Journalist Rojas passed away at a nursing facility in Maryland after a battle with cancer and kidney failure. She was New York’s first Latina broadcaster at WCBS-TV in 1968.
Ms. Rojas went on to a 32-year career on-air in every major network affiliate in Manhattan and later in Chicago. New York Times correspondent Sam Roberts writes that Gloria Rojas was born on April 1, 1939, in the Bronx. Her mother was Agustina Rojas, a housekeeper and nanny, and her father, Rafael Rojas, died when she was only 10 years old.
According to Mr. Roberts, “of the many events Gloria Rojas covered, her favorites were those that made a difference in the lives of ordinary people, like the account of a little boy with muscular dystrophy.”
A moving story, indeed
“The lad’s mother wrote to reporter Rojas about their family’s life on the 14th floor of a housing project with broken elevators. She sometimes had to call the Fire Department to get her son to the ground floor to go to school.
“So we went with our cameras,” Gloria Rojas explained, and climbed up the 14 sets of stairs to see the family. “I asked the boy: ‘What’s your problem? Lots of kids don’t want to go to school and would be happy’.”
“‘Well, how would you solve this?’ “
“‘They should give us an apartment on the first floor.’ ”
The story aired that night. A week later, after years of waiting, the family was moved by the landlord to the first floor.
“I realized how powerful a tool this was,” reporter Rojas recalled, “to take the plight of a little boy to millions of viewers in the City of New York and embarrass somebody who wasn’t doing their job. That gave me the greatest satisfaction.”
TV viewers and citizens everywhere might add: “A vivid illustration of the power of a free press!” And a richly-earned memorial tribute, years later, to the nation’s pioneer Latina journalist, Gloria Rojas.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More