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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  January 5, 2015 12:00am-3:01am EST

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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 15ears in public radio. i feel very blessedt start of thisear to do all we've de so far. i hope the proudes moment is yet to come. if iad to y try t pick something, i guesst would be i'm still here. so many people bet against me in so many moments of my life. when itaed on npr someears ago, i remember, rememberell,
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peter, tomplaint came pouring into npr wn i first started i talked too loud. my favorite one was my laugh was too boisterous. he laughs too bows tmendously. laugh was too much. my cence was wrong. i spo too fast. everything about me isoo big for public radio. you know how npr is. this is national public radio. my style is so different when i first started at npthe betting i wouldn't make it. pb the betting wasn't as high. people didn't think it would rk on pbs. charlie rose had done well for years d nobody expecd for me to make it on pbs. long story short it would be i'm still here. >> host: 25 years or so you've been doing this. 17 books or so you ever written and edid. your different shows that you've done, what do you think you've accomplished? >> guest: i hope that what we do every day through our public radio and plic television work
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is the same three things that say all the time. i hope, number one to challen fellow citizens to reexamine the sumption they hold. we all bring assumptions to the table. there is nothing wro with that assumptions and various prejudes but i hope or work challenges people toeexamine th assumptions they hold. i hopeur work helps expd their inventory of ideas. i hopeur work allows americans to be introduced to eachther. thiss the most multi-cultural, ltky racial, multi-ethnic amera ever. america till so segregated imany ways. i hope theork we do have a coersation about what unites us rather than what divides us. >> host: in your 2009 book, accotable, ming arica as good as ts promise, you say it is the job of policians to ma promis but the job of the ople to elect them to make sure they keep them. you have a score sheet for then
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president-elect ama. how has he done on his score sheet? >> guest: depends on the issue. that i what is remarkablon this book. that is the first in a trilogy. started with a covenants with black america. a bookhacame out and talked about the 10 issues most portant to afran-americans an whathe next president how to do aut these issues. that book came out long before the countr ever hrd of ra obama. this is the bush era when we new the black agenda needed to be taken more seriously. fore hillaryeclared or john edwards, joe biden this book about black america came out. as a resultfhat book we had two presidential debates i was le to moderat with m network pbs. mocrats me at hard university. those that showe up, mgan state,wo black colleges in baltime and dc. respectively. we had the covenant in action, e secondook in tt trilogy. how you takehessuesnd
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principles in the covenant and put, per those issues into the action. that was the second book the covenant in action. the third book is accountab. senator obama or preside obama winning. his face is on the coverhe book. he is the guy who made these mmitments and pmises. this i bk, accountable, put together what he sai on the campaign and how we could keep store what he was doing. long story short. some things he has done wl. otr promises he has broken. >> host: mr. sly, you were the really subject of a conveatn cnn les lisn to this and get your response. >> tavis smiley talk about your b.e.t. interview and he said, the president should stop telling black people to wait. he should stop telling ushat it tes time. he should stop saying it different than 50 yrs ago. go tell it to the parents of these dead children. i wonder does that come io you? does that hurt, they don't get me any fee like this i
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difficult to be president of all the united stas and yet ha so much expected ofou? >> you know, if i spe to much time worrying abt critics i would not be getting a lot o stuff done here. there no reaso for folks to be patient. i'm impatient. that's why in the wake of what happened in ferson and what happened in new york,e've initiated task force i 90 ds are goi to be proving very specific recommendations. on the other hand, i think an unwillingness to acknowledge that progress has been made cuts off the possibilityf further progress. if criticsant to suggest that america inherently and reducibly racist, then, why bother even working on it? i have seen change in my own life. has this country. and those who would denyhat i
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think aually foreclose the possibility of further progpress rather than advancingt. >> host: m smiley, where did that come from? guest guest i don'tnow where he got the notion to ask the presidt that question. let me say candy did a wonderful job at cnn 2years. i hate it when she announced her retireme here recently i was a big fan of the wk. i was as surised as anybody. i was in los angeles iny bed in l. my phone started ringing. wa up, can i talkingo te president about you and your critique of him. i eventually got up and played it back to hear for myself. with all respect to the president. this is quite frankly a criticism that i grown tired of aring, i believe it is our duty, ourob our responsibility in this media business to hold all leaders accountable and just because you're my friend as barack obama has been for years, known him before he was ever in the united
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states senate, much less in the white house, he is my friend. whether you're my friend, whether u're an african-american, whether i vote for you once or twice, it matters not when it comes to doing my job of trying to hold yoaccountable to the things that you said you were going to do. i said it thousand times. i will say it again here today. great presidents are not born. great presidents are made. ey have to be pushed into their greatness. there is no lincoln if frederick douglas isn't pushing him. if there is no fdr if eleanor is not pushing him. there is to lbj if rtin luther king jr. is not pushing him. when president calls me a critic. i take my big boy pill when i wake up during the day i can handle it. i don't see my other friends labeled obama critics. chuck todd on is asks tough questions. he is obama critic is george stephanopoulous an obama critic? our job is to ask difficult
