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Denver Urban Spectrum February 2012 Issue

Transcript of DUS February 2012

  • ReverendLeon Kelly



  • DE

    Black History Month gives us an opportunity to celebrate the

    extraordinary contributions and events made possible by African Americans.

    This history is our history, and part of the fabric of America.

    Today, history continues to be made through the achievements

    of children in our communities. Were celebrating their future, and

    Safeway is proud to be part of the celebration.

    This could be history in the making

  • PUBLISHERRosalind J. Harris

    GENERAL MANAGERLawrence A. James


    COLUMNISTSEarl Ofari Hutchinson


    FILM and BOOK CRITICKam Williams


    Gary BramlettSheila SmithAnnette Walker

    ART DIRECTORBee Harris

    GRAPHIC DESIGNERGillian Conte, The Creative SpiritJody Gilbert, Kolor Graphix




    Rodney Sturgeon



    Lawrence A. JamesEd Lynch

    Volume 26 Number 11 February 2012


    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012



    Celebrating Black History...

    This month, like in the past, we celebrate the achievements of American Blacks as February is Black History month.Many people in Denver have made a difference, but we chose one man in particular to be featured on our cover - the Rev. Leon Kelly.Kelly has been his own worst enemy but also the Black communitys best ally. He helped curb drive-by shootings and other gangrelated violence

    that once spiraled out of control in Denver and became the communitys saving grace.DUS contributing writer, Misti Aas wrote the story about Kelly and places you in his footsteps over the years, as he was the well-known Dope

    Man selling drugs on the streets to now focusing on saving youths from the streets through his non-profit organization, Open Door Youth GangAlternatives. He sees it as already living his own eulogy each and every day.

    Making history is something the Tuskegee Airmen know about. Colorado has several living Black heroes who fought in World War II and part ofthe elite group of pilots who defied adversity of prejudice and still fought to protect their country.

    I was personally at the state capitol when state Reps. Angela Williams, Rhonda Fields and senators honored Lt. Col John Mosley and theTuskegee Airmen. State legislators also enacted a resolution to make Interstate 70 as part of the nationwide Tuskegee Airmen Trail winding acrossthe country.

    In this February issue, I also delve into the closing of M&Ds Restaurant, which has been a special historical landmark in the Black community forthe past 34 years. For Mack and Daisy Shead, having to close their prized barbecue restaurant was a long time coming after years of struggling andan economic turmoil that cost them.

    And if you have not heard about whats going on with IRP Solutions and five African American executives, read what they DUS on page 8. Andlastly, but certainly not least, this month we introduce DUSs 2012 African-Americans Who Make a Difference. See who they are and why.

    We are a fortunate and blessed race to have overcome surmountable odds in the past. However, we move forward with African-Americans likeour president, Barack Obama, who are changing the face of history. And that is why I believe the Denver Urban Spectrum must con-tinue spreading the news about people of color.

    God bless you all.Sheila Smith

    Managing Editor

    The Denver Urban Spectrum is amonthly publication dedicated tospreading the news about people ofcolor. Contents of the Denver UrbanSpectrum are copyright 2012 byRolado, LLC. No portion may be repro-duced without written permission of thepublisher.

    The Denver Urban Spectrum circu-lates 25,000 copies throughoutColorado. The Denver Urban Spectrumwelcomes all letters, but reserves theright to edit for space, libelous material,grammar, and length. All letters mustinclude name, address, and phonenumber. We will withhold authors nameon request. Unsolicited articles areaccepted without guarantee of publica-tion or payment.

    Write to the Denver Urban Spectrumat P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041.Office address is 2727 Welton St.,Denver, CO 80205.

    For advertising, subscriptions, orother information, call 303-292-6446 orfax 303-292-6543 or visit theWeb site atwww.denverurbanspectrum.com.

    Manager Of Safety ThanksCommunity For SupportEditor:As a follow-up to the Dec. 7 com-

    munity forum, I want to thank all ofyou for taking the time out of yourbusy schedules to participate in thisimportant gathering. I also want toexpress my appreciation to the DenverAfrican-American Commission forhosting us and running the meeting.As I mentioned in the session, our

    Public Safety Departments must bewilling to engage and partner withour residents on an ongoing basis inorder to make a positive difference. Inreviewing the meeting notes, I wasespecially heartened by the thoughtfulconsideration of how Public Safetyand the community could partnertogether in constructive ways in thefuture.A month prior to this forum, anoth-

    er gathering was hosted by theDenver Latino Commission. There

    was significant overlap across thesetwo forums in areas such as trustbuilding, training, communication,hiring, discipline and review process-es. I will say that the issue regardingmunicipal citations for minors in theschool system was a specific topic thatwas unique in our Dec. 7 forum.The overlapping recommendations

    across the two forums strongly rein-forced the importance of the issuesthat were raised. As I stated in a fol-low-up to the Latino forum partici-pants, while we may be currentlyaddressing some of those areas (suchas training and streamlining process-es), some important questions thatemerged for me such as: Are weaddressing those areas? Do we needto do to become more effective? Howdo we use our existing resources toimpact these changes? If these existingresources are not enough to effect thedesired change, what other resourcescan we access to help us get there?I have shared the content of the

    forum with our new Chief of Police,Robert White. Stay tuned for anupcoming community forum whereall of you can meet and engage withChief White in the near future. ChiefWhite shares my values and theadministrations values of communityengagement. We take your input seri-ously and we look forward to ongoingdiscussions and partnerships with ourcommunity in the future.

    Alex MartinezManager of Safety

    Tyler Perry Thanks GeorgeLucas Making Red TailsEditor:

    The Problem with an all-star AfricanAmerican Cast...Unfortunately, movies starring an

    all African American cast are on theverge of becoming extinct. Thatsright, EXTINCT! Ask any executive ata Hollywood Studio why, and most ofthem will tell you one of two things.The first thing theyll say is that DVDsales have become very soft, so itshard for a movie with an all black castto break-even. Secondly theyll say,most movies are now dependent onforeign sales to be successful and mostBlack movies dont sell well in for-eign markets. So what that means isyou will begin to see less and less

    Continued on page 34Denver Urban Spectrum

    Department E-mail AddressesDenver Urban Spectrum

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    About the Cover ArtistThere is a magical place available to

    me and you at our beckon call. With thislevel of focus we can do brilliant things.You are never wrong here. The feeling iseuphoric. I soar. Free as a bird.

    Anthony J Dyes Jr.Est.1978.

    Born and raised in Denver.See my portfolio onFacebook: t.j.dyes

  • Avoid in ones life that is des-perately trying to be filled can lead to

    a lifestyle of greed, of violence, of ulti-

    mately death

    More people should ask the ques-tion, Isnt there something more tothis life?.That is what the ReverendLeon Kelly asked himself years ago ashe was heading down a path muchdifferent than the one hes on now. A man and his partner knock on

    the door and burst onto a scene ofanother man who hasnt paid TheDope Man for some product. Awoman who comes to the door saysthat the man they were seeking is notthere. A bathroom door is opened,and the sought after man suddenlyhas a cocked nickel plated 38 pointedat his head, one of three guns the dopeman always carries. In the midst ofthreats to pull the trigger if payment isnot made, a head is turned to check onhis partner who is dealing with thewoman.POW and the gun acci-dently goes off. The expected scenecould have been one of blood andendings. But instead, the unexpectedoccurs where the gun has somehowslipped to point along the crease of themans forehead. The concurrent fearand relief in that moment, on bothsides, changed a life forever andchanged the future lives of countlessothers. What could have become atragic ending was the seed for a newbeginning.The dope man with the gun was

    the Rev. Leon Kelly, who in that terri-

    fying and miraculous moment in thestruggle kept his composure, knewthat he had to alter the pattern of hislife. The close call of killing anotherperson had never been in his plans.Kelly later realized that the course ofevents that happened over 30 yearsago was no accident, and that Godhad a much different journey in storefor the man now known as The Revto hundreds of kids, ages five to 25years old. The Denver non-profit, Open Door

    Youth Gang Alternatives, founded bythe Rev. Kelly, will be embarking onits 26th year of operation. Kelly creat-ed Open Door to fill an urgent need tobuild a community-based programthat addressed the devastating effectsof increasing gang activity and vio-lence. The multi-faceted programmingaddresses all sides of the spectrum,from daily after school gang preven-tion activities to a weekly eveninggroup called Flippin the Script forparolees at the Department ofCorrections.

