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Tavis Smiley
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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

My Conversation With Freida Pinto on Breaking Cultural Stereotypes

(1) 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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My Conversation With Eddie Redmayne

(0) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 10:26 AM

Tonight I'm joined by actor Eddie Redmayne, the Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated star of the hit film The Theory of Everything. The film portrays the story of real-life theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and is based on the book by his first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking.

In the clip...

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My Conversation About 'Ghettoside' With Jill Leovy

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2015 | 8:46 AM

On Wednesday night I'm joined by award-winning crime reporter Jill Leovy, who has just published her first book, Ghettoside. ​In the text, Leovy argues that we need to direct national attention to what she describes as a profoundly troubling "plague" of black-on-black murders.

In the clip below, I ask Jill...

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My Conversation With Kevin Costner

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 8:02 PM

On Tuesday night I'm joined by Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Emmy winner Kevin Costner. The veteran actor and director has starred in some of Hollywood's most beloved films, including Field of Dreams and ​Dances With Wolves. In his new project, Black or White, he plays a grandfather who finds...

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My Conversation With Damien Chazelle

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2015 | 7:40 AM

Tonight I'm joined by Academy Award-nominated writer/director Damien Chazelle. The barely 30-year-old filmmaker has taken Hollywood by storm with his critically acclaimed film Whiplash, which has garnered a total of five Oscar nods, including Best Picture. The movie tells the story of a jazz drummer seeking to earn the respect...

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A Two-Night Conversation on Free Speech

(2) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 9:30 PM

Tonight I'm joined by magazine publisher Larry Flynt, Iranian-American actor and comedian Maz Jobrani, and Peter Eliasberg, the legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, for the first of a two-night conversation on free speech. Tomorrow night we pick up this conversation with KPFK Pacifica radio host Sonali Kolhatkar,...

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My Conversation With Jeffrey Sachs

(2) Comments | Posted January 22, 2015 | 8:54 AM

Five years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Citizens United decision, upending campaign finance laws designed to limit the influence of money on elections. For more than a quarter century, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, described by The New York Times as "probably the most important economist in...

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My Conversation With Benedict Cumberbatch

(2) Comments | Posted January 21, 2015 | 8:40 AM

Tonight I'm joined by Academy Award-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch. In his critically acclaimed film The Imitation Game, he portrays real-life British mathematician Alan Turing, whose technological ingenuity helped break the encrypted Nazi communications code, known as "Enigma," to help the Allies win World War II.

In the clip below,...

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My Conversation With Laura Poitras

(0) Comments | Posted January 16, 2015 | 8:08 AM

Tonight I'm joined by documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras whose recent offering, Citizenfour, has garnered a number of accolades including an Academy Award nomination.

Citizenfour chronicles the eight days Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Ewan MacAllister of The Guardian spent with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong as he handed over classified documents...

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My Conversation With Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Tim Scott

(7) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 9:01 AM

Tonight, in part one of an exclusive two-part conversation, I will be joined by Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott, the only two African Americans currently serving in the U.S. Senate. While they are proud members of opposing political parties, their ability to speak thoughtfully and civilly to one another...

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