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questions. it is almost reverse racism, that the black guy who critiques the black president continues to be called an obama critic as opposed to doing his job. i quite frankly don'tike that but i'm dealing with it. >> host: you generated a quite a bit of conversation on your facebook page at booktv. this is typical comment. robert hill, jr., his picture of an african-american man. tavis smi is srt opportunist along with cornel west thoughthey should ve special access to the president when he islack. whent didn't happen they turned against the president withll their success. >> guest: again, i have a first amendment right to free speech. i do not have a first amendment right not to be criticized. i expressy point of view. i tell the truth as i see it. i acknowledge all the time i don't have monopoly of truth. there is a truth and a way to truth and i think peter, we're
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on the way to the truth. i don't believe i have a monopoly. but i believe the truth i know i'm obligated to tell and share that truth. what is wrong with our country most of us don't have the courage to say what it is you see. you have to say wt it is you see. that means from time to time you criticize. my mother doesn't agree withe on everything i say. she loves me more than anybody the world. i'm happy with debate and conversation that kicks up as a result of what i say. that not the reason for saying. the reason for saying it to be committed to a life of telling the truth as best i can. if the critics you know, come at me for having a different point of view. i'm okay with it. >> host: whado you mean by fail up? the cover of your 2011 book, fail up? >> guest: when i wrote that book it was on occasion of my 20th anniversary in the broadcast business. i've been at this a little while. i'm used to criticism. my gift to person who is have
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followed my ceer over 20 years, rather than we started talking about what the book was going to be, peter. rather than focus in on my 20 biggest momen. you asked me earlier of what my proudest moments was and i could have done a book of my 20 proudest moments. i decidedo fp it. i started to write a book on 2 stupidest decision i ever done and learn from it. if those are honestest those are success fell will tell you they learned much more from failure than they ever learned from their sucss and the same is true for me. i thought it might make a more sense to talk about a book that transparent and open. these are the dumb things i've done. these are miakes i've made. these are the lessons. maybe if you read from this you avoid the things i learned from. >> host: from fail up, i was 40 in houston had a major panic
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attack. the details of that night are so tram tick forgive me for not nting to relive them here. have you talked about what happened that night? >> guest: not much. i'm happy to do it with you and i appreciate the question i think. when i turned 40 as i mentioned i had a really difficult time. haa major panic attack. irony i was in houston with my family and friends to receive a huge honor on the day of my 40th birthday and we're all in houston together. i'm in the room. and as the clock gets closer and closer t midnight, my turning 40 i start asphyxiating, i arted throwing up all over the place. i couldn't breathe. i didn't know what was happening. my body was shutting down on me and cryg and literally in the floor of the hotel room. and i just started praying. somehow i got through it and through tears, i eventually fell asleep. when i woke up it was after
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midnight and i was relieved that i had actually lived to see my 40th birthday. then, but within five minutes it occurred to me i was in houon but i live in los angeles. so where i live i really wasn't 40 yet. and believe it or not, as funny as it sound the whole process started all over again. the point was i was having a very, very difficult time turning 40. i did not believe i was going to make it to my 40th birthday. for years i lived this and here's the reason why. dr. king saved my life when i was 12-year-old boy. he had long since been dead by the time i turne12 but as age of 12 as i write about in my two other books dr. king literally saved my life. i wouldn't be here talking to yo right now had it not been for dr. king coming to see me in a hotel room when i was a 12-year-old kid hotel room, hospital bed. i was in a hospital bed when i was 12 and dr. king came to
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visime and literally saved my life. since i've was 12, a devote day and rather thanking everything about theerson i regards the america'sreatest democratic, small d america's greatest democratic public intelctual. my whole life is doing my small part my verymall part trying to save the world for his legacy. what is e legacy? justice for all serce to others and love that liberates people. that's his that's his life as far as i'm concerned. so i have done mymall part through my media work and philanthropic work to honor that legacy of the point is because i was so enveloped in the world of king for some reason it occurred toe after i survived that night it a came, it became clear to me that i was having troubleurning 4 given that my hero had been asssinated at
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39. and it took m a few days to really work through this, talking to friend and others an even a trapist. i finally came to understan that i couldn't process the fact that dr. king is dead at 39 and somehow i'm being blessed to live to 40. what does this mean for the rest of my life that king didn't live as long as i had lived. i had a very difficult time turning 40. i just turned 50 a few months ago in september of 2014. fortunately i ca report i did not have that kind of difficulty turning 50. >> host: your most recent book, the death of a king, the real story of martin luther king, jr.'s final year. we'll talk about that. why were you in the hospital at age 12? >> guest: in one of my earlier texts, my memoir, what i know for sure, this is story painful to tell. i didn't want to tell it then. quite frankly don't like revisiting now. i will tell the story once i preface it by saying my father and i have the most wonderful
