On July 28th, hundreds of people lined up for the opening two hours of the first Taste of Ethiopia Grand Festival in Aurora, the Denver Post reports.
Although a thousand injera, whole-wheat flat bread, were made, they were not nearly enough for all of the eager guests excited to try the ethnic foods. Fourteen people from Ethiopia cooked piles of food the day before and served it Sunday to those at the festival. The Denver metro area is home to about 17 Ethiopian restaurants according to the event organizers.
The festival was not just about the traditional dishes being served. There was also music, communal coffee, and jewelry and clothing for sale. There was a dance exhibit in which mostly first-generation American teenagers participated, performing ancient dances from across Ethiopia.
The goal of the event was to share culture and encourage diversity, and because of the large amount of participation and attendance, many likely could say this goal was accomplished.
Celebrating Heritage Months
The University of Denver is committed to living our values of diversity and inclusion. Our community and institutional success is dependent on how well we engage and embrace the rich diversity of our faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni.
With that shared value in mind and in partnership with Human Resources & Inclusive Community (HRIC), the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI), The Cultural Center, Community + Values, and the Staff of Color Association (SOCA), we will celebrate the identities and histories of members of the DU and world communities. Each month we will feature a staff or faculty member and a student in recognition of each heritage month, along with an event to honor one another and learn about our unique differences.
Advancing a key strategic initiative outlined in the 2020-2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan , the Heritage Months Initiative will contribute to the creation of a campus climate and culture that strives for excellence in inclusion in all aspects of the University of Denver’s operations. Join us in this celebration!
Propose a Program or Highlight a DU Community Member
Heritage Months Calendar
- September 15 - October 15: Latinx Heritage Month
- October: Disability Employment Awareness Month & LGBTQ+ History Month
- November: Native American Heritage Month
- January: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- February: Black History Month
- March: Women's Herstory Month
- April: Arab American Heritage Month & Autism Acceptance Month
- May: Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month & Jewish American Heritage Month
- June: LGBTQ+ pride Month
Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month
On the evening of September 11, 2010, the Ethiopian community celebrates Kiddus Yohannes, Ethiopian New Year, and the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association’s purchase of a community center at 8323 Rainier Avenue S in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of southeast Seattle. Approximately 1,000 people show up for the New Year celebration, but nearly half that number must be turned away when the new community center reaches full capacity. The community center is an almost 10,000-square-foot building that once housed the Faith Temple Community Church. It will be a gathering place for the more than 25,000 Ethiopian youth, parents, and elders who live in Seattle as of 2010, and will serve as space for tutoring, classes, Ethiopian holidays, and celebrations.
Origins of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association
The first Ethiopians came to Seattle as students in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Most intended to get their education in Washington and then return to work and live in Ethiopia. But in 1974, these plans changed when the Derg, a Marxist military junta group, ousted Emperor Haile Selassie, bringing instability to the country. From 1974 to 2009, about 2.5 million Ethiopians fled the country in response to the oppressive Derg regime, the EPRDF party, which took power in 1991, war, and famine. In 1971, there were between 10 and 20 Ethiopians in Washington state by the early 1980s there were about 200 Ethiopians, mostly in the Seattle area. These individuals sponsored Ethiopian refugees, many of who had already spent years in refugee camps in Kenya, Sudan, and Egypt and who may have also tried migrating to the Middle East and Europe.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Seattle’s small Ethiopian population had tried to organize some kind of community organization to help new immigrants. However, these groups were not knowledgeable enough about how to help, and they were ineffective. In 1983, some Ethiopians formed the Ethiopian Refugee Association, which later became the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association, formally incorporated as a 501 C (3) non-profit corporation in 1987. The initial goal of the ECMA was to help refugees to become good citizens, find work, and send their kids to school. Most importantly, it wanted to bring people together.
