Denver Urban Spectrum - September 2022

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Hustle and Bustle Volume 35

Number 6

September 2022

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alfonzo Porter MANAGING EDITOR Angelia D. McGowan COPY EDITOR Tanya Ishikawa COLUMNIST Barry Overton CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Candy Brown Angelia D. McGowan Alfonzo Porter LaQuane Smith Wayne Trujillo

Wow! It’s that time of year. The hustle and bustle that comes with new beginnings. There’s so much going on as parents prepare their children to go back to school, shopping for school supplies and new clothes.Some parents are traveling across the country to help move their children into the dormitory at colleges and universities. Other former students are waiting for the latest news from U.S. President Joe Biden about the possible cancelling of student loan debt. Education is on the table. DUS editor-in-chief Alfonzo Porter taps into a local hot-button issue in the education arena, providing perspective on the re-opening of Montbello High School with a piece entitled “What’s Old, is Apparently What’s New Again.” We also have a piece by Erica Meltzer of Chalkbeat Colorado addressing the shortage of teachers and bus drivers in Colorado. A lot is going on to create a welcoming environment for our youth to be successful in their educational journey. Education isn’t the only topic creating its own unique buzz in Denver, Colorado. DUS contributing writer Wayne Trujillo looks at the historical significance of when black and brown meets blue and orange in the historic new ownership of the Denver Broncos. DUS publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris is still on cloud nine after her performance in Dancing with the Denver Stars, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance annual fundraiser. The photo spread highlights all the performers brave enough to take up that challenge. A short piece from yours truly on the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press’ annual Rocky Mountain Driving Experience sheds a little light on the importance of real life meetings – even if it’s just a dozen or so journalists hanging out with cars. Enjoy! Angelia D. McGowan Managing Editor

COLAB Tanya Ishikawa - Story Coordinator ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris ADVERTISING & DIGITAL MARKETING Melovy Melvin GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert - Kolor Graphix PHOTOGRAPHERS Lens of Ansar Stanley Obert Steven Peterson SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Melovy Melvin DISTRIBUTION Lawrence A. James - Manager

The Denver Urban Spectrum is a monthly publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color. Contents of the Denver Urban Spectrum are copyright 2022 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Denver Urban Spectrum circulates 25,000 copies throughout Colorado. The Denver Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303292-6543 or visit the Web site at

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Prior non-convictions and non-violent convictions should not be used as a basis for denying somebody of something as important as housing or employment. Access to resources for individuals with prior convictions will benefit our economy and contribute to a safer society. Unhoused persons are in fact a significant part of the American workforce, according to Congressional Research Services, reflecting that unstable housing can make maintaining or getting ahead in employment impossible. Colorado must find an alternative to wasting millions of taxpayer dollars to keep people locked up, wasting local law enforcement resources, and subjecting incarcerated and correctional officers to unnecessary danger. Legislators must stand up and tackle the root causes of crime and reoffenders to ensure a safer state for all. Investing in disenfranchised communities pays off, according to data released from the United States Congress’ House Committee on Small Business in a Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act.

Colorado Must Pass a Clean Slate Legislation Editor: The COVID-19 pandemic has been detrimental to our unhoused communities across Colorado and the rest of the United States. Severe shortcomings in our current criminal justice and housing systems have failed those who have paid their debt to society and are seeking to find safe substantial housing. We have seen this up close and personal in Denver. Unhoused communities have set up camp throughout the city, fighting to stay warm through harsh weather. As Colorado statute currently stands, an old misdemeanor is putting Coloradans at serious risk for being denied rental housing; subsequently pushing many individuals towards homelessness. As Americans, how we treat those who have made minor, misdemeanor-worthy mistakes in the past speaks to who we are as a society and nation. To eliminate discrimination, Colorado must pursue clean slate legislation that changes the standard for housing and employment background checks.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


In the land of the free, the U.S leads the world in people behind bars per capita, and for decades, BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) communities have felt the brunt of over-incarcerations and have suffered human rights violations while incarcerated. Indigenous women migrants have made accounts of these experiences in the book Beyond Detention: Undocumented Dangers and Deportability. The solution and pathway forward are both clear: pathways to safe and affordable housing for all are in the best interest of our public safety and economic prosperity. Jeremiah Ntepp Denver, CO

Editor’s note: Miah Ntepp serves as policy advisor and civil rights leader for the Denver Chapter NAACP.

What’s Old is Apparently What’s New Again Montbello High School Goes Back to Old Model By Alfonzo Porter


he recent developments, surrounding the “reimagining” of Montbello High School in that far northeast Denver community, call to mind a quote from New York Yankee legend, Yogi Berra: “It’s De Ja Vu all Over Again!” Twelve years ago, Denver Public Schools (DPS) opted to close Montbello’s comprehensive high school and adopted a strategy to implement multiple curricular models under one roof. So, the district launched an ambitious, yet ultimately unsuccessful plan to open a number of smaller, more specialized schools on the same grounds. The larger school was reportedly closed by DPS due to chronically lagging student achievement data in 2010, and officials decided to replace Montbello High with three separate options. What eventually emerged were the Denver Center for International Studies, Collegiate Prep Academy and Noel Community Arts School. However, academic performance at those three schools continued to fall short of expectations with no statistically significant improvement. After considerable community pressure, the DPS Board of Education voted last year to go back to the old school model. But outside of a shiny, new and modern facility, what still remains unclear is how the new plan will differ from the old plan? And is the renovation of the schools supposed to magically produce better student academic outcomes, reduce dis cipline and heighten parent involvement?

Therefore, after some 12 years of “instructional experimentation” in the overwhelmingly African American and Hispanic neighborhood, it appears that nothing has changed, possibly leaving the community right back where it started, with students’ opportunities for real academic success still uncertain. According to Chris Martinez, a president of the Montbello Organizing Committee (MOC), instead of shuttering the original school in 2010, the school district should have provided the resources needed from the beginning. “We held a number of community meetings back then to discuss potential solutions in the hopes of addressing and resolving the school’s issues,” Martinez says. “However, the district seemed to have already had its mind made up to close it. There had been promises for years to provide the additional financial resources to improve teacher quality and retention— none of it ever materialized.” Now, as the community prepares to revert back to the more traditional high school model, officials seem short on answers as to exactly how student achievement data will be improved. As a result, DPS parent Andrea Mosby remains skeptical.

“The school district did not know then, and apparently still can’t tell us how these actions will lead to better scholastic outcomes,” Mosby commented. “After 12 years of screwing over our kids and seeking to ‘dumb them down’ with low expectations, we are now being asked, yet again, to trust that they have our children’s best interest at heart.” She says that she was asked to participate on the original committee to consider the closure of Montbello back in 2010, but when she began to insist that the same actions be considered at other district high schools, like East, the offer to participate mysteriously disappeared. “There has been no real accountability from the district from the very beginning,” she says. “I never understood the rationale and was solidly against it.” Nevertheless, officials say that there will be significant differences between the Montbello High School of the past and the newly reimagined school. According to Denver School Board Vice President Tay Anderson, through multiple community conversations over the past few years, there is a clearer understanding of what the community wants and expects. “The community and the district are focused on being active partners,” he says. “And while we must be held to state standards regarding test scores,

