2020 True West Awards Day 4 Amplify

Component GradientStart is not available in React's context. It is defined in agility, however. Please check React Dev tools for props.

'With 'Amplify,' we are saying, 'No more. No more will I use your measuring stick for how I show up in this world. In fact, I'm breaking that measuring stick and walking my own path, in all my glory and fabulousness.’

– Jada Suzanne Dixon

By John Moore, Senior Arts Journalist

"Amplify" means to intensify, escalate and magnify a sound that needs to be cranked up. Last summer, the Arvada Center launched “Amplify,” a summer-long video series giving voice to Black performing artists whose voices have not yet been heard loudly enough – at the Arvada Center or beyond.

Betty Hart 160“Amplify” was a proactive response to the racial reckoning in America that has arisen from the murder of George Floyd. All across the nation, individuals and organizations that may have counted themselves among those allied with the principles of equality and social justice are now taking long looks in the mirror.

The idea for “Amplify” began with Director of Communications Marcus Turner. He turned to Betty Hart (pictured at right), since named President of the Colorado Theatre Guild, to curate, direct and produce the series with Arvada Center Production Artist Pierce Murphy.

Women speak out on their 'Amplify' opportunity

Hart initially selected 15 Black men to use the forum to communicate whatever they wanted through song, performance, dance and spoken word. She purposefully sought out Black men because, she said in June, “I thought of all the voices that need to be heard at this time, Black men’s voices are the most critical in light of the daily challenges they face simply to exist.”

Kenny Moten performed the traditional hymn now known as the Black National Anthem. Teenager Owen Zitek sang from Lauryn Hill's "Black Rage," set to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music." Veteran actor Cajardo Lindsey used his time to challenge the Arvada Center for its inadequate history of casting persons of color and urged the Center to move past past desire and into action.

"To use what you have for the good of all," he added.

"I can say that by amplifying Black voices and indigenous voices and voices of people of color and female voices, you are only going to amplify your own voice as a trumpet to be everything that you say that you want to be. And I believe that you want to be that."

President and CEO Philip Sneed agreed. "This is a catalytic moment,” he said. "We can no longer wait to take concrete, authentic and specific actions to address the values of inclusion, diversity, equity and access."

(Story continues after the video.)

Video bonus: The full 'Amplify' playlist

In response to "Amplify," YouTube viewer Patricia Salas wrote: "I have watched many of these performers in different venues over the last decade, but this series is amazing. We must circle the wagons and crochet a web of Colorado, national and international viewers. This is very important stuff."

Betty Hart's presidential promise: Build a bigger tent

The series was so well-received that Hart quickly produced a second season featuring 15 Black women. One was longtime performer and Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee, who said: “Whether it’s the boardroom, political arena, newsroom, theater world – and the list goes on – we are worthy to have seats at any table.”

Juliet Wittman of Westword said of ‘Amplify: “It’s a knockout — visually, aurally, intellectually and emotionally — with stunning performances and first-rate production values."

Actor Colette Brown chose to read a wrenching parental essay called “Today, I Cried,” in which a mother talks about her fears for her Black sons. It’s penned by Eboni B. Justice, a graduate of Denver School of the Arts, track coach and Denver Broncos cheerleader. Watch it here

“Today, I Cried”
By Eboni B. Justice

I cried today. Today, I cried. I looked into the faces of my two beautiful boys. My two beautiful Black boys, and I cried. I cried knowing that despite how intelligent they are, how well-educated they are, how successful they are, how well-mannered and respectful they are, it will not matter. I cried because the characters of my beautiful babies will not matter.

True West Awards Colette BrownThey will step outside of this home into a world that ultimately does not love them. A world that doesn't see them as human. A world that doesn't see the intelligence, the kind nature, the gentlemen we have raised them to be. No. This world outside of our home? This world will see my boys as criminals. As thugs. As deserving of whatever may come their way. As unworthy of life, simply because they were born Black.

I cried because my incredible Black boys will face a world much harsher than the majority in this country because of the color of their skin. Their Blackness will be viewed as a weapon. A weapon that somehow dehumanizes them and labels them as 'less than.' A weapon that isn't deserving of something as simple as a morning run, or a breath of air to fill their lungs. A weapon that can ultimately lead to their death.

I cried today. I cried thinking about the conversation I had with my oldest. Thinking how I shouldn't have to have this conversation. Yeah. We had the conversation. Thinking about how many Black mothers have to have this same conversation with their children. Not out of desire. But as a necessity for survival in this world we live in.