As a result of current political leadership in Ethiopia that promoted divisiveness among ethnic groups in order to strengthen its political position, tensions that existed in Ethiopia between Amhara, Oromo, Tigray,and other peoples continued to affect Ethiopians in the Seattle area. But in the past few years much of the divisiveness in the community has died down. The ECMA presents the new community center as a place for Seattle’s more than 25,000 Ethiopians and will not discriminate against religion, ethnicity or language, political affiliation, or culture. As Ezra Teshome, an Ethiopian community leader, points out: “'being ‘Ethiopian’ will not take away from other values,” meaning that Ethiopians can hold onto their own ethnic or religious identities and still consider themselves Ethiopian (Teshome interview).
Building a Community Center
The Ethiopian Community Mutual Association first came up with the idea of purchasing a space for a community center in 2002. Though the organization began to collect money, campaigning for the project was on again and off again until 2008. In 2008, the association elected new board members, who are all volunteers. The board decided to focus on two things: the need for a center and at least one paid staff member.
Membership increased dramatically and many people donated small amounts of money toward the project. By the summer of 2010, the community had raised $335,000 to use as a down payment and an additional $5,000 to use as a closing costs on the Faith Temple Community Church building. The association met its goal and on August 31, 2010, bought the new community center building for $1.6 million.
At the Center of the Community
The large number of people attending the September 11th New Year celebration reflected not just excitement about the holiday, but also excitement about Seattle’s first Ethiopian Community Center. The association will host programs for Ethiopian youth, such as after-school tutoring, Amharic language classes, cultural classes, computer classes, and arts and music events. The hope is that these programs will help Ethiopian youth develop their own identity and pride and teach them to be good citizens.
Some Ethiopian children have strayed from their immigrant parents, who often cannot speak English fluently, work two jobs away from their homes in order to support their families, and cannot integrate into American culture as quickly as their children can. As a result, some young Ethiopians have gotten involved in gang-related activities. Community leaders believe that youth programming at the community center will help address this problem.
For adults, the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association will help new immigrants coming to America on Diversity Visas find jobs and learn English. For parents, they will offer parenting and women’s empowerment classes. In addition, the association hopes to bring in police officers, health officers, and politicians to teach Ethiopians about the law, health and nutrition, and other issues pertinent to the well-being of the community. Finally, the community center will be a place for retired Ethiopians to spend time with one another, support each other, learn new skills, and help young Ethiopians learn their language and heritage.
The Ethiopian Community Center will also celebrate major Ethiopian events and holidays, such as the anniversary of the Battle of Adwa when Ethiopians drove out the Italians on March 1, 1896, Kiddus Yohannes, which is the Ethiopian New Year, as well as a celebration for new Ethiopian graduates at all levels and a summer family picnic.
ACC serves refugees of varying English levels, education backgrounds, work histories, and career goals. They all share a certain trait they tend to be highly motivated employees. Our job developers work with employers to meet their staffing needs with our qualified refugee candidates, while also working to match the skills of each refugee candidate with a good job.
Integration Programs are the bridge between the receiving community and our new neighbors. We Made This sewing social enterprise prepares community members for jobs in the sewing industry and helps individuals earn income from product sales. Our Youth Program ensures that young adults have the resources to grow into community leaders. Ready for American Hospitality prepares refugees for the food service industry and is held in coordination with the University of Denver School of Hospitality.
Q&A: Celebrating Native American Heritage Month With Stevie Rose Tohdacheeny Lee
The University of Denver is committed to living our values of diversity and inclusion. We recognize that our community and institutional success is dependent on how well we engage and embrace the rich diversity of our faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni. With that shared value in mind, throughout this academic year, we plan to publish a series of articles to celebrate cultural and ethnic heritage months. In partnership with Human Resources & Inclusive Community and the Staff of Color Association (SOCA), we will feature a staff or faculty member in recognition of each heritage month, along with an event to honor one another and learn about our unique differences.