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


it is not the only way to measure student achievement. We have to continue to work to overcome the notion of a onesize-fits-all assessment.” Anderson’s assertion has plenty of support. President Biden, in an address to thousands of teachers in 2020, said that standardized tests “make no sense.” The president’s argument suggested that teachers are best suited to determine curriculum and how to build student confidence. The nagging so-called “achievement gap” has continued to broaden throughout the period of standardized testing. For years, we have borne witness to one strategy after another in an effort to solve the problem of low student performance, especially in schools with high minority populations like Montbello. In its most extreme iteration during the No Child Left Behind Act, test scores resulted in heightened punishment for school systems, shuttering lowperforming schools, defunding many academic programs and placing schools on the dreaded closure list. Montbello and other schools in DPS, like West High School, fell victim to these machinations, opening up opportunities for the charter school movement and their investors. Students’ futures are essentially determined based on how they perform on these tests, though their scoring methods and structures have been shown as discriminatory. For instance, it has been reported that some 75% of New York City public school students

failed in the initial year of the Common Core initiative during the Bush Administration. Many tests are mostly multiple choice, which requires students to engage in a series of high-stakes guesses. The tests are created private corporations like Pearson and the American Institutes for Research, and the formulas remain unclear. In the end, far too many questions remain unanswered for school system officials to make such serious decisions about the lives and futures of minority children based on test scores. Closing schools and trying a variety of alternative solutions tend to only negatively impact those students and families who are least prepared to fight back. In the end, the tests are largely based on broad assumptions, which many statistical organizations reject and advise not to be used in high-stakes decision-making. In 2015, for instance, New York’s Education Transformation Act required scoring formulas to be made transparent and publicly available prior to the start of the school year. This meant that failing to reveal weights and scoring actually would be a violation of the law. A federal court in Houston, Texas, found in 2017 that hidden formulas were unverifiable and constituted a violation of the teachers’ due process rights. In 2018, a court injunction in New Mexico made hidden formulas a winning campaign issue in the state’s gubernatorial race. Anderson says that the board has been able to fulfill past, unfulfilled promises by delivering a pay increase for teachers to help with retention of the district’s instructional talent—especially at low-performing schools. “It helps but it is not enough,” he says. “But I am excited about the new workforce at Montbello. Ten years from now, I fully expect to be

crystal clear that they wanted their high school back. “Montbello has a rich tradition in the community, and I applaud the district for this decision,” she says. “However, we cannot overlook the fact that this a community-led, districtsupported initiative.” Quattlebaum says that this represents a change where the district seeks to be “responsive rather than reactive.” For Chris Martinez, her point rings true.

celebrating the schools’ success.” Ultimately, it was community demand that moved the board to reopen the comprehensive high school model at Montbello. According to School Board Member Michelle Quattlebaum, who represents the Montbello district, the community made it

“I don’t think the community really understood how vital the school was to our community back then,” Martinez says. “Once it closed, we realized the true impact that it had here. The building is not meant to solve all the problems. It is just the carrot to attract what is needed for us to begin the building process and restore what was lost.” The new school, launched this school year, features a Continued on page 6


Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


Gym Entry

Sketch Effect Enscape Interior View

Photos courtesy of EUA and Eidos Architects

Photos courtesy of EUA and Eidos Architects

Continued from page 5 newly renovated comprehensive high school and middle school on the campus. It is slated for completion during the 2024 school year. The entire project is funded by a $130 million bond issue that was approved city-wide by voters in November 2021. Here is how it will unfold: The first phase involved prepping part of the current building to welcome students, teachers and staff for this school

year. For the next two years while work progresses to build innovative learning environments and renovate sections of the existing structure, students will be present in the building. The work began at the beginning of summer after the 2021/22 school year came to a close. Construction crews immediately began to implement design plans on parts of the building, modifying parts of the school into additional classroom and gathering spaces.

While a portion of Phase I involves creating temporary solutions to serve Montbello High School during the construction period, much of the work will also prepare the site for the permanent building. The plan includes an expanded parking area off Crown Boulevard, and utility work that will require temporary lane closures on Crown Boulevard and 51st Avenue during the summer. The existing auditorium, main gym and swimming pool will be renovated, and combined with all new spaces including a library, commons, cafeteria, auxiliary gym, and three stories of new classrooms. When completed, the campus will also include an outdoor plaza, which in addition to an alumni room, commons and

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The Denver Broncos Lead the NFL with New, Diverse Leadership By Wayne Trujillo


range and blue are two colors that typically come to mind when popular culture considers the Denver Broncos. After the team swept the 1977 season, claiming the AFC championship, the celebrated Orange Crush defense fell short of the Lombardi Trophy, losing to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII. Despite the title loss, the Orange Crush sensation created an historic, even mythical image that still resonates among Denver Broncos aficionados. This year, after headlines announced that the WaltonPenner Family Ownership Group bought the team, attention initially focused on the price tag ($4.65 billion) and the principal purchasers (including Rob Walton of Wal Mart fame and fortune.) However, subsequent reports about the shifting guard highlight colors other than the iconic orange; these colors herald another historic chapter in the Denver Broncos history. Ownership not only includes members of the Walton-Penner family, but also three Black superstars of business, government, academia and sports. They include Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments and Starbucks; Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. national security advisor and secretary of state as well as current director of the Hoover Institution; and

Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group: (L-R) Greg Penner, Condoleezza Rice, Ph.D., Robson Walton, Mellody Hobson, and Carrie Walton-Penner. Sir Lewis Hamilton, who is not in the photo, is also part of the group.

Black woman to do this. This is a big deal. This is history. I think it’s gone over people’s heads a little bit. It’s news. It’s a tremendous representation for minorities, but Blacks in particular.” While the mainstream recognizes Rice’s name and accomplishments, her inclusion in the group marks an additional milestone. With Lewis, Leech and Aragon onboard, the team leadership resembles the diverse fan base that watch from bleachers, bar stools and boob tubes. Rice posted a Facebook announcement on the import associated with the inclusion. “It’s an honor to be part of this ownership group,” Rice expressed. “Football has been an integral part of my life since the moment it was introduced to me, and I am thrilled to be part of the Denver Broncos organization today. I spent much of my younger years in Denver, so to be able to combine my love of the game with my love for this great city and team is an adventure of a lifetime and a great opportunity.” A headline on announced, “Denver Broncos should be celebrated for setting standard in diversity of leadership.” In the article, Rich Kurtzman wrote, “For the

Formula One titan Sir Lewis Hamilton, who made the sale even more historic beyond the staggering sum paid for the team. All three are part of the ownership group. All three are people of color. Subsequently, the Denver Broncos added Damani Leech as team president and Tim Aragon as general counsel, expanding the diversity pool. Quarterback Russell Wilson, who is of mixed ethnic background that includes primarily African and European lineage, expressed his pride and gratitude over the diversity in the team’s leadership. “What a tremendous accomplishment and what a gift to be able to do what she’s going to do,” Wilson relayed to Denver Broncos Wire about Hobson. “She’s the first

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


Denver Broncos diversity is king. And that’s a wonderful thing.” Later Kurtzman noted the NFL’s longstanding “diversity problem in leadership” and later continued that it “…not only has a diversity problem, it has a homophobic, toxicity problem too. Now the Denver Broncos are leading the way in terms of diversifying their leadership, showing others the path. That should be celebrated and copied across the NFL.” The Denver Broncos made history previously with a first when Marlin Briscoe became the first Black starting quarterback in pro football in 1968. The Washington Post reported that while Briscoe had accomplished that feat, Denver Broncos Coach Lou Saban denied him the opportunity to compete for quarterback the following year, which led to Briscoe’s decision to leave the team. Fast forward a half century and minority members include the Denver Broncos quarterback, president, general counsel and members of ownership. With the diverse members throughout the organization making headline news across traditional and new media, the public will likely associate the Denver Broncos with colors other than orange and blue and, as Kurtzman advised, hopefully inspire similar shifts across the NFL..

In Real Life:

The Touch and Feel of a New Car By Angelia D. McGowan Photos by Angelia D. McGowan

Last month the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press held its annual Rocky Mountain Driving Experience with driving routes in and around Red Rocks Park in Morrison,

Colorado. And the views did not disappoint. More importantly, the opportunity for representatives of car manufacturers to connect in person with dozens of auto journalists in real life became, well, a reality.

