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TAVISTALKS.COM

ENLIGHTEN. ENCOURAGE. EMPOWER.

Q3

QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER


TAVISTALKS.COM

ENLIGHTEN. ENCOURAGE. EMPOWER. QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

Letter from Tavis This year has been filled with tremendous blessings! Words cannot express how thrilled I am! In this issue, I will share with you the exciting events and news we have experienced over the last few months. My hope is that you will gain a better understanding of our mission and our desire to make America a better place for ALL Americans. Our work and dedication to our mission is what drives my company. Dr. Cornel West and I just completed our 9-state 18-city tour, which was designed to increase awareness about poverty in America. The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience was both inspiring and heartbreaking. I encourage you to take a look at photographs from the tour on TavisTalks.com and SmileyandWest.com. It is our hope and goal to continue the conversation with the desire to create change, as every American is entitled to achieving the American Dream! In August, I had the honor, along with Dr. West, of presenting Dr. Gardner Taylor’s new book, Faith in the Fire: Wisdom for Life, at the Progressive National Baptist Convention in Washington, DC. Dr. Taylor is now 93-years old and has the energy of a man half his age. I encourage you to learn more about the man known as the “best preacher in America,” and who was a friend and confidante of Dr. Martin Luther King—you will be uplifted. The American I AM exhibit is in St. Louis through September 25, then off to Kansas City, Missouri, from October 22 to January 8, 2012. In the coming months, you can continue to expect great conversations on both my radio and television shows. Stay tuned for future announcements and feel free to share this newsletter with your friends, family, and colleagues. Keep the faith,


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We continued our eighth season by welcoming guests such as authors Robert F. Kennedy, Amanda Foreman, and Dr. Henry Kissinger; celebrities such as Barry Manilow, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Cedric the Entertainer; and politicians such as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Senator Jeff Markley, and Senator Mark Warner. We continue to talk with people who try to reexamine the assumptions we hold and expand our inventory of ideas, and we strive to introduce or re-introduce Americans to each other. A few interesting points that I think you may enjoy from some of these noted conversations:

1) Our conversation with Robert F. Kennedy, the environmentalist and son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, shared with us his feelings on the media and how he feels they do not cover news in a fair and balanced way. Suffice to say, his comments definitely received some press.

2) We enjoyed a Tavis Smiley first by talking to the musical legend Barry Manilow as he sat on-set at his black grand piano. Barry as always, was the consummate performer.

3) My friend Will Smith stopped by to watch his wife, Jada, discuss her recent, show HawthoRNe, which she starred in and produced. Sorry ladies, we didn’t get any pictures of Big Will.

4) Funny man and good friend Cedric the Entertainer stopped by with a surprise. A hat for me from his new luxury hat line of handmade fedoras, newsboys, designer high caps, and beanies called WHO CED?

5) Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sat with us to discuss race relations in the city of LA.

We greeted the latter part of July and most of August with a much-needed summer hiatus. And now we’re back and ready to go! I am excited to discuss two up-coming specials that are near and dear to my heart: Tavis Smiley Reports: Too Important to Fail (more on that later) and our week on poverty.


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As you may know, Cornel West and I embarked on a national 18-city poverty tour to raise awareness and ignite a national discussion on the subject of poverty. During this seven-day trek across the country we met with everyday people who to the best of their ability are trying to cope in this economy. I am excited to say this will air for a full week on my late-night program, Oct. 10-14, 2011 on PBS (check local listings). Stay tuned! More on the Tavis Smiley Reports special coming up, but in the meantime I am blessed to have faithful viewers like you. Thanks for watching, and as always‌keep the faith!