After years of working with young adults through the nonprofit Outward Bound, Stevie Rose Tohdacheeny Lee realized the skills she learned could come in handy in a location close to where she grew up, with a community close to her heart. The Indigenous Diné population in Shiprock New Mexico stood to benefit from a hands-on, experiential method of learning.
Lee (MA ’11) enrolled at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, earning a master’s degree in conflict resolution. But after taking a job at the American Indian College Fund, she decided to dive deeper and take another detour, pursuing her PhD at the Morgridge College of Education.
As she finishes her doctorate, Lee is also working as the Native American liaison and program manager at the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Denver
In her role, Lee works across the University to strengthen programming and support systems for current Native students, recruit prospective Native students and create connections with off-campus Indigenous communities and organizations. She frequently works with administrators, faculty and staff to recommend, implement and advance equitable strategies put forward by DU’s Native American Inclusivity Task Force.
In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, Lee joined the DU Newsroom for a discussion of where Native communities, higher education and her Diné identity intersect.
Not only are you on staff, but you’re also a PhD candidate in the Morgridge College of Education, researching, broadly speaking, Native communities in higher education. Could you tell us more?
I want to know how Native faculty members at Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) experience learning, how they experience teaching, center their narratives, amplify those narratives and critically look at this idea of teaching, research and service. I’m [focusing on] one site back home because I want to contribute to my Diné community.
“Service” as a term has a lot of deeper meanings from an Indigenous context. Being Indigenous, we’re very much connected and tied within our community to our environment as a whole. The community members are very tied into the institution. They have created it, they have built the curriculum about it, they have engaged in a cultural knowledge restoration preservation of their own culture.
When it comes to Native faculty, they do a lot of work outside of just teaching in the classroom. They’re really involved in the community they’re really involved in national initiatives but they still find time to show up at the local basketball game and cheer on the local basketball team. Or they find time to hand out food to elders who cannot drive two hours to get to a community center. All of that is part of their teaching and what they consider engagement in learning.
As an alum, current student and member of the staff, how have you and other members of DU’s indigenous community navigated the tension surrounding the Pioneer moniker?
To be honest, I don’t see a way of reconciling the history of the “pioneer,” — the word itself — as a result of the response that was given from [Native Student Alliance] students and allies [of the Righteous Action, Healing Resistance movement]. It was disheartening to hear the responses and it was hard to see the level of sadness and frustration and confusion from our Indigenous students. I think that we have to remember the history: The University is founded upon the genocide of Cheyenne Arapaho people. We can’t erase that, but we have to find a way to address it. I think by having the Pioneer moniker and branding, we’re telling our students and our staff and our faculty that DU is unwilling to reconcile this violent legacy. That has to be addressed. It can’t be swept under the rug. So I stand in solidarity with our Native Student Alliance (NSA) students and Righteous Action, Healing Resistance (RAHR) allies for all the demands that they’re asking for.
In an effort to make DU an inclusive and welcoming place, what would you like to see changed or improved?
If you look at the NSA and R.A.H.R collective organizing around the demands of creating a critical race and ethnic studies department, increasing hiring and retention of faculty of color, addressing the Pioneer branding, increasing engagement with Indigenous communities — all of these action steps will move toward creating a more welcoming environment.
Another thing is to address the systems that continue to ignore student narratives and ignore their voices. We need systems that assure students they deserve to be here, they have a right to be here, they’re welcomed in the space to be able to be creative, and not continuously respond to the violence of discrimination and racism and feel like they’re the other in a space that they’re paying for.
Who in your life has inspired and guided you?
My late grandmother Stella T. Lee was a huge proponent of education, who also helped me to understand that I can walk and breathe and live and be who I am, while still figuring out who I am at the same time. I’m Diné, I’m 5’2” and a half. As a kid, I loved playing in the dirt and playing with cars. But at the same time, I go and attend ceremony and go and practice in my cultural traditions. I’m all these things.
She taught me to be of service. She never put her head down. She walked with grace and she earned respect from being part of the community, serving others. She practiced Diné cultural traditions, but she also went to a mission school growing up, so she was also a devout Methodist. She blended and interwove a lot of her own lived experiences, and so her identity was very complex. She really garnered and lived a really beautiful life.
