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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  January 10, 2015 9:00am-12:01pm EST

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>> look for these titles in bookstores this coming week and watch for the authors in the near future on booktv and on >> up next, author, broadcaster and activist tavis smiley the host of "tavis smiley on pbs," he talks about the criminal justice system the obama administration, civil rights and economics. finish the publisher of -- the publisher of smiley books is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books including new york times bestseller "covenant," and his latest, "death of a king." ..
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what is the proudest moment of your career so far? >> guest: wow. i don't mean to sound snarky or snippy here, but i hope it is yet to come. i feel very fortunate in just a few days we'll start our 12th season on pbs. i'm now on 15 years in public radio. i feel very blessed at start of this year to do all we've done so far. i hope the proudest moment is yet to come. if i had to i hope the proudest moment is yet to come. if i had to pick something it would be that i am still in here and so many people that against me in so much of my life. when i started on npr some years ago i remember the complaint when i first started, that i talk too loud. my favorite was that my laugh was too boisterously last too boisterously.
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my laugh was too much mike haydn's was wrong, i spoke too fast, it was too big for public radio. this is national public radio and i started the bidding was i was not going to make it, 15 years on public radio. people didn't think, charlie rose had done well for years nobody expected me to make it on pbs. long story short if i had to choose something you would be that i am still here. >> guest: 17 books you have written and edited your different shows you have done. what do you think you have accomplished. >> i hope what we do everyday through public radio and public television is things i say all the time. i hope to challenge fellow citizens to reexamine the assumptions they holds.
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we bring assumptions to the table. in various presidencies i hope what challenges people to reexamine the assumptions, helps people to expand their inventory of ideas, i hope allows americans to be introduced to each other. this is the most multi-cultural multi-ethnic america ever and i hope the work we are doing allows us in these platforms, america is so segregated in many ways but i hope the work we are doing is allowing us to have a conversation about what unites us rather than what divides us. >> host: in your book accountable -- "unaccountable: making america as good as its promise," politicians make promises but it is the job of the people who elect them to make sure they keep them and you have a score sheet for then president-elect obama. how has he done on this dorr sheet? >> it depends on the issue. that was the third in the
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trilogy, the covenant of black america, it talked about the issues that were important to ask the americans and what the next president knew about these issues. it cannot be for the country had heard of barack obama during the bush era when we knew the black agenda, and joe biden and as a result of the book we had two presidential debate i was able to moderate, at howard university, the republicans who showed up met at morgan state university, two black colleges in d.c. and baltimore said that came as part of the black ameritech text and the covenant inaction, the second book in that trilogy, how do you take the issues of principles in the covenant and put those issues into action. that was the second book in the trilogy. the third book was at 18.
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obama ended up winning. he was the guy who made these commitments and promises and this was all book that was put together for what he said on the campaign trail and how we could keep score of what he was doing so long story short on some things he has done well, he kept some promises and other promises he has broken. >> host: you were recently the subject of a conversation on cnn. let's listen to this and get your response? >> talk about your interview, he said the president should stop telling blind people to wait. he should stop telling us it takes time. he should stop saying it is different from 50 years ago. tell that to the parents of these did children and i wonder does that hurt? do you think they don't get me? i feel it is difficult to be president of the united states and have so much expected of you. >> i don't spend much time worrying about critics. you don't get a lot of stuff
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done. the original reason for folks to be patient, i am patient. that is why whatever happened and ferguson and new york, in 90 days, providing specific recommendations. on the other hand an unwillingness to acknowledge progress has been made cuts off the possibility for progress. if critics want to suggest america is inherently and irreducible racist then why bother even working on it? i have seen change in my own life so has this country. those who would deny that actually foreclose the possibility of further progress.
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>> host: where did that come from? >> guest: i don't know but can lead to a wonderful job. she announced retirement recently but was a big fan of the work she did. i was as surprised as anybody. i was in my bed in l. a early in the morning. my phone started ringing, wake up candy is talking about you and your critique of him. eventually had a chance to see it for myself. let me say with all respect to the president, this is the criticism i am tired of hearing. i believe it is our duty our job our responsibility in this media business to hold all leaders accountable. just because you are my friend, barack obama has been for years, he is my friend whether you are my friend or an african-american or i vote for you once or twice, it matters not when it comes to
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doing my job of trying to hold you accountable to the things you said you were going to do. i said it a thousand times and i will say again today, great presidents are not born, great presidents are made. they have to be pushed into their greatness. there is no lincoln if they are not pushing him. there is no lbj if m l k is not pushing him. as they call me a critic, i am able to handle that. but i don't see my other friends in medium label the bonn critics. chuck todd asked if he and obama credit? is george stephanopoulos and obama credit? our job is to ask difficult questions. it is almost reverse racism in the sense that the black guy who critiques the black president continues to be called and obama critic as opposed to doing his job and i don't like that but i
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am dealing with it. >> you have generated quite a bit of conversation on our face book page this morning at booktv. this is a typical comment. robert hill jr. says, his picture is of an african-american man, tavis smiley is a smart opportunist along with cornell west thought they should have special access to the president because he is black. when it didn't happen they turned against the president with all their success. >> guest: i am a first amendment right to free speech. and not have a first amendment rights cannot be criticized. i expressed my point of view, i tell the truth as i see, i acknowledge all time i don't have a monopoly on the truth. there is the truth and the way to the truth. we are always on our way to the truth. i believe that the truth i do know i am obligated to tell and share that truth. i believe so much is what is wrong with our country that we don't have the courage to say
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what we see. and that means you got to be criticized. and i am happy with the debate of the conversation that kicks up a result of what i say but that is not the reason for saying it. try to be committed to a life of telling the truth as best i can. so the critics critics come at me for having a different point of view i will take it. >> host: would you mean by fail out? >> that was the occasion of my 20 third anniversary in the broadcast business. i am used to criticism. my gift to persons who have followed my career over 20 years rather is an -- which did talking about what the book was going to be and rather than focusing on my 20 biggest moments come u.s. what my proudest moment was, i could
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have done my 20 promise moment in the course of my career but i decided to flip it, not that i would hope it detailed the 20 biggest mistakes, 20 biggest mistakes, 20 worse decisions, 20 stupidest thing i've ever done and what i learned from it because the truth is if people are being honest those who are successful, whatever that means will say they learned more from their failure than they ever learn from their success and the same is true for me. to write a book that was a bit transparent and open and these the dumb things i have done, these other mistakes i have made, the lessons i learned and if you can learn from reading this to avoid doing some of the dumb things i have done. >> host: you write i alone in houston and had a major panic attack. the details of that night i so traumatic forgive me for not wanting to relive them here. have you talked about what happened that night? >> guest: i am happy to do it
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with you. i appreciate the question, i think. when i turned 40 as i mentioned i had a difficult time. on major panic attack. i was in houston with my family and friends to receive a huge honor on the day of my 40th birth day and we were all in houston together and as it gets closer to midnight my turning 40 i stop asphyxiating, throwing up all over the place, my body was shutting down on me. crying and literally on the floor of the hotel room i started praying. somehow i got through it and threw tea years i eventually fell asleep. when i woke up it was after midnight and i was relieved i lived to see my 40th birth day and within five minutes occurred to me i was in houston.
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i live in los angeles. where i lived i wasn't for yet and believe it or not as funny as this sounds the whole process started all over again because i was having a very difficult time turning 40. i did not believe i was going to make it my 40th birth day and for years i'd of with this. the reason why is dr. king saved my life when i was a 12-year-old boy. he had long since been dead when i turned 12 and at that age of 12, dr. king saved my life. i would not be here talking to you right now, dr. king coming to see me in a hotel room when i was a 12-year-old kid on my hospital bed when i was 12 and dr. king came to visit me and literally saved my life. since august 12th i have been such -- reading and learning everything about the person i
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regard as america's greatest democratic public intellectual so my whole life was dedicated to doing my very small part to make the world safe for his legacy. what is that legacy? justice for all, service to others and the love that liberates people justice for all, service to others and above the liberates people. that is his life as far as i am concerned. i have done my small part in my philanthropic work. the point is because i was so enveloped in this world, for some reason it occurred to me after i survived that night it all came clear to me that i was heavily untroubled turning 40 given that my hero had been assassinated at 39. it took me a few days to work through this talking to friends and others in even a therapist and i came to understand that i could process the fact that dr.
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king was dead at 39 and somehow i am being blessed to live to 40. what does it mean for the rest of my life that king didn't live as long as i've lived. i have a hard time turning 40. i got through that moment, i turned 50 a few months ago in september of 2014 and i did not have that difficulty turning 50. >> host: your most recent book is "death of a king: the real story of martin luther king, jr.'s final year". we will talk about that. why we went hospital at age 12? >> guest: in one of my earlier texts, my memoir, i didn't want to tell it then and i don't like visiting it now but i will tell the story once i preface it by saying my father and i have the most wonderful relationship a father and son can have. when i was 12, he lost his temper one night and beat me so severely i was in the hospital for two weeks in traction, a
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pretty severe beating to have the 12-year-old kid in the hospital for a couple weeks. while i was in the hospital, suffering and trying to recover from this severe beating, a member of my church came to me and gave me a gift and the gift was a box of lp recordings of king's speeches. he had the good sense to send an engineer to follow dr. king to record this speeches. many of us think he gave one speech in his whole life i have a dream and we think only had one line in it, i want children to be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. i can hear the audience a it with me. that is all we know of that speech. we think he gave one speech with one line. in memphis again that these two speeches, he gave the mountaintops speech before his assassination. we know two speeches king gave
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but he was on the road all the time. when we follow king and record his speeches, berry gordy put some of those recordings out on lp, speaking at my church, collected many of those l ps had never spoken to him about my love for caned, any of that. this deegan brought me a box with all these recordings indicated to me as a gift. at 12 years of age in indiana, you are from indiana, i am the from indiana, we are all losers around here growing up in indiana, had a pretty black and white state, more white than black but back then we were not taught about king in my middle school or my high school so they brought this gift of these recordings, and i knew who came was but i never studied dr. king but somehow when i started listening to his voice on those records and heard the love in
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his heart and the hope in his soul, it brought me back to life. came was talking to a nation about the power of love the power of forgiveness, that hatred was not an option, revenge was never going to work, he is talking to a nation about these ideals, he might as well have been talking to the 12-year-old kid about love and forgiveness and hatred and revenge. i heard caned talking to me. he literally saved my life. from that moment on, what i try to do with all my work radio and tv and print and philanthropies try to make the world safe for his legacy. >> host: april 4th, 1968 what was dr. king's mind that? what was the last day of his life like? >> guest: it was quite remarkable. he had given that speech at the
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temple in memphis and the morning after he was feeling pretty good. some rough days in the last year, he takes a while to back up what year was so rough but his last year brought him what difficult days of july but theoy but the last day of his life, his brother had come to memphis to visit him. he had a conversation, had talked back in atlanta a pretty good day until the moment happens when he steps out on the balcony and is assassinated. it is a day that will forever live in the memory of anybody who was alive and had time and was told in of to remember. i was just a toddler at the time of his assassination. people over the years who have it edge in their memory as my
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generation does where they were on 9/11, people feel the same way about the assassination of kennedy and the other kennedy and the assassination of king. >> host: why did he stepped onto the balcony? >> he was going to dinner. one of his friends in memphis, posted for dinner and there was another gap, he does speaking to a rally they were going to later to provide for the march that was going to happen. the first one didn't work out. king promised to go back to memphis to be a second march that would not be fraught with the kind of violence he deplored. they were having a meeting were having dinner speaking to a rally getting ready for this march and steps onto the balcony, he was hit with the assassin's bullet, but it was a rough year for king, that was
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april 4th, 1968. prior to april 4th 1967, when king james the it missed the russell speech of his life. cheese in new york city. speaking of the rubens side church in manhattan beyond vietnam. in that speech came calls america the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today. he was on record opposed to the war giving a major address to the nation condemning the war. en joy he lays out in detail our relationship with vietnam. our history with vietnam. one of the rare times king leaves the entire text because he was an act or raider extraordinaire. he went off the script and started freestyle in the i have a dream stuff.
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it was good as script unlike some people who use the teleprompter for everything they say. he gave a speech beyond vietnam the greatest purveyor of violence, and the triple threat facing our democracy, that triple threat, racism, poverty and militarism and ironically 50 years later triple threat facing the country as we face now, racism, poverty and militarism. king was right. he called america the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, the next day everything and everybody turned on him. the media turned on him. i don't mean fox news the one on around them. the liberal media, new york times, washington post, time magazine, the media turned on him and the white house turned on him. he and johnson work together to pass the voting rights act and civil rights act, debate as we are sitting here now about how johnson is portrayed in this movie, but he and johnson work
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together to pass the seminal piece of legislation. the white house turned against him for being so aggressive against the president and his war on vietnam and last poll, nearly three quarters of the american people thought he was irrelevant. in black america is almost 60% of black folks thought he was irrelevant and i don't just mean black folk, but the naacp comes out against him. ralph bunche another nobel laureate peace prize lawyer comes out against him. i can even quote on c-span what thurgood marshall, supreme court justice thurgood marshall said about dr. king, what he felt about in during that era. everyone turns on him, the media, the white house, white coat, black folk, he is talking
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about racism and poverty and militarism and nobody wants to hear that. they turn their backs on him, he dies broken the last year of his life he can't get a book deal, can't get a paid speech he is a invited to the white house and black churches. this is the last mile of the way that king has to walk by himself so when martin takes the bull and a year later, same day, killed april 4th, 1968. when he is killed on that balcony he believes and dies imagine this, martin dies believing everything and everybody has turned on him. the tide shifted against him. five decades later marvin was right and everybody else was wrong but that is not the way he thought about it. >> host: another tweet for you, research and writing "death of a king: the real story of martin luther king, jr.'s final year" what was one thing you learned about dr. king that he did not know before?
