Books by Tavis Smiley
My Story of Growing Up in America /
The Covenant with Black America /
The Covenant in Action
Never Mind Success: Go for Greatness /
Keeping the Faith /
Black Rage, Black Redemption
* * * *
Books by Cornel West
Democracy Matters: The Fight Against Imperialism /
Cornel West Reader /
The Future of the Race
The American Evasion of Philosophy /
American Religious Thought /
The War Against Parents
The African American Century /
White on White / Black on Black /
Prophesy Deliverance /
The Soul Knows No Bars
* * * *
the Mic! Tour
My boy Tolbert up in Philly, though I haven't
read his piece, I understand he didn't like the "Pass The
Mic" tour. Can't wait to see yours.
* * *
Outlaws and Superstars:
Cornel, Tavis, Michael Eric and Rudy
By Arthur R. Flowers
Recently my boy Rudy over at ChickenBones
did a review of a Black Superstar Review touring Baltimore in
which three black public intellectuals, Cornel West, Tavis
Smiley, and Michael Eric Dyson did a show at Baltimores Lryic
Clearly Rudy was not
impressed. I understand his irritation.
Apparently they came out rocking and rolling a blend of hiphop
preaching like they do before an adoring crowd of over a
thousand blackfolk at $60 a pop. (Surely $20 would have been
sufficient.) Got to give the brothers their propers, their heart
is good, and they perform a service. But it irritates those of
us laboring unappreciated in the vineyards to see Slick get over
like it does today.
Mostly because it reflects a grievous African
American loss of direction in the Struggle and where we are as a
People when Media Superstardom defines our leadership.
Which in order to be anointed must almost by
definition have to be shallow and commercially inclined. (Or
demagogic and bombastic foolishness).
I like Cornel and I think he plays a
significant role but I remember when him and Skip Gates did a
book called The Future of the Race and I picked it up looking to
see something real and it was like academic popcorn. I was
offended that they had wasted a good title like that.
I try my best to be Serious and Significant
and whenever I Speak I try to make a Contribution and I get
ignored by everybody. I carry the prophetic curse. I speak and
no one listens.
Makes you wonder sometime if you wasting your
time and need to focus on making a living like everybody else
instead of trying to Save the Race. Trying to be Serious and not
just Pandering to the Crowd and the Times. Dyson did this piece
Why I Love Black Women that was so shameless it was a farce.
These the people everybody jumping up and down about. Cause they
got their media game together. I too respect and admire these
brothers at their Best. Cause they Committed and they got Game. Ive tried but I just cant get no traction. Emerge Magazine once
did a piece on invisible black male writers and I didnt even
make the Invisible List.
Oh well. Aint no sense in being upset that
folk dont see my Vision. Thats why they call it a Vision. But
its hard sometime not to resent it when you just got to sit
there and watch Bullshit Walk.
I hear folk talk of public intellectuals and
its hard not to sneer. A buddy of mine once said I was an
Outlaw. I was offended, "I aint no Outlaw" I told her.
She said, I didnt say you were a Criminal, I said you were an
Outlaw. Since Ive known you youve operated outside of the
Ive since embraced the term. Outlaw
Intellectual. Rather proud of it. Cause I know Im doing what Im
supposed to do. Im making my contribution like my mentor, John O
Killens, another unappreciated warrior, trained me to do. Ima Do
What I Do and hope that History treats me better than my Own
And am I sometimes dismayed by the media
superstar leadership mode that has left us directionless in
these perilous times. But Ima keep my Perspective.
Cause I am even more Dismayed that Im not one
I hope one day to get some play, a larger
platform from which to make my points and get taken seriously.
And I hope that if I ever do get some play
that I dont lose sight of whats Real. Ima keep the Faith. Like
John O Killens taught me to.
I am a Master of the Longgame and Im proud of
it. And whatever price it cost me to be Real, to be True Force,
Im willing to pay it.
Thats why folk like Rudy and myself and the
folk over at The Black Commentator and Freedom
Rider have begun to forge our own vehicles for Speaking Truth to the People.