How do you like to honor, celebrate and live your Diné heritage?
It’s a 24/7 gig. I live and honor it by what I do. I was taught that my creator is always within arm’s reach. The translation of what my cheii (my grandfather on my mom’s side) would say to me is “the sky is the limit.” And I think for me, living and celebrating it is through the job I get to do and the communities I get to co-construct research with. I can reflect on moments I’ve had and remember memories and I think that’s one way — to continue to remember those critical moments in my past that have brought me joy. The learning curves have brought me a sense of ownership of this life I live now. I think that’s the best way I can celebrate: It’s what I do. It’s who I am
The Denver Community Fridge Project
Eli Zain (they/them/theirs) is a local scholar and activist, originally from Southern California. Eli is a second year master's student in the Humanities and Social Sciences program with an emphasis in social justice. Eli moved to Denver over a year ago, and since then has been dedicated to changing the social conditions of people who have been displaced in Denver due to gentrification. Starting in their position as a graduate assistant at CU Denver's Women and Gender center, Eli has started a multitude of community projects and actions such as the community fridge project and the campaign to defund Auraria campus police. In the midst of a global pandemic and a lack of community resources, Eli started the community fridge project (inspired by Black Lives Matter activists across the nation starting networks of mutual aid) in hopes of providing a sustainable way for community members to look out for one another. Community fridges are maintained and stocked by local volunteers, and are to be available 24/7 to remain accessible to people experiencing food and/or housing insecurity. Eli is also working in tandem with various student activists on a proposal to reallocate funds away from campus police and directly back into student support services. In hopes of inspiring a new generation of student activists, Eli is also an instructor of core composition within the English department and challenges the University status quo by assigning radical texts for their students to analyze and write on. Currently Eli is working on various projects through different avenues, all with the goal of justice in mind, in hopes of providing robust resources to our most underserved students and community members.
Jenn (they/she/he) is a 22 year old multi-media artist spanning from the abstract painting, to photography and digital/graphic design. Born and raised in Colorado, they have been have been creating since the early 2000&rsquos and obtains inspiration from the ever changing colors of nature and the physical texture of the natural world. Jenn is currently in pursuit of obtaining an associate of Arts at Red Rocks Community Colleges with hopes of receiving a bachelors in the near future. Jenn is queer, gender fluid Latinx creator and hopes to develop more works to support and emphasize the importance of abolition and social justice.
Cya (she/her/hers) is an oil painter based out of Denver, Colorado. Cya is a creator at heart, who also writes and creates public art installations. She has participated in festivals around Denver, as well as partnering with The University of Denver to create installations throughout the city. Her creations are heavily influenced by music, pop-culture and the world around her. When she creates through this lens, she is intending to manifest that world into reality, as well as start conversations on how to make it a better place. In some of her creations, one can see thick and heavy applications of paint. The strokes of paint interact with the background and the foreground of the painting to connect them both, which symbolizes the past and the present working together to create something beautiful.
Ruth Rivera Ojeda
Ruth Rivera Ojeda (they/them, she/hers) is a proud queer Dreamer and Mexican artist who aspires to serve their community by helping to bridge the language barriers within it. Next summer, they will be graduating with a major in Spanish, a minor in Human Services Mental Health Counseling, and a Translation certificate. Their colorful roots and upbringing in the US inspire her art which often celebrates the absurdity and beauty of life.
Zachary Vultao (he/him, they/them) is a traditional and digital artist based in Denver, Colorado. His mediums of choice are graphite, watercolor, and digital painting. He currently attends Arapahoe Community College for Graphic Design, Illustration, and Multimedia as well as Game Design and Development. Zach became a part of the Community Fridge project to be involved in something great, that would not only make an impact in the community as of the present, but also extend to help those into the future as well. Outside of creating, Zach enjoys horror movies, fantasy novels, and terrible reality television.