    The Winding Path To A Lifes MissionLeon Kelly Jr. was born into the

    innocence of society in Denver. Hisfather and his grandfather were bothministers. Kelly and his five siblingslived a protected childhood with astrong family foundation of moralsand values. The Kelly home was amagnet for other children in theneighborhood who were drawn to theenvironment of a two-parent house-hold.Back then we had a complete

    sense of neighborhood and communi-ty, Kelly said. We knew everybody

    on our block, and we had a reverenceand deep respect for parents and theneighborhood.As time marched on, Kelly wit-

    nessed first-hand the transitions of thenation; not only in the terminology ofbeing identified as Colored to Negro,Black to Afro-American, but in thegrowing bigotry and racism as thecivil rights era peaked in the 1960s.Kellys grandfather was a pastor inBogalusa, La. Initially, there was occa-sional road trips that kept the youngKelly isolated from the hatred anddrama. But that changed when hisgrandfather became ill and the familytemporarily moved to a deeper south-ern part of Louisiana when Kelly wasin Junior High. We were suddenly exposed to

    what discrimination was all about,said Kelly. The hatred that started toevolve when it infused itself to myperspective, it caused me to developsome energies and emotions of hatredtowards white folks.After returning to his home state,

    Kelly attended college at ColoradoUniversity in Boulder, and his per-spective once again evolved. When Iwas exposed to the freedom and acampus town like Boulder, recalledKelly, it showed me another worldand people from all over the place.The Recreation major became

    enamored with his love of hoops andplayed Amateur Athletic Union(AAU) basketball. With the athleticlifestyle came the other side of it,when people put you on a pedestal,explained Kelly. It became an addic-tion in itself, like a drug.

    After graduating from College,Kelly continued to play semi-profes-sional basketball and continued work-ing with the Salvation Army RedShields youth program, while his lifebecame more altered from his core selfand the foundation he grew up with. This enticing path led to riches and

    fame through selling illegal drugs cocaine, hash, and weed. It was alifestyle of immediate gratification andsomething the once so innocentpreachers son couldnt believe howeasy it was to make a quick turn-around of cash. It became a culture ofgreed, fast living and was very differ-ent from the world he had grown upin. So many perspectives changed for

    the Preachers Kid, including hisnegative views towards white people.When someone that looked like metried to take my birthday, thats whenI started dealing with people as peopleand not based on the color of theirskin. This experience hardened himto a way of self-preservation and sur-vival.

    Kelly continued to spiral into thedepths of a loss of focus as he contin-ued to sell drugs, which he then lefthis job with the youth program thatno longer seemed conducive to theflip side of his life of instant rewards,besides not representing a good rolemodel image. He moved to down-town Denver and the Penthouse ofBrooks Towers, becoming known asThe Dope Man who was in highdemand due to his access and connec-tions to Boulder. People began togravitate towards him not because ofthe secure and stable family values ofhis younger life, but rather his unsta-ble provision of a quick fix and falsesense of security.

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


    The Rev:A Defining Journey To A Lifes Calling

    By Misti Aas

    Rev. Leon Kelly

    Rev. Leon Kelly at the Dr. MLK Marade with Mayor Michael Hancock and other local politicians.

    Rev. Leon Kelly with actor Will Smith

  • Blair-Caldwell AfricanAmerican ResearchLibrary Serves asCommunity HubWith thousands of items to check

    out as well as programs, exhibits andmeeting spaces, the Blair-CaldwellAfrican American Research Libraryserves as a hub for the neighborhoodand the citizens of Denver andbeyond. As one of 23 branches of the Denver

    Public Library, the branch library wasthe brainchild of Mayor Wellington E.Webb and First Lady Wilma J. Webb.They envisioned a research library andmuseum to preserve and showcase themany contributions of AfricanAmericans to Colorado and the West.They feared that if this history was notpreserved in a central place, it would belost forever. Since its opening April 2003, the

    library has done that, and more. Blair-Caldwell serves as an educational andcultural resource for the people ofDenver, and the world, focusing onthe history, literature, art, music, reli-gion, and politics of AfricanAmericans in Colorado and through-out the Rocky Mountain West.Last year the Branch Library wel-

    comed over 130,000 visitors and host-ed 25 community groups such as theMile High Youth Corps, NationalCouncil of Negro Women, and theFive Points Jazz planning committee.Like most other DPL branches, neigh-borhood groups count on the libraryto as a place to hold their meetingsand events. Bringing in special exhibi-tions, to complement their historicalpermanent collection, is also an impor-tant part of what Blair-Caldwell offersto the community. These exhibits, inaddition to the resource materialsavailable at the branch, allow thelibrary staff to work with students andteachers from preschool to college,around the state.Last November Blair-Caldwell

    hosted the national exhibition MovingToward Liberation: Freedom Riders,which tells the powerful, harrowingand inspirational civil rights story ofsix months in 1961 when more than400 courageous Americans old andyoung, black and white, men andwomen, Northern and Southernrisked their lives to challenge segre-gated facilities in the South. The exhi-bition was funded through a majorgrant from the National Endowmentfor the Humanities. We were thrilled to not only help

    bring this exhibition to Denver, butalso host 15 related public programswith a total program attendance ofover 1,000, says Terry Nelson, Blair-Caldwells Special Collection and

    Community Resource SeniorLibrarian. We also worked closelywith area schools and hosted over 360high school students, and 40 elemen-tary school students throughout theone-month run, where a record-break-ing 3,800 people came to view theexhibition. While the Blair-Caldwell serves the

    community year-round, once a year theDenver Public Library hosts the JuanitaGray Community Service Awards, pre-sented to African American men andwomen who have made an outstandingcontribution to the Denver Metro areaand who exemplify the ideals and spiritrepresented by Grays commitment tothe community.

    Now in its 25th year, the Librarywill also be hosting a fundraising galaon Feb. 3 to ensure the future of thecommunity awards with guest speak-er Mayor Michael B. Hancock. Theaward ceremony traditionally kicks offBlack History Month, and will takeplace this year on Feb. 4 at Blair-Caldwell.Related programming and Black

    History Month special programs areplanned throughout February includ-ing movie screenings, art exhibits, andlive presentations. For a complete list of events, call

    720-865-2401 or visit www.aarl.den-verlibrary.org.

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


    Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 Lecture 7-9 p.m. Shorter Community AME Church 3100 Richard Allen Court (Colorado and Martin Luther King Boulevards) Denver 80205

    Join us in honoring the recipients of the Hope for the Future Award: The Honorable Michael Hancock, Mayor of the City of DenverCarlotta Walls LaNier, youngest of the Little Rock Nine, author, businesswoman

    and Civil Rights advocateLt. Col. James Harvey III, member of the pioneering Tuskegee Airmen


    Please join us for a complimentary community event featuring noted social entrepreneur and speaker

    Brenda Palms Barber

    Founder of North Lawndale Network and Sweet Beginnings LLC


  • Through all of these experiences,Kelly kept a fragile sense of balanceand lived a double life. In the eyes ofhis parents, he was still living anupstanding life and they were proudof their sons success, having no realclue. Kelly maintained a sense of thevalues and morals that had beeninstilled in him, and continued to beable to justify his lifestyle as not beingharmful to anyone. I remember moments standing on

    my balcony, looking over the city andthinking that there had to be more tolife than this, marveled Kelly. Thenthe phone would ring and it was backto the world that I knew.

    When The Bubble BurstIt was a game of cat and mouse,

    striving to stay a step ahead of thepolice. It was a game of knowing whomight be getting set up, and the possi-bility of getting shot at. It felt like aninvincible life-style of being on top,and the pinnacle seemed like it couldnever crumble. When you get to the top, there is

    only one way down, said Kelly, andI came crashing down. In 1979, Kelly was convicted on a

    drug related charge after nearly shoot-ing someone and served a five- to-eight year prison sentence in theColorado State Penitentiary System.His parents, always the pillars ofChristianity and upstanding commu-nity figures, couldnt believe whathappened while in the courtroom.My Mom thought they were railroad-ing her son, remembered Kelly. When the handcuffs were put on,

    Kelly was in a state of disbelief. Ima college graduate and a preachersson, he recounted. I think at thatpoint, I was more embarrassed bywhat my Mom and Dad felt, and whatI had just put them through.Kellys bubble had not only burst, it

    had exploded, and his world turnedupside down in that moment of hissentencing.

    A Time to ReflectTwenty-three hours of each day,

    Kelly remained in solitary confine-

    ment and had to re-evaluate manythings about his life.On the plea andrecommendation ofhis mother, Kellybegan to sincerelypray for redemp-tion and forgive-ness.In the world of

    that former life Ilived in the streets,its hard to graspthe concept of faithand the element of things not yetseen, said Kelly. For me to survivein that world I had to rely on whatwas tangible. When Kelly delved into his new

    realm of spirituality, a weight was lift-ed off of him. And he realized thatGod had a purpose for this preachersson; someone who had come to knowthe life of a drug dealer but was nowflipping his own script with a differentview of the world and brand newfocus.One of Kellys truest victories came

    after he was released from prison -three years after his sentencing. Herecalled his old stash was still therewaiting at home. The longer I held itin my hands, the weaker I became,he said. I thought I might still be ableto justify the parties, the life, thegreed. I could just turn this; get on my

    feet, and then no more.Instead I opened it andthrew it out. That was whenI came to realize who I wasin Christ.

