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Tavis Smiley
From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders, Tavis Smiley — broadcaster, author, publisher, advocate, and philanthropist — has emerged as an outstanding voice for change. Smiley is currently the host of the late-night television talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS, as well as The Tavis Smiley Show from Public Radio International (PRI).

In addition to his radio and television work, Smiley has written 16 books. His memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, became a New York Times best seller, and the book he edited, Covenant with Black America, became the first nonfiction book by a Black-owned publisher to reach #1 on The New York Times best-sellers list.

In his latest New York Times best seller, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, Smiley and his co-author Dr. Cornel West challenge all Americans to re-examine their assumptions about poverty in America — what it really is and how to eradicate it.

His forthcoming text to be published in September 2014 is Death of a King: The Real Story of the Last Year in the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the book, Smiley recounts the little known story of the denunciations by the press, rejection from the president, dismissal by the country’s Black elite and militant youth, assaults on his character, ideology and political tactics --- all of which MLK had to rise above in the final year of his life in order to lead and address the racism, poverty and militarism that threatens, even still, to destroy our democracy. Smiley is also working on a new text for release in 2015 entitled “Death of the King of Pop.” It will be a vibrant account of the final year of Michael Jackson’s life.

Smiley was the presenter and creative force behind AMERICA I AM: The African American Imprint. This unprecedented traveling museum exhibition, which debuted in January 2009, toured the country for four years, celebrating the extraordinary impact of African American contributions to our nation and the world, as told through rare artifacts, memorabilia and multimedia. Many of the artifacts Smiley discovered and displayed during the AMERICA I AM tour are now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Smiley’s most gratifying accomplishments are rooted in his commitment to champion human rights and empowerment issues, and in his passion to inspire the next generation of leaders. Since its inception, the Tavis Smiley Foundation has provided leadership training and development for more than 6,500 young people through ‘Youth to Leaders’ training workshops and conferences. Expanding upon Smiley’s pervious anti-poverty work, the Foundation recently launched Ending Poverty: America’s Silent Spaces, a four-year national initiative to examine barriers and identify solutions to reduce hardship among our most vulnerable citizens.

His communications company, The Smiley Group, Inc., serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums, book publishing, and digital platforms.

Smiley’s achievements have earned him numerous awards and honorary doctorate degrees, including one from his alma mater, Indiana University. In 2009, Indiana University named the atrium of its School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) building “The Tavis Smiley Atrium.” Smiley is also the recipient of the prestigious Du Bois Medal from Harvard University and the 2009 Interdependence Day Prize from Demos in Istanbul, Turkey. TIME magazine has honored Smiley as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People.” The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce recently honored Smiley with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Entries by Tavis Smiley

Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Josh Groban on the 'Intimidation Factor' of Collaborations (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted May 22, 2015 | 10:51 AM

Tonight I'm joined by multi-platinum recording artist Josh Groban. The internationally renowned singer-songwriter is out with his seventh studio album, titled Stages. Recorded with a 75-piece orchestra in Los Angeles and London's famed Abbey Road Studios, the project features a collection of some of Broadway's most beloved songs.

Known for...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With David Brooks on The Road to Character

(8) Comments | Posted May 19, 2015 | 11:20 AM

Tonight I'm joined by New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks, author of the number-one bestselling text The Road to Character. In the book, Brooks explores how some of history's most influential figures built their strong inner character and what essential values they possessed that should be emphasized in today's...

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B.B. King Remembered (VIDEO)

(2) Comments | Posted May 15, 2015 | 3:37 PM

Tune in Friday and Monday nights as we pay tribute to the life and legacy of legendary blues guitarist B.B. King, who has passed away at the age of 89. We last spoke with B.B. in 2013 for a two-part conversation about his life and extraordinary career. We covered everything...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Susan Sarandon and Jack Henry Robbins

(1) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 4:31 PM

Tonight, I'm joined by Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon and her son, Jack Henry Robbins. The two have teamed up to create a thought-provoking documentary that explores homelessness in America, as told by those who live it every day. The film, which Susan produced and Jack directed, is called Storied...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Boz Scaggs

(13) Comments | Posted May 6, 2015 | 2:15 PM

Tonight, I'm joined by singer-guitarist Boz Scaggs, whose new album, A Fool to Care, hit number one on the Billboard Blues Chart.

