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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 Jeffrey Sachs

(2) Comments | Posted January 22, 2015 | 9:54 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

(1) Comments | Posted January 21, 2015 | 9:40 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 | 9:08 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 | 10:01 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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My Conversation With Lindsey Buckingham

(5) Comments | Posted December 17, 2014 | 6:50 AM

Tonight, I'm joined by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Lindsey Buckingham, who reflects on his career with one of the most critically acclaimed musical groups of all time, Fleetwood Mac. The Grammy-winning guitarist and vocalist has reunited with all of the band's original members for a world tour titled,...

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My Conversation With Angelina Jolie

(3) Comments | Posted December 16, 2014 | 11:54 AM

Tonight I'm joined by Academy Award-winning actress and director, Angelina Jolie. Her film, Unbroken which tells the real life story of Olympian Louis Zamperini's heroic struggle to stay alive during his captivity as a POW during World War Two, opens on Christmas Day.

In the clip below I ask Angelina,...

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My Conversation With Steve Ballmer

(1) Comments | Posted December 10, 2014 | 12:50 PM

Tonight I'm joined by Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft and one of the primary architects of that tech giant's phenomenal success, who is now the new owner of the LA Clippers. He took over that franchise in the aftermath of the Donald Sterling scandal. His winning bid -- $2...

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My Conversation With Bryan Stevenson

(1) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 6:51 PM

Tonight on PBS I'm joined by Bryan Stevenson, activist, attorney, and the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. This McArthur Genius Grant recipient has dedicated his life to fixing what many perceive as a broken justice system. He won the landmark Supreme Court case striking down life...

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My Conversation with Joni Mitchell

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 7:08 PM

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined for a rare interview by Joni Mitchell, who has just released a four-disc collection of newly remastered tracks spanning some 40 years of recording by the iconic singer-songwriter entitled, "LOVE HAS MANY FACES: A QUARTET, A BALLET, WAITING TO BE DANCED".

In the clip below,...

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My Conversation With Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Gina Prince-Bythewood

(0) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 12:39 PM

Tonight I'm joined by British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who earlier this year drew rave reviews for her breakout role in Belle, and acclaimed director Gina Prince-Bythewood to talk about their new movie, Beyond the Lights. The film, now in theaters, takes a clear-eyed look at how pop music's star-making machine...

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My Conversation with Cristina Saralegui

(2) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 11:00 AM

Tonight I'm joined by broadcaster Cristina Saralegui, who was named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in America. Her daily show on the Univision network won 12 Emmys over its 21-year run and broke new ground for audiences, tackling issues that other Latino broadcasters shied...

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My Conversation With Smokey Robinson

(5) Comments | Posted November 11, 2014 | 12:23 PM

Tonight I'm joined by Smokey Robinson, a man many consider to be among the finest songwriters this country has ever produced. Smokey has been writing, producing and recording hits for almost 50 years. He's won multiple Grammys and has been inducted into every Hall of Fame the music world offers....

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My Conversation With Herbie Hancock

(0) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 12:19 PM

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by Herbie Hancock, who, over a 50-year-plus career, has established himself as one of the towering figures in music. He's excelled at all genres -- from jazz to hip-hop, fusion to funk, collaborating with such diverse artists as Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell. He's the...

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My Conversation With Andrew Dice Clay

(4) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 1:10 PM

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by Andrew Dice Clay, whose raw, biting comic riffs have made him a lightning rod for controversy. His new autobiography is titled The Filthy Truth and as you might expect from a tome with that title, the book offers an unflinching look at the Dice...

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My Conversation With Rene Russo

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2014 | 1:53 PM

Tonight I'm joined by Rene Russo, who has played a wide range of roles, from the sultry insurance investigator in what I consider to be the best remake of all time -- The Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan -- to a secret service agent opposite Clint Eastwood in In...

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My Conversation with David Ritz

(0) Comments | Posted October 28, 2014 | 9:43 AM

Tonight I'm joined by New York Times best-selling author David Ritz. This prolific writer has published some 53 books, including five new tomes out this year. Those titles include collaborations with Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Rick James, Andrew Dice Clay and me. Together we wrote Death of a King: The...

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My Conversation with Norman Lear

(0) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 12:44 AM

Tonight I'm joined by legendary broadcaster, Norman Lear, who without question changed the television landscape with groundbreaking shows like All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons and One Day At A Time. In their heyday, his shows were watched by more than 120 million people each week --...

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My Conversation With Annie Lennox

(7) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 2:44 PM

Tonight I'm joined by Annie Lennox for the first of our two-night conversation. Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time."

With 83 million records sold worldwide and four Grammys, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe to her credit, Annie Lennox "re-interprets" jazz...

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My Conversation With Kristen Stewart

(8) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 8:40 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 | 1:37 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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