I cried at the words of my son: "I am scared of the police, and I don't feel safe." The people who are supposed to protect and serve are the ones my child fears the most. The ones killing people just like my little Black boys. Who can my son go to when he's in danger? And the ones who are meant to keep him safe see him as the danger?

I cried thinking how my son learning to drive should be a joyous milestone in his life. But the celebration got cut short. Instead of giving him the safety protocol when driving, I have to give him the safety protocol when being pulled over.

• Always drive with your license in the cup-holder so if you are pulled over, you can put it on the dashboard before the police get to your window. You don't want to reach for anything.
• Remember: The first thing you do is turn the light on once the car is in park. That way everything is seen and nothing is mistaken for a weapon.
• Keep your car as clean as possible, and put your sports bags in the trunk.
• Always ... always keep your hands on the dashboard. You don't want to move them at all.
• And remember, son: No matter how degrading or disrespectful the officer may be, you comply. Do not talk back. Do not resist. You could lose your life. I'm serious, son.

I cried today. I cried thinking, knowing, that someday I will have to have this same conversation with my youngest. My heart wants to be hopeful, but I also need to be realistic. I need to be realistic for the safety and survival of his precious life.

I cried knowing so many will view this loving boy in such a negative way. Not in the way we see him, or for the boy he's been raised to be. But for whoever and whatever people perceive as due to his race.

I cried today. I cried knowing that there is a limit to the worth of my boys' lives in some people's eyes. Some people that I even once called friends. I cried because these people don't understand or even try to understand that my boys will never be able to have a comfort zone in this country. Instead of being afraid of losing a position or even friends, my boys will be afraid of losing their lives.

I cried today. I cried knowing that many Black mothers are crying with me. Many Black mothers feeling helpless, drained and full of fear for their children. Black mothers depending on a system that has continued to fail us. A system in a country with two systems, and the one we and our Black children fall into is the one that desensitizes the injustices we face every day. A system where there is no true justice for us. A system that we have no control over, but which ultimately controls us. A system in dire need of reform.

I cried today. Today I cried. I looked into the faces of my precious Black boys whose lives do matter. And I cried. And I'm still crying.”

Direct video links:

  • Episode 1: Kenny Moten, AJ Voliton, Lavour Addison, Brandon Metoyer and Abner Genece
  • Episode 2: Dwayne Carrington, Joseph Graves, Trent Hines, Michael Peters and Randy Chalmers
  • Episode 3: Owen Zitek, Preston Adams, Leonard Barrett, Cajardo Lindsey and Christopher Page-Sanders
  • Episode 4: Colette Brown, Jasmine Jackson, Latifah Johnson, Marisa Hebert and Stephanie Hancock
  • Episode 5: Michaela Murray, Simone St. John, Therese Gardner, Sheryl McCallum and Lynne Hastings
  • Episode 6: Jada Suzanne Dixon, Kristina Fountaine, Ilasiea Gray, Mary Louise Lee and Adrienne Martin-Fullwood

True West Awards Jasmine JacksonIn an ‘Amplify’ piece called ‘Bidden Biding,’ Jasmine Jackson dances to Nina Simone’s ‘Blackbird’. The cinematography is by Jackson herself.

