Just in time for holiday stocking stuffing, Alvertis Simmons -- local rabble-rouser, black activist, disgraced former city employee and local Million Man March organizer -- has written a book about his adventures in Denver. Although it's titled Hold Your Position: Denver's Version of the Million Man March, the 119-page self-published manuscript deals with so much more, including Simmons's various entanglements with everyone from Mayor Wellington Webb and his cronies, to Rabbi Steven Foster and other clergy, to, yes, Westword, which in 1995 published a story about Simmons's arrest for domestic violence. (That chapter, "Stung by Westword," begins on page 30, but we won't give away its angry contents. Instead, we'll let you pay a whopping $19.95 for this thin paperback, just as we did.)
Starting with Simmons's childhood, the book moves on in readable, if slightly choppy, chapters to his arrival in Denver, his first experiences with activism at Metropolitan State College in the early 1980s, and eventually to his involvement with controversial Nation of Islam leader Reverend Louis Farrakhan and the Million Man March; from there Simmons describes his attempts to organize a local version of the March and the political, financial and personal problems he encountered. Throughout, Simmons is candid about his confrontational style, his beliefs and his foibles, including his misuse of a city cell phone to the tune of $8,000 -- a scandal that led to his 1996 ouster from Webb's inner circle and the loss of his job as a Neighborhood Watch coordinator.
Simmons has been on a book-signing tour à la furniture mogul Jake Jabs (who self-published his own autobiography, An American Tiger, earlier in the year), visiting the Tattered Cover and other bookstores in the past month.
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His signing at the Tattered Cover was about as well-attended as some of his rallies, however. "He had a small but enthusiastic crowd, about ten to twenty people," says store marketing director Heather Duncan, who adds that December is always a bad month for signings because of the holidays. "Alvertis has done some promotion himself. But the difference [between Simmons and Jabs] is that Jabs has a lot of money to spend on his own book. Alvertis doesn't."
Maybe he could bill the city.