While there have a been some in-person driving events over the last couple of years, they have been few and far between. The on-again, offagain scheduling of events during the height of the COVID pandemic left many journalists

sitting in front of a cell phone or computer screen for online reveals. Presenters from the manufacturers pulled out as many virtual bells and whistles as they could using online platforms to pique the interest of journalists as they explained what was special about new models. David Taylor, who attended the driving event on behalf of his blog GoFatherhood, compared the mode of communication by noting the difference between an artist performing in a studio versus in front of an audience. They both work, but it is just not the same. Amy Delcamp of Stellantis, who brought out the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4XE for the event, relays that it’s nice to be back in person because it allows the journalists to feel, touch and smell the new cars. “There’s only so much story to tell virtually.” Anyone buying a new vehicle understands there’s

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


Shamit Choksey with Kia makes a pit stop at Red Rocks during the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience.

Antonio Jakes (red shirt) with Honda addresses journalists before they head out on their drive routes at Rocky Mountain Driving Experience in Morrison, Colorado. to travel more to see people that says Matthew Pilgrim, president of the Rocky Mountain they haven’t seen in a long Automotive Press, who coorditime. “The hardest thing about nated the event with the support of DriveShop and COVID was feeling isolated,” Automotive Media Solutions. he says. “There’s nothing like learn“Seeing how much this event ing about cars with the physical brings joy to people is hard to convey on the internet.”. example right in front of you,” Ryota Yonekura with Nissan gives a walk-around presentation of the 2023 Pathfinder Rock Creek.

nothing like the smell of the inside of a new vehicle. Being able to sit behind the steering wheel, place your finger on the start button, feel the vehicle come alive and place your foot on the gas is a whole other level of reality. With auto representatives along for the ride it’s also fun for journalists to tap into their 2-year-old

Let’s Play!

selves and touch or point at something and say, “What’s that?” The re-connection with friends and colleagues is key for Eric Goetz of DriveShop, a company that connects automotive brands with their audiences. Now with more and more events on the calendar professionals in the industry are able

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BOOK A TEE TIME TODAY! Shamit Choksey with Kia and Denver Urban Spectrum managing editor Angelia McGowan testing driving the Kia Sportage, and its back-up camera, at Red Rocks. Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


NigerianAmerican Actor is Orpheus in Hadestown

Chibueze Ihuoma and company in the Hadestown North American Tour Photo by Kevin Berne

By Candy Brown


adestown, a musical based on Greek mythology, follows two tales. One is the quest of a young man who ventures out to retrieve his one true love and the other is a tale of King Hades and his wife Queen Persephone. This national tour of Hadestown, running from Aug. 30 to Sept. 11 in the Buell Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts complex, features two Black per-

formers as the star-crossed young lovers Chibueze Ihuoma, who plays the love-struck Orpheus and Morgan Siobhan Green who takes on the role of the struggling, broken Eurydice. Whether you are a lover of mythology or not, it is a quest we can all relate to in our lives. But as Greek mythology goes, it’s not an easy road for the young couple as there are strings attached. Ihuoma, a recent graduate of the NYU Tisch School of the

Arts, began the tour in the chorus and as an understudy to this lead and eventually took over the role of Orpheus while in San Francisco. Like many budding artists, at an early age Ihuoma had to prove to loved ones that he was serious about making a living as a successful artist as opposed to the proverbial starving artist. His diligence and dedication built the discipline that convinced his parents that he was on the right path. Committed to the arts, Ihuoma participated in every theatre training program available while in high school. As he continued his education, he learned that musicals ask that an actor not only be a singer and dancer but play an instrument as well. He picked up the guitar, which he plays in the Hadestown. After trying piano, he discovered the guitar really spoke to him, so practicing became a pleasure. As a recent graduate, he notes the number of dates and time commitment as the most striking difference between working as a professional and training as a student. While in school, or a summer show or workshop, they would rehearse for many weeks, then perform about 10 shows or a month during the summer. When he began in Hadestown it suddenly hit him, “this is indefinite” and the reality of the eight shows a week required that he learn “methods to keep yourself healthy and maintain your

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


instrument vocally and body wise. It’s lots of maintenance.” When asked how all cultures can find interest in a story like that Orpheus and Eurydice, he says, “There are tons of different types of representation in the show, but when it comes to specifically the Black representation in the show it’s so important because you don’t get to see it often. When you get to see four of the five leads are Black, when they were not originally cast in that way, it matters so much.” “It wasn’t a situation that it was a necessity,” adds the Nigerian-American actor about the winner of the 2019 Tony Award for Best musical, which brings the flavor of New Orleans jazz with a Greek chorus. “They just saw that these people are the best suited for these roles, that can tell this universal story.” His tip for young theatre hopefuls is to, “Follow your heart when it comes to the kind of projects you want to do. When it comes to the kind of training you want to pursue, you’ll know when it feels right and you will be motivated to be disciplined in your training. Bring your authentic self. It then stops feeling like work.” Practice saying his name (chih-beh-zay ee-hoh-mah) because you will be hearing wonderful things from this talented and hardworking young man.. Editor’s note: For more information, visit

and challenges our perspective on the art and industry of textiles. Bringing together a collective of performing artists, climate scientists, regenerative textile artists, a visual technologist and creative riggers, the piece turns a building’s façade into a giant loom where stories and dances interlace.

BANDALOOP Swoops into Denver for Free Sky High Performance in Celebration of Newman Center’s 20th Anniversary


alling all dance lovers and aerial enthusiasts: in celebration of its 20th anniversary season, the Newman Center for Performing Arts is hosting a free performance by BANDALOOP, the Oakland-based vertical dance collective, on Sept. 29 at 4:30 p.m. The performance will take place off the walls of the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science and the Sie Complex, located within walking distance of the University of Denver’s Newman Center (2344 Iliff Avenue).

Beyond the Barre BANDALOOP is an experience like no other. It celebrates the human spirit, nature, and communities through dance that uses climbing technology

Elevating All Five Senses The Newman Center and BANDALOOP are excited for this partnership to bring a free, all-inclusive event to DU and the surrounding community. BANDALOOP prides itself on breaking down barriers and cre-

to expand and challenge what is possible. An innovator of vertical performance, BANDALOOP seamlessly weaves dynamic physicality and intricate choreography to turn the dance floor on its side. The brainchild of Amelia Rudolph, BANDALOOP was founded in Oakland, California in 1991. Under the artistic direction of Melecio Estrella, the performances re-imagine dance, activate public spaces and inspire wonder and imagination in audiences in the U.S. and abroad. BANDALOOP will be performing their piece LOOM:FIELD. Under the artistic direction of Melecio Estrella, LOOM:FIELD is a trilogy of large-scale, outdoor public vertical dance pieces that deepens Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


ating unique experiences in nontraditional environments and catching people off guard. BANDALOOP will be joined by local artists from Playground Ensemble, Presenting Denver, as well as students from DU’s Lamont School of Music. Food trucks will be on-site, as well as an interactive loom demonstration from Fancy Tiger Crafts. The surrounding area of the Newman Center will be transformed into a performing arts experience to remember.. Editor’s note: For more information, visit or

What is it and why do you need it? By Barry Overton

The home

buying process requires a variety of moving parts to reach a successful close. One of the most important areas

of these moving parts is title service. While title is not really considered to be sexy, it plays a huge role to the real estate transaction. The word insurance is often not exciting in any capacity. Guess what? That still holds true here, but just like all other insurance policies you are happy you have it should you ever need it. Title insurance is a form of insurance that protects the owner and the lender and assuring them that all liens and encumbrances from the previous owner have been settled upon closing. Vigorous research and investigation is administered by the title company to make sure that all liens are determined prior to closing. Just like insurance in other areas of life, a title policy insurance kicks in, should there be a lien or encumbrance that appears after the sale of the

property that was a responsibility of the previous owner. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with owner and founder of Closing Connection Title Services, Genae Horton, who has 25 years of experience in all aspects of title services. She advised that title insurance provides peace of mind for a new homeowner and the lender, that they are protected if any unknown liens were to arise. In most states, the title company is also responsible for executing the closing of the property. The first action that is usually taken with a title company is receiving the earnest money that will be held until closing and contributed as a credit to the buyer for their closing fees and down payment. The next step involves the title company pulling a title search on the property that is under contract. There are several inquiries that can be deter-

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


mined through a title search, such as: •If there are any other owners other than the listed seller. •If there are any outstanding mortgage liens and other existing liens. •Are there any judgment and tax liens? •If there’s an HOA and if there are outstanding HOA dues or fees. •Are there any easements that the property may have that a previous homeowner has given someone else permission to use? •If there are any restrictions on being able to sell. One of the most common restrictions may be age requirements, for instance if a buyer is moving into a 55+ community. The title company can also create or prepare an abstract of title. An abstract of title gives you a clear understanding of the history of the property and past owners.