Home,Reignite the Arts,Donate Now,Donate Now,Corporate Giving,Art Circle,2024-2025 Theatre Season,Renew,Visit Us,View All Events,Roland Bernier: In Other Words,Word Play,Lola Montejo: After Another After,Floyd D. Tunson: Ascent,Anthony Garcia Sr: Pigment,Pamela Webb: Hand + Hammer,Lauri Lynnxe Murphy: Seeing the Trees For the Forest,Pink Progression: Collaborations,Imprint: Print Educators of Colorado,528.0: Regional Juried Printmaking Exhibition,Wood.Works,Carley Warren: Three Pieces,Viral Influence: Art in the Time of Coronavirus,Brady Smith: (Don’t be embarrassed by) Your Trouble with Living,Melody Epperson: 100 Years + 1,Blurring The Line,Narkita Gold: Black In Denver,Art of the State 2022,One Sheet,Colorado Abstract +10: A Survey,Gary Staab: Second Nature,Flora: Scientific Botanical Illustrations of Colorado Plants,Art + Science,Jeffco Schools Foundation High School Art Exhibition,Wendy Kowynia: Following the Thread,Bueno: Mark Bueno,Ramón Bonilla: The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for me.,Drawn: From The Source,Day of African Culture,Big Draw Colorado,Rockley Instrument Sale,Allyship & Advocacy in Action: Supporting the LGBTQAI+ Community,Beautiful - The Carole King Musical,Fine Art Market,Holiday Pottery Sale,A Year With Frog and Toad,Kaleidoscope,Spring Pottery Sale,53rd Annual Jeffco Schools Foundation High School Art Exhibition,Matt Christie: Between Then and Now,Robin Cole: Genesis,3rd Law Dance/Theater,Emilio Lobato: A Mi Manera A 40-Year Survey,Latitude 37° Art of Southern Colorado,The Laramie Project,The Laramie Project Talkbacks with Judy and Dennis Shepard,Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella,Hazel Miller and the Collective: Christmas with Soul,Noises Off,Sue Oehme Inclusions,Artist Proof: Print Process at Oehme Graphics,Salon des Refusés: Rejects Pop-Up and Performance Event,So…You Want to be a Public Artist: Navigating Rejection in Art,Voices of Honor,Standing for Humanity in Gaza and Israel ,Colcha Embroidery of the San Luis Valley,Denver Gay Men's Chorus: Shout!,inFORMed Space: Perspectives in Sculpture,Spin Doctors with Cracker,Orquesta Akokán with Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen,Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble: Prisms,I Regret to Inform You…Rejected Public Art,Denver Brass presents: Brass, Camera, Action,Kingfish,Corinne Bailey Rae,CJRO Presents: Lady Sings the Groove with Tatiana LadyMay Mayfield,Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder,Mozart Under Moonlight,Melissa Etheridge: I’m Not Broken Tour,Yola,Preservation Hall Jazz Band,The High Kings and Gaelic Storm,Big Richard,Lyle the Crocodile,Clybourne Park,Once Upon A Mattress,A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder,Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really,New Album Release: Golden Lady with Tatiana LadyMay Mayfield,Summertime in Winter: The Music of Gershwin and more, Community Cultural Celebration and Concert with Baaba Maal,Guitar Gods: Metheny, Montgomery, and More,Tower of Power,A Tribute to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops,Waitress - Audio Described Performance,Waitress - ASL Performances,Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really - ASL Performances,Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really - Audio Described Performance,Once Upon A Mattress - Sensory Friendly Performances,Once Upon A Mattress - ASL Performances,Once Upon A Mattress - Audio Described Performance,Lyle the Crocodile - Sensory Friendly Performance,Lyle the Crocodile - ASL Shadow Interpreted Performances,Clybourne Park - ASL Performances,Clybourne Park - Audio Described Performance,A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder - ASL Performances,A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder - Audio Described Performance,Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812,Waitress,Honeymoon In Vegas,Funkin’ it Up,MUGSHOT: Artistic Drinking Vessels,Bebe Alexander: Impact & Influence,Wright Place, Wrong Time: Triumphs & Flops for Mid-Century Modern Table,Accessibility Events,Amplify,Theatre,Upcoming Shows,Group Tickets,2024-2025 Theatre Season,Renew,Performances for Students,Auditions,Galleries,Current Exhibitions,Gallery Events,Upcoming Exhibitions,Art Sales,Art Submissions,Art Market Application,Sculpture Field,History Museum,Archive,Education,View All Classes,Summer Camps,Full Day,Summer Camp Performances,FAQ,Spring Break Camps,Classes for Kids,Classes for Adults,Ceramics,Front Range Youth Symphony,Dance Classes,Links and Forms,Arts Day,Arts Day Outreach,Ageless Adults,Scholarships,Field Trips and Outreach,ECE Field Trips,K-5 Field Trips,Middle and High School Field Trips,Outreach Programs,Preschool Partnership Program,Music and Dance,Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra,Summer