I often feel that I am speaking to the void
with Rootsblog but Ive decided to maintain it at least a year
without whining or worrying about my lack of acknowledgement for
what I do - for my efforts to make a contribution. By then I
hope it will just be a habit.
Cause I am a child of the 60s and I believe
in the Struggle. I am a Drummajor for Righteousness and Ima do
what Im Supposed To Do and Im not going to worry about not
getting no props for it.
History will Absolve me.
I am Flowers of the Delta Clan Flowers and
the Line of O Killens.
am an Outlaw.
* * *
Mon, 22 Dec 2003
I have read, in fact, your editorial on the
tres amigos now several times. Although, I don't agree with you
in total, your arguments are sound. You have a
beautiful mind. I think if you ever met Cornel West,
you might have a different opinion of him. I have a
friend who met Cornel and had a totally different opinion of him
after meeting him.
I don't think Travis is in the same league,
that is, intellectually as West and Dyson. I think
Travis is really more of the entrepreneur of the three. I would
agree with you that $60.00 is much too much money to hear a
speech with Travis, Dyson, or West. I do know, in the case of
West, that he has donated all the money from one of his books to
a very worthy cause. I have the book at home. It
was a book he edited with a young scholar. Have a great holiday! As ever,
* * *
Friday, 19 Dec 2003
I just read your editorial on Dyson, West
& Smiley. Wonderful! Thank you! We need(ed) that!!! Take
care. Happy New Year! Later, Louis
* * *
read your review of the three amigos you the
man. i love knowing folk who got the courage to say what we all
know to be the truth when the emperors walking around naked in
these perilous times
you go boy im proud to be your comrade in arms
* * *
brotha! Just read your analysis on the "Pass the Mic
Tour" on your great web site. Although I know you were
being objective, Imma say it: dem Negroes ain't trying to
liberate the people!
I wanted to say that it was an excellent review and I really
enjoyed it. How can I get a copy(VHS or audio) of that event?
Did u tape it?
Bob Law was in my city of St. Louis, I will soon submit my
analysis on that talk to a number of outlets including yours.
Law was da bomb. a true warrior indeed. maybe you and I can
share(trade) knowledge materials cuz I did tape Bob's lecture.
* * *
Monday, 15 Dec 2003
I guess I was damned lucky not to have gone to the Pass the
Mic thing. I asked Bilal to go with me but he was otherwise tied
up. So, I pocketed the money and went home. I was so tired I
fell asleep and didn't wake
up until 1am. Your analysis is what mine would have been. I just
wanted confirmation of my suspicions that all the current and
all too much promoted leadership has nothing going for it. You
saved me a lot of anguish and late hours of writing. I thank you
for that and congratulate you on the article.
Secondly, your interchange with Joe seems
to be bearing some fruit. And, I guess this is good. But, as
they say, it is hard for a leopard to change his spots or an
Ethiopian his skin. So, we will have to see how Joe does in the
future. He very well may not be able to do any better despite
his best intentions. The fact that he seems to be almost
universally despised is something that I suspected. I must
commend you for your tact. But, I suspect
you were up to something when you placed
his article next to mine. The thing is that I respect Joe's
courage and persistence. On the other hand, these are the
qualities that make him so adamant and stubborn in outlook. But
only time, will tell. I understand that you are going home for
the holidays. Be safe and get some rest. amin sharif
* * * *
is a broadcaster, author, advocate and philanthropist.
TIME Magazine honored Smiley in 2009 as one of "The
World's 100 Most Influential People." He is currently
the host of the late night television talk show, "Tavis
Smiley" on PBS and "The Tavis Smiley Show" distributed
by Public Radio International (PRI). In 2007, Smiley
made television history as the moderator and executive
producer of the All-American Presidential Forums on PBS,
the first Democratic and Republican presidential debates
broadcast live in primetime with a panel exclusively
comprised of journalists of color.
In addition to his radio and television work, Smiley has
authored fourteen books. His memoir,
What I Know For Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America,
was a New York Times bestseller.