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>> guest: king has three brilliant historians who did heavy lifting to bring us his life and legacy. "death of a king: the real story of martin luther king, jr.'s final year" which is the first and only book focused just on the last year of his life, no book focuses just on april 4th, 1967 that last year was like -- there's nothing we don't know but david french and claiborne carson i can't say their names enough. without them doing heavy lifting the story of king's life would not be known. but the things that most surprised me it is remarkable to consider caned has all this hell and hate coming at him. mr. harrison is on the fbi payroll. the photographers shooting him on the fbi payroll. i could go on.
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she is catching hell from the outside, being spied on and abandoned from the inside by his own people and never in all the hours and hours of audio tape and surveillance tape they have on dr. king not one time did we ever hear king contesting the humanity of any other human being. not demonizing, not denigrating it is remarkable for somebody to be in fused, filled with that kind of love. we live in a world where so many people are not as advertised. i shudder to think what they might have heard me saying on the surveillance 24/7. to know that they have all this take and who he was to us, who he was in public was the same person he was in private. that is not to say he was a perfect seventh. i am clear in the book "death of
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a king: the real story of martin luther king, jr.'s final year" about his personal failings which he was a public servant, not a perfect servant but his work and what is his message of love is concerned, marvin was consistent all the way through, a beautiful thing five decades later to discover that this person was a you thought he was. >> host: welcome to booktv on c-span2. this is our in-depth program. every month one author's body of work three hours and your phone calls tweets and comments 202 with the area could you would like to talk to tavis smiley 748-8200 in the east and central time zones, 748, 8201 a few live out west. you can dial in and we will take those calls in a minute. you can also make a comment on our face book page you can send us an e-mail can you can make a comment on twitter@booktv is our twitter handle.
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tavis smiley is the author of at least 15 books. he has also edited several more. here is a real quick run through of his books. "just a thought: the smiley report" came at a 1993. "hard left: straight talk about the wrongs of the right" smiley on the tom joyner morning show" show" 1998, believe--and make a difference" love, courage, healing, and hope from black america" smiley on the tom joyner show 2002-2003," "never mind success...go for greatness: the best advice i ever received" came out in 2006. his autobiography "what i know for sure: my story of growing up in america" also came out in 2006. "unaccountable: making america as good as its promise" which we discussed, 2009 "fail up: 20
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lessons on building success from failure" came out three years ago. "too important to fail: saving america's boys" also came out three years "the rich and the rest of us: a poverty manifesto" 2012. "death of a king: the real story of martin luther king, jr.'s final year" came out this year and coming out next year or this year my journey with my. >> guest: that is my at n jell-o n g on tavis smiley, we were sitting on the couch together holding hands. she invited me on a trip to ghana. we went for a couple weeks and i can't begin to tell you how been that into her world as a young 20 something fundamentally
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changed my life. maya angelo was the first world-class intellectual. cornell west is different, you mentioned was co-authored with him but long before i am at cornell west, another cornell west intellectual, i knew maya angelo, she welcomed me to her world and she became a surrogate mother to me and i became one of germany's sun is. the book -- it is the . the book -- it is theons . the book -- it is the. the book -- it is the mother/son relationship. i have more public conversations with maya angelo than anybody on my public radio programs. the meal she cooked for me, the things she taught me, the things she exposed me to and fact that
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this world-class intellectual would let me disagree with her and have my point of view, i am raised in a very strict pentecostal buy the book religious family, one of ten kids and a lot of discipline and strict rules in that family. i was taught in my family, to listen, my point of view was not always bad when i was a kid. the rules were very different. imagine being exposed to someone like maya angelo who welcomes me and wants to hear my point of view. this is an adult like my grandmother who doesn't mind pushing back on her hand we had some disagreements and this book talks about the good times and they are almost all good times but also the disagreements we had.
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we disagree on clarence thomas when he was nominated for the supreme court. we disagree on a number of issues. emerson things she starred in that we disagreed about. when barack obama was running for president she started by supporting hillary clinton. we recall her giving a wonderful speech on the pulse of morning, very close to the clintons she supported hillary when hillary first ran. hillary ran in 2008 and after the real loss she supported barack obama and the obama campaign at one point was getting a little testy about my holding them accountable so they played the trump card. they had a "my journey with maya" -- they had maya angelo call me and you will read about what she said and the back-and-forth we had on barack obama and every shoes. that comes out on april 7th. >> host: tavis smiley, how did you as a twentysomething get to
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know maya angelo. >> guest: i had a couple friends who knew her. dr. julien mallow staying for dinner when i was in town. >> host: had been on this program. >> guest: i was close to dr. mel lower and dr. ruth love was the superintendent of schools in chicago big-time schools superintendent, also a different for maya angelo and i got connected to dr. mellow and dr. love and went on this trip to africa. >> host: where did you go to college? >> guest: i was born in mississippi in gulfport on the gulf coast and my mother is from mississippi my father from georgia and that air force base. my mother lives in mississippi, and we got transferred to
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indiana and four of them brought in the family and ten kids in the family eight was an two girls and they were so large after my mother's sister was murdered, took in four kids so we became ten of us. they came to live with us. had a family with ten kids and became an economic hardship moving around like they do of the military families but we didn't move around very much. all of us were there earlier last year. and first-time ever that all of them came out and that was the one time all of my siblings, my mom, my dad, a great moment in my life. >> host: "what i know for sure: my story of growing up in
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america" you dedicate to phyllis. >> a moment ago, what i mentioned earlier in answered your question when i was 12 my sister phyllis and myself were in that situation so both of us were accused of something we hadn't done. the minister of our church got it wrong. i don't want to call him a liar. i don't feel comfortable doing that but he was wrong in his assessment of what we were accused of having done so he got in front of the entire church, stands in front of the congregation and chastises my sister and me and goes in on my parents, in front of the entire church. it was those surreal, as an adult, in front of the
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congregation's ranges two kids of doing something, the point is an embarrassment to my family and in the church, lost his temper and at the meetings of our lives and right above the show in a brown suit, phyllis and i with the two got in trouble that day. we were in the hospital at the same in time and i love all my siblings but we shared that sort of tragic moment together and we are in the hospital recovering together and as i mentioned in the book because the incident was so heinous my father got arrested and we had to go to court. it was an ugly situation and we were taken out of our family and sent to two different foster homes. after being alerted for a few
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months i was upset hated my parents for what had happened, hated my dad for what he did, hated my mom for not stopping him and all these years later we got through that and a wonderful, loving family. we got through that but i hated my parents thought i missed my brothers and sisters. i really missed them. of foster family i was staying with live close enough to my house that i could see that in the field playing as i drove past in the car with my foster family. i could see my siblings in the field crying and i would cry so after a few months i asked the court to let me go back to my family and figure out how i was going to navigate through they hate and i had stored up in me. i figured that out over time and with brothers and sisters i missed the most, my sister phyllis when to another foster family and never came back so at the age of 12 what los angeles.
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her foster family lived much farther away so i didn't see phyllis much until we got out of high school and reconnected and that incident sent my life in one direction but sent her life in another. for me, when i got introduced to dr. king and allowed me to see there was a role for me to play in the world and i didn't figure that out until years later i met maya angelo and figured out i had to find my own voice, my own way in the world. maya angelo said to me we find our path by walking it. king lets me know there was a calling for me in the world. maya angelo helped me figure out what that calling is. phyllis on the other hand had her spirit broken, it broke her spirit and she became crack addict and had kids out of
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wedlock and had a difficult life for a lot of years. i am happy to report that while it took a long time a lot of rehab work and money she went to nursing school and graduated but it took a long time for her to turn that corner and i always felt a particular peculiar love for her so i dedicated that to the list. >> host: is she sober today? >> guest: she is sober and doing fine and watching now. >> host: "fail up: 20 lessons on building success from failure" what were daily events for most of the students were revelations for me. i was amazed at my first trip to a movie theater nor will i ever forget the movie i saw, live on the sunset strip or its star richard pryor. >> guest: strict pentecostal family and in my church we were forbidden to go to movies, forbidden to listen to secular music.
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i couldn't miss and to the jackson 5 or the other stars of the day that i wanted to hear. we couldn't go to movies. we couldn't play sports. was a very strict pentecostal upbringing. it wasn't until i got to college that i experienced things most people do every day. i remember first time i walked into a movie theater in indiana univ. i didn't know how to go to buy the ticket, i was too in paris to tell my friends i had never gone to a movie theater so i went by myself and was a surprise to walk in and see popcorn and other chains, walked in the movie theater and sit in a nice plus agreed with the big screen and see richard pryor live on the sunset strip and my first movie with foul language and many. i have come to appreciate it all these years later even more so than dr. king. richard pryor is the freest black man i have ever known.
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he was a black man that was free enough to speak and to live, just free, just a free black man. i always aspired to be as free as i can be and freedom by any other definition is the freedom to tell the truth and when you can tell foretelling you got to be a free black man or a free white man or free anybody and be willing to speak the truth and whatever consequences you deal with it and that is the ultimate freedom. the second movie i saw was purple rain with prince. never had a chance to experience those things until i got to college. >> host: the death of denver smith galvanize the black student population. >> i was 12, learning everything i can about dr. king. i read everything i could get my hands on. i went to every library for
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miles around, anything about king i was soaking up like a sponge, so much so that when i got to high school i was on the speech team and everywhere i went for four years on the speech team i would win all be speaking contests and rotary contests and i was always delivering a speeches and having a lot of fun sharing king's message. i had came in my spirit but i hadn't been tested as to whether or not i could show that kind of love and compassion and step out front when the truth needed to be told in a difficult situation. it is one thing to have him bob dahl that and another to step out and beat on those kinds of principles. my friend denver smith on the football team was shot and killed black denver smith was shot and killed by white cops.
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an unarmed black man killed by white cops. this happened in college. i know this eric garner story and mike brown and trayvon martin, i lived this when i was a sophomore and my friend denver smith was killed and so we galvanized ourselves as student leaders around the killing of denver smith and couldn't accept that denver had been shot and an inordinate number of times in his back and yet the police said they shot him in self-defense. how do you shoot somebody in self-defense in the back and he is unarmed? it was a difficult situation for me to lose a friend and be tested in that way. danvers' smith everyone has those moments. hope is not for those watching the death of a friend but every one of us has those moments with courage and conviction and commitment and character are
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going to be tested and i hope in those moments that i will always be ready. it was the first time i was confronted with how to handle a crisis and these principles of love and nonviolence and protest and pressure. how do you use the stuff you have been reading and reciting in the speeches? it will be tested as a student leader at indiana university. and from time to time i stayed in touch with them and he was married at a young age and had a daughter who was i have seen over is the years a moment of deep sorrow when on this young kid. >> host: tavis smiley, what year did you graduate? >> guest: 82 or 86. in my senior year at indiana i left to go to when internship with tom brantley, the mayor of los angeles.
