to live for an extra year or more in the nursing home, rather than in their own apartment.

Landlords who have traditionally accepted housing vouchers from low income seniors either as private landlords, through community-based organizations, or for-profit corporations are evicting low income seniors because they can receive a higher monthly rent in the private market without the subsidy. The market rent approved for the housing voucher is often far less than the landlord can receive if the unit is rented in private market. Cities, counties and the state have not been very responsive to meeting the increased demand for low income housing. In the past 10 years, Denver County alone has lost more than 5000 units of low income housing for seniors who pay 30 percent of their income in rent to new developments or change in use. This trend is continuing with more units being taken off the market than being added to the housing inventory. While several new low income housing units have been constructed in Colorado in the past five years with federal, state or local support, the demand far exceeds the supply. Most buildings that cater to low-to-moderate income seniors have between six months and two-year or more waiting lists, hardly an answer for an older adult who has received a 30-day evic-

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tion notice. Many buildings are not adding names to the waiting list. Some community groups are looking into public building and identifying ways to increase affordable housing. The need in Colorado is for low income as well as moderate income housing. Without some type of government intervention at the city, county and state level, more older adults will become homeless, have to move in with family, or move to other states. Editor’s Note: If you are experiencing problems with affordable housing, call your elected city, county, state and federal officials to discuss the situation. For more information call 303-333-3482.

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015


Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2015



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Denver Urban Spectrum September 2015  

Denver Urban Spectrum has been spreading the news about people of color since 1987. It is the most sought after publication in the Denver a...

Denver Urban Spectrum September 2015  

Denver Urban Spectrum has been spreading the news about people of color since 1987. It is the most sought after publication in the Denver a...