His latest book,
Accountable: Making America As Good As its Promise,
addresses how our political leaders, corporations and
finally, American citizens themselves can enforce
accountability and effect change.
The Tavis Smiley Foundation, a non-profit organization,
was established to provide leadership training and
development for youth. Since its inception, more than
6,000 young people have participated in the foundation's
Youth to Leaders training workshops and conferences.
* * *
Tavis Smiley (born September 13, 1964) is an
American talk show host, author, political commentator,
entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist. Smiley was
born in Gulfport, Mississippi and grew up in Kokomo,
Indiana. After attending Indiana University, he worked
during the late 1980s as an aide to Tom Bradley, the
mayor of Los Angeles. Smiley became a radio commentator
in 1991, and starting in 1996 he hosted the talk show
BET Talk (later renamed BET Tonight) on BET.
Controversially, after Smiley sold an exclusive
Sara Jane Olson to ABC News in 2001, BET declined to
renew Smiley's contract that year. Smiley then began
The Tavis Smiley Show on
NPR from 2002 to 2004 and currently hosts Tavis
PBS on the weekdays and a weekly self-titled show on
PRI. . . .
Smiley was honored
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.In 1999, he founded the
Tavis Smiley Foundation, which funds programs that
develop young leaders in the black community. Since its
inception, more than 6,000 young people have
participated in the foundation's Youth to Leaders
Training workshops and conferences. His communications
company, The Smiley Group, Inc., serves as the holding
company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast
and print media, lecturers, symposiums, and the
Time named him one of America's 50 Most Promising
Time honored him the next year as one of the "100
Most Influential People in the World." In May 2007,
Smiley gave a commencement speech at his alma mater,
Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana. In May 2008,
he gave the commencement address at Connecticut College,
where he was awarded an honorary doctorate. In May 2009,
Smiley was awarded an honorary doctorate at
Langston University after giving the commencement
On December 12,
2008, Smiley received the Du Bois Medal from Harvard
University's W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and
African American Research.—Wikipedia
* * *
Michael Eric Dyson to President Obama /
Michael Eric Dyson: To The Young & Disillusioned
Michael Eric Dyson: Obama isn't Moses, he is Pharaoh
Smiley and West: Obama & Sharpton
* * * *
to Take a Job in New York—Laurie Goodstein—16
West, the peripatetic public intellectual and
political activist, plans to finish out a teaching
career that has taken him from Yale to Harvard to
Princeton by moving back this coming summer to
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York,
where he began as an assistant professor in 1977.
Dr. West, the author of 19 books, including Race
Matters, and a ubiquitous television and radio
commentator, said he was taking a significant pay
cut to become a professor of philosophy and
Christian practices at Union.
where the eminent theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
taught, is also known as the birthplace of black
theology. James H. Cone, a foremost scholar in that
tradition, is still on the faculty.In an interview
from Seattle, on his way to visit Occupy protesters
there, Dr. West said that his liberal politics were
formed in Progressive Baptist churches, and that
Union was “the institutional expression of my core
identity as a prophetic Christian.”—NYTimes
* * *
* * *
The Persistence of the Color Line
Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency
By Randall Kennedy
Among the best things about
The Persistence of the Color Line
is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the
positions about Mr. Obama staked out by
black commentators on the left and
right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel
West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley.
He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr.
Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism
regarding whether blacks should back
Obama” . . .
finest chapter in
The Persistence of the Color Line
is so resonant, and so personal, it
could nearly be the basis for a book of
its own. That chapter is titled
“Reverend Wright and My Father:
Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”
Recalling some of the criticisms of
America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s
former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with
feeling about his own father, who put
each of his three of his children
through Princeton but who “never forgave
American society for its racist
mistreatment of him and those whom he
most loved.” His father distrusted
the police, who had frequently called
him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr.
Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad
Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never
called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places
his father, and Mr. Wright, in
sympathetic historical light.
* * *
The Last Holiday: A Memoir
By Gil Scott Heron
Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. —Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 5 March