Food insecurity was an urgent social issue even before the COVID pandemic, but it's become even more pressing during this time of economic insecurity and social isolation. Many communities have installed fridges and dry goods pantries where folks can easily access free, nutritious food. The Women & Gender Center is proud to sponsor a community fridge project to support folks in the metro Denver area. We have commissioned local artists to decorate three fridges and are in the process of securing locations in publicly accessible sites around Denver.
This project is being organized and led by Eli Zain (they/them/theirs), a Master's student in CU Denver's Master of Humanities / Master of Social Science program and a Graduate Assistant for the Women & Gender Center. To learn more about the project, you can email Eli at [email protected]
To learn more about the Community Fridge Project, follow us on Instagram at @DenverCommunityFridge.
Gain new perspectives on yourself and the world through the study of race and ethnicity at DU
The Value of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
Examine race and ethnicity as active processes in the distribution of power, construction of identity and shaping of community
Discover how race and ethnicity intersect with other identities, such as gender, sexuality, class, religion, national origin and citizenship
Explore the lived experiences and contributions of racially minoritized populations in the United States and around the world, through historical and contemporary perspectives
Develop the cultural competency needed to flourish in diverse, collaborative environments
Think critically across disciplines and investigate what equity and inclusivity mean in today's global society
Practice critical methodologies through service-learning, internship and study abroad courses that help you become a more ethically engaged citizen
Understand race and ethnicity from many perspectives by taking classes in Anthropology Art and Art History Communication Studies Economics Emergent Digital Practices English and Literary Arts Gender and Women's Studies History International Studies Languages, Literatures and Cultures Media, Film and Journalism Studies Music Philosophy Political Science Psychology Religious Studies Sociology and Criminology and Spanish Language, Literary & Cultural Studies
DU proudly hosts the Diversity Summit as an event for students and our community to come together and explore how higher education should engage, empower, celebrate and honor our diverse and inclusive academic community. It’s an opportunity to explore issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in society broadly and to examine and reflect upon our own campus climate and culture. We feature skill-building workshops, challenging discussions and interactive lectures with honored speakers.
RLGS 3453: Black Liberation Theologies
This course discusses the many strands of liberation theology in the United States, including Womanist theology. In addition to black liberation theology’s methodologies and its challenges to the theological discipline, we explore the origins and development of theological discourse in the late 1960s during the later part of the Civil Rights Movement and the emergence of the Black Power Movement. The course also explores how liberation theologies attempt to deal with the problems of race, class and gender. Students are introduced to theological construction in African American communities and analyze the similarities and differences between these theological constructions.
SOC 2701(2): Deportation Nation
Students in this course engage in a scholarly analysis situated in the historical, social and political processes that have informed contemporary immigration law and policy, particularly the shift to enhanced enforcement, detention and mass deportation. Students connect theory to lived experience through community-engaged learning at Casa de Paz, a center which offers food, shelter, transportation and support to immigrants who have been released from detention. Ultimately, students will leave the course with a nuanced perspective about the structural and global forces guiding these developments, and understand why some describe the U.S. not as a country of laws or immigrants but as a deportation nation.
HIST 2531: Twentieth Century Native American History
This class reviews Native history from the late 19th century to the present, focusing on the interplay between large institutions and structures – such as federal and state governments, or the US legal system – and the lived, local experience of tribal communities. The major themes followed throughout the course of the semester include: place, space and indigeneity (indigenous identity).
Inclusive Excellence Leadership Team
The Inclusive Excellence Leadership Team advocates for inclusion, equity, and academic excellence in order to create an environment where all voices are welcomed and heard, and to empower and celebrate all students, faculty, staff, and affiliates. By challenging systemic inequities, building more robust support systems and resources, implementing ongoing training and professional development opportunities, and embracing open-mindedness at Community College of Denver, we commit to cultivating and enriching our community through increased accountability and civic engagement.