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i want to finish my degree. i tell in one of my books, went to indiana university 82-86 and finished in '86 when i say i finished i left indiana university a couple credits short of my degree and the long story very short i keep saying that, trying to make the most of my time here the story is, this is one of the 20 mistakes i made in my life, in my senior year at indiana, i got into a dispute with one of my professors and the dispute was so serious that the dean of my school had to settle the dispute. that dean settle the dispute in my favor but suggested to me that might be wise to leave this particular class and go to another session. the other professor is teaching the same class. i had a feeling this would be
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fraught with so much tension the rest of the semester because this incident happened early on. if you go to another class right now, you can graduate, you don't got to see her. mindful arrogant narcissistic self at the time said no, no, no, no, it was her mistake, i was right, she was wrong, she had not run me out of this class. i have no excuse, and i flunked. my last semester at indiana i didn't go to class, didn't study wasn't playing the tension i flunked that class. at the end of the semester, the sad part, i shouldn't even tell the story is so embarrassing. the sad part is if you don't already -- [laughter] -- the thing about this story is this
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is a pass/fail class. how do you fail of class -- it is pass or fail? i was so bad in that class, this, that and the other, i am not getting an f in the class so trying to prepare for the last exam and i really really really aced this last exam. i got to get close to 100 on this exam. i am trying real hard. i do horrible on the exam as you can imagine this lower than the same teacher i have gone into with and went to the dene and screamed and got her in trouble is the same professor i had to go back to end date her somehow to give me an opportunity to get a passing grade to get out of this class and graduate from indiana and she looked at me
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with that gesture cat grin, tavis smiley, the semester is over a you are back in here asking me to help you when you've failed in this class? okay. she just laughed at me and i knew what that meant. i had been offered a job went to in turn, went back to indiana for my degree, got in trouble in the last semester of school, got a job waiting for me and los angeles and so i had to make a decision, do i stay another semester, take the class all over again, without going to l.a. or take the job i had been offered. i went to l.a. took the job. i can say i never lied about having my degree because they knew i was going back to finish up so -- did you graduate? the truth of the matter is years went by before i finally got back and finished that course to get my degree. it was funny because so many
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years had passed by the time i finished the course and got my degree, two years later an honorary doctorate degree. they were not going to do that until i finish that one course. they wanted my broadcast to read the way and all that stuff but they wanted me to pass this course. i had to buckle down, finish the course as an adult. it was a funny story. >> host: there was a counselor there -- >> guest: accounts look, if she is watching on television, she is a good friend of mine. i was out of indiana so long, my career took off, i was off and running and i had forgotten about it. what is ironic about it because i'm the oldest of all these kids i had brothers and sisters who i put through college, i worked really hard. i had a brother graduated from
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morehouse, one from hampton and one from indiana, and was paying to send my brothers and sisters to college to graduate so my siblings who were younger and me technically got their college degrees before i did. i have a counselor in the indiana who called me every year to set you have to finish this course. you have me every. she knew imus that close to finishing this the green and every year she recalled me and said it is a new school year, are you going to take this class by correspondence? i can arrange you to take it. it is a correspondence class, one class. called me every year and hounded me to take that class. year 1 went by, your 2, 3, 4, 5 7 years went by and one year she called me as i wrote about in one of the books and said i am retiring at the end of this year and i am not going to retire until you finish this course. it hit me so hard that she loved me enough to call me -- i am in
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los angeles, she is a counselor in my school in indiana university 3,000 miles away and every year she would call me to hound me to finish what i started and remind me so often of my grandmother we call big mama who used to say to meet once a task you have first begun, never finished until it is done. these labor great or small, do it well or not at all. i could hear my grandmother in the back of my head at that point reminding me you got to finish what you started. called me every single year. it was powerful for me because in my life, this shouldn't matter but i want to make the point quickly. in my life there have been two people who expected more out of me than i expected of myself. both of them interestingly and ironically happened to be white women. my second grade teacher lyle lovett dedicated one of my books to mrs. vera graft, my second grade teacher died in to her
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90s. my second grade teachers did me in class i was the only black kid in indiana, the only black in an all white class and she would not tolerate me giving up. there was something about being the only black in the class that made me feel inferior. that was my own internal iced inferiority. she read that and said to me, i could hear her in my ear right now, i expect as much out of you as anybody else in this class envy you, young man, are going to have to quit quitting. you have to quit quitting, you are quitting on me. i know you are capable of doing this. this is a white woman in second grade who expected as much of me as anybody else in the class. fast-forward years later college, mrs. dorothy calling me in l. a s a new have got to finish this degree. there are number of stories, but it was important for me to share that part of the story.
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>> host: and on. i apologize. you brought up in big mama. a chapter of "what i know for sure: my story of growing up in america," i was on television debating jack kemp. a former buffalo bills quarterback who relishes verbal combat. i do too so our exchange was sharp and caustic. as our heated dialogue went unbuild big mama mia way to the kitchen where my mother was watching on tv. oh my god, we got to get in the car and get tavis smiley before they come after him. my grandmother was afraid. >> guest: when she was in that kitchen and saw me on television, she died in her 90s born and raised in mississippi at the height of segregation. she walked into the kitchen and saw her grandson on television
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says think a white man. she didn't understand that i was being paid to have this debate with jack kemp on national television. i was a commentator, he was a commentator, i am getting paid to do this but she saw me on tv sass' mr. channell white man, one of the funniest stories of my life. my mother called me and said when you get this message please call home. my grandmother was taking this so seriously and my mother wanted me to call home the minute i got off the tv set to let her know, to talk to my grandmother to let her know i was so cash because she was not going to stop crying and screaming and declaring they going to kill me for sass'ing
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this white man. this is my grandmother's experience, this is the dark side of america so she is scared to death that this is going to get me killed. you once my mother to get in the car and drive to d.c. to come get me and stop me from sass'ing jack kemp but i of jack kemp. with a great guy. >> host: from your 2000 book "doing what's right: how to fight for what you believe--and make a difference" are you ready to raise a stink, get on the front lines, as opposed to helping out in a more support role, you will be operating on the cutting edge of change, you must be willing to step outside the box, be willing to holler to be heard. let's go to calls for tavis smiley, our author for this month. baltimore, thanks for holding. you are on the air with tavis smiley on booktv. >> caller: i have been a fan of yours for i can or 15 years.
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i love your work. you have done excellent. i was in school and heard you were coming to washington, that is my school. just to be with you, to sign a book for my daughter. i was disappointed, what you have done for the president. like you, engage mr. obama, mrs. clinton during that time. overtime, over the time we came to the conclusion that barack obama is the president of the united states. he cannot -- barack obama -- the committee against black young men. i am from africa. i was home from africa but i
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went to school -- in support of mr. mccain. >> host: i think we got your point. let's get an answer. >> guest: i am not against barack obama. primarily i believed supporting him politically, socially economically and culturally. this progressive possibility, i am not against him. hit and all our leaders accountable, to the life of responsibility. and accountability for their people but it is about polling people accountable. i am not against barack obama. >> host: john is in las vegas.
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>> caller: happy new year. congratulations on your well earned and deserved success, since you mentioned in your book "death of a king: the real story of martin luther king, jr.'s final year" the fbi's and eddie and infiltration of martin luther king and j. edgar hoover reese referred to him as zero. a two or two part question. i will start with what are your thoughts about correcting's civil case against the federal government, and excellently researched book code name is laura which became death in memphis and after her successful case against the fbi why did not thousands and thousands of blocks take to the streets in protest away from the sad case of mr. garland. and finally probably the most
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successful entertainer, political activist who was black in this country was paul robeson. why is it that very successful blacks like spike lee -- are not funded a movie about paul robeson. >> guest: two quick answers. with regard to your question about mr. king and dick gregory and others who have done a lot of work on the assassination of dr. king, it is not about the assassination. to april 4th, 1968, that is where the book ends, there's a powerful epilogue that you enjoy reading. but the book doesn't cover the assassination but since you asked about it i do not believe james earl ray act alone in the killing of dr. king. i do believe our government was conflict in the killing of dr. king. i will leave it at that.
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as for paul robeson, i don't know what spike has on his docket or any other director who could do that but i will tell you this. i concur with you wholeheartedly paul robeson made very well be the most underappreciate it american we have ever known. as much as i say dr. king is the greatest american we ever produced. .. believe paul robeson is most underappreciate, undervalued americans ever. we were talking about my 28 year friendship with maya angelou my book coming out my journey with maya coming out later this year, i think she is america's most renaissance woman in black. i challenge you to think about this with me. i can't think of another black woman who has been more after renaissance woman than maya angelou. done some different things, done them well. a lot of great black females but i don't know anybody more a
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renaissance american woman in history than maya angelou. i feel same way about paul robeson. those would be my persons ultimate renaissance persons male and female. we'll see what people think about that, peter. >> host: carol from memphis emails, what are your thoughts about the movie "selma"? >> guest: i saw it a couple weeks ago. it was a good movie. i enjoyed the movie. i'm a big chagrined and a bit concerned about all of the pushback that is the movie is now starting to get. just this morning i appeared on this week on abc while here in town. i got off the air flipping channels and caught a good conversation that my friend bob schieffer had on "face the nation" this morning about the movie, "selma" and how it portrays lyndon johnson. joseph califano, written a piece, head of lbj museum in
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texas written a lot. a lot of people, front page of "new york times" a few days ago big article in the washington post few days ago. there is a lot of media attention, social media attention, print media attention, being given to whether or not the movie portrays lbj as he ought be portrayed. i sense now there are people coming at this movie awfully hard now. they're going to do what they can to make it difficult for this movie to gain any traction and difficult for this movie to win any awards, even though its director is already regarded now, already now in the history books as first black woman to be nominated for a best director award for the golden globes and may be nominated for academy awards. this fight is going to continue for the next few weeks as we get into the awards season about whether or not the picture accurately portrayed depicts what happened around the voting rights act and sell past let me say this very quickly. in hollywood where i live in l.a. movies always take
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license. they do it all the time number one. so this is not the first movie to do it. i loved "selma" just like i lovered "lincoln." i one critique of mr. spielberg. when you see the movielink con talk about historical accuracy the movie find lincoln fighting to save the union and it finds lincoln on the right side of the slavery question but any of us who know our history know that abraham lincoln started out on the wrong side of the slavery question. he was wrong bit initially. frederick douglass helped get him right on this issue. lincoln starts out wrong on slavery and eventually gets to the right position and does the right thing to save the union. but that movie never ever pointed out that lincoln initially was wrong on slavery. that is major major fact i wish they put in "link conn." we -- "lincoln."
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we can tee debate the historical license of "selma" that it needs to tell. i hope we don't treat it differently other movies that took same kind ever license to tell the story. >> host: joseph, a delphi, maryland. good afternoon to you sir. >> caller: good day. mr. smiley, how are >> caller: i have to give you a couple references. i hope you read them on the air sometime, a book called -- [inaudible]ught for the president and his daughters, it's a nuclear primer on all the issues of nuclear weapons and power.eopl ten million people died in congo from uranium just recently and it's not over yet. that was a war uranium where we got our first uranium for our first nuclear weapons.apon >> guest: okay. >> caller: i hope you read thest:
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nuremberg principles on the air written by the a world's greatesterat generation a world war ii veteran. there's currently a -- [inaudible] highest law in the land -- -- >> host: joseph, where are we going withos this? wit did you have a question or just some recommendations? >> guest: and obama signature. i'm all for president obama and what he's doing, i voted for him, and i hope we -- >> host: all right. i that's joseph in maryland.>> >> guest: for my reading list, i appreciate it, thank you. i >> host: john, please go ahead with your question or comment for tavis smiley. >> caller: good afternoon. tavis, can you hear me? >> guest: i hear you well. how are you sir? >> caller: i'm fine, thank you. i have two or three quick comments. first, i want to tell you, and i'm being sincere, on my littlegh table right from thissen telephone here i made of your whe appearance on booktv where your gave about an hour lecture to op your book about -- about your book on dr. king.
