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Tavis Smiley on PBS -
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Tavis Smiley on PBS

Tavis Smiley on PBS

Tavis Smiley on PBS

Tavis Smiley (born September 13, 1964) is an author, journalist, political commentator, and talk show host. One of ten children, Smiley was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. He and his family moved to Indiana when his father, an Air Force non-commissioned officer, was transferred to Grissom Air Force Base near Peru, Indiana. Upon arriving in Indiana, the Smiley family took up residence in a crowded mobile home in nearby Kokomo.[citation needed] Upon graduation from Maconaquah High School Read more on
Tavis Smiley (born September 13, 1964) is an author, journalist, political commentator, and talk show host. One of ten children, Smiley was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. He and his family moved to Indiana when his father, an Air Force non-commissioned officer, was transferred to Grissom Air Force Base near Peru, Indiana. Upon arriving in Indiana, the Smiley family took up residence in a crowded mobile home in nearby Kokomo.[citation needed] Upon graduation from Maconaquah High School, Smiley attended Indiana University, where he was involved in student government, was accepted into the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and participated in the first of many political and social advocacy campaigns in which he would engage in the course of his career when his friend was killed by Indiana police officers who claimed to have acted in self-defense.[1] Smiley helped lead protests to defend his friend, whom he believed had been wrongfully killed. After reconsidering a decision to drop out of college at the end of his junior year, he interned as an aide to Tom Bradley, the first African-American mayor of Los Angeles.

He returned to Indiana University after the internship, receiving his bachelor's degree in law and public policy in 1986. Upon graduation, he served as an aide to Mayor Bradley until 1990. Radio and television career Following an unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council in 1991, Smiley became a radio commentator, broadcasting one-minute daily radio segments, called The Smiley Report, on a Los Angeles urban radio station. His commentaries focused on local and national current-affairs issues affecting the African-American community. Chicago-based journalist Ronald E.

Childs first introduced Smiley to a national audience, penning a full-page article on him that appeared in EM - EBONY MAN magazine. Smiley then went on to co-host a local talk show in Los Angeles where his strongly held views on race and politics, combined with his arguments regarding the impact of institutional racism and substandard educational and economic opportunities for inner-city black youth, earned him attention from other national media outlets such as Newsweek, The Washington Post, and Time, which called Smiley one of the top 50 leaders for the future. His arguments have also drawn sharp criticism from some commentators, such as conservative-libertarian talk show host Larry Elder, who believe he too often blames racism in lieu of personal responsibility for the plight of African-Americans. In 1996, Smiley became a frequent commentator on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, a nationally syndicated radio show broadcast on black and urban stations in the United States. He developed a friendship with host Tom Joyner, who appeared to share many of Smiley's opinions on racial matters, and together they began hosting annual town hall meetings beginning in 2000 called "The State of the Black Union" which were aired live on the C-SPAN cable television network.

These town hall meetings each focused on a specific topic affecting the African-American community, featuring a panel of African-American leaders, educators, and professionals assembled before an audience to discuss problems related to the forum's topic, as well as potential solutions. Smiley also used his commentator status on Joyner's radio show to launch several advocacy campaigns to highlight discriminatory practices in the media and government and to rally support for causes such as the awarding of a Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights icon Rosa Parks. Smiley also began building a national reputation as a political commentator with numerous appearances on political discussion shows on MSNBC, ABC, and CNN. Also in 1996, Smiley began hosting and executive producing BET Tonight (originally BET Talk when it first premiered), a public affairs discussion show on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network. Smiley interviewed major political figures and celebrities and discussed topics ranging from racial profiling and police brutality to R&B music and Hollywood gossip.

Smiley hosted BET Tonight until 2001, when in a controversial move, the network announced that Smiley's contract would not be renewed. This sparked an angry response from Tom Joyner, who sought to rally his radio audience to protest BET's decision. Smiley himself publicly aired his disapproval of the way BET had abruptly and unceremoniously informed him of their decision via a fax to his agent. BET founder Robert L.