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In our fifth installment of Tavis Smiley Reports, I step outside of the studio to examine one of the most disturbing aspects of the education crisis facing America today—the increased dropout rate among teenagers, specifically among black teenage males. In this new primetime PBS special, entitled Too Important to Fail, we examine the dropout crisis within the African American community through the eyes of those most directly involved: educators, mentors, experts, and the teenage boys themselves. I try as best as I can to get behind the statistics to get to the heart of the matter: the struggle so many African American teenage boys face when trying to stay in school and succeed. These boys and the trials they face in their lives are real. We discuss growing up in challenging communities and, for many, in single-parent homes. We also discuss what it’s like to be relegated to underserved schools and to cope with group peer pressure. It is my team’s sincerest hope that Too Important to Fail will offer a clear solution to this crisis. Each young man tells me that what turned his life around was an adult (sometimes more than one) who paid attention to him, listened to him, and told him he was of value. This solution is very simple to understand but for some reason difficult to accomplish. The bottom line: All it may take to turn this crisis around is dedicated adults who refuse to let any child be a “throw away” kid. Too Important to Fail was shot in schools and in the communities of Philadelphia, Oakland, Chicago, and Los Angeles. And speaking of special teachers, I would like to share with you a teacher who has changed my own life. Her name is Janet S. Oatess, and she taught me my junior year in high school. Earlier this summer, I was selected to be a part of “Teacher’s Count” campaign, which will distribute a poster of me and Mrs. Oatess to all of their classrooms nationwide. If we choose to focus on the education of our children, specifically black boys, it will grant us a renewed focus on all of America.


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Where’s Tavis? Rewind... The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience was the most inspiring and life-changing experience of my life! I feel extremely blessed to have traveled throughout the country with Dr. West to hear stories from everyday people. Despite their situations, the people Dr. West and I visited were still hopeful, and that sense of hope inspired our souls. In Columbus, Mississippi, we spent the night with a family that has nine children. Dr. West and I slept in two of the children’s bunk beds and found ourselves reflecting on our childhood. During the tour, we slept outside with some homeless people, visited a tent city, and had the pleasure of laying wreaths at the crypt of Dr. King and his wonderful wife Coretta. We have to remember Dr. King’s dream and keep his legacy alive by taking care of those less fortunate. You can learn more about the tour and how to get involved at www.SmileyandWest.com. Looking ahead... The next stop on the America I AM exhibit tour is Kansas City, and it will open on October 22 and run to January 8, 2012. If possible, I encourage you to visit the exhibit and learn how the courage and convictions of African Americans contributed to this great country.


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“The Tavis Smiley Show” from PRI Each week, The Tavis Smiley Show brings listeners the latest and hottest news, stories, and entertainment. Our continuous coverage of the national budget battle was highlighted by Senator Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota and a key player in the so-called bipartisan Gang of Six. The senator joined us just days away from the August 2 budget deadline for an exclusive conversation as to whether a deal could be reached. Activist Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, reflected on the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS in June. Then, renowned economist Julianne Malveaux shared her insights on the country’s high unemployment and how economic disproportion has affected African American and Hispanic people. This fall, The Tavis Smiley Show will commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11 as well as bring attention to the education of young African American males in this country. And of course, with the 2012 presidential elections a year away, you can expect The Tavis Smiley Show to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of politics and how it will affect everyday Americans. To check your local listings and for broadcast times, go to www.tavissmileyradio.com. Until then, thanks for listening, and as always…keep the faith!


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Social Media

Social Media is fast becoming a primary avenue of promotion, awareness, and advocacy for The Smiley Group, Inc. Whether we are tweeting about what guests to catch on Tavis Smiley on PBS or highlighting the plight of the poor in America, we appreciate the instantaneous ability to reach out and touch our audience and hear your feedback and thoughts on what matters to you. Facebook was instrumental in achieving The Poverty Tour’s goal of bringing substantial awareness to and fostering dialogue about the sensitive matter of American poverty, as we reached over 5 million people on that social media platform for this campaign alone. Look toward the end of 2011 and early 2012, as we implement more interactive outreach and participation opportunities in our initiatives via live chat, YouTube, and more.