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>> host: lorraine motel in memphis. fam >> caller: right. i made a tape of that, i'm goingthat to send it to my brother. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: because it is, the and book and, of course obviously obviously his life. but that one hour speech that you gave that lecture that youery, gave was very very helpful and very inspiring. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: now, in saying that i . want to plant a seed with you. first of all i'm a beneficiary of obamacare. i haven't been able to have insurance for over ten years, so we don't want to make the perfect the enemy of the good. >> guest: that's right. >> caller: but i want to make a really if i could ask you to remember anything at all nobody has more visibility in this country and nobody inspires me more than dr. west dr. cornel west and you sir. but especially dr. cornel west. if you really want to have a change in people's lives, just
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like you went a couple years ago around communities and talked about poverty, if you would take a year, you and dr. west go around, get people registered to vote nothing's going to change in this countryl until we get people to vote in this country. >> host: thank you, john in it sarasota. we will leave it there. tavis smiley. >> guest: thank you, first of all, for your kind words i appreciate it, and i couldn't agree more on the issue of voting. my concern these days is that too many fellow citizens see that our system is broken, that it is dysfunctional, that thisto town where i sit right now, washington, is bought and bossed by big money and big business.go dr. king said many years ago that the negro in the south atin the time could not vote and the negro in the north had nothingor w for which to vote. mericans now, never mind black people i think a lot of americans now feel they have not much to vote for and
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that's why the approval rating of congress so low and voter turnout is so low. people are looking for a system that they know is bankrupt. how do we establish a system that works on behalf of the american people that the american people think is worthy of being supported? now, i'm the first to tell you and admit, obviously, this is the system that we have. and so we've got to work inside this system. and so voting is clearly something that i support, but this is a broken system that we have here in washington, and so much needs to be done starting with meaningful campaign finance reform to make this system work again for the american people. and i thank you for your phone call. >> host: and that caller or referenced, john referenced tavis smiley's appearance at the rain motel in memphis this past december. if you go to, you can watch that. go up in the upper left-hand corner, and you'll see a search function. just type in tavis smiley, and you'll be able to watch that program online when you want. that caller also referenced this book "the rich and the rest of
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us: a poverty manifesto." tavis smiley and cornel west. in this book talking about race to the top education dollars. cornel west says to the secretary of education "i know you are all break dancing over this $4 billion initiative but afghanistan gets $4 billion every day." >> guest: yeah. dr. west makes a powerful point in this book that we co-authored. and his point was and still is that education ought not be a race, education in america ought to be a right. and he is right about that. education ought not be a race, it ought to be a right. so i have my critiques, and dr. west has misery teaks of -- critiques of the race to the top program. the point he makes is very clear, that we put money out for the things that matter to us. we go back to dr. king's triple threat facing our democracy 50 years ago, still facing our democracy now; racism, poverty
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and demille tarrism. but the only one of those three that gets the money is demille terrorism. we won't put the money where we need to put it. one of the things i'm going to be doing a lot of year peter -- so i'm glad you raised that -- using the hashtag 2016povertydebate, one of the things i'm pushing for a lot i've already started talking about, this is my goal between now and november 2016 or fall of 2016 by the time we get to september of 2016 and the presidential debate commission sanctions those three debates that we're going to have between the two final candidates whoever they may be and as enticing and as juicy as it is for us in the media to want a bush/clinton rematch, i'm not sure it's going to turn out that way. i think there's a wonderful piece in "the new york times" today that lays out in the times in this morning why both hillary and jeb aren't going to make it. it's a fascinating read that i
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saw earlier in this morning in today's new york times. having said that i think he's right. i just don't see both of them making it to the end, but i could be wrong about that. the point is that whoever the nominees are in 2016 we need to have for the first time ever peter, in this country one of those three presidential debates to focus exclusively on the issue of poverty and income inequality. in all the research i have done, i can't find a single presidential debate ever, ever that focused for 90 minutes exclusively on the issue of poverty and income inequality. if it is as i believe it is, the defining issue of our time, why can't we have one of those three debates that focuses exclusively on poverty and income inequality? and what the next president of the united states is going to do about this issue that threatens our very democracy, an issue that is now a matter of national security. so that hashtag is hashtag 2016povertydebate, and that's my
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mission for the next year and a half, two years, how do we get one of these debates to be about the issue of poverty. >> host: where did the cornel west/tavis smiley friendship begin? >> guest: i was a kid working for tom bradley. at the time i was on loan to, speaking of dr. king, i was on loan to the southern christian leadership conference of greater los angeles. sclc, as you know is the only organization king founded in his lifetime. so i was on loan from the mayor's office to sclc l.a. to work on the very first-ever king holiday celebration in the city of l.a. so sclc was in charge of it, i was on loan from the mayor's office to help them organize this first annual king celebration in the city of l.a., and i was in the office one day, and it turns out dr. west was good friends of the executive director of that organization and he was in town and popped in to say hello to his friend who was my boss a guy named mark
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thomas who is now the most powerful black man in the state of california. he's the head he's the chair of the l.a. county board of supervisors now which makes him the most powerful black man running all of l.a. county. he was my boss then a great elected official in california now. he and dr. west were good friends, so west popped in to see him, and here he walks in. you know him when you see him; the afro, the three-piece black suit. he walks in the door and i said oh, lord -- [laughter] oh it's the big one. elizabeth. i looked up here's cornel west. i read this guy in college, this is my man! and cornel west walks in the door. and i've been asked this question many times, the person who i admire the most who is dead would be dr. king but the person for most of my life who i've admired the most is dr. west. it's not just that he's bright but he has a usable intellect. there are a lot of smart folk in the academy, but to have the kind of love and concern and care for everyday people and to
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use that intellect in service to them, you know, and dr. west and i don't always agree on everything. we're not lock step on everything. we have our own minds obviously, our own points of view. but the love he has for everyday people is palpable, and went you're in his space, that kind of jumps on you as you well know. >> >> host: paul's in alexandria, virginia. hi paul. >> caller: hi, hello. i've been a follower of tavis smiley for some time and i really like his interviewing style. but since his association with mr. west he's become more of an anarchist and a single-minded thinker and frankly -- >> host: paul, what do you mean by single-minded? what do you mean by single-minded? >> caller: he's, like, arrogant and narcissistic are his own words there which aptly describe him and always an angry man now. he's never trying to get anybody to appeal to their reason, he's
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always just overwhelming them with endless verbiage. >> guest: well, again, people are entitled to their opinions. i'm glad that my bosses at pbs don't think i'm an angry black man who is espousing hate every night. i wouldn't be on pbs for 12 years, but you're entitled to your point of view, and i'll keep working on trying to be a better man. that's my commitment every year so thank you for your critique. >> host: this is tom joyner talking about you, if i'm the hardest working man in radio tavis is the most talkative. and since he talks fast, he has more time to get more words in he can say more intelligent things in three minutes than most people can say in 30. i'm just afraid he's going to blow out his voice box. >> guest: yeah. i've done that a couple times. i've had a couple surgeries on my voicebox. it's a challenge but that's actually very -- it's a legitimate concern tom had because when you do radio or television as much as i do and as much as you do, you really do
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have to be concerned about your instrument. i love musical artists particularly, and i'm always fascinated by people who i've seen go deep into their career, and they still have their instrument. there are so many people that come to mind. tony bennett. tony bennett's like 90 years old now, and tony bennett can hit that note and hold it just like he did 40 years ago but it's how you protect the instrument you have. there's so many great artists who i feel that way about. over the years i've actually learned -- tom's joke aside -- how to manage this thing so it will take me from here to checkout. >> host: tavis smiley, you used to do kind of a state of black america, tavis smiley presents for years that we covered here on c-span. is that still happening? >> guest: it isn't at the moment, and that's a good question peter. i did it for, like, a dozen years, and it was one of the most-watched things on c-span every year. you'd tune in on a saturday in february, and all day long right here on c-span we would have the biggest and brightest minds,
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best minds in black america dissecting the issues of the day. usually a morning panel, afternoon panel and all on c-span and i'm so appreciative to c-span for the dozen years we did that of carrying it every year. the short answer is when barack obama got elected, you know, there was a different point of view about whether or not those kinds of conversations were necessary or needed. and so in truth we had one the first year that he was in office, and after that -- and, again, this is part of the critique. we're going to have a serious -- since you raised it, i'll respond. we're going to have a serious come to jesus meeting in black america, a serious come to jesus meeting when he's out of office. with all due respect to the persons who have called and offered their points of view callers have their point of view i have my point of view and then there are the facts. and these are the facts. the data is very clear and the white house can't even argue this. and they haven't tried to argue it. when barack obama is out of
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office, the day is going to indicate as it -- the data is going to indicate as it does now that black people have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category. you don't believe me? go to the kerr win institute at the ohio state university, go to the pew research data. all the data indicates right now that if his presidency ended today, the data indicates that black folk have lost ground in every leading economic indicator category. now, do i blame barack obama for all of that? no, that's not my point. my point is though that in the era of obama, his most loyal constituency has lost ground in every category. and i believe that it happened to some degree because of the deference of so-called black leaders to the white house. too many black leaders have been silenced and sidelined in the era of obama so that nobody wants to offer a critique. nobody wants to say anything. and i get some of that deference. he's got a headwind coming at him in the right.
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he's got obstructionism he's facing every single day. there's so much on his plate. they're hating on him, they're trying to kill him, secret service won't protect him like they should. i get all those debates, i'm in the barbershop, i'm part of my community. i go to black church. i get all of that. but at the end of the day, the data indicates because we have been so silent the bible that i read says you have not because you ask not. and if you don't make any demands, then you're not going to get anything. so what's happened is our hispanic brothers and sisters have taken a page out of the book that we wrote. they've taken a passenger out of our playbook -- page out of our playbook and they have been loud. you've got to put yourself in the way, you've got to get out there. you've got to make demands ring the bell, beat the drum, pick your metaphor. but you've got to find a way to be heard. and in the era of obama black people have been eerily silent, so much so that dr. king turns in his grave that black people are silent not just about poverty, but about militarism.
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how is it that we gave the world dr. king? this is our man of peace. he's a man of nonviolence. this is the guy that we regard more than anybody else in black history. and we've become silent even on the war question. this administration has used more drones than george bush did. they've killed more innocent women and children with drones than george bush did. so if i say that i'm hating on the president. i'm a hater. no, my brother or sister, these are the facts; that we have a drone program on steroids, we've not made any progress on poverty, and on the racism issue it is only when black men start getting killed in the streets that we raise up in arms about the racism that's still intractable in this country. all i'm saying is that we can never, ever surrender our right to be heard just because the guy or gal in the oval office looks like us. that can't be our strategy going forward. and, again as i said earlier great presidents have to be pushed. and you don't get anything from
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them if you don't make demands. >> host: tavis smiley, viewers out there are listening, they want to buy one book. which one book should they buy? [laughter] of yours? >> guest: i think any author probably says the most recent one with. this new album is the best album i've ever done. i've interviewed people a thousand times. i've never, ever interviewed one musical artist who didn't say this album is the best album. michael jackson was trying to tell us after thriller that the next album was -- how could that be michael? prince would tell you now this is the best album i've ever done so i guess you would say this dr. king is the best book i've ever written but it really is. all jokes aside now, this is my hero, and this book has been -- in most of the almost all of the reviews of book, they have talked about the meticulous research that we did over years to get this book right. so of all the books i've done, i'm most proud of the king book, and i would certainly hope that people if they if they want
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america to be the great nation that i think she can be, i think that's inextricably linked, that reality, to how seriously we take legacy of dr. king. and this is a story about king that most americans just don't know, and i hope that in january, a few days away from his actual birthday on the 15th and then the holiday and then black history month, i mean, and i want to put king in a black box, but now is as good a time as any to read about dr. king, so i would say "death of a king." and at finish. >> host: and at the bottom it says with david -- >> guest: he's a wonderful writer. david ritz wrote "divided soul" with marvin gaye. has a new book coming out this year with willie nelson, he's done a book with buddy guy. i just saw the "rolling stone" list the other day the "rolling stone" list of the top ten music books of the year and david rich is holding down the number three and four position. his book on aretha franklin,
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"respect," and a book with joe perry of aerosmith. those books are number three and four on the best books of the year so says "rolling stone," the definitive voice on music in this country. so he's a wonderful writer, and david's the kind of guy you go to when you have a book that needs a narrative that reads like a novel. so i don't need david on all, everything i do. but on this king book i didn't want to write a history book like branch or carson. i wanted a book about the last year of his life that reads like a movie it's like a screenplay and you can just go right through it. i needed some help making it read in that way, and david was the best person to do it, and he's a great guy. >> host: this tweet for you what is your individual writing process like? on average, how long does it take for you to complete your book? >> guest: i can do -- my researchers is the time they take is another issue. it takes a while to get research
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right, particularly for a book like "king." but when it comes to the actual writing, i've done 17 or 18 of these now i can actually do it in three or four months. what that means for me, though, is i can't do anything but my radio and tv shows. that's a lot of work in and of itself. but for three or four months i cancel -- i don't cancel, i don't accept, my office knows if i'm going into a new book for three or four months we lock the calendar down. i don't make any trips, no speeches, no appearances, no awards, no nothing. i just don't leave l.a. for three or four months, and i'm in my house or, you know, in the case of david in david's office and we're working together. but it's really three or four months. once the research is done, i can sit for three months and pretty much crank out the writing. and then once i do that i turn it into my editor and the editing process begins, and i literally down to the wire on the maya book, i literally turned it into a couple weeks before christmas to little brown. my editor has it now, so we're
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going through the edits and revisions on that just in time to get it out out for april. but usually about three months. >> host: linda, minneapolis. good afternoon. >> caller: yes, good afternoon to you too. i have a question, of course, for mr. smiley. and it, i have two questions and they relate directly to your book "death of a king," because i heard your lecture a week or so ago. you spoke how about how martin luther king went to lbj and criticized him i think, in the oval office and urged him sort of speaking truth to power. and i just wondered, i don't feel that -- i didn't get that you've said how did lbj take -- what was his response to these criticisms, if you know? and then i have one other question too. >> host: go ahead linda, and ask your question. >> caller: okay. the other question is, again relating to something you said on the lecture about the blacks
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leaders and other blacks who abandoned him who for his stance against the war in vietnam. did they -- were they really for the war in vietnam these people who abandoned him? or did they leave him for other reasons -- >> host: all right. thank you, ma'am. >> guest: two very good questions. on the lyndon johnson question i don't feel that i am adept enough or learned enough to answer in detail what johnson's response the was to king -- was to king. certainly robert caro who's done all the wonderful work on lyndon johnson's life and legacy, i would suggest you read his work to get what robert caro says about lyndon johnson the way he viewed it. my book is from king's perspective, not from johnson's, so i don't feel knowledgeable enough to answer. on your second question, i do know the deal on the second question. so many of these black leaders i
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referenced earlier by name roy wilkens of the naacp whitney young in the urban league, carl rohan, ralph bunch, thurgood marshall and others who had issue with dr. king, many of them, most of them were concerned about the damage that king was doing to their relationship, that is to say to black america's relationship with lyndon johnson. put another way lyndon johnson was viewed by many black folk at that time as the best friend that black folk in this country had had in the oval office since lincoln and the emancipation proclamation freeing the slaves. this guy passes the civil rights act, the voting rights act, you know, to say nothing of the other social programs he pushed forward. he's calling for a war on poverty. so again to most black folk johnson was the best friend we had had in the oval office since lincoln had been the president, and they did not like the fact that martin over an issue in vietnam over there, was messing
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up the relationship that black people had writ large with the president in the white house who had been our friend. and that's what their issue was. i mean, i don't know that the vietnam war was their primary concern. their primary concern as i have read the research, was that martin was going to do damage to their relationship on the domestic front that we were starting to make some progress on inside the white house. >> host: 2011, two important affairs, safing america's boys -- saving america's boys came out. we've seen the hollywood script dozens of times. insert actor of choice, meryl streep matthew perry, michelle pfeiffer. assigned to a ghetto school with dangerous, low income smart ass and obnoxious students. the benevolent, frustrated by stubborn teacher refuses to give up on these poor souls. he/she bucks the stale, bureaucratic educational system to the chagrin of supervisors. he/she helps the deprived
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students confront their inner city demons and discover their true gifts, purpose and worth. epilogue the maligned, mistreated and misunderstood educator has been vindicated. pessimistic, frowning, hard core students have been transformed into smiling, grateful, optimistic vessels of limitless possibilities. cue the sentimental music, roll the critics -- credits or, fade to black. >> guest: we've all seen that movie, and that's not how it works most of the time. it works in hollywood, where i live in l.a., it sell tickets but it doesn't quite work that way in real life. so this book "too important to fail," was a companion text to a pbs special that i did by the same name, "too important to fail." and i cared so much then and now about the subject matter that it was the first series that i did for pbs for which i did a companion text. my friend ken burns does this all the time, always a companion text with his documentary work.