    A Growing Problem In TheMile High CityIn 1984, Red Shield want-

    ed Kelly to come back andwork with their youth pro-gram once again. Kellyaccepted the job and beganseeing the negative influ-ences coming in fromCalifornia on the growing

    gang culture in Northeast Denver.This was the beginning chapter ofwhen the Crips and Bloods had offi-cially arrived in Denver.Kelly used basketball in a struc-

    tured environment to connect andestablish relationships. He singled outthe gang member leaders and built atrust with those youths who had influ-ence. I would call time out and wewould orchestrate a play, said Kelly.Kelly became increasingly involved

    in deterring gang activity among theteens that he closely worked with. Inone family, he became close to twoolder brothers who were trying toalter their identities as Crips.Fortunately, they had a 16-year-oldyounger brother, Delontay, who wasstill on a positive track playing foot-ball at Kennedy High School and wasnot necessarily a concern at the time.

    One day, Delontay agreed to walkdown to the corner store, off Franklinand 28th streets, to buy his sister asoda. As he left the house, he noticedhis brother had forgotten his rag onthe counter and stuck it in his backpocket. But when he left the store,only two houses from home, a cardrove by and spotted the blue rag inhis back pocket.An arm protruded out the win-

    dow of the car, and one shot wasfired, Kelly said, It hit him up underthe arm and severed his aorta. Hemade it back to his own steps wherehe fell down and died. The gangmembers in the car did not know thiskid from Adam. This was Kellys first drive by

    homicide that was up close and per-sonal to the man who was dedicatinghis life to alter the path of death anddestruction brought on by gangs.Kelly had been observing a changingand disturbing mindset among gangyouth and their whole attitude, lack ofremorse and of respect; knowingfromhis own experience what hatred did ifit was not addressed and would festerand get out of control.The drive-bys we experienced

    back in the day were more to intimi-date, explained Kelly. It was excit-ing for them to try and shoot some-body, but when the missiles foundtheir target and they started to hit thevictim, it was taken to another level.

    A Continuing JourneyWhen Kelly formed the Open Door

    Youth Gang Alternatives in 1986, itseemed to be a natural evolution forthe man who was already helping cur-tail gang violence with growing mem-bership. The name Open Door wasin response to many of the recreationcenters closing their doors at that time.Kelly wanted it to be clear that hisdoor would always be open to fill thegrowing needs of the citys youth. In the beginning, the focus of Open

    Door was intervention, mediation, andprevention, in that order. As the gangphenomenon grew, Kelly found him-self trying to put out the brush fires

    February 22, 2012www.MetroVolunteers.org


    Paul Mesard

    The HonorableElbra Wedgeworth


    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


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    3200 Cherry Creek Drive South, #700Denver, CO 80209303-871-7249 - www.myradonovan.com

    "Call Today for a FREEConsultation!"

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    3200 Cherry Creek Drive South, #700Denver, CO 80209303-871-7249 - www.myradonovan.com

    "Call Today for a FREEConsultation!"

    Rev. Leon Kelly with Denver Sheriff officials at Christmas event.

    Rev. Leon Kelly take youth toBroncos football game.

  • and diffuse issues that kept spreadingall over the city. His efforts began tofeel futile, as those fires continuedburning. Kelly realized the most effec-tive way of dousing the flames was tocut off gang recruitment and deal withthe root of the issue. Starting early is the key, Kelly

    expressed. It is much easier to mold akid, than to repair an adult. In addi-tion, if I develop a relationship withthis kid in elementary school, then Imgoing to develop a relationship withthe parents and siblings as well. Thatgives me a tie into the home, where Iwould find out that other siblings hadissues with gangs. And it was alwaysthe mothers who sought his help forboth prevention and intervention.It is the core of everything that he

    does, from mediating rival gangs tobeing a positive role model for youthat risk. It always goes back to the relation-

    ship, stressed Kelly. And being con-sistent in the lives of these kids, sothey can say somebody appreciatesme for me, somebody knows Imalive, and Im not just another statisticof the system.This is apparent in all of Kellys

    interactions. In the after school pro-gram at the elementary school, chil-dren are scrambling to get a hug fromthe Rev. Along with that love, comes

    a visible respect, and a desire to toethe line and in turn be rewarded bythe man of genuine heart and stature. In the weekly Flippin the Script

    program, 22 parolees who would beconsidered by many as hard coregangsters, sit in rapt attention as theRev teaches them the tools and theskills they can use to take some of thetraits they developed on the streetsand flip them around to be productiveand pay it forward back in society. Kelly realizes that there are no

    automatic changes in a lifestyle thatwas their identity and led them toserve time in prison for the choicesthey made. It took a long time forthis mindset to develop , so it is goingto take more than a minute to over-come that, he tells the group. At theend of the two hour class, each onecomes up and hugs and laughs withthe Rev, who expresses genuine andindividual concern as if they were the

    only one in the room at that moment. A Long Road To GoAlong with the great rewards of the

    relationships he strives to foster - thekids he sees grow up, the graduationsfrom colleges, kids of the kids hesworked with and providing thoseopportunities to break the cycle isnot forgetting that along with gangviolence comes a great deal of loss. Kelly pulls out a stapled packet from

    his desk drawer that is about a half inchthick. This is what he refers to as hisdeath list. There are 913 names to dateon this list of youth who have violentlydied young. Each life that was at onetime vibrant and valued is now listed byfull name and age under the groupingsfor each year....31 in 1993, 64 in 2003,and 35 in 2011. As an ordained minister since 1986,

    Kelly has officiated at many funerals.There has been no other ministerwho has had to bury this many kids

    and people who had lost their livesdue to youth violence and gangs,Kelly stated. Pictures of youths line the wall that

    Kelly has been an integral part of theirlives. A number of them are nowgone. When youre praying with akid, playing with a kid, interactingwith a kid, and now you get a call thathe or she is dead that is a lot of emo-tion to deal with, expressed Kelly.A lot of my thought patterns and

    attitudes have changed over theyears, said Kelly. Its sad that a lotof the time we have to die beforesomebody acknowledges that he orshe was really a good person andwhat theyve done. We should be liv-ing our eulogies every day.Although there needs to be so

    much more wide spread attentiongiven to this problem that isnt goingaway by itself, Kelly will continue tofurther his own efforts of compassionand dedication from a strength withinthat only comes from God. Its been atireless path that he not only has cho-sen, but one that chose him. He lives his own eulogy each and

    every day. Editors note: For more information onOpen Door Youth Gang Alternatives, visittheir web-site at www.therev.org.Editors note: Misti can be reached [email protected]

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


    Congratulations Faye Tate

    VP and Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion

    Congratulations to Faye Tate, recipient of the 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Business Social Responsibility Award and CH2M HILLs Vice President and

    Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion.

    As a firm committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, CH2M HILL

    proudly supports Urban Spectrum in its effort to Connect People to People and

    break down cultural barriers.


    CH2M HILL is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. 2012 CH2M HILL COR012612142103MKT

    Rev. Leon Kelly spends time with an OpenDoor Youth Gang participant.

  • Having to wear orange tennisshoes and green jumpsuits that sayDowntown Denver Detention was notthe wardrobe of choice for five Blackexecutives, who were locked behindbars for nearly 45 days last year.Now out on bond and working on

    an appeal to get the conviction over-turned, Gary Walker, David Banksand other business partners, are confi-dent of their innocence of fraud thatinvolves federal agencies and a $5.3million debt collection.Banks, 44, determined to clear his

    name, claims, This case is partiallyracially motivated and bigmoney thatinvolves the federal government. Wedont believe that a white software com-panywould have gone through this.Banks is chief operating officer of

    the Colorado Springs based softwarecompany, IRP Solutions, alongwith hisbrother-in-lawGaryWalker, CEO,Kendrick Barnes, Demetrius Harper,Clinton Stewart and David Zirpolo(who is white), whowere all convictedin a federal court of fleecing 41 employ-ment staffing agencies of $5.3 million.Denver attorney, Charles Torres,

    one of the new attorneys that IRPexecutives have hired to work on theirappeal, even questions how certainthings were done during the trial.There are very interesting appellate

    issues that are important to ask the court

    to look into, affirmed Torres, who alsowas a former federal prosecutor.We strongly believe the men are

    innocent and are pushing toward thatdirection while preparing for theappeal (once a date is set), addedGwendolyn Solomon, solo practitionerand use to work for the El Paso

    District Attorneys Office. She also isworking on the case on behalf of thefive IRP executives.The whole case stems around IRP

    Solutions developing a software thatHomeland Security and law enforce-ment agencies nation-wide could useafter the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Thecompany contracted out severalstaffing agencies in providing employ-ees to help work on the software.But what should have been a civil

    litigation involving a debt collectioncase filed by the staffing agenciesturned into a criminal fraud case pur-sued by Colorado U.S. AttorneyMatthew T. Kirsch and tried in a fed-eral court.Were a small company competing

    with Lockheed Martin and IBM, saidBanks who admitted to getting themanpower from staffing agencies inorder to help modify their software.The U.S. Department of Homeland

    Security andNewYork PoliceDepartment wanted to see certain thingswith the software. So we did it in goodfaith that it would land us the contractwith the federal government and theselaw enforcement agencies. But then wegot indicted on allegations for makingfalse representation to these staffingagencies. It became a catch 22 for us inbeing obligated to pay the staffing agen-cies in expectation of landing federalcontracts.Banks further said the staffing

    agencies had already filed civil lawsuits against IRP Solutions for being inbreach of contract for paymentsbetween 2003 and 2005. Yet, the FBIstill stepped in and arrested all theexecutives on fraud charges.Some see it play out like a Black