Two coverages of title insurance. There’s a lender’s policy that covers the mortgage lender and protects from any lien that was created by the previous owner, but it shows up after the closing. There is also the owner’s title policy that protects the new homeowner of any liens that may show up after closing, from the previous homeowner. Here is an example of how the title policy can work for a homeowner. If a seller sold you a property and a title search was conducted; and through the title search, it was determined that no other parties had ownership rights, then the property closed. Then years later, another person came forward that had ownership rights and proved it, while you would have to leave the property, you would have access to the earnings of equity that have been attained over the

years of owning the property, thus giving you the ability to purchase a new home. And while it’s not the ideal situation of being removed from your property because of an error, it is good to have the protection of knowing that the equity you earned during the time of ownership is still yours. So, as you can see, title plays a big part in the real estate process. It’s a very important piece when moving forward and knowing that you are the owner, and you are protected. For more questions in regards to title, feel free to reach out to me, a Real Estate Title Specialist. . Editor’s note: Barry Overton is a licensed Real Estate eXp Realty, LLC. He has been an agent since 2001, and started investing in real estate in 1996. For more information, email: or call 303-668-5433.










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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado is on a Path to Transform Mentorship in Colorado By Hannah Becker

Taju and Murdoc met almost three years ago after being matched in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado’s (BBBSC) Sports Buddies program. Murdoc became Taju’s Big, or mentor, through the program. Murdoc recalls, “I first met 12-year-old Taju and immediately knew he was a great match. He is positive, energetic and has a wonderful enthusiasm for any sort of activity.” Taju often says he wants to be like Murdoc, including become a physician and fostering and adopting a dog.

Murdoc reflects on a Sports Buddies match activity: “Our experience is not unique. At a recent flag football event, there were roughly 25 matches in attendance. I could see among the matches a closeness that perhaps I thought might have been special to me and Taju, or me and my Big. I’m now beginning to understand that when you don’t have a father around — which often sends young men on the wrong track — there is a natural desire to have a relationship with another caring male. BBBSC helps fulfill that need to put many kids on a better path.” BBBSC ignites the power and potential of youth, like Taju, through mentoring relation-

ships. Led by CEO Elycia R. Cook, BBBSC is committed to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) and creating a big future for Colorado youth. Bigs serve as mentors and role models, helping a young person gain greater self-confidence and personal connections which is seemingly needed following the challenges youth face with the unintended consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic. They have fallen behind educationally and families are dealing with disruptive economic challenges. Violent crimes are on the rise and Colorado had the highest increase in the teen suicide rate in the U.S. since 2016. “The needs for youth are

greater now than during any point in our 106-year history,” Cook shares. BBBSC currently serves 1,100 youth and has more than 330 waiting for a mentor. This is only a fraction of those that they could help, and the need is much greater with more than 370,000 children who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch. In April, BBBSC announced that they will acquire Friends First’s STARS Mentoring Program, adding peer-to-peer mentoring to BBBSC’s portfolio and making BBBSC the most comprehensive youth mentoring organization in Colorado. Prior to working with BBBSC, Cook was CEO of Friends First,

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a local peer-to-peer and group mentoring organization that focuses on meeting youth inside the classroom. With the acquisition, Littles will be able to join group sessions while waiting for a Big if they are interested. The acquisition will also help the students who are already in the Friends First program. Roughly 900 students will join BBBSC programming. The implementation of STARS will also allow BBBSC to provide more mentors who are of similar demographics and life experiences, which is a continued request from families. In alignment with the evergrowing needs for youth ages 13 to 18 for social, emotional, and physical wellness, and to graduate with a plan for their future, BBBSC is leading the way in building out the agency’s “Big Futures” framework for innova-

tive and post-secondary readiness programming. With a priority to serve children and teens, BBBSC’s mentoring services will combine group/peer/site-based mentoring with wraparound support of one-to-one mentoring. “We strive to be able to meet the current and emerging needs of youth and better equip them with the social and emotional wellness, and the skills for success beyond high school,” Cook shares. In May, BBBSC received an unsolicited investment of $3.6 million, the largest single contribution in BBBSC’s 106-year history, from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. She recognized BBBSC’s commitment to JEDI which aligns with her philanthropic intentions. In partnership with the board and community leaders, BBBSC intends to use the donation for key strategic initiatives

to dramatically expand the number of communities and youth they support, including neighborhoods in Aurora. In addition to expanding mentoring programs and serving more communities, BBBSC is providing career explorations through the Career Possibilities program. Launched in 2021 in partnership with BOA Technology, the program introduces youth to potential career paths through internships and exploration days at partner corporations. Some partners – like BOA Technology and Alteryx – also provide participating Littles with scholarships. During the program’s first summer, BOA Technology hosted four interns and continued this summer. BBBSC is expanding the program and invites new partners to help introduce youth to various professional pathways.

Little Isaiah shares, “I would definitely recommend the Career Possibilities program to other Littles and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program because they offer a lot of new opportunities. My Big and I have been together for almost nine years and our relationship is great. We hit it off instantly. He can relate to what I am going through. I spend holidays with him, and he is part of the family now.” BBBSC aims to transform mentorship in Colorado all through a JEDI lens. “There is not a shortage of youth to be served,” Cook shared. “However, a continued crisis we face is a shortage of Bigs, especially males.” Visit for more information about volunteering as a Big, donating or attending events..

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Romita Wadwa, Head of Legal Operations, Empower, and Gabriela Maduro PHOTO: Stanley Obert

Cedric Pride CEI, Cedric Pride Entertainment, LLC. and Topaz von Wood PHOTO: Stanley Obert

Dave Espinosa, Project Executive at Mortenson, and Jasmine Francisco PHOTO: Stanley Obert


Kenneth Crowley Sr., CEO at The Crowley Foundation PHOTO: Stanley Obert

Georg Hill, scheduler for Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, and Samiyah Lynnice PHOTO: Steve Peterson

Cleo company dancers, Sadie Sandoval and John Roberts PHOTO: Stanley Obert

Andrea Fulton, deputy director and chief strategy officer at the Denver Art Museum, and Jarrett Rashad PHOTO: Steve Peterson

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Cleo Parker and Malik Robinson PHOTO: Steve Peterson

Master of Ceremonies: Comedian Shed G Paddle Raise Officiator: Reggie Rivers Photos by Steve Peterson and Stanley Obert Special thanks to Joanne Davidson To view the complete program, visit: Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


Megan Scremin, CEO of Special Olympics Colorado, and Corey Boatner. PHOTO: Steve Peterson

Debbie Herrera, Director of Human Resources at CHFA, with Martez McKinzy. PHOTO: Steve Peterson

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Miles Malone of RMES Communications and Caeli Blake. PHOTO: Steve Peterson

n, and YooJung Hahm

Zelda DeBoyes, Retired Court Administrator, and Cedric Hall PHOTO: Stanley Obert

Rosalind “Bee” Harris, Publisher of the Denver Urban Spectrum, and Tyveze Littlejohn PHOTO: Steve Peterson

Xcel Energy's Liz Gardner and Davry Ratcliffe PHOTO: Steve Peterson

L-R: Christine Marquez-Hudson, Andrew Hudson; Kaycee Gerhart; Edward Brown; event co-chair Janine Davidson and Sophia Tran PHOTO: Steve Peterson

Special thanks to Wellington and Wilma Webb, Geta and Janice Asfaw, Sheila King and (the late) Carl Bourgeois, Gary and Regina Jackson, Kenneth Johnson and Valeria Howard Cunningham... Brian Rubin and event co-chair Danielle Shoots PHOTO: Steve Peterson Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


from DUS Publisher Rosalind “Bee” Harris

Colorado schools’ hardest jobs to fill:

Bus drivers and special education By Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat Colorado Editor’s note: This story is brought to you by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative.