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i was very pleased with the results. the special was received well, the book did remarkably well. but the reality is and this is, again, another conversation for another time but the majority of black boys in this country are being taught every day by white women in classrooms. now, that raises all kinds of questions. and before you miss my point, i am not demonizing white women in the classroom. i said earlier two of my best friends in the world were two white women who looked out for me. that's not my point. but there are all kinds of questions it raises, cultural and political and economic questions. all kinds of questions it raises about what it means that our black boys in the most multicolored and multiracial multiethnic america in history are being taught by white teachers. are they prepared to handle these black boys? are these black boys being assigned to read material where they see themselves in the material? these black boys and research
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points this out as you'll see in the book if these black boys don't develop a love of reading by the second or third grade, they're lost. so many of the boys that research has been done on shows that because they don't ever see themselves in the narrative, they don't develop a love of reading. you love to read i love to read, but i like to read a certain kind of book. you like to -- only brian lamb reads everything. but we like to read certain kinds of books. so these boys are no different. there are all kinds of issues that were raised in that special for the betterment of the school system and for the betterment of these boys who are stuck in this public education system that in many ways is not working for them. that's, again, one of my passion projects. i still do a lot of work with black boys. and i just, i have seven younger brothers. so this is something that comes natural for me. it's not just something i do because i'm on tv. i have seven younger brothers and now thanks to those seven brothers and two sisters, i have 31 nieces and nephews, many of
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whom are black boys. so this is something i live every day even in my own family. >> host: neville is in cleveland. you're on booktv with tavis smiley. >> caller: um, mr. smiley, i would like to ask you to make a comment on the contribution of people from the caribbean to american society. i think of the fact that people like colin powell and eric holder have backgrounds from the caribbean, harry belafonte stokely carmichael marcus garvey. and at the other end rihanna, nicki minaj from the caribbean. would you care -- >> host: neville, where are you from? >> caller: i'm from guyana in south america. >> host: thank you sir. >> guest: i think you just commented, and i couldn't agree were more. that's what's so beautiful about this country and this is worth
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remembering as we have this debate this pseudo-debate in the next few weeks and months and now with the republicans controlling both houses of congress, where is this immigration debate going to go? obviously, conservatives and others in this town think the president, you know, has rubbed their nose in this immigration debate and has really, you know gone beyond the pale when he used his executive privilege to do what he did on the issue of immigration reform. they didn't like that, as we all know, and you've seen that covered here on c-span. but it's worth remembering that this country is a country built on immigrants. and it's also worth remembering that all these immigrants aren't mexicans, you know? there are all kinds of persons cocome to this -- who come to this country and make grand contributions. i think sometimes we lose sight of that, that this country so great because people around the world have come here to make this country a great nation. this is a beautiful mosaic that we call america, and so often we have these kinds of debates about us versus them, and it just doesn't make much sense to
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me. >> host: every guest we have here on "in depth," we ask him or her for what they're reading currently, some of their favorites, some of their influences. here's a look at what tavis smiley ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ booktv's web site, >> host: tavis smiley, you list jesus christ and paul robison, two of your influences. >> guest: yeah. that's quite a pair, isn't it? [laughter] i was raised in a church as i mentioned earlier pentacostal church, and i've said for all of my life that i call them the
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three fs, the things that mean the most to me, faith family and friends in that order. i wrote a book called "keeping the faith," i close my show on pbs by saying thanks for watching i'm tavis smiley, keep the faith. i'm always trying to remind people that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. that's what faith and hope really are, the evidence of things hoped for -- the hope of things, but even when you don't have the evidence to see how things are going to work out it's always possible. i make a distinction all the time, and here's why i say "keep the faith" all the time i make a distinction between optimism and hope. optimism suggests there's a particular set of facts circumstances or conditions, optimism suggests there's something you can see feel or touch that gives you reason to believe things are going to get better, and that's not where i live most of the time. hope, on the other hand, says even when you can't see the next step in the dark stair welshing
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you take that step -- well, you take that step believing that it's going to be there. you can, in fact, build a whole life on hope. so hope and faith are terribly important to me. that comes from my abiding faith, and i thank my mother and father for introducing me to that. every one of us who happens to be a believer, i didn't come here to prosthelytize, but every one of us has to have something to believe in. and for me personally there are just moments in my life when -- but i don't have all the answers, and i can't see my way through and don't know how it's going to work out. and for me my abiding faith is terribly important. so paul robeson, who you mentioned a moment ago, we talked about that earlier with one of the callers, paul robeson was a truth teller and never shied away from speaking the truth. and they did everything they could to destroy paul robeson. i mean, literally. the story of paul robeson is one that just sends shivers down my
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spine every time i consider it. and i've been fortunate over the course of my life to be friends with two very important people very close to me. i have lunch with them fairly regularly because he lives in l.a. and the other i never go to new york he doesn't come to l.a. without us getting together. and the two of them are good can friends, and both of them are from the islands, sydney poitier -- studyny poitier and harry belafonte. i only raise that not to drop these name but i only raise it because you cannot talk to sidney poitier for five minutes without him raising his teacher paul robeson. and you cannot talk to harry belafonte for, like, two and a half minutes without belafonte raising the name of paul robeson. so aside from the history books and all all the stuff i've read or seen about paul robeson i feel like for at least 25 years sitting at poitier and
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belafonte's feet, i've come to here firsthand and know so much about this man paul robeson courtesy of poitier and belafonte. >> host: you mentioned earlier, mr. smiley, that you attend a black church. >> guest: uh-huh. >> host: what does that mean, a black church, and do you care to tell which one? >> guest: yeah. i grew up in a little church in indiana called new bethel tabernacle a little small church. and i loved growing up in a little, small church. couple hundred people, on a good sunday. but i loved growing up in a small church that was very familial. in l.a. for most of my life in l.a. have gone to a much larger church, the city of refuge. my former minister passed away, and when the new minister came in we moved to a new facility kind of changed the name to city of refuge, but that's where i spent most of my youth. i've only been to two churches, one in indiana one in
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california. i don't do a lot of moving around pretty stable guy. they're both pentacostal tradition. and again, as i've grown older, there are things even in my own teaching that i have issue with from time to time. i sometimes feel for catholics who, you know are always wrestling with church doctrine and this and that and the other. i don't have those kinds of consternations, but i you know i have had the experience of growing older and coming out of a very strict church environment like, you know if i were still true to the church i grew up in, i couldn't go to the movies or to a ball game. i think some of those things takes this sufficient a little -- this stuff a little too far, and i think these are manmade rules and not necessarily god's rules for our live. so my faith is still always has been and always will be the most important thing in my entire life. >> host: your book "keeping the faith," you open by saying this is a book about black love. >> guest: yeah. i wrote that book specifically because we don't hear just you saying that phrase hit me.
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how often do we hear the phrase "black love"? say that again on c-span. "black love." black love. we hear about black-on-black crime, we hear about the black-on-black stats for the achievement gap. we hear about black this and black that. but how often do you hear -- black president. but even when you talk about the black president we don't ever get to a conversation about the black love that's exhibited this that family with michelle and sasha and measuring ali -- malia. i live again as i said earlier in los angeles. when's the last time you saw a movie about black love? there's a movie that was out this year "beyond the lights" same sister who did the movie "love and basketball" some years ago. wonderful film about the power and the beauty of black love. and it couldn't really get off the ground. so there's something about the
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nation, about our psyche, about our expectation that doesn't allow us to revel in black love. and so i wanted to do a book about the power of black love. so this book "keeping the faith" is about the love that african-americans specifically have been the beneficiaries of that got them through all kinds of difficult situations and got them out of rock in hard places and got them through all kinds of test and trials and tribulations. the whole book is about the power of love to pull you through any situation that you go through. >> host: let's go back to calls. david is in memphis. david, this is "in depth" on booktv, and you're talking with tavis smiley. >> caller: great. mr. smiley, i want you to know that you and brother cornel west are a great light on the hill and you must continue to use
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your platform to educate the world. i love you. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: for what you have done. you're not afraid to tell the truth, and that's -- this is what we're supposed to do. so my office is going to call you. i love you brother. >> guest: thank you, i appreciate it. >> caller: i've got the word with you. god bless you. >> guest: thank you, thank you. see, that's black love. [laughter] every mow and then you can get -- every now and then you can get some of that. it's nice to get a little love on c-span every night. >> host: is in harrisburg or, pennsylvania. hi lance. >> caller: hello. >> guest: hey, lance. >> caller: hello? >> guest: hello. >> caller: hey, thank you guys for taking my call. mr. smiley, i just want to tell you i appreciate definitely appreciate the work that you do. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: don't always necessarily agree concern. >> guest: that's okay. >> caller: -- but definitely appreciate your approach and everything. i'm a 48-year-old african-american male. i own a barbershop, and my clientele is probably 40% white,
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40% black and another 20% other. and lately here with the controversies going on with the police in the news and everything, we've been having some really great conversations. and i just wanted maybe some suggestions for you on how to approach and facilitate the conversation without looking like the angry black male and driving my clientele away and losing money. >> guest: yeah. first of all -- >> host: lance, before mr. smiley answers, do you get different points of view from your white clientele and your black clientele? is it pretty consistent? >> guest: yes. yeah, it is. people meet in here that wouldn't normally talk or meet because you have a half hour, 45 minutes to an hour that normally they wouldn't meet and engage one another on the street or wherever else. i have a platform that i'm able to do that and i want to be even-handed and not too, you know, like i said seem to come off angry although i'm very passionate about it. >> guest: first of all, i celebrate the barbershop, i just
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want to say first of all. i love the barbershop. i'm fortunate often times the barber will come to me, i love and make it a point as regularly as i can to go into the barbershop because there ain't in place in america like the black barbershop, the conversations, the relationships. and i'm just struck by you saying your shop is 40% black 40% white. that's a beautiful thing. barbershops are where these kinds of conversations can be fruitful. so i'm just excited to know that you've got a shop that's that sort of integrated and you can have these kinds of cross-cultural conversations. i think that's a beautiful thing. so much of what's wrong with our country is we're so often engaged in monologue that we don't ever have enough dialogue. too much monologue in america not enough dialogue so i'm glad you are a place that can facilitate that kind of dialogue. to your question specifically lance, about what i would suggest, and i say this with all humility, i think the ultimate question here, the ultimate issue that we have to get to on these issues that you raised is
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the issue of humanity. the humanity and the dignity that all life must be afforded. that's the bottom line. so much of what we deal with in our daily lives even with these police shootings to me is not as much about black and white as it is about wrong and right and why we seem not to have the kind of respect for the humanity and the dignity of all of our fellow citizens. my point very sum my is whenever -- simply is whenever you are engaged in a conversation, and i offer this as humbly as i can, if you can get the conversation on the terrain of humanity, it changes everybody's points of view. if it's about race or it's about class, you know, or anything, any other extraneous factor then the conversation will go a thousand different directions, and there's nothing wrong with that. it's good to have different conversations, we can hear even's point of view. but if you can ever get the conversation to center on the dignity and the humanity of whomever is in question then
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the conversation puts everybody on front street when you when you circle around to that. so that's my advice hope that helps, and one day i'd like to come hang out at your barbershop. >> host: tavis smiley, he used the grade "angry black man," is that something he should avoid? >> guest: i've been called that a few times including a couple times on this program today i've been called an angry black man by one of our callers. that's par for the course. i used to get upset put it another way i used to get angry when i was referred to as an angry black man, and now it rolls off my back like water off a duck's back because when people call me angry, if by calling me an angry black man what they mean is that they sense and feel from me and receive from me a righteous indignation, there's -- isaac hayes once said i stand accused. i'm guilty as charged. if you if you regard me as an angry black man but what you're talking about is a righteous indignation, i stand accused of
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that. there are things about which i am righteously indig in a minute, things about which i am angry and quite frankly, i don't think -- how might i put this peter, i don't think we ever come into the fullness of our own humanity if we can't revel in the humanity and the dig any -- dignity, as i said a moment ago, of every other fellow citizen. and there's no way that you can live in this country and be blind to the injustices the indignities, the contestation of too many fellow citizens' humanity and just look the other way. there are too many people in this country whose humanity is being contested every single day. by any other by any other name, you know homophobia is the contestation of somebody's humanity. ageism is the contestation of somebody's humanity. sexism and patriarchy is the contestation of somebody's humanity, and i don't think you come into your own humanity in full or in toto if you can't real and celebrate the humanity of other people.
