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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 the Multi-Faceted Rubén Blades

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 8:05 AM

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by Rubén Blades. The 10-time Grammy winner, Harvard law school grad and former presidential candidate in Panama reflects on his varied career and talks about his new CD, Tangos.

In this clip, Blades talks about music as a great form of mass communication.

For more of our conversation, be sure to tune in to Tavis Smiley tonight on PBS. Check out our website for your local TV listings:

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My Conversation With Joan Rivers

(17) Comments | Posted July 12, 2014 | 3:13 PM

Monday night on PBS, the first of my two-part conversation with legendary comedian Joan Rivers. We talk about her longstanding career and her new book, Diary of a Mad Diva.

In the clip below, Rivers talks candidly about what will happen if the moment ever comes when she can...

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My Conversation With Def Leppard

(11) Comments | Posted July 11, 2014 | 2:17 PM

Tonight, I'm joined by music legends Joe Elliott and Rick Savage, who reflect on their careers with the English rock band Def Leppard. With legions of fans around the world, the pop-metal band has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and recently embarked on a 42-city national tour to...

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My Conversation With Hugh Laurie

(2) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 7:57 PM

Tomorrow night, I'm joined by actor and musician Hugh Laurie. Before finding fame and garnering several Emmy nods and two Golden Globe wins for his role in TV's House, he was a member of Cambridge University's Footlights Revue and a familiar face -- as a comedian -- on British TV....

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My Jookin' Conversation With Lil Buck

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2014 | 6:21 AM

Friday on PBS, I chat with Charles "Lil Buck" Riley, a dancer who's been called the Baryshnikov of jookin'. He's taken the freestyle-based street dance, involving intensive footwork, to the world stage.

In the following clip, Lil Buck recounts how his collaboration with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma came to be....

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Do Men Prefer Women With Long or Short Hair? Tavis Smiley Polls His TV Crew About Toni Braxton's Book Cover Photo

(3) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 4:55 PM

In this clip from last night's Tavis Smiley on PBS, Smiley offers his opinion on the cover art for guest Toni Braxton's latest book, Unbreak My Heart. Smiley polled the men on his TV crew live on air about whether the book's cover should have showcased Toni with a long...

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My Father's Day Conversation With Carl and Rob Reiner

(7) Comments | Posted June 13, 2014 | 4:19 PM

Tonight, in a first-ever joint interview, the talented father-son duo Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner joins me on PBS. The elder -- a 12-time Emmy-winning TV pioneer who counts among his creations The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of the most famous sitcoms in TV history -- and the younger...

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My Conversation With Jersey Vargas: Taking Her Plea for Immigration Reform to House Republicans

(0) Comments | Posted June 6, 2014 | 5:17 PM

Monday night on PBS, I'm joined by Rep. Xavier Becerra and ten-year-old Jersey Vargas. Just days after traveling from California to Vatican City, where she asked Pope Francis to help spare her father -- and parents all across the nation like him -- from deportation, Vargas was reunited with her...

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The Death of Black Ad Agencies: Total Market Strategy

(9) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 3:05 PM

This week I hosted a roundtable discussion about the state of black-owned and operated advertising agencies. As America becomes more multicultural, many corporations have begun taking a total market approach when trying to reach consumers, rather than looking at distinct cultural attributes of multicultural segments. This, according to my guests,...

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My Conversation With Sen. Rand Paul Following Today's Filibuster Over U.S. Drone Strikes

(3) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 7:05 PM

I'm joined tonight on PBS by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Paul discusses his filibuster earlier today on the Senate floor outlining his opposition to the president's nomination of David Barron to the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the following clip, he explains why he believes American jurisprudence dictates...

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My Conversation Examining the Tragedy of Nigeria's Stolen Girls

(3) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 10:01 PM

Tonight on PBS I have a conversation with Omoyele Sowore, founder and publisher of SaharaReporters.com, and Amber Khan, senior communications director of Women for Women International, which advocates on behalf of women and girls around the globe.

In the following clip, Sowore, who has just returned from Nigeria, stresses...

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My Conversation with Mel Brooks

(2) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 8:27 AM

Tonight on PBS, the first of my two-part insightful and laughter-filled conversation with the incomparable Mel Brooks. In a highly successful career of acting, directing and producing, Brooks is part of an elite group of those who have earned a Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar. Brooks reflects on his career...

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My Conversation With Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 7:34 PM

Tonight on PBS, I have a conversation with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who tomorrow will make history when he signs a bill that makes his state the first in the nation to require labeling of all genetically modified food.

Also, in the following clip, Gov. Shumlin alludes to his desire...

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My Conversation With Robin Roberts: 'Everybody's Got Something'

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2014 | 6:41 PM

Veteran broadcaster and Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts joins me tonight. A broadcaster for more than 20 years, Roberts has earned multiple Emmys and done extensive reporting around the globe. After overcoming breast cancer and, five years later, a rare blood disorder, she writes in her memoir, Everybody's Got...

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Clippers -- To Play or Not to Play?

(3) Comments | Posted April 29, 2014 | 7:59 AM

Monday night on CNN I had a difference of opinion with Larry King about how the L.A. Clippers players should have handled Sunday's game in the aftermath of the racist remarks allegedly made by team owner Donald Sterling. King asserts that the decision by the players to play on Sunday...

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My Conversation With Ian Somerhalder

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 9:52 PM

Tomorrow night, I'm joined by actor and environmental activist Ian Somerhalder. For his turn in the hit drama The Vampire Diaries, as well as his portrayal of one of the Lost survivors, he has amassed legions of fans. Somerhalder launched a foundation to positively impact the planet and is a...

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My Conversation With Best-Selling Author Jackie Collins

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2014 | 3:31 PM

Tonight on PBS, I have a conversation with one of the world's most successful writers, Jackie Collins. She started writing as a teen and, since then, has sold more than 500 million copies of her books in more than 40 countries and had 29 best-sellers, many of which have been...

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My Conversation With Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany

(2) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 3:10 PM

Join me tonight for my conversation with actress Tatiana Maslany. She has earned rave reviews, from critics and audiences alike, for her Golden Globe-nominated performance in the sci-fi clone saga Orphan Black. In season one, she played seven characters with strikingly different personalities and accents. Season two, which premieres on...

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The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Noted Panelists Discuss Then and Now

(1) Comments | Posted April 11, 2014 | 3:43 PM

It has been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. Last week, as part of the reopening of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, I moderated three panels of civil rights advocates who reflected on early efforts to pass civil...

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My Conversation with Music Legend David Crosby

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 5:09 PM

Tonight on PBS, I welcome legendary singer-songwriter and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer David Crosby for his first interview since undergoing heart surgery earlier this year. As a founding member of two pioneering musical groups -- the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young -- Crosby helped create...

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