Keo Frazier, Founder of New Thinkers Brings Exonerated Central Park Five Members to Denver

Exnorated Five Member, Raymond Santana

Keo Frazier, Founder of New Thinkers and the host of the events this past Saturday, knows the importance of community. While attending SUMMIT LA, a series of invitation-only events fosters a global community of all creatives,  for the past years, Frazier became interested in the idea to create real change in the world and solve real issues. This is what inspires her 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 along with Mayor Michael B. Hancock knew they wanted to invite the Exonerated Central Park Five members. Three of the five men who were coerced and eventually wrongfully convicted for the crimes that took place against then 28-year-old Trisha Meili, were invited to the Colorado Convention Center to discuss ¨systemic failures in our society,” to Denver.

More than 1,200 people filled into the Mile High Ballroom to take part in this discussion. Dr. Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, and Raymond Santana took questions from audience members regarding what happens when a systematic bias infiltrates a community. 303 joined the conversation and discussed what actions and change Frazier and Mayor Hancock have for the Denver county.

Photo Provided by Kevin Mohatt

3o3 Magazine: How did this event come about?

Keo Frazier: This event came about when I was reading an article about Ava Duvernay. I’m an art collector and noticed that the artwork in the article was local. I thought, here is something I’m already doing and there is an opportunity for us to collaborate. So it started with this artwork from local artist Thomas “Detour” Evans, and I essentially created the event around that.

303: What about Denver encourages you to push for collective change?

Frazier: Well, even though it’s local and it’s our home why not start on a very micro level. The reason why I invited the Mayor to take part in this is that he also believes in collective thinking. He believes in solving world problems on a micro level, and it made sense with his integrity and my own to start in Denver.

303: What are you hoping comes from the events taking place?

Frazier: Great question, what I hope is that people can feel that they can openly talk about something that is challenging and hard. To talk about how social injustice and bias affect us every day. This is not just on an incarceration level, but also on a small level, like us walking outside. I am hoping to create a space where people feel comfortable and can share our scars within. On a larger macro level, I want people to feel as if they can get involved, and personal influence the change.  Not just by examing their own social bias,  but by volunteering and speaking up when something does happen that does not align with our integrity.

Overall, I hope to create a safe space when discussing a difficult topic. I hope it empowers them and gives them the strength to feel like they create a change next. I want to give people a voice.

New Thinker Founder, Keo Frazier. Photo Provided by Kevin Mohatt.

303: You mention getting involved and volunteering, what are some programs and ways the people of Denver can do that?

Frazier: I am an active member of several organizations, serving on boards that support the Denver community. Some I would suggest would be  Cornell Club of Colorado, Doors Open Denver, One Colorado and Rocky Mountian Communities.

303: What are your plans for the future with New Thinkers and Denver?

Frazier: I want to grow locally, and possibly and expand it nationally. The reason for expanding it nationally is because I have some people who I want to bring in on a global level. To talk about what others are doing, how we tackle other issues. Topics such as the environment and gender across the world. There are people who I would love to bring to Denver to talk about issues that are facing us as an entire planet. My goal for New Thinkers is to continually see expositional growth so that we can have a bigger and greater dialogue.

Exonerated Five Member, Raymond Santana.

Mayor Hancock then led the conversation to address social injustice, creating transparency, and inspire action and change. For two hours guests spent hearing and speaking with the three members, Mayor Hancock, and with each other. Mayor Hancock spoke with us about his relationship with Frazier and what he is doing to help create change in our community.

303 Magazine: Can you tell us about your relationship with Keo Frazier?

Mayor Hancock: I´ve known Keo for quite some time. She is one of our top recognized executives in Denver as far as marketing. She told me about this New Thinkers organization and concept she had developed. One of her goals she had was to bring the Exnorated Central Park Five to Denver. Having known her for many years I knew that it would be done at a level that would make us all proud to join her.

303: Why is New Thinkers and this event so important to you?

Mayor Hancock: The new civil rights era, in terms of what this generation is focused on is really criminal justice reform. A lot of our community frankly has been devastated by the very heavy-handed criminal justice system. One that was bent against people of color who are economically challenged, and we all need to work on that. The Exonerated Five are one of the greatest examples of one of the greatest injustices to ever happen in our nation. It is time to put them in the spotlight and to use to talk about what we do next.

303: What are your hopes that come from the conversation today within the community? 

Mayor Hancock: That again, I think that every generation has its burden in terms of how you advance the ball far enough for the next generation. My hope is that every one of us will walk out of here with a sense of responsibility to the next generation. We need to continue to fight for criminal justice reform and hold an attitude of not being denied. Pushing for reforms that help every inch of our community going forward.

Dr. Youssef Salem

303: What are your plans for this year in terms of criminal justice reform?

Mayor Hancock: One of the things it is important to recognize is that in my administration we have worked on criminal justice reform. We have taken criminal justice reform legislation to the city council. I have really taken it to heart when it comes time to appoint judges. Which I think is the epic center, where we really deal with criminal justice reform. If you look at our county court bench today, I have appointed 16 of them, and it has become a court that is being emulated around the country. For me, I will continue to work on finding great judges, great attorneys as well as continuing to look where we can change our legislation to meet the needs of criminal justice reform values.

Overall, the event held a space where people who have experience with a systematic bias could come and discuss. As well as a learning space for people wants to learn how to be the change, move forward, and be new thinkers. This shows Denver´s passion for change and moving forward as a community. After, guests were invited to a reception at Redline Gallery to continue the conversation.

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