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“Smiley & West” from PRI

Letter from Smiley & West: How we spent our summer vacation Greetings campers from Smiley & West, What a summer we had on The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience. While most people spend their vacation relaxing, often times near a beach and body of water, this summer we decided to tour our great nation on a bus in order to hear your stories, feel your pain, and share in your triumphs. We can safely say the experience exceeded our expectations and helped raise the level of dialog and consciousness about poverty as well as the poor and working folks struggling in America. Here are just a few of the things we heard on the tour: “We went from $60,000 a year to less than $15,000 overnight.” —54-year-old woman from Columbus, MS “My dreams are being crushed as soon as I get out of school.” —18-year-old woman from Atlanta, GA “I was a temp for six years. I was making poverty wages. Landlord refused to rent me a place because I was a temp.” —Warehouse worker from Joliet, IL “Lot of people can’t pay you under the table now like they used to.” —Unemployed Veteran in Akron, OH


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ENLIGHTEN. ENCOURAGE. EMPOWER. QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

“Smiley & West” from PRI [continued]

“We can’t let white folks think that they’re poor…because then we also begin to ask questions about who’s got what and who doesn’t.” —Minister in Charleston, WV “Right now I ain’t got nowhere to live. And I’m 9 months pregnant.” —Homeless woman in Washington, DC “The economy is going to be much worse off. I don’t see it getting better yet.” —Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) in Memphis, TN You can listen to the entire program here or download a Web-exclusive extended version of our podcast here. Tune in each week to Smiley & West for our NEW weekly segment about poverty. We will revisit those we met on the tour, go deeper into some of their issues, and keep you up to date on the status of poverty policies and legislation. This fall, we’ll continue to bring you a provocative lineup of guests for The Conversation including Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Olympian John Carlos, and a number of surprises. We’re also excited about all of the new visitors to smileyandwest.com. The number of visits to our Web site quadrupled (!) in the month of August, so be sure to check out our Web site, sign-up for our Speak Out Network, and join the conversation. In love, Smiley & West


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ENLIGHTEN. ENCOURAGE. EMPOWER. QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

High Quality Speakers Bureau August 2012 was an exciting month for High Quality Speakers Bureau, having assisted in the launch of the The Poverty Tour: A Call Conscience. The tour—spanning 18 cities and 9 different states with a mission to shed light on the deplorable circumstance that the poor in America face—consisted of three town-hall meetings that were successfully coordinated by HQSB. The first of which took place in Chicago, IL at Faith Community of St. Sabina, and the event attendance reached capacity with only standing room left in the balcony section. St. Sabina was followed up by an electric town-hall discussion in Detroit, MI, at the Erma L. Henderson Auditorium inside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. The tour culminated in Memphis, TN, with a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel and a town-hall meeting at St. Andrew AME. Again, the attendance reached capacity, with only overflow seating in the venues balcony section left. The High Quality Speakers Bureau staff expresses their sincerest gratitude to the coordinators at each venue for their assistance in producing the events. As an extension of the themes radiating from The Poverty Tour, and in anticipation of a charged 2012 election season, this fall HQSB will be introducing a new public lecture program: Smiley & West Live. Dr. West and I, co-hosts of the Smiley & West Show from PRI, are working with HQSB to coordinate a series of engagements that will address the pressing issues—such as jobs, race, war, and the new working poor—that are sure to weigh heavily on the polls this coming election. Contact an HQSB representative today to discover how you can bring Smiley & West Live to your institution.


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Tavis Smiley Foundation Youth to Leaders alumni earn chance to use leadership skills as part of national campaign Two Youth to Leaders program alumni will have a chance to be on the front line, leading other young people in a grassroots educational campaign to increase economic mobility in America. Ronald Taylor, a current member of the Tavis Smiley Foundation’s National Youth Advisory Council, and Angela Groves, an immediate past member of the council, have been selected to participate in the OpportunityNation Leaders and Scholars program. OpportunityNation is a national campaign that includes a coalition of business leaders, nonprofit organizations, social entrepreneurs, leading thinkers, grassroots organizations, and others to support a nonpartisan/bipartisan agenda to enhance opportunity and economic mobility in America. The Tavis Smiley Foundation is one of the more than 150 coalition members representing 50 million Americans. The OpportunityNation Scholars program is a leadership program identifying promising young activists and entrepreneurs striving to increase opportunity in their respective communities and campuses and promote their vision of the American Dream. Taylor and Groves are among the 100 scholars and leaders who will act as community mobilizers and lend their insight to the policy agenda. Taylor and Groves both have strong track records as youth leaders. Taylor is a freshman majoring in biology and political science at Syracuse University. He serves as the president and founder of the Cultural Project for Rejuvenation, a youth outreach initiative in his hometown of Hempstead, NY. Groves is a senior at Princeton University majoring in international affairs. In 2007, she founded the Youth Covenant Committee in Cleveland to engage African American youth in community service, civic awareness, and Black history education. For her efforts, Groves was given the Foundation’s Youth in Action Award in 2008. The pair will begin training at the coalition’s national summit meeting in November 2011 and work on behalf of the campaign through 2013.