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relationship now father and son can have. when i was 12, in stories in the book, my father lost his temper one night beat me so severely i was in the hospital for two weeks in traction. a pretty severe beating to have a 12-year-old kid in the hospital for a couple of weeks. while i wain the hospital, suffering and trying to recover from this pretty severe beating a member abo my church came to me and gave me a exist and the gift was was a box of lp recordings of king's speeches. turns out barry gordy of motown fame had the good sense to send and engineer around to follow dr. king to record king's speeches. of us think king gave only one speech in his whole life, i have a dream and only had one line in it, i want my children to live in a nation where they're not judged by color of their skin and content of their character. i can hear the audience saying
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it with me. we all thought he gave one speech with one line. in memphis gave two speeches. gave the mountaintop speech the night before he was assassinated. at best we know two king speeches he gave. barry ford did i sent an engineer to follow king and record many of his speeches. as time would have it, barry gordy put recordings out on lp. my deacon collected many of those lps for whatever reason, i don't know why this day, i never spoken to him about my love for king, adoration for king, any of that, this deacon brought me this box and with you will at reporting and gave me as a gift. at 12 years of age in indiana you're from indiana founder of this network, brian lamb be is from indiana. we're hoosiers around here. indiana a black and white stage a whole lot more than white than black. it cnged over the years. we weren't talking about king in my middle school or my high school.
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when this deacon brought me the gifts of recordings. i knew who king was but never studied dr. king. when i started listening to king's voice on the records peter and i hrd love in his heart and hope in his soul, it brought me back t life as i said. it, king wasalking t aation about the power of love, aut the perorvess thataso apt rengasev me. so when i said earlier that he literally saved my life, when i heard his voice o all those record he did. from whatever on what i tried to do with all my work, radio tv print, philanthropy, try to make the world safe for his legacy. >> host: april 4th, 1968 what was dr. king's mind set what was the last day of his
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life like? >> guest: last day is quite remarkable. night before, we said a moment ago given th mountaintop speech at mason temple in memph. the moing after he was feeling pretty good. he had some rough days in the last year. take as while to back up why this last year was so rough. his last year, excuse me brought him more difficult days than days of joy. thlast day of his life, interestingly, ironically was a good day for king. story has been told many times of he and andy young and others having aillow fightn the hotel room earlier that day. his brher hadome to visit him. he had come from louisvilleo memphis to visit him. he was around his family. earlier on that day he had conversation with his pants backn atlanta. talked to coretta back in atnta. it was pretty good day until the moment he steps out on the balcony and is assassinated. it is a day that will, i will forever live in the memory of
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anybody alive at th time or old enough to remember it. i was a toddler at the time of his assassination. i certainly talked to enough people over the years who have it etched in their memory as my generation does where theyere on 9/11. people feel the same way of t assassination of kennedy and assassination of other kennedy and assassination of king. >> host: of it voice smily why dihe step o of the balcony? where was he going? >> guest: he was going to dinner with billy kyle one of his friend's pretty muchers in memphis. they were speaking at a rally they were going to later after dinner preparing for a march on sanitation workers. the first one erupted in violence. it didn't work out. king pmised to go back to mehis to lead a second march would not be fraught with violence he deplored. they were having a meeting dinner and speak to ral getting ready for the march.
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he steps on the balny as we all know. he was hit with that assassin's bullet. but it was a rough year for king. at was april 4 '68. as you know, this book, death of a king starts one year to the day prior, april 4, 1967 when king gives the most controversial speech of his enti life. >> host: where was that? >> guest: new york. april 4th, '67 he is in new yorkity speaking at the riverside church in manhattan giving a speech calle beyond vietnam. in that speech calls america the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today he had been on record being opposed to war. this is first time peter he is giving a major address to the nation condeming the war. he lays out in detail our relationship with vietnam our history with vietnam. lays it out, one of the rare times king actually reads entire text he was more of, he ws
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orator obviously extraordinaire. his "i have a dream" speech he went off the script and started freestyling t i have a dream stuff. he was good off script. like some people who have use a teleprompter for everything they say. but dr. king gave the speech beyond vietnam. called america the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today. then talked about what he called the triple threat facing our democracy. that triple threat? racism poverty militarism. ironically 50 years later same triple threat facing this country as we sit here now. racism poverty militarism. king was right. he made the comment and called america the great etf per vair i don't remember of violence in the world. everybody turned on him i don't mean fox news. they weren't arod then. liberal media. "new york times." "washington post." "time" magazine. media turned on him.