Our 2025 CCD Strategic Plan reflects this commitment that diversity & inclusion will be embedded in every aspect of work at the college in an effort to reach equity for students, faculty, and staff. Specifically, the Strategic Plan outlines our Equity Goals – to Close the Achievement Gap and Improve Campus Climate. The Executive Staff launched the Inclusive Excellence Leadership Team (IELT) in 2019 to lead and guide our equity efforts with the full support of the Executive Staff and Presidents Cabinet. The Equity initiative is designed to guide the college’s work to ensure our culture and operations reflect progressive philosophies around equity and incorporate the experience and knowledge of our diverse employee and student community. The objectives are designed to make us a more welcoming and inclusive campus, where members of our diverse population feel valued, and where quality is embedded in every aspect of our work so that all students have equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their identities.
We recognize that as we advance in this work, the scope will become more clearly defined. We understand the work to become a more inclusive and equitable college is of paramount importance however, the college cannot do everything “first”. These initiatives will not be carried out solely by the college’s IELT. It is not an approval body rather, it is a leadership body to help facilitate the work of allies and others across the college to develop a network of equity and inclusion champions while we embed deeper equity and quality in all of our operations. Our goal is to adopt the Inclusive Excellence Framework as CCD's equity model to transform CCD in a manner that improves quality and creates a sense of belonging for students, faculty and staff.
A Daytime Dance Party That Celebrates Black Diversity
They wore lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender slogans, and cowboy fringe, polo shirts and jackets bedazzled with Swarovski crystals. There were Afros and head wraps, and bodies covered in body paint or nothing at all. They danced to layered, percussive beats, the music vibrant and pulsing.
“I’m bubbling inside, but I’m trying to act calm,” said Tolulope Oye, 21, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who wore yellow track pants embroidered with the words “Never Forget Where You Came From.” As a Nigerian immigrant growing up in Columbus, Ohio, she had dreamed of attending this party since she was a teenager. “I’ve been looking for the perfect niche,” she said, “and I think I found it today.”
It was the Memorial Day edition of Everyday People, a socially conscious daytime party that celebrates the African diaspora, held at Output, a club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Started in 2012 as a monthly brunch on the Lower East Side, the parties now draw thousands and are held in other cities, including Birmingham, Ala., and Chicago, as well as in Africa and the Caribbean.
The mission is to celebrate the diversity of black culture — African and American, immigrant and first generation — through community, music and food. It is designed to be a safe space, a proud space, a space to be anything you want to be, said Saada Ahmed, 29, the party’s creative director and a model for brands like J. Crew and Nike.
“People can put their guard down,” Ms. Ahmed said. “You go to the South and you see L.G.B.T.Q. kids knowing they can be themselves and no one will hurt them. Daytime parties mean Muslim women” — Ms. Ahmed included — “feel more comfortable.”
“Celebrating ourselves is definitely a political act,” she added. “It’s important to release all the pain.”
It wasn’t so long ago that Ms. Ahmed, who grew up in Atlanta, was new to New York, arriving on a Chinatown bus with no job and few connections. Like many of the young people who now flock to her parties, she was driven to prove herself.
Between various sales and production assistant gigs, she started hanging out with East African creative types and eventually met her future partners: Roblé Ali, a chef who later starred in a Bravo reality show, “Chef Roble and Company,” and Mohamed Hamad, an electrical-engineer-turned-D.J.
Ms. Ahmed, Mr. Ali and Mr. Hamad wanted to create a social event for their community, so in 2012, they started a brunch party at the Hotel on Rivington, where one of Mr. Hamad’s friends managed the food and beverage.
“There were great parties at Bagatelle and Lavo, but they didn’t really appeal to our group of people, our group of friends,” Mr. Ali, 33, said. “A lot of these people are millennials that are striving and may not have hit their financial stride.”