For Lacey Nelson, the weeks leading up to the start of school are a blur of spreadsheets, meetings, and calls from principals about last-minute teacher resignations. With less than two weeks to go, Denver Public Schools’ director of talent acquisition is still looking to hire 150 teachers, 275 paraprofessionals, and up to 45 bus drivers. Priorities get reevaluated daily based on reports from the field. A school that was “fine” two days ago suddenly needs two more teachers. It’s all completely normal. “In general, we are not seeing anything different this school year than past school years, and I’m not seeing anything that is majorly off,” Nelson said. “It’s a pretty calm year.” Even as Colorado school districts are holding hire-on-thespot job fairs and offering signing bonuses, many education leaders told Chalkbeat the challenges are nothing new and that vacancies and hiring are similar to those of years past. Nikki Jost, executive director of human resources for Mesa County Valley District 51 in western Colorado, said hiring is actually going better this year. “COVID protocols are different than in years past, we had a 9.1% increase in wages for returning employees, we increased starting salaries across the board, we increased

our social media presence, and we have some amazing recruiters,” she wrote in response to a Chalkbeat survey. But normal doesn’t mean fully staffed. According to the 2021-22 educator shortage report, Colorado schools couldn’t fill 8% of their open teaching positions last year nor 17% of their special service provider positions. Roughly 9% of paraprofessional or classroom aide positions went unfilled. The number of unfilled positions, as well as the share filled through shortage mechanisms like bringing back retired educators or hiring teachers with an emergency license, has gone up over the past three years, even as the total number of openings has gone down, the report said. Across 10 Colorado districts large and small that responded to Chalkbeat information requests, superintendents and human resources directors said they’ve raised pay, improved benefits, and made other changes in an effort to be competitive.

Firm data on this year’s vacancies is hard to come by, both locally and nationally. In the weeks before the start of school, the numbers change daily. Across 10 Colorado districts large and small that responded to Chalkbeat information requests, superintendents and human resources directors said they’ve raised pay, improved benefits, and made other changes in an effort to be competitive. Denver is touting its health insurance plan, entirely free to employees. The Brighton-based 27J district tells job candidates about its four-day week and investments in mental health supports that take some of the load off teachers. Many districts are offering on-the-job training and help with licensure. Bus drivers and special education jobs — teachers, special service providers and especially

classroom assistants — remain among the hardest positions to fill, officials said. And those vacancies hit children and families hard.

School districts face stiff competition for bus drivers Many Colorado districts are consolidating bus routes and cutting service in response to driver shortages. “Last year, we consolidated bus routes and added a non-CDL position, allowing employees in that position to drive smaller vans on many routes,” said Myla Shepherd, chief human resources officer for Adams 12 Five Star Schools serving north Denver suburbs. ”These two measures greatly helped us maintain adequate transportation staffing levels.” In 27J, transportation office employees and mechanics have to drive bus routes in addition to their other job duties, and students have been placed on wait lists for bus service. About 10% of 100 bus driver positions are open there. In Jeffco Public Schools, nearly a third of 283 bus driver positions were open less than two weeks before the start of the school year. In a July email to families, Jeffco Chief Operating Officer Steve Bell laid out a plan to gradually restore bus routes as more drivers are hired and trained. In the meantime, students with disabilities would continue to get the highest priority. Trevor Byrne, a Jeffco bus driver and president of Jefferson County Transportation Association, the union representing drivers, said the bottom line is pay. Even with a recent pay increase to $21.70 an hour, drivers have a lot of options that pay more. Byrne said he stays because he loves working with kids. “I’m not disparaging sanitation workers, but you can make $35 an hour driving a garbage truck,” Byrne said. “How important is it to transport our

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


special needs kids versus taking garbage away from someone’s house?” “I’m not disparaging sanitation workers, but you can make $35 an hour driving a garbage truck,” said Trevor Byrne, a Jeffco bus driver and president of Jefferson County Transportation Association. “How important is it to transport our special needs kids versus taking garbage away from someone’s house?”

Nelson, of Denver Public Schools, agreed. “You think about Amazon, they need drivers,” she said. “The post office, FedEx, UPS, they all need drivers.” Denver has raised pay and like many districts pays for driver training and offers signing bonuses. Dropping a vaccine mandate that led some workers to quit last year has helped too, Nelson said.

Special education jobs have seen shortages for years Superintendents and human resources directors said jobs working with students with disabilities continue to be among the hardest to fill. Special service providers like occupational therapists and speech language pathologists can make more money in private practice. Classroom aides can make more money in retail. And there simply aren’t enough special education teachers for all the open positions. In a bid for experienced educators, Adams 12 now offers unlimited credit for years of service in other districts to special education teachers and special service providers. Special education paraprofessionals have been particularly hard to hire. These educators provide one-on-one and small group support to students with a variety of disabilities, including students with complex physical and emotional needs. Often these jobs combine low pay with major responsibilities.

Lori Williams, a special education para in Jeffco, said low staffing makes it harder to give students the support they deserve. “We’re supposed to push them into a general ed classroom and sometimes we can’t do that because we’re shortstaffed,” she said. “And other times students that are in a general ed classroom don’t get the support that they need.” Denver just raised pay for special education paras from $16.50 an hour to $21 an hour and has seen hiring pick up. As of Tuesday, the district had 137 special education para positions still to fill. “Often they are working one-on-one with a student with really high needs, and they need additional training and qualifications,” Nelson said. “Finding someone with the qualifications — not just the onpaper qualifications but the skills to do that job — can be really challenging. “When you earn $16.50, it’s easy on that bad day to turn around and apply to something else.”

to set expectations and norms for students and establish a strong school culture if there’s a rotating cast of substitutes across multiple classes. In addition to two science teachers, a math teacher, and a special education teacher, his school lost its head custodian over the summer. These are all positions where districts report hiring challenges. “It’s affecting us top to bottom,” Gutierrez said.

Chris Selle, superintendent of the 681-student Meeker district in northwestern Colorado, said until this year, he’d always been fully staffed by August. But this summer, three teachers backed out of contracts and the elementary school principal resigned. In a small district, losing one teacher can mean doubling class sizes for that grade or subject. This week, Selle and the school board decided not to try

Even a few vacancies can make a difference Staffing challenges vary by community and even within districts. One school might be operating as normal while another has parent volunteers serving cold lunches. Marty Gutierrez, a middle school math teacher in Adams 12, said there are four open teaching positions out of 40 in his building, including teachers who gave notice in August to take better paid or less stressful jobs, often still within education. “People can go where they want to because there are so many openings,” he said. That means he’s starting the year unsure who his planning partners will be, if he’ll get his planning periods, or if he’ll have to pick up extra classes. And he worries it will be harder Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


to fill the elementary principal job this school year. Instead, Selle will lead the elementary school along with handling his superintendent duties. “Some things just won’t get done,” he said.. Editor’s note: Bureau Chief Erica Meltzer covers education policy and politics and oversees Chalkbeat Colorado’s education coverage. To contact Erica, email

Ovarian Cancer Survivor Urges Women to Prioritize their Health By Michelle Mendoza

Renee Parker during treatment.

