Keo Frazier, founding father of New Thinkers, brings 5 members of the relieved Central Park to Denver
Keo Frazier, founder of New Thinkers and host of events last Saturday, knows the importance of community. Foster a global community of all creatives while attending SUMMIT LA, a series of invitation-only events. In recent years Frazier has been interested in the idea of making real change in the world and solving real problems. This inspires them to create SUMMIT on a more local and affordable level. New Thinkers is here to inspire collective change in Denver.
After watching the Netflix Docu series When They See Us, Frazier and Mayor Michael B. Hancock knew they wanted to invite the members of the Exonerated Central Park Five. Three of the five men who were coerced and unjustly convicted of the crimes against then 28-year-old Trisha Meili were invited to the Colorado Convention Center to discuss “Systemic Failures in Our Society” in Denver.
More than 1,200 people filled the Mile High Ballroom to take part in this discussion. Dr. Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana answered questions from viewers about what happens when a systematic tendency infiltrates a community. 303 joined the conversation and discussed the actions and changes Frazier and Mayor Hancock have for Denver County.
3o3 Magazine: How did this event come about?
Keo Frazier: This event came about when I was reading an article about Ava Duvernay. I am an art collector and found that the artwork in the item was local. I thought this is something I’m already doing and there is an opportunity for us to work together. So it started with this artwork by local artist Thomas “Detour” Evans, and I basically created the event around that.
303: What about Denver that encourages you to push for collective change?
Frazier: Well, even though it’s local and our home, why not start on a very small scale? The reason I invited the mayor to attend is because he also believes in collective thinking. He believes in solving world problems at the micro level, and it made sense with his and my integrity to start in Denver.
303: What are you hoping for from the events?
Frazier: Good question, I hope people feel like they are speaking openly about something that is challenging and difficult. Talking about how social injustice and bias affect us every day. This is not just on a detention level, but also on a small level as we go outside. I hope to create a space where people can feel comfortable and share our scars in it. On a larger macro level, I want people to feel they can get involved and personally influence the change. Not just by investigating their own social biases, but by volunteering and speaking up when something happens that is inconsistent with our integrity.
Overall, I hope to create a safe space when discussing a difficult topic. I hope it empowers and empowers them to feel like they are making a change next. I want to give people a voice.
303: You mention that you are involved and volunteer. What programs and opportunities can people in Denver use to do this?
Frazier: I am an active member of several organizations and boards that support the Denver community. Some I would suggest would be the Cornell Club of Colorado, Doors Open Denver, One Colorado, and Rocky Mountian Communities.
303: What are your future plans with New Thinkers and Denver?
Frazier: I want to grow locally and possibly expand nationally. The reason for the national expansion is because I have some people whom I want to include on a global scale. To talk about what others are doing, how we approach other problems. Issues like environment and gender around the world. There are people I would like to bring to Denver to talk about issues that we face as a whole planet. My goal for New Thinkers is to see continued growth in exposure so that we can have a bigger and bigger dialogue.
Mayor Hancock then led the conversation to address social injustice, create transparency, and encourage action and change. For two hours, the guests listened and talked to the three members, Mayor Hancock, and each other. Mayor Hancock spoke to us about his relationship with Frazier and what he’s doing to make a difference in our community.
303 Magazine: Can you tell us about your relationship with Keo Frazier?
Mayor Hancock: I’ve known Keo for a while. She is one of our most recognized leaders in Denver when it comes to marketing. She told me about this organization and the New Thinkers concept that she had developed. One of their goals was to bring the Exnorated Central Park Five to Denver. After knowing her for many years, I knew this would happen at a level that would make us all proud to join her.
303: Why are New Thinkers and this event so important to you?
Mayor Hancock: The new era of civil rights in relation to what this generation is focused on is truly criminal justice reform. Much of our community has frankly been destroyed by the very persistent criminal justice system. One that is directed against people with color who are economically challenged and we must all work on that. The Exonerated Five are one of the greatest examples of one of the greatest injustices to have ever happened in our nation. It’s time to put her in the spotlight and talk about what we’re going to do next.
303: What are your hopes emerging from today’s conversation within the community?
Mayor Hancock: Again, I think that every generation has its burden in how you take the ball forward enough for the next generation. I hope that each of us will get out of here with a sense of responsibility towards the next generation. We must continue to fight for criminal justice reform and take the position not to be denied. Pushing for reforms that will help every inch of our community in the future.
303: What are your plans for criminal justice reform this year?
Mayor Hancock: It is important to recognize that in my administration we have been working on reforming the criminal justice system. We have submitted laws to reform the criminal justice system to the city council. I’ve really taken it to heart when it comes to appointing judges. What I think is the epic center where we really look at criminal justice reform. If you look at our District Judicial Bank today, I named 16 of them and it has become a court that is being emulated across the country. For me, I will continue to work to find great judges and lawyers, and continue to consider where we can change our legislation to meet the demands of criminal justice reform values.
Overall, the event provided a space in which people who have experience with systematic prejudices could come and discuss. Besides having a learning space for people, you want to learn how to change, move forward and be new thinkers. This shows Denver’s passion for change and advancement as a community. The guests were then invited to a reception at the Redline Gallery to continue the conversation.