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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

10 Years After Katrina, A Tribute to New Orleans With Dee Dee Bridgewater and Kataalyst Alcindor

(0) Comments | Posted August 28, 2015 | 10:33 AM

On Monday night, join me as we pay tribute to the great city of New Orleans with multiple Grammy award-winning vocalist, Dee Dee Bridgewater and three-time National Poetry Slam Champion, Kataalyst Alcindor. Dee Dee's latest album, Dee Dee's Feathers, is a powerful ode to the people and culture of "The...

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True Detective Star Colin Farrell on the Pitfalls of 'Purge Acting'

(6) Comments | Posted July 27, 2015 | 1:08 PM

Tonight I'm joined by Golden Globe-winning actor Colin Farrell. The talented and versatile star of films like Minority Report and the dark comedy In Bruges is now leading an all-star cast in the second season of HBO's hit series True Detective. On the show, Farrell plays Ray Velcoro, a troubled...

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Songwriting Icon JD Souther on the First Time He Met 'Muse' Linda Ronstadt

(2) Comments | Posted July 20, 2015 | 3:12 PM

Tonight I'm joined by prolific singer-songwriter JD Souther. The recent inductee to the Songwriters Hall of Fame has penned numerous hits for some of music's most celebrated acts, including The Eagles, The Dixie Chicks, and his dear friend Linda Ronstadt. A talented recording artist in his own right, he's out...

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Tavis Smiley: Dance Legend Carmen de Lavallade on Opportunity for Black Ballerinas Then vs. Now

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2015 | 3:07 PM

Tonight I'm joined by legendary stage performer Carmen de Lavallade. The iconic dancer, who has performed on Broadway, at the Met and with greats like Alvin Ailey, and of course, her late husband Geoffrey Holder, walks in a proud line. Janet Collins, her cousin, was the first -- and to...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Andrew Cohen on Whether JFK Gets Too Much Credit on Civil Rights

(0) Comments | Posted July 13, 2015 | 8:47 PM

Tonight I'm joined by award-winning journalist and Carleton University professor Andrew Cohen. The man who the New York Times has called one of "Canada's most distinguished authors" has written a new book that focuses on two momentous speeches that President John F. Kennedy delivered on consecutive days in June of...

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My Conversation With Robert Glasper On the Diversity of Black Music

(1) Comments | Posted July 2, 2015 | 1:36 PM

Tonight I'm joined by two-time Grammy-winner Robert Glasper. The talented and innovative pianist has reunited with his jazz trio on the hit new album, Covered, which was recorded in front of a live audience at Capitol Studios. Since the trio last recorded together, Glasper has experimented with various other musical...

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Tavis Smiley: Killer Mike on Why Blacks Should Stop Forgiving and Start Demanding Action

(0) Comments | Posted June 29, 2015 | 7:19 PM

Tonight, I'm joined by Michael Render, a.k.a. "Killer Mike." The prolific rapper and influential activist is one half of the popular Hip-Hop duo, Run the Jewels, whose critically acclaimed album, Run the Jewels 2, was hailed by Rolling Stone as the "best rap album of 2014." Known for his ability...

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My Conversation With Kathy Bates on Ageism in Hollywood

(3) Comments | Posted June 26, 2015 | 11:17 AM

Tonight I'm joined by Academy Award winner Kathy Bates. Throughout her remarkable career, she has delivered a number of iconic performances, including her breakthrough role in the 1990 film Misery and, more recently, her scene-stealing turn in the FX show American Horror Story. In addition to her stellar on-screen work,...

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5 Lessons Charleston Can Teach Us About Race, Guns and Healing

(82) Comments | Posted June 23, 2015 | 2:04 PM

The talking points have been many, varied and wrong. Here's how we can go forward with clarity and the resolve for change.

After last week's massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, there should have been no question of guilt, or motivation. Dylann Roof made it clear what he did, and why,...

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Sen. Ted Cruz Attempts to Explain Post-Charleston Gun Joke and Why He Wants Urban Communities Armed

(2) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 7:57 PM

Tonight, I'm joined by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, one of the prominent Republican contenders for the 2016 presidential race. The senator wasted no time revealing his political aspirations when, this past March, he became the first official candidate from either party to announce a bid for the White House. Elected...

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Humans Star William Hurt on the Potential Dangers of Artificial Intelligence

(2) Comments | Posted June 18, 2015 | 10:51 AM

Tonight, I'm joined by actor William Hurt, who has starred in so many notable films throughout his career, including Broadcast News and Kiss of the Spiderwoman. The Academy Award-winner's latest project is the upcoming AMC drama series, HUMANS. The show, which premieres June 28th, takes place in a parallel present...

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Tavis Smiley: Tim Robbins on How His 'Prison Project' Gives Inmates Essential Tools for Post-Prison Life

(0) Comments | Posted June 15, 2015 | 8:24 PM

Tonight, I'm joined by Academy Award-winner Tim Robbins. The prolific actor has starred in such classic American films as The Shawshank Redemption, Bull Durham and Mystic River. His latest project is the HBO comedy series, The Brink, a political satire in which he plays a womanizing and often drunk Secretary...

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Liz Garbus on What Sets Her 'Nina Simone' Doc Apart From Upcoming Biopic

(14) Comments | Posted June 11, 2015 | 10:16 AM

Tonight, I'm joined by prolific filmmaker Liz Garbus. The Academy Award-nominated documentarian has directed a new film that uses rare archival footage and never-before-heard recordings to paint a remarkable portrait of legendary singer Nina Simone. The project, titled What Happened, Miss Simone?, premieres June 26th on Netflix.

In the clip...

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Tavis Smiley: Why Chris Hedges Feels the American Media's Inability to Do Its Job Has Weakened Our Democracy

(12) Comments | Posted June 8, 2015 | 9:51 PM

Last night, I was joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges. In his near two decades' worth of experience as a foreign correspondent for prominent news outlets like the New York Times and NPR, Hedges has covered critical issues from all around the world, including his groundbreaking reporting...

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Why Pat Boone Believes He Helped Black Artists by Covering Their Songs

(34) Comments | Posted May 29, 2015 | 9:47 AM

Tonight I'm joined by legendary singer Pat Boone. Throughout his 60-year career, the entertainment icon has sold more than 45 million albums and had 38 "Top 40" hits. Boone is being honored at the Grammy Museum on June 2 and will commemorate his six decades in music with the release...

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Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Sonia Sanchez on How the Black Arts Movement Changed the Fabric of America

(0) Comments | Posted May 28, 2015 | 10:05 AM

Tonight I'm joined by Temple University Professor Emerita and Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez and Professors John H. Bracey Jr. and James Smethurst of University of Massachusetts at Amherst to discuss their new anthology, SOS - Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader.

The aesthetic counterpart...

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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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