Featured photo: The Distinguished Leadership Series Presented by the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation featured Sunny Hostin, February 9, 2023 in Greensboro, NC. (courtesy photo)

Though Sunny Hostin shines on the national stage as a fierce advocate for marginalized groups and victims of violence, to her godchildren she’s simply known as “Auntie” or “Titi.” 

Her godson Rocque Tremaglio transferred to Elon University last year from Oberlin College in search of warm weather and a warmer college experience, both of which he says he’s found on campus. Being surrounded by a powerful circle of women, including Hostin, has been pivotal in his ability to make his way to the Triad to pursue his goals. 

“Aunt Sunny is a light in a dark room,” says Tremaglio with a golden glow in his voice. 

Growing up in the Bronx, Hostin always knew she was headed for something bigger than herself. The daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and a Black father, at first it seemed as though journalism would be her way of making a positive impact on the world. While law school at Notre Dame proved to be the first step on her path as a change agent, she always came back to the importance of the news. After spending time with Court TV and hosting her own show on CNN, ABC came calling. For the last seven years, she’s been a host of “The View,” in addition to being a senior legal correspondent for the network. 

Sunny Hostin poses with a fan and her godson Rocque Tremaglio (courtesy photo)

In a sit-down interview with TCB during her recent visit to Greensboro as the featured speaker in the Elon Law Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series, she shared her ties to the city. Seated in Elon’s mock courtroom, Hostin appeared at ease dressed in a bold, wide-leg emerald suit.

She shared how her father, William Cummings, spent more than 20 years living in Greensboro, working for Lorillard Tobacco.

“Greensboro became the gathering place for the entire family,” she says. 

Starting in her twenties, she recalls coming down to visit him and her grandmother regularly. With a nostalgic smile, Hostin recalled fond memories of family gatherings at Print Works Bistro in the Proximity Hotel.

The Distinguished Leadership Series Presented by the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation featured Sunny Hostin, February 9, 2023 in Greensboro, NC. Before speaking at the Carolina Theater, Hostin visited the classroom of Steve Friedland, Senior Scholar and Professor of Law at the Elon University School of Law, and attended a reception with students and other guests. Hostin is shown here with moderator Professor David S. Levine.

In her view, places like Greensboro are just as worthwhile as metropolitan centers for those intent on building a better world. When asked what advice she would give her godson Rocque about staying in the Triad or heading to a bigger city to make a name for himself, Hostin circled back to her grounded view of being a change agent.

“You don’t have to move to a big city to have a big impact,” she said.

The same goes for smaller news organizations, Hostin said. 

Though she’s spent decades on national television, Hostin believes in the importance of local journalism.

While at CNN, Hostin read a local news piece out of Seminole County, Fla. about a 17-year-old who had been shot by a member of the local neighborhood watch. After being told that it was a “local story” by producers, she went to Anderson Cooper with her belief that it had national implications. His coverage of Trayvon Martin’s murder changed the conversation, instantly making the local story a national one.

Hostin still pours over local papers more than a decade later. 

“There’s less and less local reporting today, and that saddens me,” she said. “If it’s happening in one place, it’s happening everywhere.” 

According to Hostin, coverage of things like city council meetings and neighborhood stories are the heart of the news world. She draws a direct line between the ability of national outlets to cover important issues and the small print publications that break the stories first.

“So many people are saying that journalism is dead,” she says. “I take offense to that.” 

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