When Renee Parker had

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her annual gynecological exam in 2019, the doctor told her that her left ovary was enlarged – most likely due to endometriosis, a non-lethal disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. Parker left the office fully intending to make an appointment for surgery to remove the affected tissue. Unfortunately, before she could make that call, she received devastating news that turned her life upside down – her beloved nephew had been killed. Parker spent the final months of 2019 grieving, comforting her family and trying to bring the perpetrators to justice. All thoughts of her own health completely slipped her mind and continued to stay hidden in 2020 through the worst of the COVID pandemic. In early 2021, she scheduled a follow-up appointment with her gynecologist but cancelled it as

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


the trial of her nephew’s murderers began to take shape. It wasn’t until December 2021 when she began to experience severe abdominal pain and cramping that she thought about her own health again. She eventually ended up in the emergency room when the pain became unbearable. Testing revealed that Parker had Stage 3 ovarian cancer. Parker underwent a full hysterectomy during which a watermelon-sized tumor was removed. She had six rounds of chemotherapy and six Neulasta treatments to stimulate the production of healthy white blood cells. Earlier this year, she received the welcome news that she had no evidence of cancer and she is now gradually recovering her strength. Certain that she would have caught her cancer earlier if she’d been more focused on her own health, Parker urges women to make their health a top priority. “Cancer is one of those diseases for which time of discov-

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ery is truly a matter of life or had experienced and discussed death,” she cautions. with her primary care physician Throughout her treatment even before receiving the inacand recovery, Parker was supcurate endometriosis diagnosis. ported by family, friends Renee Parker and late nephew Nashiem and co-workers and derived strength from their outpouring of love. She also connected with the nonprofit Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA), which provided financial assistance when she was unable to work and helped her navigate

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the insurance process. Founded in 2005, the mission of the nonprofit Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance is to provide support to those affected by ovarian cancer, and to promote awareness and early detection of ovarian cancer through advocacy and education. COCA also connected her with a support group that validated her feelings and helped her to accept her cancer diagnosis and her new life as an ovarian cancer survivor. Through the alliance, she learned more about ovarian cancer and its most common symptoms – bloating, difficulty eating, abdominal pain and trouble with urination or bowel movements, many of which she

Parker wants other women to be aware of the symptoms, see a physician if they experience symptoms for more than two weeks and to push for additional testing if the symptoms continue after receiving initial treatments. September is national Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, 15,000 women in the U.S. die of ovarian cancer, which is the deadliest gynecologic cancer. Because there is no screening test for ovarian cancer, symptom recognition is critical for early diagnosis.. Editor’s note: For more information about the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance and its programs, visit Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


Open: Monday-Friday 9 AM to 6 PM Saturday 10 AM to 2 PM

Black Writers from around the World Invited to Blog about Peace and Nonviolence Nationwide (Black PR News)— Writers, authors and bloggers who support peace and nonviolence are invited to post a blog to the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2022. The blog post can be a book excerpt, a written blog, an audio blog, a vlog, a poem or any other form but it must reflect the author’s direct personal experience of nonviolence, empathy or connection. 2022 marks the ninth year of the annual Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence, hosted by Zhana, author of Affirmations for Parents and Success Strategies for Black People.

The Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence is held in conjunction with the annual Month of Nonviolence (October) held by Black Women for Positive Change ( During the Month of Nonviolence, events are held across the United States and in London, UK. London-based Zhana is passionate about Nonviolent Communication (NVC), which is based on empathy and con-

nection. NVC can transform relationships and has been used effectively in situations of extreme violence. The purpose is to inspire more people to acts of nonviolence and peace, and to explore and share practical methods of bringing about nonviolence and peace, including Nonviolent Communication (NVC). The world is very dangerous and violent, but everyone can make a difference. NVC is changing

lives all over the world, and is a method that all can learn and practice. Even young children can use NVC. All authors and bloggers on the subjects of empathy, nonviolence and/or peace are invited to submit blog posts. Blogs will be accepted through September 15. Blog posts from previous years can be viewed on the site. Blog submission should reflect your direct personal experience of empathy, nonvio-

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lence and/or peace – either giving, providing or receiving any of these. The Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence and the Month of Nonviolence are open to everyone, regardless of racial or cultural background, religious or spiritual practice or affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, age, or any other difference. Submissions should answer the following two questions: 1) Why are our children killing each other and what we can do about it? 2) At a time when Black/African heritage individuals and communities are under fire from the police, not just in the U.S. but in many other places as well, what are some practical methods we can use to change the culture of violence? For more information and to submit your blog post, visit the Facebook page at lforNonviolence.

COMMUNITY NOTES NCNW-Denver Section’s mission is to welcome new members and continue to make a difference in the lives of women, children, and families through a four-pronged strategy that emphasizes entrepreneurship, health equity, STEAM education, and social justice.

“Tribute to Black Women” Luncheon Announces Keynote and Theme Colorado Black Women for Political Action will hold its 44th Annual Tribute to Black Women on Oct. 15 at the Seawell Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts complex. To honor Black women leaders in society and around the world, this year’s theme is “LEAD with us!” Learning, Equity, and Accountability in Democracy (LEAD) will recognize Black women and girls who lead by encouraging increased earning and awareness of politics and policies that impact the Colorado Black community, advocating for economic social, health, educational, or political equity; and standing up for accountability in democracy by holding elected officials and leadership responsible for their actions.


For more information call 720296-4359 or email

The keynote speaker is nationally recognized organizer-activist, political strategist, author, and faith leader, Rev. Leah Daughtry. Standing at the intersection of faith and politics, she works with organizations, community activists, political entities, businesses, and faith leaders to build coalitions that advance the common good. Rev. Daughtry is the current principal of On These Things, LLC, co-author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics, founder of Power Rising, co-convener of the Black Women's Leadership Collective, and host of The Faithful Citizen Podcast. A VIP reception will be held with the keynote speaker and nominees. For tickets, sponsorship opportunities or more information including how to nominate someone for an award, visit

Photo by McLeod9 Creative

Membership Drive Features “Hattitude” contest



The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) Denver Section will host its annual Meet & Greet Membership Drive on Saturday, Sept. 17 at New Hope Baptist Church from 1 to 3 p.m. Membership information will be provided along with lots of fun. Bring a new member to the event and show off your favorite hat in our "Hattitude" contest. Prizes will be awarded.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


Denver OEM to Give Free Emergency Bug Out Bags to Residents Bug Out Bags help people prepare for when seconds matter most September is National Preparedness Month and as a part of this nationwide campaign, the Denver Office of Emergency Management (Denver OEM) will be hosting two DenverREADY Preparedness Fairs where they will be giving out free Emergency Bug Out Bags, equipped with basic emergency supplies to residents. According to the Denver OEM, Bug Out Bags will help residents increase their emergency preparedness which will improve people’s overall resilience should they encounter an emergency or disaster. Following are the dates, locations, and times for the Preparedness Fairs: •Saturday, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Montbello Recreation Center, 15555 East 53rd Ave. in Denver •Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., College View Recreation Center, 2525 South Decatur in Denver. The public is encouraged to reserve their free Emergency Bug Out bag by registering for a fair at DenverREADY. Registrations are highly encouraged as supplies are limited.