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so for me, there are a lot of things i'm righteously indignant about, and if you call me an angry man and think i'm mad about x y or z, then again, as i said, i stand accused. >> host: tim in los angeles hi, tim. >> caller: hey, how you doing? thank you. the reason i'm calling is because recently you guys mentioned the education in america, and i just wanted to know if mr. tavis smiley could comment on what could be done to improve the situation for our young black men and women growing up in america and going to school and this to whole thing. that was all. >> guest: yeah. it's a good question and there are so many answers to it, and i know there
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a constitutional amendment that would guarantee every child in this country access to an equal high quality education. so think of automatic constitutional amendments and all the -- all the constitutional amendments and all the guarantees we have to free speech to carry weapons and all the other rights we have as americans. why is it that in this country every child no matter what state you're born in, no matter what color you are what county you live in, why is it that every
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child in this country is not guaranteed access to an equal, high quality education? that doesn't mean that you're trying to judge outcomes. but why doesn't every child in this country at least start at the same place? we got 50 states and 50 different way of educating children, but nobody is guaranteed access to an equal, high quality education. so the next question is how do you figure out what that is? the answer is, it doesn't matter to me. whatever the best education is in this country that we can agree on, whatever the students in the schools that are regarded as the best, whatever they get let's give that to every country in this country. we can file the standard. what we think the is and whatever the best students have access to in this country what every child ought to have access to. and, again, i offer for your consideration what would happen and how education in this country might dramatic create change. somebody once said, peter, if benjamin franklin came back, the only thing he'd recognize is the
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education system because it ain't changed much in all these years. but i think it's going to take something radical to change our education system. so again i ask you to consider what would happen if we had a constitutional amendment that would guarantee every child in this country access to an equal, high quality education. >> host: in your book "fail up," you write the story about sarah jane olson and your history relationship with bet. what is that history? >> guest: that is a long and sordid story. you've got good questions peter, that take hours to answer sometimes. so the short answer is after working with tom joyner on working every day, urban radio, i had the opportunity to go to bet to host a talk show that i hosted for five years on black entertainment television, and it was the combination of tom joyner's morning show in the morning and bet at night that made me a household name in black america heard in every major market in the country.
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at his height nine ten million listeners every morning, and i'm the resident commentator on that program and more watching every night on bet. so you got radio and tv covered in black america eventually you're going to become a household name and that's how i got exposed to my own community and then came pbs and npr and all the other stuff later on. so that's where i started to get my work done. after five years or being on bet, i had an opportunity for an exclusive interview, as you mentioned, with sarah jane olson who had been accused of trying to kill a cop in los angeles. this interview again, long story short, kind of fell into my lap. i wasn't looking for it, but everybody was chasing this interview. dan rather diane sawyer barbara walters everybody was trying to get this woman to do the interview. why? because she was a white soccer mom who was living in the twin cities who got pulled over one day for a routine traffic stop and was discovered to be this woman who had been on the run for 30 some years, on the fbi's
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most wanted list. she's a soccer mom, married with kids now living in, again the twin states but for years -- twin cities, but for years nobody knew where she was. routine traffic stop for a back light that was out. they run fingerprints and, lo and behold, it's sarah jane olson. and so anyway i got the interview that everybody was chasing, and bet had been sold at the time to viacom. viacom also owned cbs then and now. so this interview was the kind of story that wasn't really going to resonate with my black audience on bet, so i was looking for another outlet since i had the interview, the exclusive, another outlet to broadcast the interview. so since viacom had bought bet and they also owned cbs i first go to cbs and say i've got this interview, and i'm happy to sell it to cbs but let me do it on "48 hours," whatever, "60
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minutes," give me a place to do the interview, but i'll do it on cbs because i've got the exclusive. oh, you don't have it, dan rather's going to get that. i said, you don't understand, it's on tape. cbs says show me some of the tape. i showed them some of the tape. three times cbs passed on the interview because rather and others -- i love dan rather it's not about rather, but the network was trying to get the interview for their big guy, dan rather. they didn't want to give tavis smiley the interview. but iez already done it and taped it. cbs passed three times, i went to abc, they bought it. it aired on abc. it killed on the ratings and next morning the people at viacom woke up and said why did we get beat so bad last night and they found out they had this big, exclusive interview with tavis smiley. and they said, well, doesn't he work for us? he's on bet, our network. how did this happen? and they started trying to unravel the story and eventually i got fired for doing
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an interview on abc which cbs had turned down three times. but most importantly, my contract with bet allowed me to do independent productions. so i was never in violation of my contract. but somebody had to be the fall guy, and so i got fired. and missouri yahoo! angelou -- maya angelou as i discuss in "my journey with maya," there's a wonderful story of the book of the night when she calls me when the news breaks that i got fired by bet. this was in time magazine, the new york times tavis smiley gets fired by bet, the most public thing i've ever done except critique barack obama, you know? it was in all of the news media everywhere. so maya angelou calls me one night, and we talked about it. she knew that i was -- she didn't know i was feeling but she wanted to know how i was processing being fired by bob johnson. and she said to me that night i have a feeling that in the days to come, you're going to have to end up sending bob johnson a thank you letter.
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i said a thank you note she said because sometimes in life we jump and sometimes inli life we get pushed. but either way in our lives there comes a time when it's c time tomo move. you've been at bet for five years, you've done all you can do, you've learned, you've grown, and it's time to move. it may not have come the way you want it to come, but i've got a sneaky suspicion that one dane you're going to thank bob johnson for firing you.yo within a matter of days peter, i kid you not cnn offered me a job, abc npr and my career took off because i got fired. so i wrote a piece for "usa today" on the weekend magazine called how a pink slip can fire you up. and i was just amazed at the thousands and thousands of letters i received from people who read that article about how my being fired really changed my whole life. so sometimes when things look the darkest, you know, just hours away from the dawn, i would never have known what my
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worth or value was, if pbs wantsn me or cnn would pay for me. i would never have known the opportunities that were there if kno i hadn't been fired by bet. so long story short, i am grateful for the five years i had at bet and more grateful that bob johnson ever fired me. >> host: did you send that thank yout: note? >> guest: i did. >> host: did you get a response? >> guest: no, i did not. [laughter] >> host: chris, you're on with tavis smiley on booktv.mile >> caller: it's a pleasure speaking with you, sir. >> guest: thank you, you too. >> caller: i was on youtube recently, and i stumbled on a handful of lectures from a man named dr. carr anderson out of maryland. i think you're familiar withions him. >> guest: i am. >> caller: two questions realhat quick. do you believe that black people a many in this country are do you doomed to be a permanent underclass in the united states? number two, do you believe black people are due a reparations
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package? >> guest: first question i hope not. second question, absolutely.ay now, i say absolutely that we are entitled to reparations.qu the question then becomes what do we mean by reparations. so you ask 30 million blackam w people what reparations should look like, you're going to get 30 million different answers. i don't really need 40 acres and a mule, there are other things i coul hd use. w but we have to figure out what we mean when we say "reparations." i have been in favor for years now of some kind of reparations that would allow for children to get the education they deserve, to go to the best schools.t am i think that's the best way thatd america could respond to thishis call for reparations. but i'm not interested again, in a lexus or a cadillac orth something like that. all so the real question is all jokes aside, how do we define what reparations is, and, again, there are so many different answers to that question that we ans could spend hours and hours debating that. is black america entitled to
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something? i believe the answer to that is yes as controversial as it mayuest be, and to your first question, are we a permanent underclass, i certainly hope not. p.m. every economic category in the own years. that's going to cause a serious conversation among our leaders and community aboutabout what the future holds for us and that's when reason i have been so aggressive in trying to hold this administration and the other -- people act like i started talking about accountability when obama showed up, as if i never held clinton accountable, and i did or suburb the other bush and reagan itch wasn't just at barack obama election i talked about accountability. the point is that i've been so aggressive about it lately and so progressive, because i sense that the opportunity for us to no longer be an underclass is slipping farther and farther away. our time is not on our side. so hopefully we're not a
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time is not on our side. i hope we are not a permanent underclass that date it is hard to argue with. thank you for your call. >> host: on air, volume ii, 2003. last night i was standing between bill gates and warren buffett, having a conversation. i was thinking to myself these are the number i endeavour ii rich is men in the world, last night we had dinner, and this is a fascinating experience for me. i want to give you my top-10 observations about the white folks who run the world. these the things i just picked up on in the last two days hanging out with the ceos. whenever you need no white person who runs the world the last few what do you do? number 9, nobody has a business card. or they get up early in the
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morning they value information. number 6, everything is free. number 5, not to be anxious, don't be anxious. number 4, they are inquisitive. number 3 they will get their dream on. number ii, i am the only one here who flew commercial. there are private jets with wheels up when the event wraps up, or number one, before they invite you to something like this, they know everything about you. the ten rules of the white folks running of the world. >> this was an on their book, a collection, the second volume of mike heinen carries. let me put some context in it. tom joyner is one of the leading radio hosts in the country. is still is mostly comedy, but
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every now and then i would do things that were funny. and the top-10 list. david letterman, the trade policy the top-10 list every now and then. and does some work together specifically on the issue. and in those developments. and too often consumers not producers of content. i met bill gates and we talked about this. steve ballmer was the ceo who now own the clippers in los angeles. imac gates and talked to them and microsoft to fund this program. to do some work off of what we call blacks and technology.
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every year, microsoft, gates would post a three day summit with the top 100 businesses in america. he invited me. and in washington, hanging out at gates's house. all the black kids, tom bling ran for three -- at his house, it was beautiful and lovely. i am always a curious person and that suits me well in my work as a broadcaster. i was just taking a furious notes about what makes these people so unique. what makes these 100 people making the biggest copies in the world so unique and those were observations, some funny, some serious. as was always the case when i
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would come off the air with tom leonard to meet with these commentaries there was a great deal of conversation about what was said this morning and it was instructive, informative and humorous for the audience meeting black people to hear what it is like for a black kid to hang out with bill gates and warren buffet for three days. what did you notice, what did you see? what was it like? again, those are my observations, when you are around that much money and power just to watch the way they operate and move, the most important thing is curiosity. all jokes aside, in those three days since that time i came out with a lot of ceos, without my first exposure at that level but curiosity is what drives so many ceos. you run a major company you got to be curious, you need to know what is going on.
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40 or 45 employees but so much of what i learned years ago hanging out with those guys i have taken on some of those traits. i'm not a billionaire and i am not trying to be but there are ways to emulate better even if it is a small company like that one. >> >> host: philadelphia, you are on with tavis smiley. go-ahead. >> caller: i am well. >> host: please mute your tv. >> if i could stay on the phone long enough. >> caller: anyway. i have a comment -- your panelists -- >> guest: that is wonderful. >> caller: what you say when it comes to your business, amen,
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and the three courses that i have, one is -- what do we know? number 2, what is your birthday? >> guest: september 13th. >> caller: number 3 when the public should decide to ask you to run for president what should you consider? >> guest: no. god bless you. have a nice day. absolutely not. >> host: they you have any children and are you married? >> caller: beautiful children all alone at the time, three beautiful grandchildren and i understand. >> host: when is your birthday? >> caller: april 21st. >> host: i your depressing? >> caller: if they asked me i would say no. >> you don't have to worry about
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being asked. >> guest: in el a working for tom bradley i ran to city council long story short again lost that city council race but i can't begin to tell you the lessons i learned in losing that race. lessons that suffered me all those years, i put it this way. in one of my books, i don't recall what i asked, and the point of the lesson was at some time in our lives, a rejection is direction. sometimes in life, rejection is direction. in my case i lost that city council race. it directed me to want to be. there is no way i could find my way into radio commentary and television commentary and writing books and doing what i
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do, radio public television every day, sitting and talking to you notice what happens to me at won city council, potholes and in los angeles. i was hurt when i lost that race but in many ways learned it many times, that sometimes in our lives. >> host: you write in hollywood books can carry a person of long way. and the former ucla track star, former police commander had a vitality fitness and charisma of an l a may. this is in no way to diminish his unprecedented political contributions, but i see how people, especially women responded to his presence. bradley way was on my mind when my x box called when asked to have lunch with him. this was long after he left office and i was testing my new
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show on bt. i knew he was proud of me. i.t. is the ambitious kid he hired as his assistant. you watch me myself up after i left his administration. my shields were lowered when we sat down for lunch so i was stunned by his opening salvo, you have gotten too big. >> guest: there was a time in my life i loved playing basketball. i am from indiana and if you love indiana you love basketball. playing basketball all the time and i blew out my left knee blue out my right knee and blew out my left ankle, literally tore both ankles in both knees playing sports because i love basketball, don't play anymore because i had to stop because of injuries. i had two or three surgery's over a couple years blowing things out, playing basketball and my daughter was trying to find me another sport find
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exercise but i gained a lot of weight. i look best at about -- i am 50 now. i look best at 205 but at the time about 185, my ideal weight. and if i do it won't be by choice. i had surgery's and really belinda, keeping the faith book if they had that, and one of the clumps in that eddie murphy movie, my face you see that picture, that face is so huge and that was taken around the time the electric chair, i was at my heaviest right around that time. the mayor called me, you can see how big my face was but the mayor called me because he loved me and was concerned about my health and said to me and others
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at lunch, all other things being equal call other things being equal, if you and peter walk into an office looking for a job, you and peter walk in and everything else is equal you got the same degrees from harvard, the same experience everything else is equal, you and peter walk in and you are 400 lbs. and peter -- there you go -- you know peter. you missed that. you have to see that but if peter is looking like peter, all things being equal peter is going to get the opportunity. you got to take care of yourself. i was doing my show in washington, called me, had to come back to l.a. to have lunch. the mayor called me from washington to back up on a weekend to tell me i was too fat
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but wanted to see me face-to-face to know that when the mayor looked to me and said i was too fat i took it to heart. and started working on it, working on it, working on it, i am happy with where i am. wikipedia when you live the life out in public very few secrets. >> guest: that is true. that is good and bad. >> host: privacy, not secrecy. >> guest: i have secrets, i n him in. that is good and bad. what i like is i don't have any thing to hide and i have never had to ever, not a single time in my life, we talked earlier that i left indiana and hadn't technical graduated but other than that there's nothing else in my life that i have been
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afraid of coming out one day and destroying me and that doesn't mean that of the perfect life, i made mistakes but most mistakes i have written about i have been so transparent about the things i have done because i don't want to be in a situation where someone is holding something over my head. i feel that way about my personal life, my private life but also my career. personally and professionally. i don't owe anybody anything. what i mean is this. i don't mean to suggest that i am a self-made man. i don't believe in being self-made. we are all who we are because somebody loved us. nobody does it by himself or herself no matter what they say. there is no such thing as a self-made man. we all have people who love us, care for us. i don't go anybody anything for giving me this or that. and i have gone through this recession for four years and it
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has been tough keeping my tv and radio things afloat and paying my staff and keeping them said. i have the same turmoil as everybody else but i don't have to ever have somebody come to me and say i made you, you wouldn't be this if i hadn't done this and i never had that, everything i have done i have done from the bottom up, done it publicly, people seeing me, agree or disagree love me or hate me, i am what i am. what you see is what you get so this is it. i don't have anything to hide and that makes my life easy to live. the downside is especially in this era today you are always in public eye and i finally got to the point some years ago where my staff reached the stuff i don't read the stuff. cyberhate is too much. i am human like anybody else and people can deny it all day long
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that still hurts. i think about hillary clinton or barack obama. what they say about me is nothing compared to these people. i think about celebrities, stars, things that are written about them, how do you deal with that and people deal with it by not dealing with it. they deal with it by not dealing with it. come on c-span and take every phone call and respond to it but i don't read that kind of stuff because it gets in your spirit. is not good for you and it throws you off your game. while people are talking you need to be working. >> host: in stockton thanks for holding. >> appreciate you taking my call.