With a music career spanning five decades, Boz Scaggs has produced a rich catalog of songs that stretches across multiple genres. His 1976 breakthrough album, Silk Degrees,...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Mariel Hemingway on Mental Health Awareness

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2015 | 5:39 PM

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and tonight I'm joined by Mariel Hemingway, one of the nation's leading advocates for mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs. The Academy Award-nominated actress and bestselling author is out with two new books that focus on mental health issues: Invisible Girl, written for...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Joseph Stiglitz on the Failure of Trickle-Down Economics

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 10:00 AM

Last night, I was joined by Columbia University professor and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, one of the nation's most outspoken advocates on the critical issue of income inequality. Also a bestselling author, Professor Stiglitz examines America's growing economic gap in his new book, The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Jack Black

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2015 | 9:34 AM

Tonight, I'm joined by Jack Black, one of this generation's most beloved comedic actors. The star of hit films like School of Rock and Kung Fu Panda currently has his hands in multiple projects, including the upcoming HBO series The Brink, and a feature film titled The D Train, due...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation on the Fight for $15 with Saru Jayaraman

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 9:47 AM

Tonight, a week after some 60,000 workers in over 200 cities walked off the job on April 15th in what is being called the largest low-wage protest in American history, I'm joined by Saru Jayaraman, Director of the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley and Co-Founder and Co-Director of...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Freida Pinto on Breaking Cultural Stereotypes

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2015 | 10:56 AM

Tonight I'm joined by international movie star Freida Pinto. After becoming a household name with her role in the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, she has strung together a number of notable projects, including her latest, titled Desert Dancer. The film tells the true story of an underground dance company formed...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Noam Chomsky on How the World Map Encourages Racist Attitudes

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 8:52 AM

Tonight, I'm joined for a rare conversation with world-renowned academic and activist, Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT. Called "arguably the most important intellectual alive" by the New York Times, Chomsky joins us for a nuanced discussion on the ways in which culture and curricula are used to advance a Western...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Isaiah Washington on Black Identity

(0) Comments | Posted April 13, 2015 | 11:22 PM

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by NAACP Image Award and SAG Award-winning actor Isaiah Washington, star of the upcoming feature, Blackbird. In the film, which he also produced, Isaiah plays the father of a devout Christian teenager struggling with his true identity.

In the clip below, Isaiah talks about the...

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My Conversation on the Legacy of the Civil War, 150 Years Later

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2015 | 10:55 AM

Tonight I'm joined by Prof. Daina Ramey Berry, Prof. Eric Walther, and Prof. Allyson Hobbs, three scholars of American history, to unpack the causes and consequences -- both immediate and enduring -- of the deadliest war in U.S. history, 150 years after its final battle.

In the clip below, the...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Dr. Darnell Hunt on Diversity in Hollywood

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2015 | 4:42 PM

Television shows like Empire, Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat, along with films such as 12 Years a Slave and Selma, have demonstrated that productions featuring people of color in lead roles can be both popular and profitable. Indeed, these and other hits have some observers declaring a new era...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Lenny Kravitz

(0) Comments | Posted March 19, 2015 | 11:13 AM

Tonight on PBS I'm joined by Grammy-winning musician Lenny Kravitz, whose recent foray into photography is the subject of a new exhibit at the Leica Gallery and companion coffee table book, both entitled "Flash."

As someone constantly in the public eye, Kravitz decided during his world tour to turn his...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With J. Cole on What Really Matters in Life

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2015 | 10:09 AM

Tonight I'm joined by rapper J. Cole, who is widely considered one of the most talented storytellers of the new Hip-Hop generation. As popular with the public as he is with critics, each of J. Cole's three studio albums has reached #1 on Billboard's Top 200 chart. His latest and...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Mayor Bill de Blasio on Income Inequality

(0) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 9:38 PM

Tonight I'm joined by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was elected in a landslide in 2013. The high cost of living has made life increasingly difficult for low-income residents of the Big Apple. To address this issue, Mayor de Blasio has set forth a sweeping anti-poverty agenda,...

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My Conversation With Mike Epps on Playing Richard Pryor

(7) Comments | Posted February 25, 2015 | 9:11 AM

Tonight I'm joined by actor and comedian Mike Epps. Best known for his uproarious stand-up work, he currently hosts the hilarious but informative new AOL original series That's Racist With Mike Epps, which explores the origins of various racial stereotypes. It was recently announced that Mike will play legendary comedian...

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My Conversation on Hip-Hop With Geraldo Rivera

(5) Comments | Posted February 24, 2015 | 9:34 AM

Last night I was joined by Geraldo Rivera, one of the most recognizable and respected figures in investigative journalism. He has recently found himself in some hot water, however, after making some controversial remarks about the impact that Hip-Hop has had on minority communities. In a recent interview on HuffPost...

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My Conversation With Garrett Morris

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 1:17 PM

Tonight I'm joined by actor and comedian Garrett Morris, one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live. It has been 40 years since SNL made its debut on NBC featuring a group of seven talented young players who went on to become comedy legends: Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi,...

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