New York, N.Y.
Sandra Bookman grew up in a small town outside of Houston, Texas, and dreamed of living and working in New York as a journalist. Today, she is a news anchor/reporter at WABC TV in New York City, and counts among the greatest moments of her career her interview anti-apartheid activist, former president of South Africa and Nobel Prize laureate Nelson Mandela. “I was able to travel to South Africa and interview a man that I hold in such high esteem at a time when the country was sort of at the dawn of a new era, and when he was clearly just beginning a new life as well,” says Bookman.
Bookman’s career began to blossom just as African-Americans were beginning to make significant inroads in the corporate arena. “Coming up in that era when you were, in a lot of ways, the first person to do things in your family, like be the first person to finish college, people had such high expectations of you,” says Bookman. Fueled by these expectations to make her family proud, she fought against every possible barrier to ensure her success. Oprah Winfrey especially encourages her. “She has said a lot of the things women of color wanted to say, [such as] ‘I may not look the way you want me to look. I may not fit into a neat box. But I’m here and I’m not going to be denied.’ And through all of that, I still think her heart is still bigger than her fame,” Bookman says.
Bookman holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She enjoys traveling, reading and volunteering with the National Black Commission on Aids, the Explorers program to expose youth to law enforcement careers, and Shared Interest, which works for social and economic change in South Africa.