    Watergate scandal involving cover-

    ups, seizure of records, wire and emailfraud swindles. And the FBIs chargethat IRP Solutions was a purportedor fictitious company pretending to bea software company.In February 2005, the FBI conduct-

    ed a full-scale raid of IRPs office inColorado Springs confiscating soft-ware codes and other confidentialrecords, besides probing into bankrecords of family members, friendsand associates of Colorado SpringsFellowship Church, where all the IRPexecutives attended.Pastor Rose Banks with the

    Colorado Springs church is still fum-ing over the whole ordeal on how herson, David Banks, son-in-law, GaryWalker and the others were treated.I truly believe this was a set up (of

    IRP) from the time of the raid. The FBIwent around harassing my churchmembers, went into my bank account,the churchs bank account and had nosubpoenas, she said.Prior to the FBI raid, federal agen-

    cies, the Colorado Bureau ofInvestigations and Denver PoliceDepartment, had shown an interestafter seeing demonstrations of thesoftware by IRP, proving the compa-nys legitimacy.Not only did we contact the FBI

    back in late 2003, but began interfac-ing with various law enforcementagencies, including New York PoliceDepartment and U.S. Department ofHomeland Security, Banks said. Itwas Steven Cooper, program managerwith DHS, who advised us to put afederal face on our software packageby engaging the services of lawenforcement professionals. Thatprompted a meeting we had with Sen.Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who alsoreferred us to the head of the DenverDivision of the FBI.The SoftwareThis highly anticipated software

    was developed and expanded back in2003, explained CEO, Gary Walker, 48.Walker has a degree in computer

    science from the University ofColorado. He has worked in the com-puter field for the last 20 years andbeen a software developer consultantfor many companies.He then brought in others with infor-

    mation software technology experience:Banks, 44, who has a data architecturebackground, Harper, 37, data baseadministration, Stewart, 52, softwareengineering, Barnes, 40, software engi-neering and Zirpolo, 47, with an indus-trial engineering background.For Walker, it was a matter of per-

    fecting his software so that policedepartments could use it for investiga-tion of cases and case management initially a tool first marketed to theColorado Bureau of Investigations.Tax Help Colorado is sponsored by The Piton Foundation

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    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


    Impending Solution For Five Black ExecutivesIRP Solutions Battle With Feds While Waiting Appeal

    By Sheila Smith and Gary Bramlett

    Executives with IRP Solutions company based in Colorado Springs, CO.Left to right: (Back row) Clinton Stewart, David Banks, Kendrick Barnes

    (Front row) Demetrius Harper, David Zirpolo, Gary Walker, CEO

  • It became clear to me that I neededto expand the software. I needed tomake it moremulti-usable that incorpo-rated a data base and networkable. Thatwaymultiple agencies could collaborateand cross reference on investigations ofcases,Walker said. I took our softwareto another level.

    Before 9/11, Walker said differentlaw enforcement agencies across thecountry had no way to draw linksbetween people and cases, collaborateand share information. When 9/11happened, it was a wake-up call forthose federal agencies, he said.

    Walker and his business partnerswent to work onmore enterprising soft-ware, which involved seeking the helpof temporary staffing agencies for addi-tional employees to be contracted out.

    Walker also clarified that the tempo-rary staffing agencies did invoice hiscompany for employees; but over time,he fell behind on payments in hopes ofhaving amulti-million dollar sale of thesoftware to pay off their debts.

    Even court testimony by BillWitherspoon, project manager withthe Department of Homeland Securityin Washington D.C., alluded to howthis type of software initiative wouldnormally cost Homeland Security abillion dollar contract.

    Homeland Security and NYPDtold us that they couldnt contractdirectly with such a small companylike ours, even though they comment-ed on our software being the besttheyve seen. They suggested we part-ner with some larger companies likeDeloitte and Computer SciencesCorporation who are billion dollarcompanies that contract with federalagencies - and could sell our softwareas prime contractors and we deliverthe software as a subcontractor,Walker said.

    The problem, he declared, was theselarger companies wanted to reviewIRPs software and get more detailedinformation without providing a non-disclosure contract agreement.

    We were stuck with this great soft-ware that we couldnt sell. And itbecame clear that we had somethingvery valuable, expressed Walker.

    John Epke, a retired FBI agent wholives in Boulder, entered into a con-tract with IRP Solutions in January2004 to advise and consult them ontheir software. The contract specifiedthat he would receive consulting feesfrom $65 to $70 an hour for his workon the software project.

    Epke workedwith IRP for a year andtestified in court on his involvement.

    But during a phone interview, Epkeoutlined his disappointment with IRPSolutions, saying, I never got onedime from them, and I wasnt happyabout it. He also hasnt decided whatlegal recourse to take in getting backpayment from IRP.

    Fraud or Unfair JusticeBefore the FBI shut the doors of

    IRP, the executives sought legal repre-sentation from Billy Martin ofWashington D.C., who also represent-ed NFL player, Michael Vic, duringhis villainous dog fighting case.

    But the executives believed theattorney was not moving in an aggres-sive manner in their defense and hadexhausted all their financial resources.They eventually ended up with acourt appointed attorney.

    Again, Walker said he didntbelieve the court appointed attorneywas effectively representing them inthe court room. Our main dissatisfac-tion was the lawyer seemed toobuddy buddy with the prosecutor.We did not want our lives in thehands of a person who didnt see theprosecutor as an adversary.

    Without any legal counsel, IRPexecutives were left to represent them-selves during the three-week federalcourt trial in October 2011.

    U.S. Attorney Kirsch and his teamhammered away at the idea that IRPSolutions went to the temporarystaffing companies and misled them inbelieving they had secured contractswith Homeland Security and lawenforcement agencies.

    Walker and Banks, of course, saythis is false and denied the allegationsdespite staffing agencies having ver-bally testified in court with no otherevidence of emails or documentationshowing IRP had contracts with theDepartment of Homeland Securityand NYPD.

    The jury began deliberating on Oct.17, 2011 and the gavel came downafter a guilty verdict was read on Oct.20, 2011. Presiding Judge Christine M.Arguello immediately had all the IRPexecutives placed in custody of U.S.Marshalls, handcuffed and shackledbefore being led out of the courtroom.

    Currently, the men are out on bondand remain under house arrest in theirhomes with restricted times to leaveand return.

    Walker is upbeat and hopeful ofhaving a successful appeal trial withhis new team of lawyers to representthe company.

    He said what he and the otherswent through being indicted andspending time locked up in pod cellconsisting of 64 men, no way to gooutside and see the sky except the fewstreams of sunlight beaming throughthe small barred windows has defi-nitely been an experience.

    Its about racism here in Colorado,Walker stated. You have six peopleindicted and convicted, which five ofthem are Black. It shows us how hard itis for any Black company to sell to fed-eral and law enforcement agencies andalso proves howmuch racism is aliveandwell in this country.

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


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  • Colorado Honors

    By Sheila Smith

    At 90 years old, Lt. Col. JohnMosley rose from his wheel chair andsaluted those who gave him a stand-ing ovation and applause while at thestate capitol. Last month, the former Tuskegee

    Airman received special recognitionfrom state legislators who passed a jointresolution naming Interstate 70 theTuskegee Airman Memorial Trailsthat will be part of a nationwide trailstretching across the country.I was very happy to be a part of

    that particular activity (being aTuskegee Airman) and recognizinghow important it was to the UnitedStates, said Mosley who has alwaysbeen excited about his accomplish-ments during the 1940s as a bomberpilot with the 332nd Fighter Group ofelite African-American pilots.

    Rep. AngelaWilliam, D-Denverled the efforts in get-ting the resolutionpassed.During World

    War II, a tremendousamount of attentionwas paid to Black pilotswho were considered partof the Tuskegee Experiment in theearly 1940s. The result was the forma-tion of the 99th Pursuit Squadronbased in Tuskegee, Ala. These Blackmen who were not only pilots, naviga-tors, bombardiers, maintenance andsupport staff that became a big part ofthe United States Air Force.Those Tuskegee airmen flew the

    skies with courage andbravery in leading thewar destroying 1,000German aircrafts thusearning their nicknameRed Tail Angels.Not only did they fight

    Hitler across the seas buthad to fight the ugliness of

    prejudice, hatred and segrega-tion back home in the United States.The Tuskegee Airmen proved theirwings of worthiness and were regard-ed with the highest of respect for serv-ing their country. We owe unlimited gratitude to the

    Tuskegee Airman, during a time whenAfrican Americans were barred fromserving in the U.S Military theTuskegee Airmen proved what theysaid could not be done and were suc-cessful combat mission pilots who alsoprotected our country, Williams saidwhen addressing fellow legislatorsduring the Military Day ceremony.She also encouraged everyone to go

    see the movie Red Tails and added, Itis part of history that our childrenneed to know about.Williams said there are eight mem-

    bers of the original Tuskegee Airmenstill living in Colorado and why it wasimportant to have resolution HRJ 1003passed. This allowed Colorado to bepart of the systematic nationwide traildedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen. Ineach state, a group of elected house

    representatives and senators also pre-sented similar resolutions in order todesignate a stretch of interstate to con-nect to the national Tuskegee trailwinding its way across the country.Colorados Tuskegee trail spans

    from the eastern border of Kansasacross to the Utah border.They were not able to serve in the