Johnson defended the decision, stating that Smiley had been fired because he had sold an exclusive interview to ABC News without first offering the story to BET, even though Smiley's contract with BET did not require him to do so. Smiley countered with the assertion that he had offered the story—an interview with Sara Jane Olson, an alleged former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army—to CBS, which, along with BET, was owned by Viacom. Smiley ultimately sold the interview to rival network ABC, he said, only after CBS passed on the interview, and suggested that his firing was payback for the publicity he gained as a result of providing an exclusive interview to ABC. [2] Despite outcries from thousands of supporters, including prominent figures such as Cornel West (with whom Smiley collaborated in 2001 on the spoken word album Sketches of My Culture) and Al Sharpton, BET and its parent company Viacom did not reverse their decision to terminate Smiley's contract. Following his dismissal from BET, Smiley was offered a chance to host a radio talk show on National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States.

He served as host of The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR until December 2004 when he announced that he would be leaving his NPR show, citing the network's inability to reach a more diverse audience.[3] Smiley currently hosts Tavis Smiley, a late night talk show televised on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network. He also hosts a similar, weekly, two-hour version on Public Radio International radio stations. PBS announced in February 2007 that Smiley will moderate two live presidential forums in 2007: a Democratic forum on June 28 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a Republican forum on Sept. 27 at Morgan State University in Baltimore. [1] Awards and contributions Smiley was honored with the NAACP Image Award for best news, talk, or information series for three consecutive years (1997-99) for his work on BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley. Smiley’s advocacy efforts have earned him numerous awards and recognitions including the recipient of the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award from the National Association of Minorities in Communications.

He has received numerous honorary doctorate degrees, including one from his alma mater, Indiana University. In 1999, he founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation, which funds programs that develop young leaders in the black community. In 2004, Texas Southern University honored Smiley with the opening of The Tavis Smiley School of Communications and The Tavis Smiley Center for Professional Media Studies, making Smiley the youngest African-American to ever have a professional school and center named after him on a college or university campus. Smiley cemented his commitment to the university by pledging an $11 million (one million annually for eleven years) contribution to the Center. He also offered TSU students an opportunity to intern at his Los Angeles based The Smiley Group, Inc. In May of 2007, Smiley gave a commencement speech at his alma mater, Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana. Books by Tavis Smiley Smiley has written eight books, including: * Doing What's Right: How to Fight for What You Believe--And Make a Difference (ISBN 0-385-49931-0) * Hard Left (ISBN 0-385-48404-6) * Keeping the Faith: Stories of Love, Courage, Healing, and Hope from Black America (ISBN 0-385-72169-2) * How to Make Black America Better: Leading African Americans Speak Out (ISBN 0-385-72087-4) * On Air:The Best of Tavis Smiley on the Tom Joyner Morning Show (ISBN 1-890194-33-6) * The Covenant with Black America (ISBN 0-88378-277-4) * What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America (ISBN 13: 978-0-385-50516-1 and ISBN 10:0-388-50516-7) In March 2006, The Smiley Group and Third World Press published The Covenant with Black America, a collection of essays by black scholars and professionals edited by Smiley. The book covers topics ranging from education to healthcare as discussed in several "State of the Black Union" forums.

Described by the publisher as a national plan of action to address the primary concerns of African-Americans related to social and economic disparities, the book became the first non-fiction book by a Black-owned publisher to be listed as the number-one non-fiction paperback in America by the New York Times Best-Seller List. Family connections On his paternal side, it is believed that Smiley is a distant cousin of televangelist T.D. Jakes, actor James Wheaton and personal manager Frank K. Wheaton. Although it is assumed that the connection comes from a common ancestor named Herbert Smiley of Jasper County, Mississippi, the exact relationship is not clear.[2] References 1.

^ "PBS' Tavis Smiley to Moderate Presidential Forums". Associated Press, February 9, 2007. 2. ^ [1999 Conversation with R.J. Smiley of Los Angeles by Robert P.

Wheaton] External links * Tavis Talks * Tavis Smiley on KCET-PBS * The Tavis Smiley Show on PRI Persondata NAME Smiley, Tavis ALTERNATIVE NAMES SHORT DESCRIPTION American author, journalist, political commentator, talk show host DATE OF BIRTH September 13, 1964 PLACE OF BIRTH Gulfport, Mississippi DATE OF DEATH PLACE OF DEATH Retrieved from "" Categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since May 2007 | 1964 births | Living people | African Americans | American radio personalities | American television personalities | American television talk show hosts | Indiana University alumni | People from Gulfport, Mississippi Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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