Don’t Look to California for Ideas on Addressing Homelessness Op-ed by Wayne Winegarden and Kerry Jackson


o matter how bad the homelessness problem looks in other metropolitan areas, they pale compared to California’s. While the state accounts for not quite 12% of the U.S. population, roughly 28% of the nation’s homeless are in California. The lesson: Don’t copy the Golden State’s policies for mitigating homelessness – they simply don’t work. California’s homeless population was not quite 139,000 in 2007. Within seven years, it had fallen to about 114,000. From there, it grew sharply to more than 161,000 in 2020. Over the

same period, the total homeless in the rest of the states fell from a little more than 508,000 to 419,000. This happened even though California’s economy expanded about 50% faster than the rest of the country from 2014 to 2020. Clearly California does not have the answers. In April 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic struck, Project Roomkey was introduced in California. The program’s mission was to house the homeless in hotel and motel rooms, as well as trailers, to help flatten the curve of viral infections and “preserve hospital capacity,” said the governor’s office. From Project Roomkey grew Project Homekey, which directed state and federal funds for the purchase and renovation of hotels and motels, which would then become permanent housing for the homeless. While well-intentioned, both programs have a structural flaw: they follow the failed “housing first” approach. Yes, the homeless need homes. But housing first, which has been the official state policy

since 2016, is better described as housing-and-nothing-else. According to a Cicero Institute study, attempts to alleviate homelessness based on housing first appear “to attract more people from outside the homeless system, or keep them in the homelessness system, because they are drawn to the promise of a permanent and usually rent-free room.” Housing first is nothing more than a husk of a program because it doesn’t treat the root causes of homelessness, which for many are addiction or mental illness, and often both. Despite the shortcomings of housing first, California’s commitment to Project Homekey has racked up billions in expenditures of federal and state dollars without having much if anything to show for all the spending. In Los Angeles, where a third of the state’s 161,548 homeless are located, Project Homekey has not met expectations. The 15,000 rooms that were set as the goal were never provided, while the excessive costs of Homekey have made it unsustainable. A different set of problems has beset homeless housing in San Francisco. An investigation by the Chronicle found that the city’s effort to shelter the homeless operate “with little oversight or support,” which has led to “disastrous” results. Rodents infest rooms, crime and violence is common, and death, often from overdoses, a


Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


frequent visitor. Nevertheless, the city, as well as other Bay Area communities where Project Homekey has shown itself to be insufficient, remain dedicated to the program and its poorly aimed spending. Here’s some advice for lawmakers across the country looking to beat homelessness: don’t ignore effective innovations from the private sector that are changing people’s lives. Treating the addictions and mental health struggles that are at the core of the problem must be a priority. California continues to insist its way is the only way. Until that changes, the state has nothing to offer other states in their struggle to reduce homelessness. . Editor’s note: Wayne Winegarden, Ph.D. and Kerry Jackson are coauthors of the new Pacific Research Institute brief “Project Homekey Provides No Way Home for California’s Homeless.” Download a copy at

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It Takes a Village Celebrates 20 Years

2022 Village Impact Award Recipients: Krystal Towers, Maria Jackson, Rosalind “Bee” Harris, Imani Latif, Angela Garcia, Rev. Donald Messer, Rev. Terrence “Big T” Hughes, Khalil Halim with Second Chance Center

By Luciana


n honor of Sean Love and Nailah Allen, It Takes a Village celebrated 20 years of reducing health and social disparities among people of color in the Denver metropolitan area. On August 17, the Intergenerational Women’s African Drum and Dance Ensemble opened the celebration at the People’s Building in Aurora. After welcoming the attendees, they enjoyed videos of the history of ITAV and perspectives from past and current program participants. Entertainment included the legendary Krystal Towers followed by words of inspiration from Pastor Terrance “Big T” Hughes of New Covenant Christian Church Alpha & Omega Ministries. The anniversary event also included a silent auction. Executive Director Imani Latif, who said “I am the leader and not the boss (of the organization)” presented the 2022 Village Impact Awards to Pastor Hughes, a community activist, Rosalind Bee Harris, publisher of the Denver Urban Spectrum; Rev. Donald Messer, executive director of the Center for Health and Hope; Maria Jackson, Care and Services Program Manager with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Honorees also included the Second Chance Center; Krystal Towers, Legendary Queen of Drag/mentor; Angela Garcia, former Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment employee. It Takes a Village provides services to all individuals with-

out regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, disability, ethnic background or legal status. Following are programs provided to the community. •TransAction (Amie’s Closet) provides a safe space for transgender women to meet, relax, have snacks, get clothing, hair, or shoes and get HIV testing. •Substance abuse treatment is provided in groups or individual counseling to help individuals living with HIV conquer their addictions. •HIV, Hep C and STD (Chlamydia and Gonorrhea) testing is provided. HIV results are available in 5 minutes and STD results take two days. •D-Up Opinion Leaders conduct outreach among Black and Latino gay men to educate them about HIV, HIV Testing and PrEP. •Medical case management is provided for all people living with HIV to assist them with access to and understanding of HIV care and treatment; financial and housing assistance; transportation to medical appointments. •Healthy Relationships provides group and individualized counseling for people living with HIV in order to help them reduce their risk of transmitting HIV and to address the issues they may have which makes safer behavior more difficult. Includes fun, interesting groups

to help people living with HIV feel comfortable and confident about their intimate relationships and disclosing their HIV status. •Community Without Walls provides transitional support for all men and women living with HIV who are incarcerated (with no more than 3 months until release) or recently released from incarceration.

•Mental Health Therapy for all people living with HIV provides individual and group therapy or just discussions about difficulties or challenges experienced. •Brothas4Ever, has provided services to African American same gender loving men for 19 years. BOMB, a social program for African-American gay men aged 18 to 30, has fun activities, music, video games, groups, and snacks. HERMANOS, for Latino gay men, are welcomed to participate in the programs. •The Community Group provides psychosocial support for all people living with HIV. •PrEP Services connects people at high risk of acquiring HIV, with PrEP, a one pill a day regimen that prevents transmission of HIV. Editor’s note: It Takes a Village is located at 1475 Lima St. in Aurora. For more information, call 303-3674747 or visit

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


When Statues Die Op-ed by Oscar H. Blayton


n recent years, people have begun to spend more time contemplating the meaning and significance of statuary. Statues of perpetrators of Europe’s colonial expansion and racist legacies began to tumble in the United States and England as descendants of colonized and enslaved people of color brought attention to the human misery afflicted by those whose likeness dotted urban parks and courthouse lawns. As statues of widely recognized racists such as Christopher Columbus were brought down from their pedestals, so too was the artwork venerating lesser-known racists such as the surgeon J. Marion Sims, known as the “father of

modern gynecology.” He advanced his medical knowledge by performing surgery on enslaved women without the benefit of anesthesia. In 2018, his statue was removed from New York’s Central Park. A great deal of attention also has been given to the statues of traitors who fought for the Confederacy. Their statues were erected to proclaim and maintain white supremacy throughout the southern United States. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least 114

Confederate monuments were removed from public spaces between 2019 and 2021. But as we witness the removal of statues meant to glorify white supremacy and Western culture, we need to go beyond removing toxic reminders of past evils. We need to understand that statuary is a tool, and as any tool, it can be used for good as well as evil. Since humans first shaped images out of mud, clay or wood, their work has been a form of communication. Even to this day, every artist who creates a statue is trying to communicate something. Perhaps they are trying to communicate with a deity to appease a force greater than themselves. Or they are trying to communicate with other people, as was the case with the white supremacists who wanted Black people to know who had the power to control their lives. Or they are engaging in an exercise of selfexpression, releasing an energy