    United States Military until 1942 andthey put their lives on the line at atime when the military would notallow them to do so, Williams furtheremphasized about the I-70 trail beingmonumental in honoring the remain-ing Tuskegee Airmen living inColorado.Sen. Suzanne Williams and State

    Rep. Rhonda Fields also stood in strongsupport of the resolution and praisedthe Tuskegee Airmen as men whodefied the odds and became the bestever to have served in the ArmedForces.He represents us and fought for

    us, Sen. Williams said and againthanked Mosley.John Smith stood in the shadows of

    the Tuskegee Airman and proudlywears the burgundy uniform. It has been a long time coming,

    and for me it is a testimony of theprogress we made in this country, hesaid about being honored by the statelegislators on Military Day and havingthe Tuskegee Airmen trail namesake. It comes at a time when Martin

    Luther Kings exploits are being cele-Continued on page next page

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


    Colorado Tuskegee AirmenLt. Elder James Brown

    Lt. Col. James H. Harvey IIICapt. Samuel C. Hunter, Jr.2nd Lt. Franklin MaconLt. Col. John Mosley

    Col. Fitzroy Buck NewsumCol. James E. RandallLt. Col. Marion Rodgers

    On Jan. 22, the Hubert L. Hooks Jones Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. also honored these living BlackAmerican heroes of the sky during a dinner and showing of Red Tails. Pictured is organizer Gilbert Wheelerwith Tuskegee Airmen and youth in attendance. Red Tails has skyrocketed in sales, grossing more than $26million at the box office, and holding steady as the number two movie in theaters since its debut on Jan. 20.

    Photo by A Stars Photography

    Former Tuskegee Airman Lt.Col. John Mosley, 90, salutesthe Colorado House after it

    passed a joint resolution makingInterstate 70 part of the nation-

    wide "Tuskegee AirmanMemorial Trails" system.

    What she learned is that no onepart of Cameroon is truly like another.There are over 250 languages spoken.The climate ranges from the hot drydeserts of the north to the humidgreen forests of the Congo River basinin the south and east.

    While other African countries haveseen frequent changes in leadership atthe top, sometimes through violentmeans, Africas number one soccernation still defies understanding by itscritics.

    In neighboring Chad and the CAR,coup dtats and hunger are nostrange events. An influx of refugeesinto Cameroon as well as criminalactivities from neighboring countriesthreatens peace there. Cameroonshares a long border with Chad andCAR, two countries that suffer fromendemic conflict, according to theInternational Crisis Group(ICG) in a2010 report.

    Nevertheless, the country, its leaderand the international community havetactfully navigated demonstrations forchange in Cameroon by keeping thepeace.

    Who will blame the internationalcommunity? Their attitude is alwaysthat when there is peace, there is noneed to indulge in provocative lan-guage that can disturb the peace, sothe litmus test for their attitude is usu-ally the peoples reaction followingevery election, wrote retiredProfessor Tazoacha Asonganyi, amember of the erstwhile SocialDemocratic Front (SDF) party, a lead-ing opposition party in Cameroon.

    After the October vote, Asonganyiblamed the Cameroon opposition forselling after the market, sulking asusual about electoral fraud. He cau-tions the opposition to seize themoment thereafter.

    Voter apathy could be another rea-son for why things are the way theyare in Cameroon, said Johnson. PaulBiyas re-election in my opinion wasnot necessarily due to the great sup-port nor confidence that the people of

    Cameroon have for their president; itwas more due to the fact thatmany Cameroonians, especially thosewho do not support Biya, believe thattheir individual voice will not make adifference.

    Politically set with the potent com-bination of a bilingual and multicul-tural history and existence, the essenceof which has fermented chaos in otherAfrican countries, the country contin-ues to navigate its re-unification fromtwo independent nations.

    Under the banner of brotherliness,two separate nations, East Cameroonand West Cameroon, gained inde-pendence in 1960 and 1961 from theFrench and British respectively, andcemented their unity with a May 20,1972 reunification agreement.

    With a sizable amount ofCameroonians of SouthernCameroonian descent yearning forsecession from the so-called LaRepublique du Cameroun and othersclamoring for a return to the two-statefederal system setup after a 1961United Nations plebiscite, the countryremains intact, with unmistakablecoexistence between Anglophones andFrancophones.

    Almost 40 years after both nationscame together, and despite innumer-able legal cases of exploitation ofminority English-speakingAnglophones, the country has notgone to war over the issue. Many ofthe cases have gone to trial and manyare still being examined by the UnitedNations, the African Commission onHuman Rights and the InternationalHuman Rights Court.

    An international dispute withNigeria over the oil-rich Bakassipeninsula brought the country close toall out war with neighboring Nigeriamany times. But the dispute waspeacefully resolved in favor ofCameroon by the International Courtof Justice in 2002.

    Far from its geography and politi-cal challenges, the country is the breadbasket of the Central African region. It

    is the regions largest economy. TheEconomic and Monetary Communityof Central Africa (CEMAC) regionencompasses Gabon, Congo, theDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC),Equatorial Guinea, Central AfricanRepublic (CAR) and Chad.

    Its economic and demographicweight as well as its strategic geo-graphic position at the heart ofCEMAC makes Cameroon theCentral African natural locomotive,according to Business Cameroon, anonline investment portal showcasingstrategic business opportunities in thecountry.

    In a May 25, 2010 report,CAMEROON:FRAGILE STATE, theICG stated, Cameroons apparent sta-bility in a turbulent region cannot betaken for granted. The report cast thedifferent scenarios that could threatenthe countrys stability, leading to con-flict. It called for political reform, thestrengthening of institutions and forgovernment oversight.

    The international community,focused on unstable countries in theregion, just hopes Cameroon willmuddle through, the ICG reportsaid.Editors note: George Bamu is an Aurorabased journalist and founder of AfricaAgenda. He can be reached through thewebsite, www.AfricaAgenda.org.

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com December 2011


    Women in dresses with the image of CameroonianPresident Paul Biya celebrate. Photo courtesy ofAllAfrica.com

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  • Don Rojas,Executive Directorof Free Speech TV..Where Television IsA Movement

    By Annette Walker

    During his two year tenure asexecutive director of Free Speech TV(FSTV), Don Rojas has achieved someof his goals to increase viewership andto augment and diversify its progres-sive programming.Established in 1995 and first located

    in Boulder, FSTV is now headquar-tered in Denver at the Five PointsMedia Center. It is the first national

    television network whose mission is toexpand the reach of social justiceissues and ultimately to serve as a cat-alyst for social change. The founderswanted to provide an alternative tocorporate-funded news and program-ming and counter the misinformationin mainstream media.Now a multi-platform digital

    media pioneer, FSTV is best-knownfor its daily news and analysis pro-grams. Among these are theWashington, D.C.-based ThomHartmann Program and New York-based Democracy Now, hosted byAmy Goodman and JuanGonzalez. There is also a daily pro-gram produced by Al JazeerasEnglish-language channel. FSTV alsohas broadened its scope and also fea-tures weekly public affairs series,investigative documentaries, personalstories, and keynote talks by leadingthinkers. The network reaches 30 mil-lion U.S. homes, airing fulltime onDISH Network (channel 9415) andDIRECT TV (channel 348) and part-time on more than 200 cable affiliates.There is also live streaming on theWeb at www.freespeech.org.FSTV is funded by viewer dona-

    tions and foundation grants. There areno commercials and the network doesnot accept money from corporations.According to Rojas over the past

    two years TV viewership hasincreased by 40 percent. He is espe-cially proud of program innova-tions. We are honored to welcomeSenator Bernie Sanders (Dem. -Vermont) to our community, hesaid. Brunch with Bernie is pro-duced in conjunction with ThomHartmann and is a live call-in pro-gram where listeners can interact withthe longest-serving independent mem-ber of the U.S. Congress.FSTV held a special six-hour broad-

    cast during the 2010 midterm elec-tions, featuring Denvers GloriaNeal as anchor for local guests alongwith Amy Goodman from New Yorkand Thom Hartmann fromWashington, D.C.During his tenure Rojas has

    increased live coverage of progressiveevents, such as the NAACPs annualconvention in Los Angeles last sum-mer; the Netroots National Conferencein Minneapolis; the Take Back theAmerican Dream conference inWashington, D.C. featuring Van Jones,labor union leaders and grassrootsorganizers and activists; the U.S.Social forum in Detroit that attractedover 20,000 people.One of Rojas goals has been to

    increase FSTVs visibility in Denversprogressive, African-American andLatino communities. We videotapedand later broadcast the keynote speechdelivered by Ben Chavis at the annual

    banquet of the Colorado Associationof Black Journalists, he said. In addi-tion we have partnered with Dr.Vincent Harding and the Veterans ofHope organization to present a specialpresentation by poet and activist SoniaSanchez. The event was held atFSTVs studios with a live audience.FSTV videotaped the lecture deliv-

    ered by Dr. Elsie Scott, president andCEO of the Congressional BlackCaucus Foundation inWashington, D.C. Her visit to Denverwas to participate in the CrimePrevention Conference co-sponsoredby the NAACP Youth Council.Both the Sonia Sanchez and Elsie

    Scott presentations will be broadcastduring Februarys Black HistoryMonths programming.There will be new programming

    for 2012. We will launch a weeklyOccupy the Media program inFebruary because we view the 99 per-cent Movement as the most significantsocial and economic justice movementin the USA since the Civil RightsMovement of the 1960s and 70s, saidRojas. In fact, Dr. Kings dream of anAmerica with greater economic andracial equality is alive and well in theOccupy Movement.This year FSTV staff marched,

    videotaped and interviewed people inDenvers Martin Luther King annualMarade.