Concerts,Humanities,Private Event Rentals,Caterers,Vendors,Arvada Center News,Getting to Know The Big Tuna,Getting to Know: Keith Ewer and his Hammered Dulcimer,Understanding Farce in Theatre,2024 Summer Concert Series Playlist Volume 1,2024 Summer Concert Series artists and who they sound like,Getting To Know - Yola,Introducing the opening acts of the Arvada Center 2024 Summer Concert Series,Adapted for the stage - the previous lives of the 2024-2025 theatre season,Inside the Arvada Center,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Collin Parson ,Christina Noel-Adcock,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Christine Moore,Humans of the Arvada Center: Ashi K. Smythe,City of Arvada to install new sculpture in Hoskinson Park,Humans of the Arvada Center Jessie Page,Humans of the Arvada Center Cal Meakins,Supreme Court workplace ruling hits home for Lisa Leafgreen,'Time for talk is over': Arvada Center launch 'Amplify' series to raise black male voices,Humans of the Arvada Center Jon Olson ,Revealing The Dialogue,Amplify Epiode 3 launches, series expanding to include black women,Humans of the Arvada Center: Gabriel Morales,Cleo Parker Robinson dances back in the box with Arvada Center,Amplify turns the mic over to local Black women ,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Emily King,Amplify Women Episode 2,amplify-series-comes-to-powerful-conclusion,Humans of the Arvada Center: John Hamilton,On being Black in Denver and all the colors that it brings,2020 True West Awards: Buntpivot ,2020 True West Awards: Lily Bradford,2020 True West Awards: The Scenesters,2020 True West Awards: Podcastic,2020 True West Awards: Phamaly takes 'Honk' to Japan,2020 True West Awards: Christine Moore,2020 True West Awards: Alive Inside,2020 True West Awards: Michael Ensminger,True West Awards: They Wrote the Book,True West Awards: Rent-A-Pals,True West Awards: Of Spacious Skies,True West Awards: Christopher Page-Sanders,2020 True West Awards: Suffer the little children,2020 True West Awards: Spirit of Giving,2020 True West Awards: Secret Gardeners,2020 True West Awards: Denis Berkfeldt,2020 True West Awards: Amplify,2020 True West Awards: Reclaiming One Star,2020 True West Awards: William Hahn and Jessica Robblee,2020 True West Awards: Lisa Wagner Erickson,Meet the Frasers,Reunite the Arts Collin Parson,Jodie Steeves and Nancy Terry,Reunite the Arts Lisa Leafgreen,Remembering John Gratkins,Reunite the Arts: From our CEO,Danielle Johnson Q&A,Reunite the Arts Lynne Collins,The Show Must Go On,Diana and Mike Kinsey,Meet Suzanna Champion,The Gear of Million Dollar Quartet,Stories From the Studio,Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Lares Feliciano,An interview with Geoffrey Kent: The Liar,An interview with Jada Suzanne Dixon: Stick Fly,An interview with Jessica Robblee: Animal Farm,Fast Facts About Kinky Boots,Costume Department Boots Up,Rod A Lansberry Announces Retirement from Arvada Center,Lynne Collins Named Artistic Director of Arvada Center Theatre,Setting the mood: Into the Woods Set Designer Brian Mallgrave,What is Magical Realism?,Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Ana María Hernando,Meet Ceramics Artist Luanne Burke,From student to teacher: Hadley’s story,Tackling the Beast,Things to Know About Our Town,Creating the Look of Our Town: A Q and A with Set Designer Brian Mallgrave,Whatever Lola Wants - A Deep Dive into the Damn Yankees Signature Song,Selling Your Soul - A Pop Culture Favorite,The Book Club Play Reads,Metatheatre Elements in Our Town - When a Play Knows It's a Play,90s Throwback Vibe with Arvada Center 2023 Summer Concert Series,Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra at the Arvada Center,Opening Acts of the Arvada Center 2023 Summer Concert Series,Getting to know Baaba Maal,Big Draw Highlights,The Music of Keb' Mo,Getting to Know Lucero,Listen to the hits of Carole King with this playlist,Carole King: The Writer Behind The Music,Songs inspired by Matthew Shepard,Summer Internship at The Arvada Center,Arvada Center journeys to Southern Colorado : A Photo Diary,Arvada Center and Colorado Chapter of Free Mom Hugs share the love,Costume Inspiration for Cinderella with Costume Designer Madison Booth,The Many Faces of Cinderella,Arvada Center awarded Social Impact Theatre Grant from Biller Family Foundation,The music that influenced the music of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,Volunteer,Accessibility,Web Accessibility,About Us,Ticketing Policies,Authorized Ticketing,Ticket Discounts,Contact Us,Health and Safety,Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access,Careers,Tours,Temp,Land Acknowledgement,What To Expect at the Theatre,One Sheet Music,Gift Certificates,Privacy Policy,Gala,Gala Sponsors,Errors,404,Concessions