Jessica Lewis is the Communications Specialist for ROC the Future and Principal Publicist & Owner of LáLew Public Relations. She is a 2018 ATHENA Award Young Professional finalist and a Woman to Watch for the Democrat & Chronicle Newspaper. Jessica is a successful entrepreneur, owning the fastest growing, Black-owned public relations firm in Rochester, New York. Jessica is also the host of Ujamaa Rising, a television show that features Black-owned businesses and real-life stories of entrepreneurs. Jessica received her Bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College in Social Studies Education grades 7-12 and a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education at the University of Rochester. Jessica holds membership in the Rochester Association of Black Journalists, the Democrat & Chronicle Young Professionals Advisory Council and the Theta Omega Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
What are you reading now?
I just started reading the Autobiography of Assata Shakur.
Are you a fiction or non-fiction reader?
I like both.
What book would you love to see made into a movie? Who would play the lead role?
I would love the Autobiography of Assata Shakur to be made into a movie. I’m only on the 3rd chapter and am fascinated by her life story. It’s striking how her experiences as a child living in NYC in the 50s and 60s attending a predominantly white school mirrors the experience I had in the 90’s.
What book changed your life, or changed how you view the world? In what way?
I would say Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy DeGruy and Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi. Those two books opened my mind to a new perspective on race relations in America. I was educated in predominantly white institutions all my life. In school we learned about slavery, then jumped to the Civil Rights Movement, only learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and maybe a few others. We never delved deep into what actually happened during slavery and the ramifications of slavery such as laws enacted by the federal government which instituted racist policies that still have an effect today. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome dives deep into these issues and Stamped from the Beginning gives insight into how racist ideas spread from Europe to American and how anti-black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society. The book also talks about the role of media and how media perpetuates stereotypes only further influencing the minds of the American people (exacerbating bias) which then effects behavior and subsequent actions.
Does reading influence your decision-making process?
Yes, it does because I’ve been enlightened by several books that I’ve read and now am not ignorant to certain things like before.
Are you a “finisher” or do stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?
I think I’m a stopper. If a book is uninteresting I’ll just put it down.
Why do you read?
I read to learn and to open my eyes to things I did not have knowledge about.
The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
I would say Becoming by Michelle Obama, Outliers and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.
Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?
No, but now I’m more intentional about reading the Preface and Foreword.
Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?
I’d like to be my favorite author because I’d like to be skilled enough to tell a story in a way that’s compelling and interesting.
If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?
I would get a tattoo of my favorite passage or scripture. Maybe in a nice script font.