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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

My Conversation With Kristen Stewart

(6) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 7:40 PM

Tonight, I'm joined by Kristen Stewart who is continuing her commitment to independent films with her latest movie, Camp X-Ray, in which she delivers a strong, nuanced performance as a young, inexperienced MP assigned to Gitmo. Once there, her character interacts with a detainee and begins to understand that there...

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My Conversation With Joe Perry

(4) Comments | Posted October 16, 2014 | 12:37 PM

Tonight I'm joined by Joe Perry, lead guitarist for Aerosmith, the most successful American rock 'n' roll band of all time, having sold more than 150 million albums world wide. He's been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His new memoir,...

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My Conversation With Senator Rand Paul

(15) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 8:10 PM

Poverty is a shameful and disgraceful fact of life in the United States -- more so than anyplace else because we live in the richest nation on the planet. Yet these issues get far too little attention on the national stage. With that in mind, I have called for one...

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My Conversation With Cicely Tyson

(1) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 12:19 PM

Tonight on PBS I'm joined by the legendary Cicely Tyson. This peerless actress has been honored for her performances in Miss Jane Pittman, Roots and Sounder. She returned to Broadway after a 30-year hiatus to star in the revival of The Trip to Bountiful in 2013.

Miss Tyson's performance as...

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My Conversation with Al Jarreau

(1) Comments | Posted October 10, 2014 | 12:31 PM

Tonight I'm joined by Al Jarreau. This seven-time Grammy winner has a new CD out, a tribute to his good friend of almost 50 years and musical compatriot, George Duke, who sadly died last year. The album, which also features musicians such as Dr. John and Dianne Reeves went to...

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My Conversation With Jose Antonio Vargas

(1) Comments | Posted October 8, 2014 | 3:07 PM

Tonight on PBS I'm joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas. His documentary, Documented: A Film By An Undocumented American, about his life in this country without papers -- something he has in common with some 11 million others -- is now available on iTunes and...

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My Conversation With Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

(1) Comments | Posted October 6, 2014 | 2:14 PM

Tonight on PBS I'm joined by acclaimed Nigerian-born novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose novels -- including Americanah, for which she won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Half of a Yellow Sun -- deal with the intersection of race and identity. Half of a Yellow Sun is now a...

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My Conversation With George Benson

(25) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 1:36 PM

Tonight on PBS I'm joined by 10-time Grammy winner and National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master, George Benson, whose new memoir, Benson: The Autobiography, has just been published. He's played with the greats, from Frank Sinatra to Stevie Wonder, and has a slew of number one hits to his...

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My Conversation With Berry Gordy and Suzanne de Passe

(2) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 1:33 PM

Tonight on PBS, I talk with Berry Gordy, the legendary founder of Motown, and Suzanne de Passe, the executive who moved the label into television and movie production, resulting in a slew of awards, including Emmys, Oscar nominations and a Peabody. One of their award-winning productions was the great television...

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My Conversation With Gail Sheehy

(1) Comments | Posted September 24, 2014 | 3:06 PM

Tonight on PBS I'm joined by best-selling writer and journalist Gail Sheehy, who, throughout her distinguished career, has profiled many of the world's most influential people. Her latest book is a memoir is titled Daring: My Passages, in which she urges all of us to take more chances and dare...

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My Conversation with Nicholas Kristof

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 1:39 PM

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by New York Times columnist and best-selling author, Nicholas Kristof. He is the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes and his latest book, co-written with his wife and frequent collaborator, Sheryl WuDunn is titled A Path Appears which delineates what individuals can do to have the...

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My Conversation With Rita Moreno

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 12:52 PM

Tomorrow night I'm joined by legendary actress and dancer Rita Moreno. Among her many accolades are an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy and two Emmys. She's one of a handful of artists to receive that array of awards and of course is the first and only Latina to be so...

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My Conversation With Quincy Jones

(0) Comments | Posted September 11, 2014 | 3:45 PM

Tomorrow night on PBS I'm joined by the incomparable Quincy Jones, a true renaissance man. His latest project is a labor of love for him -- it's a documentary called Keep On Keepin' On that pays tribute to his mentor, trumpet legend Clark Terry as the 93-year-old struggles with failing...

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My Conversation with Ed Harris

(1) Comments | Posted September 10, 2014 | 4:17 PM

Tomorrow night on PBS I'm joined by Ed Harris, four-time Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner, to talk about his new film, Frontera, co-starring Eva Longoria and Micheal Peña. The indie film just out in theaters and on VOD deals with the complex issues of immigration and human trafficking on...

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My Conversation with Chuck D

(0) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 3:24 PM

Tonight I'm joined by Chuck D, who as the leader and co-founder of the politically astute group Public Enemy, has never shied away from challenging the status quo. With his new solo digital album, The Black in Man, he continues to confront the conflicts and frustrations so many in this...

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Joan Rivers Remembered

(11) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 5:07 PM

When I was able to sit down with Joan Rivers for my nightly program just two months ago, it was the fulfillment of a 10-year quest to have her on the show. When I first moved to Los Angeles 27 years ago to make my mark, Joan was the very...

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Roundtable Discussion: Mississippi Freedom Summer

(0) Comments | Posted August 5, 2014 | 5:45 PM


In the summer of 1964, nearly 1,000 college students from across the country traveled to Mississippi to carry out a dangerous mission. For 10 harrowing weeks over what came to be known as Mississippi Freedom Summer, they...

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A Sobering Look at "The New Face of Hunger"

(16) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 7:04 PM

"To witness hunger in America today," journalist Tracie McMillan writes in the August issue of National Geographic Magazine, "is to enter a twilight zone where refrigerators are so frequently bare of all but mustard and ketchup that it provokes no remark, inspires no embarrassment. Here dinners are cooked using macaroni-and-cheese...

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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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