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a lot of folks are in grand that can be a blessing. a question i want to ask is what was your definition -- i don't want to put you on the spot but where do you feel on that spectrum? i am kind of a known liar because -- i feel a need for different ways of seeing him, you were raised by an african-american grandmother. i don't dislike the president but i don't feel he loved our people as much as some of us do not by -- just wasn't around. i will put you on the spot. >> guest: you just did. >> host: what does that phrase mean? >> guest: how they grow back in the day, working hard in the
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sun, etc.. housing girls in the house and in the vernacular, the feeling you get is the more authentic negro than the house negro. field negro's are hard working in the field, house negro's pepper, taking care, not working hard, not in the sun, etc.. so there is more authenticity for a feels negros and a house negro if i could simplify it in that way. the caller was saying he regards the present as a house negro and said i don't want to put you on the spot. i would never have said all that. i would never refer to the president as a house negro. what i would say is he raised a very serious issue that does in fact as he pointed out get talked about in barbershops but never on c-span. always great conversations since
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he first popped onto the national scene in 2005 or 2006 or 2007 or whatever it was. the fact that he was not raised the way most of us where. he is biracial, and he didn't come up from the south like many of us did. he is in hawaii and indonesia. i take nothing away from his upbringing. he didn't choose where, when and how, those were not his choices. i am not faulting the him to dissect that. i am saying he did have a different journey than most african-americans so his experiences are not the same even as his wife michelle obama michelle robinson's experiences are different from barack obama's experiences. she is on the south side of chicago, raised in poverty, worked hard to get the -- she went to harvard law. a very different journey when you come from that kind of
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background. your kids are going to have it even more different ended different kind of journey. even the privilege they have grown with the rest of their lives courtesy of who their parents turned out to be. that is the way it ought to be. that is true in the obama household. that is not true for black families outside the obama household. for the first time ever black kids today, generation of black kids we are raising today are not going to do as well as their parents. most black kids the data tell us are not going to do as well as their parents have done. now in black america we flipped the script. for all the sacrifice and service and struggle, the blood sweat and tears, we have arrived at a place in american history, in black history where black kids are not going to do as well as their parents.
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i have gone full circle here. i am not ever going to call the president a house negro. i am suggesting he had different journey and the journey he had is different from the journey most of us had and the journey his kids, his daughters are going to have, most black kids in america are going to have if we read the data. that is where the conversation in the barber shop and beauty salon gets interesting if you stick around. >> host: claire in huntington station, new york, good afternoon. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i am a white folk a big follower of tavis smiley the truth teller. i want to tell him i have 5 very simple question. i want to know what he thinks al sharpton, a elizabeth warren and bernie sanders lead is a pleasure to meet you both.
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>> guest: al sharpton elizabeth warren and sanders. i have great respect for him. one of the -- i appreciate your current as a truth teller and i regard bernie sanders in that regard. he's one of the rare forces on the hill. i mentioned the earlier on this program, i went by abc, we had a segment this morning in tribute to the late great mario cuomo and i made a point this morning that it is hard to find people willing to where the label liberal or progressive. mario cuomo was talking about income inequality, espousing liberal progressive views way back then in the reagan era when it was really unpopular and now that mr. clinton and others moved the democratic party more centers no one wants to be a liberal, liberal is a dirty word
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in this town and mario cuomo did not shy away from that. i celebrated him for being that kind of person. bernie sanders is in that category. elizabeth warren has been regarded by many people if not as a progressive certainly as the liberals so she has taken and popular stances and a huge following as a result. lot of people pushing her to run for president, she says she is not going to run. we will see but i like her politics on most things. and finally to reverend sharpton who i have known for many years, no doubt in my mind al sharpton has done some good in his life. there is good in some of us and even in the rest. there are things al sharpton has done and said i don't agree with what he does good work in his life. c-span years trying to change. every one of us has to be allowed to grow, to redeem ourselves for things we have done that don't represent the best of who we are.
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finally in the obama era on tv and radio and beyond, his tack for the president is different from my cat in dealing with the president and holding him until double. you need a good inside and outside, black leaders have to be just that and you got to tell the president he might not want to hear things that are unpopular but you can't meet with the president in the white house and come out speaking talking points the white house gave you. it doesn't work that we. i respect in for the good that he does. never said a negative word about him but his approach for dealing with this administration has been different from my approach. >> host: e-mail from oregon. i want to begin by stating i am and admire. i can't be untroubled by your continuing to accept sponsorship of your pbs tv program by
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walmart. >> i knew it was coming at some point. >> host: you said it before the show. >> guest: i didn't think i would ask the three hours without being as low walmart question. there are questions i get asked everywhere i go, there's always an obama question and always a walmart question. the short answer is wal-mart has been my sponsor for 17 years on my radio and tv, walmart has been a sponsor. we did a new deal a few months ago that stands out for three years so i will not have a relationship with walmart for 20 years, and that's, i appreciate the support walmart has given me. having said that i say all the time that there are no perfect companies in this country. the greatest companies in this country had lawsuits against them for all kinds of things. npr had a major lawsuit for race
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discrimination. coca-cola had losses. toyota. i could run a list. there are no companies in this country at some point have not had lawsuits against them for things they need to get better at. in truth every company should be striving everyday to get better but there are no perfect companies. if i were waiting for a perfect company to sponsor me i would never be on the air. is it worth hearing a voice that otherwise would not be heard and being exposed to views you otherwise would not see or hear and being introduced to books and people you would otherwise not know about, is it worth that or worth letting it go because you don't like one sponsor? i have many sponsors but you don't like that one sponsored. i don't quite get it. other and c-span none of us would be on the air if not for walmart's sponsor. a sponsor of the networks, news programs wal-mart is the biggest company in the world.
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there is a bunch of stuff that will go to the wayside in this country because they are so vehement about underwriting. that doesn't mean it can't be a better company or that people should not be pushing them to be a better company. i have had on my program on pbs the ceo of walmart. go online and google that he came on my program. he said i am happy to have you come on but these other questions you are going to get asked and we sat and went through those difficult questions about their practices, policies, answered every question. i saw the new ceo on charlie rose on pbs. they show up on public television and answer these questions, i am not defending walmart but there are no perfect companies and waiting for one, finally just to get this out what is interesting to me is i am a union guy and i have been all my life. i have defended and spoken up
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for an spoken at rallies, i am a union guy. in my entire career walmart has sponsored me for 17 years, not one union, i could run a list not one union has sponsored me across the board on my tv or radio work in all my career. i have done some work with unions here and there but have not had the kind of support from unions. i am not complaining about that. i raise it because the question comes up. if i were waiting for unions to support me i would never be on. >> host: another e-mail. in your book "hard left: straight talk about the wrongs of the right" 19 you say success becomes failure when you lose stability and dignity. use the about face, family and friends but the themes of success and failure are extremely prevalent in many of your works. at age 50 has the goal post changed for what you wish to successful legacy to be?
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what is that legacy? what would be a failure? know the we were cheering for you on dancing with the stars in d.c.. >> guest: there were a lot of questions. >> guest: i don't spend a lot of time worrying what my legacy is going to be. i try to stay focused on my calling and my vocation and my purpose. i talked to young people to make a distinction between calling, vocation and purpose and your job. you get this degree you don't want to spend your life looking for a job. you want to at some point -- i am not saying sometimes you don't have to work jobs until we get to where we want to be better job is different from your calling and your purpose, your vocation. why are you uniquely here? what purpose are you here? what is your calling in the
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world? everyone has had gift endowed by our creator, our creator endows each of us with a gift. everybody has a gift. there is the reason for you to be gifted as you are if there is no purpose for the gift. for every gift to there's a corresponding need this there is a gift and there is a need for your gift. when your gift connects with its purpose, now you are living a life of meaning and value. every one of us has to search for what our purpose is and the need for that gift and when those two things connect, that is the sweet spot. i feel good about the fact that i'm clear what my gift is an everyday i am finding new ways to use the gift to try to make some sort of meaningful contribution. i consider my work on public television, public radio, my film and turkey, my foundation, i consider all of that part of
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using the gift that i have and when i die i want to be thoroughly use up, i want to be feral used a. i don't waste time on things that don't fit into what i think is the best use of my time, my calling and purpose. that is what i hope my legacy is going to be and i saw a need and when i side tried to respond to it. with regard very quickly to the issue of civility you raised. i take great pride in that. one of the things i love about c-span, i am always grateful for the creator of this network because it is a network based on information which i believe is power. knowledge is power but it is always civil and there is so little of that. you get that on c-span and pbs. you will never hear screaming and yelling and shouting on my tv program. you don't hear that on my public
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radio program. there are very few places left in society where you can have that kind of civil discourse where people can be heard and folks can agree to disagree without being disagreeable. if i wanted to i had opportunities to go back if i want to to be in commercial media but i am comfortable being in a space not because i have the most viewers or i make the most money, you won't get rich on pbs or public radio. it is not about the money or the most viewers, it is about having the conversation that has meaning and purpose and value where people behave in a civil way and i love and unless there's something i don't know about, it is where i am going to be until they kick me off the air again. >> after all those big thoughts what about dancing with the stars? >> i enjoyed it. we established early in the conversation imus turning 50 last year and i decided i was
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going to do one last silly, crazy ridiculously stupid thing before i turned 50. since i turned 50 i have done a few more of those but i thought i would do one last one before i turn 50 and i thought i would kind of do something out of the box. they come at me, producers came at me a few times and i told them know a few times and on the eve of my 50th birth day they came to me again and let me take the meeting. i took a meeting and i said i have never done this. let me try to do something outside of the box. we established earlier that i was raised in a very strict pentecostal family and because that family was so strict in our upbringing i couldn't dance. i couldn't go to dances. i couldn't dance. i am 50 years of age now and i never danced before so i said time to live life on my own terms. i thought i would do something and to your early point i don't know why it had to be so public. i've learned to dance the did it in front of 50 million people
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and getting kicked off and all that stuff. i enjoy that experience and i loved it and don't regret it at all. >> the marvin gaye song. that is very light. look at that. look at that suit. look at the grease. look at that grace. moving for a big man. >> are you kicked off that we? i got my high for some weeks later didn't last long. >> host: what did in early and joy say about that?