    Rojas said that the 2012 electioncampaign coverage will commence inFebruary. FSTV is especially interest-ed in the battleground states as well asthe Republican and DemocraticConventions.Other programming initiatives for

    this year are a redesigned andenhanced Website and an Internetradio project.Rojas brings to Denvers media

    landscape an exceptional journalisticand communications background thatencompasses an international perspec-tive. A native of the Caribbean, he hasheld positions in African-American,Caribbean and alternative media. Inthe early 1990s he was managing edi-tor of the New York AmsterdamNews, the oldest surviving African-American weekly newspaper. He alsofounded the first African-AmericanInternet initiative, the Black WorldToday and the Black world RadioNetwork.He was communications director of

    the NAACP, media manager ofOxfam America and general managerof Pacificas WBAI-FM radio station inNew York City. Prior to that, he wasthe press secretary to the late PrimeMinister Maurice Bishop ofGrenada. Rojas has worked as a jour-nalist in Canada, Eastern Europe,Cuba, and Latin America.

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


    Continued from previous pagebrated. So I hope that the Americanpeople will look at this and start treat-ing people right regardless of colorand creed and we all work together.So this is just indescribable on whathas taken place.Smith was a graduate of Tuskegee

    University and then served 26 yearsin the U.S. Air Force during theKorean and Vietnam wars.Although, he did not serve in

    WWII like those before him, he said,I am a beneficiary of what they (theTuskegee Airmen) did.While Hollywood may have sensa-

    tionalized some facts when it came tothe Tuskegee Airmen and service totheir country, Jeffrey Baptist, 21, stillappreciated its historical content andtribute to men like his great grandfa-ther, John Mosley.Its all about legacy and sense of

    pride you get and really invigoratesyou to do something. When I look athim, my great grandfather, people seehim as a hero, I see shoes to fill and Ialways try to emulate him and dothings to make him proud, Baptistsaid.Baptist continues the long tradition

    of Mosley men, from his uncle EricMosley, who served 20 years in theAir Force, along with countless otherfamily members who also served theircountry. He will graduate from theAir Force Academy in ColoradoSprings in 2013.

  • SayingGoodbye toM&DsBy Sheila Smith

    Who knew that when Mack andDaisy Shead brought to town theirsavory, fiery blend of barbecue sauce

    some 34 years ago, it would becomesuch a milestone in Denvers Blackcommunity.The couples restaurant, M&Ds,

    catered to all the barbecue and catfishconnoisseurs, along with other popu-lar dishes that left your taste budswanting more. But for the Shead family,

    closing the doors of theirrestaurant last month washarder on the customersthan it was for them. Afteryears of a burned-out econo-my, they said it was time.Mack Shead said they strug-

    gled for so long just trying to keepthe doors open for their long-time cus-tomers.It was a smart business decision

    that came too late, agreed his saiddaughter, Rena Shead. M&Ds seemed to be the one main-

    stay Black business in Denver. Therestaurant not only provided food forthose who craved it, but even the poorwho couldnt afford it. If a person was hungry, he or she

    was never turned away and alwaysgot something to eat, said MJ Shead,the son who helped run the businessalong with his parents and sisters.Long time patrons of M&Ds, Lu

    Vason, always brought his clients toeat at the restaurant.

    I was instrumental in helpingthem build more customers. Lu VasonPresents and the Bill Pickett Rodeowould bring all the entertainers to the

    restaurant to eat orhave them


    So Ifeel terri-

    ble about themclosing, he said. Its a major loss tothe community.The Sheads also became like a sec-

    ond family to Lu Vason who spenttime having holiday dinners withthem for more than 10 years.Les Franklin, founder of the Shaka

    Franklin Foundation, used to spendevery Saturday eating at M&Ds whenhis sons were young. He also hadM&Ds cater many of the ShakaFranklin Foundation functions as well.It was always a healthy and clean

    environment where you could takeyour family, and Mack always keptthings under control, Franklin said

    heartbroken over his favorite restau-rant closing.In my viewpoint, I think the Black

    community abandoned the business.Mack Shead, who is originally from

    Indiana, had retired from militaryservice. He decided to move toColorado because of other brothersand sisters already living in Denver.His wife, Daisy, was born and raisedin Texas.As the couple couldnt resist the

    charms of the Mile Hi City, theyimmediately pursued looking for alocation to open up a restaurant in1977. When I was in the service and sta-

    tioned in Rome, N.Y., I had opened arestaurant, Mack Shead said of hav-ing the same southern-style cookinghe mastered so well that included hisfather-in-laws special Texas barbecuerecipe.My daddy was the barbecue man.

    He had a barbecue pit on the week-ends. And I was just a little girl when Istarted working there, said DaisyShead. She felt it was important topass on her fathers recipe to her chil-dren.Actually, Mack Shead added, the

    secret to the success of the barbecuerestaurant was providing the publicwith good food. We had a goodrecipe and continued to enhance the

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


  • food. The food was still good up untilthe time we closed.The second generation of Sheads

    learned quickly about tradition andbecoming part of the family business.Rena Shead was in high school

    when she first started working at herparents restaurant. The restaurant opened up on a

    Tuesday and I started on a Friday,she laughed when remembering. Iworked even after college. It was partof my parents legacy and a familybusiness.Deborah Shead was away at college

    when the restaurant opened in 1977.But she never failed to return home onbreaks and during the summer towork at the restaurant. For me it wasimportant to be a part of my familysbusiness, she said. The years wentby and Deborah never failed to bebehind the scenes in the kitchen put-ting to use her culinary skills. MJShead was living and working inTexas back in the late 1970s. He gotlaid off his job and returned home tohelp out with the restaurant.I thought coming back and being

    a part of the family business was agood thing to do. We had hopes anddreams of expanding. And we all hadour contributions to add, MJexplained.Now the reality is for the next gen-

    eration of Sheads being part of thefamily business has been cut short. Buteach family member reflects back ontheir own memories of what it took tomake M&Ds a historical landmark inDenver. We have met a lot of wonderful

    people and made some great friend-ships, Deborah Shead said that shewill never forget.Besides the friendships, her sister

    Rena said, Weve received recogni-tion and given an award from theBlack Chamber of Commerce in 2009,which was a highlight for me. Andalso being able to feed seniors atChristmas and Thanksgiving waspretty special. With 34 years of business behind

    them, the Sheads have also seen theirfair share of political dignitaries andcelebrities. Mayors, governors andeven Vice-President Joe Biden gracedthe doors of M&Ds and feast on bar-becue and good old southern cooking.You know youre a big M&D fan

    when youre living in another stateand call in an order to have the foodshipped to you.When former Mayor Frederico

    Pena left to go Washington D.C.(while under the ClintonAdministration), he had us send himsome food to cater for his birthdayparty, Daisy Shead recalled whichwas before 9/11 when shipping fresh

    food packed in dry ice by airplane wasallowed. Looking back over the years, Mack

    Shead said the most memorable thingfor him was, Being able to expandthe restaurant in 2003.After the expansion, however, he

    said the restaurant still never filled tocapacity with customers. It seemed like we didnt have as

    many people coming and going eventhough the restaurant was bigger, hestated.A lot of the faithful older patrons

    had died, echoed Daisy Shead. Whenour customers families would comeinto town, they would bring themdown to the restaurant to eat and thatseemed to keep us going for awhile,she said.MJ Shead agreed that the demo-

    graphics of the northeast neighbor-hood had begun changing over time.More regional chain barbecue

    places had also opened and becamepopular. They may not have had asgood of food but were more conven-ient, MJ said.During the 1970s and 1980s,

    M&Ds and Daddy Bruce Randolphwere the premier Black barbecuerestaurants in Denver.And before that, the corner strip off

    East 28th Avenue and Race Street wasa hotbed of activity from a laundrymat, beauty shop, liquor store andanother soul food restaurant known asMiss Vs, said Mack Shead who laterbought the vacated restaurant space toopen up his restaurant.He also is very adamant about put-

    ting all the rumors to rest regardinghow renovating his restaurant causedthe liquor store to close. We did not put Mr. Howard

    (owner of the liquor store) out of busi-ness. He was retiring and chose togo, he said. Unfortunately, with receiving a

    $953,000 loan from the Mayors Officeof Economic Development to refurbishthe restaurant in order to capture abigger customer base and dynamics ofa changing neighborhood, didnt seemto help the Sheads after all.Sales plummeted and not by a

    small percentage, MJ Sheadexpressed as financial problems esca-lated in not being able to meet theirobligations to pay back the city loan. The city did tell us that if we got

    caught up with our payments, theywould work with us, Mack Sheadsaid. But we just didnt have enoughbusiness to do it.The family is saddened but at the

    same time relieved that the restauranthas closed too much strain and diffi-culty in keeping the doors open arenow gone. Mack and Daisy had already

    weaned away from the business toenjoy their semi-retirement. Rena andDeborah have their own sweetscatering business, which includesyummy cupcakes, cookies, candies,along with those scrumptious pies andcobblers. MJ is focusing on specialties,such as seasoned blends, barbecuerubs, sauces and smoked meat prod-ucts that he caters. M&Ds will always be the one

    restaurant no one will forget tastybarbecue on your palate, the smellscoming from the kitchen and bustlingatmosphere of a business that was in aBlack neighborhood for three decades.

