Tattered Cover Book Store and Clara Villarosa Team Up to Reinvigorate the Hue-Man Experience
The Hue-Man Experience Bookstore, a beloved Denver establishment that focused on Black readers, will relaunch as a service division of Tattered Cover, to foster diversity in literature
Media Contact: Rachel Feinberg
DENVER -- Clara Villarosa, NAACP Image Award nominee and the founder of the successful Hue-Man Experience Bookstore in Denver, Colorado and Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in New York City, is teaming up with Tattered Cover to reimagine the beloved Hue-Man brand. Under Villarosa’s guidance, Hue-Man Experience at Tattered Cover will serve as a curatorial expert for individuals as well as educational institutions, corporations and nonprofits, providing thoughtful guidance on book selections that encourage diversity, equity and inclusion.
“I’ve always had a real affinity for Tattered Cover, beginning with its previous owner, Joyce Meskis, graciously acting as my mentor when I opened my first bookstore,” said Clara Villarosa. “At this point in my life, reviving the Hue-Man brand wasn’t something I had previously imagined. However, in light of recent events, the need for this sort of inclusive curation and focus on diversity in literature is as evident as ever. My goal for this partnership with Tattered Cover is to build awareness around important issues, while giving a voice to Black authors.”
Villarosa was born and raised in Chicago in 1930, where she began her career as a psychiatric social worker at Mount Sinai Hospital. In 1969, she relocated to Colorado with her family and became the chief psychiatric social worker at Denver's Children's Hospital. After attending the Graduate School of Social Work Doctoral Program at University of Denver, Villarosa served as Vice President of Human Resources and Strategic Planning for United Bank of Denver.
In 1984, she opened Denver’s first Black-owned bookstore, the Hue-Man Experience, targeting African American readers and specializing in books and non-book gift items for People of Color. After 16 years of success under her leadership, Villarosa sold Hue-Man’s Denver location in 2000 and moved to New York City. That same year, Maya Angelou read at the opening of Villarosa’s Harlem location, the Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe.
As an author in her own right, Villarosa’s book, “Down to Business: The First 10 Steps to Entrepreneurship for Women,” was nominated for the NAACP Image Award in 2009. She is the founder of the African American Booksellers Association, a specialized division of the American Booksellers Association, where she also served on the board for many years with Tattered Cover’s previous, long-time owner, Joyce Meskis. Additionally, Villarosa previously sat on the board of trustees for the University of Denver.
“With more than 37 years of experience selling Black literature, Clara has the expertise to lead us forward in a way that will make Denver proud,” said Kwame Spearman, CEO of Tattered Cover. “I have countless fond memories of visiting her store as a child and it is an honor to give a new home to the Hue-Man Experience, which has meant so much to me and to many others.”
The goal of Hue-Man Experience at Tattered Cover is to help individuals, organizations and businesses that want to learn more about underrepresented titles and authors, have a trustworthy brand to source relevant material. Hue-Man Experience will source from all major and independent publishers, as well as conducting its own efforts to locate local talent.
“When a school seeks to expand its curriculum to be reflective of a more diverse world, the Hue-Man Experience at Tattered Cover will help them select and acquire those titles,” said Spearman. “When a large organization needs resources for staff development and conversations around issues of race, we are their partners.”
Within Tattered Cover’s organization, Hue-Man Experience will focus on identifying, curating and recommending diverse authors, writers and artists, to ensure thoughtful representation from Black, Indigenous and People of Color throughout its stores. Additionally, the program has a community outreach arm to help connect to diverse local artists and authors.
To kickoff the partnership and in celebration of Black History Month, Villarosa has identified a list of recommended books. Here are a few of them:
- “Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement” edited by Ejeris Dixon and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
- “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah
- “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride
- “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernardine Evaristo
- “The Echoing Ida Collection” edited by Cynthia R. Greenlee, Kemi Alabi and Janna A. Zinzi
- “Yellow Wife” by Sadeqa Johnson
- "Before The Ever After" by Jacqueline Woodson
- "Black Futures" by Kimberly Drew, Jenna Wortham
The full list of Villarosa’s recommendations will be highlighted in Tattered Cover’s blog and newsletters on an ongoing basis. Individuals looking to receive her selections are encouraged to sign up for the newsletter here. Organizations that are interested in partnering with Hue-Man Experience at Tattered Cover may contact Villarosa’s team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Tattered Cover Book Store
For the last 50 years, Tattered Cover has served as a Denver bookstore and institution for literature lovers from all walks of life. Tattered Cover is a locally owned business with an unwavering commitment to its customers and the community, with four unique stores in Metro Denver, three satellite stores at Denver International Airport and two new locations opening in 2021. Under new ownership as of December 2020, the Tattered Cover team, led by CEO Kwame Spearman, is guided by its mission of being a haven for knowledge, community, and conversation. The team is committed to their vision of curating memorable, community-based experiences, and leveraging all the treasures of literature, for the intellectually curious, passionately creative, and socially engaged.