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sp >> caller: >> guest: my mother is still very much in that tradition. that wasn't her proudest moment with my decisionmaking. we don't have to agree on everything. >> host: john has been very patient, you are on booktv with tavis smiley. >> caller: i admire you and i admired dr. west tremendously. i don't see anyone disputing the economic indicators for black people have not made progress in america during president obama's term. to not state and local governments share the blame for that? i will take your answer off the air. >> guest: that is why when i answered that question earlier i made it clear i am not casting aspersion or putting all the blame at the feet of barack obama. all i am saying is there will be serious come to jesus meeting after he is out of office because for all the hopes and dreams and aspirations black people had the data is going to
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be clear the we lost ground in every category. barack obama's, matters less to me, i believe in symbolism but also substance. as an african american i am proud we have a black president for two terms. not to take anything away from that the facts are stubborn and we got to come to terms like that. every branch of government is responsible for taking these matters seriously but at the level of the federal government i was responding to that data. we will have a serious meeting after 2016. >> host: lisa:tweets in are the martin luther king recordings still available and will you ever write a book for young kids? >> guest: there's so much on line, the recordings of king, a lot of stuff is already on line. regarding -- i get asked that question while ago and i am getting more and more interested
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in the idea. i don't know what it would be. i was talking last night to someone who is working on her first one. i don't quite know what that would be. >> host: we have 15 minutes left with our guests. please go ahead. >> caller: hello. how are you doing? you have no idea how many positive ripples you put through the universe. you keep on going. a couple questions here. have you been invited to the white house? if not why not? >> guest: second question? >> caller: as a retired history teacher, it seems like it all began after the civil war with so-called reconstruction. reconstruction was actually deconstruction. i am kind of upset we have a congress now that is basically a
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confederate congress. i don't see much hope. >> guest: we discussed on d.c. whether this congress would get anything done. i ask what my hope for and i said not much. i think this function will continue and there are three things that concern me. one the majority leader wants to form a minority leader on tuesday, mr. mcconnell some years ago said his number one job was to defeat barack obama. he is now your majority leader. if that sentiment continues not much will get done. number 2, the hopes and dreams and aspirations of some sitting senators who want to replace barack obama in the white house that will get in a way of a lot of legislation. people's personal ambitions will get in the way of certain agendas in the senate. thirdly, if this republican senate is intent on spending all of its time trying to one 2 obamacare which has already been
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upheld in the court system we will have a real waste of time and money and that energy in this town so for those reasons and others i am not very hopeful about what will come out of this congress and your first question was about the white house. i believe, peter knows what this is for because i am of broadcaster and talk-show host i never believed in of waiting answering a question. my job is to ask people questions listed you were on my show and i ask you a question i want you to enter. i never run from a question. i say that as a preface because last time i was on c-span i got asked this question and i answered it and i caught all kind of hell in the media for three or four weeks i caught hell because i was whining on c-span about not being invited to the white house. i was asked a question by as c-span moderator. i asked -- i answer the question but was called out about wining so now i get a phone call today
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asking me have you been invited to the white house and i'm sure when i answer the question the same thing will happen, tavis smiley was on c-span whining about the fact obama has invited him to the white house. the truth is let the record show i was asked and i am answering your question. no i have not been invited. barack obama is the first president since i have been a broadcaster, 25 years now, the first president to not invite me to the white house for anything. not a ceremony, not to sit in the back row, not for a movie screening, not for a rose garden ceremony, not anything. i have not been invited to the white house for nothing. period. not to sweep the floors, not to put some eggs, not to sweep the portico, nothing. >> host: but no later. >> guest: no a anger. >> host: why did george w. bush invite you to the white house?
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>> guest: typical you get invited to those black ceremonies, i forgot what it was, somebody black was getting awarded something so they wanted some negros in the audience so they invited me for something. i have always been invited and i typically try to go. i have answering a question. i have not been invited. is the president's shoelace. the president doesn't have to invite me to the white house. i haven't invited him to my house eager for the last seven years. >> host: from your 1996 book "hard left: straight talk about the wrongs of the right" what is most frightening? their attempt to legislate morality and trample on the constitutional rights and freedoms of the individual. >> guest: that was my second book, 17 or 18 i forget -- 1996. what you just read i wrote in 1996. this is 2015.
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i could have written that this morning. that is exactly how it feels. this was happening in '96 and in 2015 we are about to endure the same thing all over again in this town and it goes to show the more things change the more they stay the same. >> host: mark tweets in do you still oppose marriage equality if so why? >> guest: i do not. i was asked -- people take things without context. i was at any event in l.a. some years ago and somebody asked me about my views on this issue and i said to them the same thing i will say now. in my faith tradition marriage is regarded as between a man and a woman. that is my faith tradition. having said that, i do not believe i have the right to tell people who they should love or who they should mary. that is not my business, that is not my purview. i have maia and believes about a
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variety of issues that have nothing to do with other choices my fellow citizens make. in my faith tradition marriages between a man and woman but i do not believe i or anybody else ought to have the right to tell you who to love who to marry, it to be with. that is not my purview. >> host: brookhaven, pa. go ahead with your question or comment for tavis smiley. >> caller: i have been waiting a long time to talk to you. me and martin luther king got two things in common. we both are from georgia, i live in chester, martin luther king would go to school in chester, p a. he spoke at the church in chester. okay. i am one of martin luther king's protegees. i am trying to put together the biggest rally they have never seen for jobs, education health
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care, policeman, school teachers, colleges veterans, unions, for the middle class, the 4, poverty. >> host: where will this be held? >> guest: in washington d.c.. to regain independence on the fourth of july. >> guest: that is an ambitious plan and raises serious questions and that is whether or not today marchers are as effective as they once were. i think they can be and i am not casting aspersion on his idea. i think we have to be careful not to make it a novelty. i am not demonizing the calls at all. i get invited to a lot of these
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things and i do believe you have to be vocal and demonstrative and get the attention of people but i wonder whether or not we think march is just a default position to raise some cane or get ink for a particular issue but the real work king led marches no doubt about it but the real work he did to help change america happened out of sight. i fear sometimes people are interested in showing up for a rally or a march or armchair revolutionaries, at you sit at your keyboard and espouse views but people are not really willing to do the work that it takes to make stuff happen in one of the reasons is you get out there saying what i am saying as other people say and casual corner and you are called names. it doesn't feel good. i understand why people don't want to be subjected to that
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kind of cyberhate and social media push back but that is what it takes to get out and try to make a difference. >> host: from your 2006 booklet "never mind success...go for greatness: the best advice i ever received," as a black person you have to do better than anyone else just to be considered equal. >> host: >> guest: she ought to be in a position to know. i never planned to write this little book. at the end of most of my television programs, a little pocket book fits in your back pocket but it is one of the most accessible books i ever put together. because the advice is so beautiful. at the end of most of my programs off camera, my own personal edification i can to ask my guess what is the best of vice you ever received and my cameras i usually rolling and we recorded thousands of these things i recorded. i could do a whole volume of these things but the advice i
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got, people who have accomplished many things in their lives in my library i had three of them. one in my office and two in my home but in all of my library's most of my books are biographies autobiographies, books about people who have done things that i think matter in the world and that is because i want to be somebody's it does something meaningfully. the people i have on my show who made significant contributions i want to know what is the best device you received. somebody said you ought to put this in a little book. see if it works. why -- i have so much good stuff. one day when i am not on c-span, i put together volume ii of that. >> host: what is the best place for people to contact you?
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>> guest: i don't know where to find all my books. my staff had to go into overtime literally to find all these books. i haven't seen a lot of these books since i wrote the years ago but my web site is tavistalk and everything we do from tv stuff, my radio work, foundation working with kids on the issue of poverty, everything we do this house on that one sight. >> host: russell is in long beach, go ahead please. >> caller: i am a fan. i want you to know that. >> guest: the l b c. >> host: a little frustrated when we hear intellectuals like you, the product of the largest forced migration of humans from one part of the world to another in the history of man.
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that makes this our demographic kingdom. we inhabit the whole land but it is frustrating when people like you from the western hemisphere when you confine our analysis to that of the united states. the promise of your analysis is necessarily limiting and we don't get the full measure of our humanity because people like you -- it is one of the land we love you but you confine our analysis to that of somebody else. >> guest: let me ask you a question. i am curious to your point of view. i was in long beach giving a speech at cal state, long beach. when you say i am confining my analysis give me an example how i might expand my presentation? >> caller: as an example western hemisphere as a result of the largest forced migrations of humans from one part of the world to another, our democratic
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kingdom, a civilization, largest and most culturally diverse human civilization of all time. if you were to just approach on issues from a greater perspective it seems to me people would be more productive where they are. >> guest: my question is -- i urinalysis but my question is what is the greater perspective that i am missing in my presentation to when a missing? >> caller: that is what i am pointing out. this is our demographic kingdom. the united states of america is simply in it. i don't want to sound radical but it is the truth. >> host: we are going to leave it there and move on. >> guest: i take the point i think he is trying to make an don't disagree. i would put it this way, we are citizens of the world, we live in a global community and i couldn't agree with that more. i traveled the world and talk about these issues around the world and discuss the mall the time on my tv and radio programs
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of high am not sure -- i am not sure i disagree with his point of view the we are all citizens of a much larger society and it is not just about the u.s. of a. and sometimes i get bothered by that the we are so nativist inside of america's the we don't even see the rest of the world's. the majority of us don't have passports, something like 36% of americans have passports. most of us don't even have passports and most of us who have never used them so that every year i make it my business to make sure i get out side of the u.s. of a. every year. i try to go somewhere and depending on the year of multiplicity depending on my schedule but i always try to get out of the country because it is wanting to see america from the inside, another thing to see america from the outside and when you see it from the outside you can see the good, bad the ugly, the things we are celebrating, things were changing. if you are on the float tube
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can't very well see the parade. sometimes you got to get off the flow, stand back and look at the parade. sometimes getting of the country is a good way for proceeding america in different ways. >> host: larry from michigan wants to know on a regular basis, what does tavis smiley do for recreation? >> guest: the things i do the most recreation in l. a, pound for pound, the name of the gym where a workout, i love boxing. i will be there tomorrow morning when i get back to l.a.. i'd love to work out and boxing, my knees and bagels, i don't count on the pavement anymore running. i love to box and exercise. i loved -- i could go to a comedy show every night. i love comedians. i have a lot of friends who are comedians and entertainers, bernie mack, a i love comedy. i could see richard pryor every night if he was still living. i love to work out. i love comedy shows.
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i love music. you can catch me in l.a. hiding in the corner somewhere but any place where there is good music in l. a, you can find in the quarter listening to all kinds of music. i.t. of plays. i love things most americans do. >> host: from "death of a king: the real story of martin luther king, jr.'s final year" marvin was 12 years old, his brother was 11. his maternal grandmother whom he edward had suffered a fatal heart attack sliding down a bannister, he unwittingly crashed into her and knocked her to the floor. >> guest: that is the free. list for most people don't know, the last year of his life but there are a number of kingman in scenes that will be flashbacks to his earlier life because it is relevant to the telling of the story in that moment in real time. at the age of 12 martin tried to to commit suicide. won't tell the whole story but
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he left home as a child, left home with his parents told not to leave. i talked earlier about you can see the parade if you are on the float. you are a smart guy. marvin love parade and wanted to go to a parade when they. his parents told him not to go. when to the parade anyway. when he came back with you just read had taken place. his grandmother was in the flow of dead and martin essentially thought he killed his grandmother. had he stayed home and not disobey is parents as a teenager and went to the parade he would have been there to stop his brother from going up and down the banister and killing his grandmother. it turns out the cake was not what killed his grandmother but martin felt he had killed his grandmother so he went to sleep, got on the balcony of the house and jumped off and tried to kill himself. there is more about what happens after that. it really is the first time we experience marvin even as a
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child with his radical empathy for other people. the roles that he wanted to play in feeling their pain which comes into play much later in his life. >> host: little bit of depression? >> guest: absolutely. we talk in the book about depression, mania, the pressure -- the book coming out this year will be very controversial. he is doing the first-ever psychoanalysis and doing it with the research of his doctor's reports and his hospital stays. the point is we raise some of this in the book had marvin spend the last couple years of his life hospitalized more than most people know, the official reasons they would put out for his hospitalization was tired and overworked, anxiety but there was a bit more going on.
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he did suffer from depression and media. the professor points out people who have that kind of mania can develop a greater and more radical empathy for other people because they know what that feels like. i'm not a scientist and i can't explain it but the fact marvin suffered from mania made him much more able to feel the pain and hurt of others and it served him well. >> host: you are in washington to be on this program but you are keeping one of your programs while you are here and you have two senators. >> guest: one of them will air a week from now. there are two african-american united states senators. how propitious is it because edward brooke, the first senator elected and reelected from massachusetts just died at 95, two black senators, cory booker of new jersey, adam scott of south carolina, never sat for conversation together. i will do both of them together and will air a week from now.
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>> host: tavis smiley for the last three hours, here are his books very quickly, "just a thought: the smiley report" was his first, "hard left: straight talk about the wrongs of the right" came out in right" came out in '96, believe--and make a difference," love, courage, healing, and hope from black america," second volume of show 2002-2003," success...go for greatness: the best advice i ever received," "what i know for sure: my story of growing up in america," his autobiography in 2006, as good as its promise," as good as its promise," success from failure," america's boys," the rest of us: a poverty manifesto," "death of a king: the real story of martin luther king, jr.'s final year" and "my journey with maya" comes out in april. >> guest: appreciate it. >> c-span created by america's cable companies 35 years ago and brought to you as a public
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service as a cable and satellite provider. here is a look at some books being published this week. senator marco rubio gives his vision for the future of the united states in american dream is. in the work, my search for a life that matters, west more remembers his formative years in the bronx in baltimore to his time as a combat officer in afghanistan and white house fellow. gail godwin recount her life as an author in publishing:r. ryder's memoir. correll west talks about writing is by martin luther king jr. for on topics that range from vietnam to capitalism and imperialism in the radical king. in hidden in plain sight, peter wallace and examines the role of government housing policies in the 2008 financial crisis. look for these titles in bookstores this coming weekend watch for the office in the near future on booktv and on
12:00 pm >> you are watching booktv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> here are some programs to watch on booktv this weekend. .. >> as part of the conference of on the 5


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