Though he and Mr. Hamad were already established in their careers, Ms. Ahmed, who then did online sales for Phillip Lim, was not. “I felt lost,” she said. “I didn’t think I was good at anything.” Working with Mr. Hamad and Mr. Ali gave her confidence.
Soon 150 people were coming in for brunch. “And they didn’t want to leave at 5 p.m., so we went until 8,” Mr. Ali said. Eventually, the parties became too big for the hotel, so they were moved a block south to the DL, a three-story event space on nearby Delancey Street.
Today, Ms. Ahmed, Mr. Ali and Mr. Hamad collaborate with the Brooklyn Museum and the New York City Parks Department to hold Everyday People events. In recent months, the partners have organized events in Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C. But three New York-based parties form the core of the business: a hip-hop and R&B event at the Watermark Bar on South Street, a Caribbean-influenced party at La Marina in Upper Manhattan, and an African music dance party at Output.
The Output party drew about 1,800 guests on Memorial Day and showcased African dance music by Electrafrique, a dance party based in Dakar, Senegal. OkayAfrica, a media platform featuring African music and culture, was a sponsor. “There’s a whole musical wave out of Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa being played in nightclubs all over the world and setting trends,” Mr. Hamad said. “In the past two or three years, I’ve been able to make a living playing the music I love.”
The rising popularity of Afrobeats, Mr. Hamad said, is symbolic of the growing popularity of African culture among African-Americans, which is recognized not just by those who attend Everyday People parties, but by brands like Bacardi, Nike and Samsung that are marketing to them.
Zandile Blay, 34, a journalist from Jersey City and the editorial director of OkayAfrica, recently spent time in Nigeria. It was the first time, she said, that she saw “en masse so many smart, well-educated, focused, vibrant, happy, stylish youth that looked like me.”
The first time she witnessed a similar scene in the United States was at an Everyday People party. “It makes me realize that magic — that black magic — is not only on the continent,” she said. “At this party, you get to see this is real and it’s happening in America.”
It’s the Last Weekend of Black History Month. Here’s How to Make the Most of It
Take in a socially distanced art show, pick-up some good eats, get your mind right, and flex your fashion game—all while supporting local Black artists and entrepreneurs.
Black history is American history. But the Black experience is (and has always been) global, and Metro Denver is home to a diverse set of Black communities with roots outside of the United States—especially the Caribbean and African continent. If you want to up your history goals, here are a few ways to celebrate the last weekend of Black History Month around the Mile High City with a pan-African twist.
Friday, February 26
Evening: Slam Nuba & Ethiopian Eats
Start the weekend sitting virtual front row at the next Slam Nuba, a monthly performance poetry event that features renowned poets and storytellers from across the country, many of whom call Denver home. Slam Nuba began back in 2007, with Colorado Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre and Slammaster Suzi Q. Smith among its earliest members. Now the current collective—based at RedLine Contemporary Art Center—continues to promote the power of poetry and literary engagement in marginalized communities, and will dedicate the final Friday of Black History Month to a double feature with Denver’s own Artsy Q and Baltimore-based Ephraim Nehemiah. Free Show starts at 6:30 p.m. (via Zoom). Register via Redline or Eventbrite.
After the show, pay homage to the Horn of Africa by indulging your eyes and taste buds on the fabulousness that is Ethiopian cuisine. Luckily, Denver is home to a vibrant Ethiopian community that has blessed us with a number of authentic, tasty, and conveniently located options, like Axum Restaurant on East Colfax (5280 Editor’s Choice pick for Top of the Town in 2019) and Konjo Ethiopian Food at Edgewater Public Market for those nearer the westside. (You can also find Konjo’s food truck schedule via Instagram.) Ethiopian food is well suited for communal enjoyment, but if you’re flying COVID-solo, don’t deny yourself the richness of these vegetarian-friendly stews, colorful curries, marinated meats (called tibs), and of course the spongy wonder, injera bread. The flavors are as deep as this African culture is ancient.
