My mother, Clara Villarosa, held a press conference for my Introduction to Journalism students at the end of February in honor of the publication of her new book, “The Words of African-American Heroes.”
Students were assigned to cover the event and produce news articles. Rebecca Bluitt, Anthony Mainville and Jasmine Nieves wrote the three best stories. Please read excerpts, below. Jissel Garcia took the photos–with her cell phone camera.
Founder of the Hue-Man Bookstore Discusses New Book at the City College of New York by Anthony Mainville
Clara Villarosa, who opened what is now the largest African-American bookstore in the United States, held a press conference at CCNY in Harlem on Tuesday to promote her new book, The Words of African-American Heroes. Villarosa, 80, spoke to CCNY students enrolled in the Introduction to Journalism course taught by her daughter, Linda, who also heads the Journalism program at CCNY.
Villarosa explained that her book, which consists of eight chapters, focuses on the phrases of African-American men and women whom she considers heroes. As she selected quotes from a list of about 300 people, Villarosa wanted to discover the ones that resonated with her the most. Some quotes came from prominent and iconic figures such as Malcolm X, Ella Fitzgerald, and Arthur Ashe.
Villarosa mentioned that the fourth chapter of the book, “Overcoming Obstacles,” was her favorite. “People often see obstacles as something that is bad,” she said. “In life, there are always obstacles.”
Villarosa told the aspiring CCNY journalists about her hopes for the book’s release. “I hope these words will be motivational and will be inspirational so it helps you to kind of get through life,” she said. We can all use some sort of inspiration when we face difficult situations in our lives.”
Legacy: 200 Heroes and Three Generations They Continue to Impact by Rebecca Bluitt
On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, the City College of New York hosted author Clara Villarosa as a guest speaker on the eve of the official release of her book “The Words of African-American Heroes.” The new volume, a collection of excerpts from speeches, interviews, and writings by notable African-Americans, was compiled to inspire young people, particularly young African-Americans. Villarosa, a youthful 80, presented her book and delivered an uplifting message of perseverance to an audience that included her grandchildren and students taught by her own daughter Linda Villarosa, a journalism professor at City College.
The determination Villarosa encouraged to her listeners was certainly evident in her own work ethic as she described the difficult, often tedious task of assembling verifiable, interesting quotes and then organizing them into the final product. Using the Schomburg Library Research Center as a primary source, Villarosa recorded long excerpts from periodicals, editing and eliminating when necessary, with the objective of making a book of meaningful reflections as opposed to a collection of short one-liners. Villarosa says of her editing decisions, “Basically it was very personal; just things and words that resonated with me.”
As both students and members of the Villarosa clan listened on, Linda Villarosa nodded in agreement with her mother’s statement that she has always placed great emphasis on reading in her children and grandchildren’s lives. Villarosa senior said, “I feel reading is important because reading opens up so many vistas for you.”
What does Villarosa hope readers will get out of her newest book? “I hope the words will be motivational and be inspirational.”
Author Clara Villarosa Speaks at CCNY by Jasmine Nieves
Clara Villarosa, a bibliophile and entrepreneur in Harlem New York, recently completed her second work, “The Words of African-American Heroes.” She discussed the new book at a press conference at The City College of New York on Tuesday February 22. Proud of her accomplishment and hard work, she talked about why she decided to write the book.
“At my age I thought I needed a challenge, something to keep my mind toned,” said Villarosa, 80. “It was a little appealing because it was something I had not done.”
Villarosa is one of the growing numbers of women who retired but continue to pursue their goals and work throughout their lives. An avid reader and a bibliophile, Clara Villarosa defines strength, determination and commitment.
Leaning against a desk in front of the classroom in Shepard Hall at City College, Villarosa demonstrated her motivation and desire to have the class know how she came about writing her book. She occasionally laughed and portrayed a look that was inviting and friendly. “The time frame to do it was about 9 months and I asked myself, what did I get myself into?”
As the press conference was coming to an end, Villarosa mentioned that what she enjoys doing most is reading. Reaching for “The Words of African-American Heroes,” Clara Villarosa sighed and stated, “Reading is so important, because it opens up so many doors. Reading can change forever the course of a person’s life.”