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ENLIGHTEN. ENCOURAGE. EMPOWER. QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

SmileyBooks There was no stopping the SmileyBooks train this past summer! I often look to the summer months for a little R&R, but with events such as The Essence Music Festival and the 50th Anniversary of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, plus embarking on a national 18-city Poverty Tour that I’m sure you’ve heard about, how can one even sit down and take a nap? In our last newsletter, I announced SmileyBooks was thrilled to be a part of The Essence Music Festival’s Empowerment Series. On Saturday, July 2, I moderated our first-ever SmileyBooks author panel on America I AM: The African American Imprint, which featured our authors Cornel West, Tom Burrell, Iyanla Vanzant, and Chef Jeff Henderson. The convention hall was packed that morning as folk listened to these great voices share lessons learned and profound insights. This was such a great moment for our publishing company to reconnect with YOU and others who attended this popular event. We began the month of August with the release of Faith in the Fire: Wisdom for Life by one of America’s greatest preachers, Dr. Gardner C. Taylor. I regard Dr. Gardner Taylor not only as one of America’s greatest preachers but as one of America’s greatest treasures. Dr. Taylor, who is a founding member of the Progressive National Baptist Convention with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has preached around the globe, holds more than 13 honorary degrees and countless awards, and has taught at the country’s most esteemed institutions and divinity schools. In 2000, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor— presented by President Bill Clinton. In Faith in the Fire, you’ll come to know why this legendary civil rights activist and social justice pioneer is so revered. This book displays his signature eloquence, humor, and the wisdom gained during his extraordinary career. You can learn and read more on the life and legacy of Dr. Taylor by visiting www.faithinthefire.com or by joining our Faith in the Fire Fan Page on Facebook. Be sure to leave your own personal testimony on our Web site to let us know what you think.


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ENLIGHTEN. ENCOURAGE. EMPOWER. QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

SmileyBooks I had the pleasure of honoring Dr. Taylor at the PNBC’s 50th celebration and to feature him in a segment on my public radio show, Smiley & West. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to this endearing conversation, visit www.smileyandwest.com, and of course, don’t forget to pick up your own copy of Faith in the Fire, which is available on Amazon.com right now. Speaking of ESSENCE, SmileyBooks is thrilled they included our New York Times best-selling author Iyanla Vanzant in their October Power List issue. Hitting newsstands the second week of September, “The Power List” consists of top-ranking African American women who remind others that when they commit to a bold vision, their impact is undeniable. Iyanla is honored alongside other women such as Oprah Winfrey, First Lady Michelle Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tyra Banks. Congratulations Iyanla! Be sure to send her a congratulatory note on either Facebook and/or Twitter at: Iyanla Vanzant and @IyanlaVanzant.

Finally, SmileyBooks embarks on a digital first. Although all of our SmileyBooks titles can be downloaded to your favorite e-reader, on September 13, 2011, we’ll release our first original e-book, Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys. Available online at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com, this title can be purchased at the very LOW price of $1.99. Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys is the companion volume to our Tavis Smiley Reports PBS primetime special, also airing the night of my birthday, September 13. It examines an undeclared crisis in America—the staggering dropout rate among young black males. This e-book picks up where our TV special leaves off, with expanded discussion, dot-connecting data, and real life examples of the information and resources needed to harness our frustration and concern into collective and effective action. It contains an extensive resource guide that lists over 75 organizations who have a stake in solving this monumental challenge.

Q3 Tavis Talks Newsletter  

This year has been filled with tremendous blessings! Words cannot express how thrilled I am! In this issue, I will share with you the exciti...

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