Saturday, February 27Inside Urban Sanctuary in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood. Courtesy of Urban Sanctuary
Morning: Yoga with Urban Sanctuary
A thriving Black wellness movement is keen on removing barriers that prevent Black folks from accessing holistic practices like yoga—and some local yogis are innovating in the space, addressing the harm structural racism does to Black bodies via trauma-informed yoga. Urban Sanctuary offers weekly yoga classes, in-person and online, to all those who seek to channel their divine and tap into their sacred. The Dig Deep Power Yoga session begins at 7:30 a.m. (online only), which is followed by Tarot & Flow (available online and in-person, with a five-person maximum), a session guided by tarot readings. Dismantling the systems that perpetuate white privilege and implicit bias is soul-wrenching work, but this replenishment of peace and serenity will sustain you. Space is limited though, so pre-registration is required. 2745 Welton St.
Afternoon: Sip at Whittier Cafe
Find refreshment at Whittier Cafe, the community stronghold in the heart of historic Black Denver. You will find a selection of Ethiopian, Kenyan, and South African beer and wine, along with coffee roasted from beans from across the African continent. Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 1710 E. 25th Ave.
Evening: Zanele Muholi – Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness at the Center for Visual Art
Ponder the brilliance of Zanele Muholi – Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, a solo exhibition of self-portraits by the famed South African photographer that offers a dialectic about the personal politics of race and representation, challenging the viewer with thought-provoking images that intersect Blackness, queerness, and South African identity. Showing Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Center for Visual Art, you can make it a late afternoon or early evening outing. 965 Santa Fe Dr.
Sunday, February 28
Morning: Herbal Offerings from Premyé
Rootwork and folk magic in Black communities harken back to African religious traditions brought to the Americas via the Middle Passage. Herbal artist and Brooklynite-turned-Denverite, Kim Cherubin is serving urban magic with a twist via herbs and teas at Premyé, which means “first” in Haitian Creole. Premyé’s motto, “make time, take space,” centers self-care for the mind, body, and spirit as community work, providing herbal teas, incense, customized herb-blending services, and readymade self-care kits (via their Community Care Allyship Project), from which a portion of proceeds support local individuals and nonprofits advocating for marginalized communities in Denver. Due to COVID-19, Cherubin is currently serving it up remotely, sending orders by mail each Friday.
Afternoon: Brunch with Chef Dave Hadley
Enjoy a samosa—yes, a samosa—courtesy of Denver’s resident Food Network Chopped champion, chef Dave Hadley. The New Jersey native melds his Caribbean and South Asian roots into the perfect pockets of culinary good, and his pop-up concept, Samosa Shop, takes its inspiration from Hadley’s moods as much as from the flavors he grew up on in India and St. Vincent. Leave your lonely COVID-19 island and head to BRNCH MRKT hosted at Tessa Delicatessen in Park Hill, where Hadley’s will be one star in a constellation of vendors curing your brunch cravings. You can also subscribe to Hadley’s secret samosa club and place bulk orders online. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m Tessa Delicatessen, 5724 E. Colfax Ave.
Lawrence & Larimer. Photo courtesy of Law & Lar
Afternoon: Shop Local
Upgrade your style game at Lawrence + Larimer Clothing & Supply Co., a Black-owned clothier featuring creative apparel emblazoned with Black historical references and cultural touchpoints. The shop, located in the Bluebird district on Colfax Avenue, offers an array of T-shirts, sweaters, and outerwear celebrating the Black experience, here and abroad. A Colorado favorite is the Winks Lodge hoodie, a stylish nod to the Gilpin County resort that made mountain leisure possible for Black tourists and Front Range communities during the early- and mid-20th century. Other swag and services include custom screen printing, an online marketplace to purchase photographic prints from Denver BIPOC photographers, and a line of candles called Candles With Attitudes (The “Wake Up” candle is inspired by Spike Lee’s film, School Daze, and implores folks to stay woke and pay attention.) If you can’t make it Sunday, don’t worry, they’re open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 3225 E. Colfax Ave.