    And it was a place so many youthexperienced their first job of washingoff hot sauce bottles.Over the years, MJ Shead shared,

    We met a lot of good people andhave supported a lot of families dur-ing some hard times. We thank thecommunity from the bottom of ourhearts for their support and those whohelped to keep our doors open.We hope God blesses them and

    our paths will cross again. Editors note: For sweet catering needs, E-mail Rena and Deborah Shead at [email protected] or for other cateringneeds E-mail MJ Shead [email protected]

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


    Patrons enjoy dining at M&Ds.

  • When Jim Ward died on Sept.24, 1993, one day short of his 76thbirthday, he left behind not just hisfamily and friends to mourn his pass-ing, he left behind a legacy of success,hope, opportunity and love for thecountless students, teachers and othershe touched during his many years ofservice to Denver Public Schools (DPS)and to this community. Many of thoselives he touched exemplified the val-ues he instilled in them by becomingsuccessful members of the communityas teachers, lawyers, doctors,plumbers and even politicians.Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on

    Sept. 25, 1917, he grew up in Sterling,Co., in one of the very few AfricanAmerican families in that small townon the prairie. His accomplishmentsbegan early in life when he becamethe first African American All-Statebasketball player in Colorado history.Graduating from Logan County HighSchool in 1935, he attended theUniversity of Colorado, Boulder grad-uating in 1948. His college career wasinterrupted by World War II. Heserved as a Captain in the U.S. Army,25th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division,in the South Pacific.Returning to Colorado, he married

    Elizabeth Carrie Mayo on Jan. 10,1943. They had two daughters,Marianne (Ward) Franklin of Denver

    and Carolyn(Ward) Gresham ofFlorida. Being aneducator neverdiminished his roleas dedicated hus-band and parent tohis family.He began his

    teacher career atWhittierElementary and itwas there that hestarted to influencethe lives of young people. To youngGwen Bowen, later a highly successfuldance teacher in South Denver, hethrew a lifeline. One day, as sherecently described, when she nearlylost control of her class, young Ward,a physical education teacher, offered

    her some advice asto how to controldisadvantaged chil-dren and providedwords of encour-agement she stillremembers thataided her to regaincontrol of the situa-tion and have a suc-cessful studentteaching experience.From Whittier,

    Ward went to ColeJunior High School where he taughtand served as assistant principal andin 1959 he was assigned as principal ofWyatt Elementary School. In 1966, hebecame principal of Manual HighSchool, the first African Americanprincipal of a Colorado public highschool. Two years later he again madehistory by appointing the first AfricanAmerican coaches in a Colorado pub-lic high school. Ed Calloway, Sr.became the Manual High School varsi-ty basketball coach, Alex Burl the var-sity football coach, Ira Brown the var-sity tennis coach and Lonnie Porterthe assistant basketball coach. In 1972, Coach Porter, now the

    most successful college basketballcoach in Colorado history, coached hisfirst and only state championship bydefeating the highly favored WheatRidge Farmers. But that championshipwas not the most important matter.Ward demonstrated the kind of coura-geous and wise leadership that exem-plified his public life. Both Calloway,and his son, Ed, Jr., would coach statechampionship basketball teams withrecords of 23-0, a first for Coloradoand for father and son.Graduating from Adams State

    College in 1966, Lonnie Porter couldnot find a coaching job, his life-longambition. He did find a position teach-ing physical education at the old GoveJr. High. As soon as each school dayended, Porter would go to ManualHigh School and just be present in thebuilding hoping to be acknowledgedby Jim Ward. Eventually, the newprincipal and he met. Young LonniePorter began volunteering at theschool and, in the spring of 1968, healong with Calloway, Burl and Brown

    would be appointed the first AfricanAmerican coaches in the state. As their relationship grew, Ward

    began to treat Porter as a son and hebelieves that without Ward, his coach-ing career might have been stifled.Coach Porter volunteered to performmany roles, sophomore class sponsor,defensive back coach for the footballteam and he tutored students whoneeded help for the man he wouldlater recognize as being far ahead ofhis time as an innovative educator. AllPorter did for Ward and for kids atManual and now at Regis Universityas the most successful basketball coachin Colorado he did with a smile andlove for the man who began his career.Porter remembers Ward as a man ofreason, very direct and a settling forceat Manual High School at a time ofturbulence in the late 1960s and 70s.Like so many others, Porter recog-nized the greatness in Ward andexclaimed, Great is what he was. Icant shout loud enough the love Ihave for that man. For Porter, this writer and so many

    others, Ward was a father figure whowas in the business of saving andchanging lives.Ira Brown coached tennis, swim-

    ming and baseball and remembersWard as a well qualified profession-al who was an inspirational rolemodel for youth and teachers with akeen sense of humor yet a no non-sense approach to discipline. Ed Calloway, Jr., grew up in a seg-

    regated school system and never sawAfrican American coaches until hisfather, Burl, Brown and Porter wereappointed when he was a student atManual on the basketball team.Contrary to the advice of a junior highschool counselor, young Ed began torealize that he was intelligent andcould succeed. He thought, Maybe Icould be a basketball coach like mydad. He would later graduate fromFisk University, earn his mastersdegree at the University of NorthernColorado and become a successfulbasketball coach at GeorgeWashington High School where hecoached Chauncey Billups and otherstandout players to two state titles.The lessons he learned from his fatherand Jim Ward he would later impartto students that a person can be whatthey want to be through dedicationand hard work. Mr. Ward exempli-fied that.In 1974, Judge William Doyle, act-

    ing under the direction of the U.S.Supreme Court, issued an order thatDPS be desegregated. As principal,Ward was determined to make inte-gration a success at Manual. To thatend, he recruited teachers fromGeorge Washington High School. GWstudents from the Crestmoor area

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


    A Tribute to James D. WardFirst African American Principal of a

    Colorado Public High SchoolBy Ed Augden

  • would be coming to Manual andWard ensured their safety and well-being at his school. Dick Jordan, oneof those teachers, recalls that Wardwas totally committed to that goal. Tomake it successful, during the summerof 1974, a committee of teachers, stu-dents and parents met under Wardsdirection to establish an atmosphere ofcaring and safety. Jordan, who guidedstudents on river trips each May, cred-its Wards leadership and his ability tobring people together for a commonpurpose for the successful transitionfrom segregation to integration.Virginia Lorbeer, who sponsored

    cheerleaders and various other activi-ties at Manual and later at MontbelloHigh School, recalls Ward sitting on

    the bench next to his coaches and ath-letes as a way of showing his support.On Color Days, she said he wouldbarbecue and sell his delicious treats.He would always be sure that therewas enough food at athletic awardsbanquets. Mostly, Lorbeer remembersthat Jim Ward wanted to ensure thateach student would have the neces-sary skills to succeed in life. One of thehighly successful programs he con-ceived and initiated at Manual was theCareers Program. Students couldreceive instruction in cosmetology,medicine, law, education, medicine,etc. One of its special successes wasteaching students how to build an air-plane, the Sky Bolt. Lamar Steen wasrecruited to teach that skill to students.This program led to the establishmentof the Career Education Center.Manual graduate, Paula McClain,

    benefitted from participating in thepre-education program by serving as ateachers assistant for the school librar-ian at Barrett Elementary School whilea senior. She described Mr. Ward asvisionary and interactive with stu-dents. Not attending classes or othermisbehavior warranted that lookthat meant straighten up. Upongraduation, she was motivated andconfident that she was worthy andvaluable and I can achieve anything Iset my mind to.

    Jim Ward enlisted each staff mem-ber in his mission. Linda Patton, aManual graduate, served as atten-dance clerk and, at his direction, wentto students homes to urge them toattend school, kids who might other-wise have failed. He also providedher with the opportunity to work twodays per week while recording televi-sion programs for KRMA-TV, thenpart of DPS. She remembers Manualas a community school and Mr. Wardas its great leader.On April 16, 1994, the James D.