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


and an emotion from within themselves that they need to send out into the universe. But for whatever reason a statue is created, none is created within a sociocultural void. Many museums, government buildings and other public and private places are filled with statuary. And in order to appreciate these works of art and understand what they are and what they are trying to say, we need to understand who made them, what the artist was trying to say and why. An inquiry into the existential nature of any piece of sculpture and how it is situated in its culture may help us not only to understand that work of art and the culture that created it but also give us a deeper understanding of ourselves as well. It took this nation more than 100 years to realize that Confederate statuary was a form of racist political communication that was so successful over time, it came to be viewed

as a type of religious communication honoring nobility and sacrifice. But with a re-examination of the history of these markers of stone and bronze, Confederate statuary is widely denounced now as having been created as a form of hate speech, an understanding which led to their being removed from public view. With the removal of these statues, their messages die with them. But there is another way in which statues die. They die when they remain in view but are stripped of their meaning and context and the viewer has no inkling of what the artist was trying to communicate, or to whom. Currently, an exhibit in Philadelphia at the Barnes Foundation explores, in part, African art in a sociocultural void seized by white collectors and Western museums. The exhibit, a five-screen black-andwhite film installation titled, “Once Again … (Statues Never Die),” was curated by Isaac Julien, a brother who has been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his artistic achievements. The Barnes Foundation bears the name of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, its founder and art collector who began amassing African art in 1922, a time when there was very little Western interest in it. The protagonist of the film, however, is Alain Locke, who many claim to be the intellectual father of the Harlem Renaissance. The film focuses on the tension between Barnes and Locke. As the New York Times put it, “their exchanges encapsulated the sensitivities and inequities that surround the adoption of Black African art by the prevailing white culture, and the struggle by Black Americans to claim and use that heritage as their own.” The tension portrayed between Barnes and Locke is not a new dynamic, as the film’s

title hints. A short 1953 French film titled, “Statues Never Die,” focused on stolen African art brought to Western museums. It showed how this art was detached from its meaning within the culture in which it was created. This film put colonialism in such a bad light, a portion of it was banned in France until the 1960s. Purposely, “Statues Never Die” omitted geographic, period and ethnic context of the art’s origin or meaning. In this way, the creators conveyed the idea of dead statues, ones that have lost their original significance and are no more than objects without meaning, much like unidentified corpses. “Statues Never Die” exposed how the cultures that created this art, and the celebration of the human experience by the African artists, was never examined by most Western collectors and museums. We should learn from these two films and strive to understand the context within which statuary is created so we will be able to distinguish between images that are meant to celebrate the human spirit and those meant to demean and oppress. . Editor’s note: Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia. His earlier commentaries may be found at

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Albus Brooks, LaDawn Sullivan


Nikole Hannah Jones, JC Futrell, Thomas 'Detour' Evans, and LaDawn Sullivan





Jae Wes

A Black Philanthropy Month Converstation with

Nikole Hannah Jones Author of The 1619 Project Amani Ali, Gloria Neal, Greg Moore, Rosalind “Bee” Harris Yvonne Moore, Nikole Hannah Jones

August 23, 2022 Denver Art Museum Denver, Colorado Photos by Lens of Ansar Rosalind “Bee” Harris, Nikole Hannah Jones

Gary Jackson and Desta Asfaw

Dianne Myles, James Coleman

LaDawn Sullivan, Yvonne Moore (& her sisters), Alma Martinez

Event attendees

Gerri Gomez Howard, Greg Moore

Haroun Cowans, Carla Ladd

Event attendees Morris Price, Carla Ladd, Ken Johnson

Nikole Hannah Jones, LaDawn Sullivan Ken Johnson, Rosalind “Bee Harris LaDawn Sullivan , Don Mares

Malik Robinson, Nikole Hannah Jones

Niambi Nicholes

Nikole Hannah Jones, Greg Moore

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


Hazel Jean Whitsett March 21, 1936 – August 4, 2022 Hazel was a community activist constantly working to improve situations and her community. While living in Niagara Falls, New York, she was introduced to her first activist event protesting for a traffic light in front of her daughter’s school. Many events and marches followed. So it was just in her nature when three women, Mildred Pitts Walter, Shirley Sims and Hazel were planning workshops for the Colorado Black Caucus and the discussion turned to the lack of services for women in Northeast Denver. It was agreed that “somebody” needed to address the issue. They realized that they were ‘somebody’ and founded the Northeast Women’s Center (NEWC), which was incorporated in 1983. Hazel served as the President and Executive Director of Northeast Women’s Center (NEWC) offering participants the opportunity to become self-sufficient through Job Training, General Education Degree (GED) and Basic Literacy Instruction, Prevention and Intervention programs for teens, Parenting Classes, Computer Literacy, Nontraditional, Business development programs and Rites of Passage for adolescent males. Hazel Whitsett received numerous awards and recognitions including; The Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award; Black Women for Political Action; National Council of Negro Women; Trailblazer — Lift every voice Family Tree Recognition; Shaka Foundation; Delta Sigma Theta; Jack and Jill; City and County of Denver 150th Birthday Unsung Hero and many more. The most memorable of these was the National Common Cause Community Service award in Washington D.C. She had the opportunity to take the “light and inspiration of her life”, her mother, with her to see all the National Monuments, and the White House. Her mother was her inspiration and encouragement for everything she wanted to accomplish. She was told that she could do anything if she kept Christ first in her life. Her mother was a domestic housekeeper. Hazel remembered waking up one night and her mother was ironing some unfamiliar clothes. That’s when she learned that her mother cleaned houses in the daytime and took in ironing at night and she sent both of her girls to college. Along with the gift of four children Hazel was given three grandchildren; Shanika NaCole, Myles Deon Il and Celeste Marie. Eight great grandchildren; C.A. Dajzore, De Andre, Zalayha, Erica, Willow, Zoe, Ayden and Taytum were added. One of the greatest events of her life was the entrance of a 14-year-old girl, Shannon Marie in 1988. Shannon later became a Medical Assistant at Kaiser Permanente and obtained a Degree in nursing which led to her current position as Director of Nursing Affairs. Shannon bought special joy to Hazel’s life through her three sons: Dwayne, Mikal and Marquille. The proudest opportunity on her journey was being able to teach Sunday school in California and at Zion Baptist Church for almost 25 years, where she has been a member for since 1952. She loved teaching the nursery and pre-school level where she could teach and show them the Love of Jesus and how there were to live and serve God at an early age. Her favorite chapter in the Bible is I Corinthians Chapter 13. Expressing the “Greatest Gift is Love. She felt that if you love God and love one another, you will automatically live and respect the Ten Commandments. Hazel leaves to cherish her memories, her sister, Mary Hewing of Aurora; brother-Joseph S. Johnson (Ollie) of Sacramento, CA; I stepbrother-Ronald Watkins of Aurora, CO; 3 stepsisters — Norma Clark, Billy Martin and Vera Taylor of Des Moines , IA; four children — Vittoria Daynette of Denver; Myles Deon (Florence) of Aurora; Anthony Damon of New York and Mark Darron of Seattle, WA.; three grandchildren Shanika NaCole, Myles Deon II and Celeste Marie; eight great grandchildren; C.A. Dajzore, DeAndre, Zalayha, Erica, Willow, Zoe, Ayden and Taytum.- Adopted and very special daughter Shannon Marie Jones - three godsons, Dwayne (preceded her in death) Mikal and Marquille and Aunt Eula Donaldson of Dallas and many special cousins.

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


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We thank our beloved friend CARL JOSEPH BOURGEOIS for being a kind, CARING, JOYFUL, BEAUTIFUL person for all the years he selflessly served the Denver Community. We thank him for his CROWNING, JUBILANT, BOUNTIFUL achievements that made our city and this community a wonderful place to live and work! We will not forget the July CELEBRATIONS of JOCULARITY and BLESSEDNESS that continue to and will forever touch the hearts of every attendee in the Denver, and Colorado Springs communities; nor his contributions to the South African communities. Although he is no longer with us, we want the family of CARL JOSEPH BOURGEOIS to know that we loved him too; and thank him for being a CHAMPION of JUSTICE and BENEVOLENCE which has heightened our black social consciousness and unyielding community pride. If we could, we would also thank CARL JOSEPH BOURGEOIS for helping many of us to personally CONJURE up our own inner JEWELS and BELIEVE in oneself. But most of all, we thank God for our friend CARL JOSEPH BOURGEOIS!!! To his family and with heartfelt gratitude, for all that he did and meant to all who loved him dearly, we send you a prayer of COMMENDATION, JOY, and BENEDICTION May his legacy continue to live through the selfless acts of all others. In memory of our dearly departed loved one, friend, mentor, and colleague CARL JOSEPH BOURGEOIS We Thank You!!! With Love, Silas Cameron, Madison Grace and LuAnna (Luna) Rae Brockman & Sandrena Brockman Robinson

Denver Urban Spectrum — – September 2022


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