    Ward Memorial Sports Complex wasdedicated at Manual High School inhis honor.Marianne (Ward) Franklin, remem-

    bers her father as a man dedicated andloving to his family yet who wouldnot tolerate misbehavior by either she

    or her sister, Carolyn. Mrs. Wardserved as the disciplinarian and hewas the problem solver. That both arethriving adults is testament to theirsuccess as parents.To this retired teacher and writer,

    Jim Ward provided the foundation ofmy teaching career by providing theguidance, hope and opportunity thathe did to all that he touched. To mehis most important lesson was that forpublic school faculties to succeed theymust collaborate and realize thatteaching is a team effort. Or as theAfrican axiom teaches, it does take avillage to raise a child. His legacyendures.Editors note: Ed Augden is a retiredDenver Public Schools teacher and commu-nity activist who lives in Denver. He canbe reached at [email protected]

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


  • Rest Time ForTebowmaniaBy Sam Adams

    I have been inside the eye of thetempest while it swirled aroundDenver Broncos quarterback TimTebow. I didnt blink. Good thing,because I would have missed the mostamazing part ofthe experience that being thecalmness Tebowmaintainedthroughout thestorm.For three

    hours, I walkedside-by-sidewith Tebowwhile he playedthe Celeb-AMround of theAmericanCenturyChampionshipheld last July at EdgewoodTahoe golf course. Engulfedby shrieking fans at everyturn, Tebow never flinched.Michael Jordan, Charles

    Barkley, Aaron Rodgers, JasonKidd, Marcus Allen, JerryRice, Emmitt Smith and JohnElway were just a few of thestars who also played the tour-nament in front of fairly largefollowings around the course.None were as large as the gal-leries for Tebow. Everyone, itseemed, wanted a piece ifnot a glimpse of the 2007 HeismanTrophy winner.Tebow is both adored and despised

    by millions of people world-wide.Hes applauded for exhibiting a hard-nosed style of play on the field and aninsatiable desire to help people inneed off the field. Hes admonishedfor openly expressing his religiousbeliefs in the football setting. Hespraised for his ability to create positiveplays with his feet. And hes criticizedfor not having the skill and ability tothrow the football at a level expectedof a professional quarterback.There is one thing about Tebows

    demeanor off the field. He seemsimpervious to any of the hype. Youtalk. He plays. And he will do whatev-er it takes to win.Tebow stepped in as the starter

    after the team had lost four of theirfirst five games. The Broncos startedwinning games seven of their nexteight including six in a row. Denver

    defense played outstanding during thestreak, as the team allowed just 17points a game. And kicker Matt Praterclosed three straight games with win-ning field goals.Like quarterbacks usually do,

    Tebow received the lions share ofpraise for the winning streak not tomention unbelievably ridiculousamounts of coverage from the local,national, international and socialmedia outlets.ESPN. Saturday Night Live. Late

    Night with David Letterman. Twitter.Its Tebow time . . . Have

    you Tebowed yet?Tebows on-target throw to

    Demaryius Thomas resulted ina game-winning 80-yardtouchdown play that gave theBroncos an overtime playoffvictory against the PittsburghSteelers and gave the RockyMountain Region a long-awaited case of Bronco-mania.The following week, both

    Bronco-mania and TebowTime came to an abrupt end inthe frigid New Englandevening air after a 45-10 loss to

    the Patriots atGillette Stadium.Tebow has

    five months torest, recover,study and pre-pare for Broncostraining campthis summer.John Elway, theBroncos VicePresident of foot-ball operations,has not guaran-teed that Tebowwill start the2012 regular sea-

    son as the teams starting quarterback.So dont be surprised when theBroncos have one, if not two quarter-backs competing with Tebow for thejob.Heres where it gets interesting

    separating Tebows popularity fromhis actual abilities to play in the NFL.He sells jerseys and produces tweetsin record numbers. But his game onthe football field mirrors his game onthe golf course powerful yet erratic,with plenty of room for much-neededimprovements.Tebow knows better than anyone

    that hemust make those improvementsto his game, and in a hurry. To borrow agolf term, recent history shows thatstarting quarterbacks for the Broncosrarely receive amulligan.Editors note: Sam Adams is a formersports columnist-turned-standup comedi-an. For more information, visitwww.likethebeer.com or E-mail [email protected]

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


    Tebow posters by Jesse DuBois for prints call 303-292-6446.

  • CCoolloorr MMee PPrroouudd!!

    Rep. Angela WilliamsD-Denver, District 7


    School ______________________________

    Age____________ Grade _______________

    Address _____________________________


    Phone ______________________________

    Instructions: Color this draw-ing and receive a prize! Anychild,12 and under, who colorsand returns this drawing to theDenver Urban Spectrum, 2727Welton St., Denver, CO 80205will receive prizes from the par-ticipating sponsors. All entriesmust be received no later thanFeb. 28.

    Illustration by Drew Mannie - Dropshadow Studios.

    Chris Herndon, DenverCity Council, District 11

    Albus BrooksDenver City Council,

    District 8

    Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, District 42

    Denver Urban Spectrum www.denverurbanspectrum.com February 2012


  • GERIE GRIMESExecutive Director and Non-Profit

    AdministratorHope Center

    Gerie Grimes has always beeninvolved and willing to work to dothose things that need to be done tomake the community a better place foreveryone.Grimes has been instrumental with

    the Hope Center that will celebrate 50years and working with children.My involvement is making a dif-

    ference in education from early child-hood to higher education, she said. Grimes doesnt believe in sitting

    around and waiting for others to dothings. You cannot bring aboutchange, if you are not willing to getinvolved, she said.When it comes to the biggest chal-

    lenges that African-Americans face,Grimes believes is, Having a qualityeducation, being able to recognizeracial issues connected to disparities,being willing to put self on the backburner, work together and persistentlybring about change.As Grimes works on her doctorate,

    she hopes in the future to be part ofthe much needed changes in educa-tion.Of course, it makes sense that

    Grimes would want to be remem-bered as someone who made a posi-tive change in her community andsaid, I want to be remembered as acivil rights activist who never gave upon the pursuit of justice that everyoneshould be treated with respect, digni-ty, regardless of the color of theirskin.And I want my family to say that

    Gerie believed.

    HASIRA SOUL WATSONProgressive Journalist, Radio Host and Writer

    Who in the community hasntheard that voice or read the wordswritten by Soul Hasira Watson, radiohost, relationship writer and commu-nity activist.He is mostly known for his Man

    Up! Relationship columns, social com-mentary pieces called SOULilquy. Watson is aiming at building

    bridges between Africans and African-Americans through the media chan-nels. He has even served as a mediacoordinator and a delegate of theAfrican Union Diaspora Forum inGhana, Africa.Watson sees the biggest challenges

    facing the African-American commu-nity are their attitude and vision. I believe we can manifest anything

    we put our minds to. If you can see it,and believe ityou can achieve it, hestated. We are in dire need of a posi-tive brainwashing. We desperatelyneed an empowerment education thatteaches us how to unlock our personalpower and overcomes lifes obstacles.This type of empowerment educationis what I see as my lifes work. His belief of being active in his

    community stems from coming from aprogressive Denver family that always

    took an active role in the community.I love Denver and the Denver com-munity and there is nothing I wontdo for those that I love. Serving thecommunity and having a positiveeffect on it, is truly my passion, hesaid.Watson sees no fault in the positive

    way he wants to be remembered.When it is all said and done, he said,I was a loving husband, father andcommunity member who inspiredcountless others to live their life to thefullest.

    JASON R. WILSONIntervention Specialist

    Basketball Coach and MentorJason Wilson has worn many hats in

    the community as an intervention spe-cialist, basketball coach and mentor.His ability to rehabilitate youth in theclassrooms and advocate for father-hood, especially single fathers, hasbecome another positive mark on thecommunity.But that is not all Wilson has

    accomplished - from educated thecommunity on the value of recycling,volunteering to clean the grounds atthe Colorado Black Arts Festival tohelping revitalize Manual HighSchools basketball program.The African-American community

    is not without its challenges and hur-dles to overcome. Wilson sees thebiggest challenge being the youth set-tling for mediocrity in the classroomsand no educational pursuit of gradu-ating from high school and attendinga four year college.Our youth still have a lack of edu-

    cational programs and extra-curricularactivities that prepares them for thefuture, Wilson explained.When asked why he pursues taking

    on such an active role in the commu-nity, Wilson replied, Because somany young adults are without bothparents and dont have a role model toshow them the right way. And also Ifeel that I relate to the young adults onvarious levels. Helping youth graduate from high

    school, pursuing a higher level ofcoaching, and connecting more fatherswith their children, Wilson said are

    few things he hopes to accomplish inthe future, besides becoming the thirdBlack mayor of Denver.Wilson also hopes to be remem-

    bered as a person who dedicated hislife on the betterment of the Denvercommunity. I was a man that repre-sents triumph, and a man that lovesthe Lord and his family.

    PAULA MCCLAINMarketing and Diversity DirectorU.S. Tennis Association Colorado

    Paula McClain has always been anefficacious worker in the community.Her relentless drive involves workingwith the USTA Colorado in partner-ship with the Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library, bringingthe successful na