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then the whi house turned on him. he and johnson worked together to pass the voting rights act civil rights act. this movie "selma" h johnson is portrayed in the movie. johnson worked with him to pass that seminal piece of leslation. white house worked against him being against the president and war in vietnam. last poll taken in his life, "harris poll" found nearly 3/4 of the american peoplehought he was irrelevant. so why america turns on him. inside black america that number is almost 60, six zero of black folk tught he was irrelevant. i don't mean black folk. roy wilkins and naacp came out against him. whitney young and urban league come out of against him. karl rowe wan cams out against him. ralph bunch another nobel laureate, peace pri laureate comes out against him. i can't quote on c-span what thurgood marshall, supreme court
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justice thurgood marshall, about dr. king about him in that era. they turn on martin. media, white house, white fol black foaming. that is the live he has to navigate. talking abt racism and poverty and militarism. he dice broke. last year of his life can'tet a book deal. can't get a paid speech. disinvited to the white house. disinvited to black churches. this is the last nile mile of the way king has to walk all by himsf. when martin takes that bullet a year later same today. >> april this '67. killed april 4, six sy eight. when he is killed on the bal conany peter, believes and dice, imagine this martin dies believing everything and everybody has turned on him. cost most shifted against him. now five decade later martin was right and everybody else was wrong. but that is not the way that he got up out of here.
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>> host: neither tweet, what is the one thing thaw learned about dr. king that you dipped know before? >> guest: great question. king, i can ever eve not acknowledge this king has three brilliant historians who have done the heavy lifting to bring us his life and legacy. and deh of a king, which is the first book and only book ever focused just on the last year of his life. there is no book that focuses just on april 467 to '68 what the last year is like is about the dr. king we don't know. taylor branch. david and claiborne cson. love them all. without them doing heavy lifting the story of his king's life and work and witness wouldn't be known. the thing that most surprised me. and i knew most of this from years of rearch, but it is remarkable peter toonsider that king has all of this hell and all of this hate coming at him. there are fbi spies inside of
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his organization. his treasurer mr. harrison is on the fbi payroll. the photographer shootg him ernest withers, is on the fbi payroll. i could go on. he is catching hell and hate from the outside. being spied on and abandoned quite franklfrom the inside by his own people. and never in all of the hours and hours and hours of audiotape, all the hours of surveillance tape they have on dr. king notne time do we ever hear king contesting the humanity of any other human being. not demonizing, not denigrating it is just remarkable for somebody to be infused to be filled with that kind of love. we live in a world now where so many people are not as advertised. can yo imagine? i shudder to think in my life what they might have heard me saying if i had been under surveillance 24/7 but to know that they have all this tape on martin and who he was to us, who
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he was public was same person in private. that is not to say he was a perfect servant. i'm clear in the book, death of a king, does not shy away from his personal failings. he was a public servant. not a perfect servant. wore his book and witness, s message of love was concerned martin was consistent all the way through. it is beautiful thing five decade later to discover tis person was who you thought he was. >> host: good afternoon welcome to booktv, in depth program. one author. his or her body of work, three hours, and your phone calls tweets and comments. 202 air code 748-8200. if you helive in eastern ten trillion time zones. 748-2881. go ahead tile in. make a comment on facebook page.
12:27 am slash booktv. booktv/org, make a comment via twitter. @booktvs our handle. tavis smiling edited several more books. judgely his books. just a thought. smiley report, came out in 199 f hard left, straight talk about the wrongs of the right. 1996, on the air. best of tavis smiley on tom joiner morning show. 1998. doing what is right how you fight for what you believe. 2,000, keeping the faith stories of love, courage maling and hope from black america. on air best of tavis smile on the tom joyner show. 2003. never mind. best advice i ever received. came out in 2006. autobiography. what i know for sure.
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author of growing up in ameca also came out in 2006. accountable, which we discussed making america as good as its promise, 2009. fail up, 20 lessons on building success. ca out three yea ago. too important to fail, saving america's boys, also came out three years ago. the rich and the rest of us, poverty manifesto 2012. death of a king,bout mtin luther king's final year, came out this year. and coming out next year, or this year i guess. 2015 my journey wit maya. what is that? when is that coming out? >> guest: that is first time that cover has been seen. they're tweaking it. this was a maya angelou this is me in my 20s, holding hands and we sat and talked in ghana. i was just a kid maya an gell lou, invited me on a troupe to ghana for two weeks with my
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iend. we all went to ghana a couple of weeks. i can't begin to tell you how being brought into her world as a young 20 something fundamentally changed my life. maya angelou was the first person first world-class intellectual, cornel west is dear friend of mine and dear brother, and book that you mentioned was coauthored with him. long before i met cornel west, another world class intellectual, i knew maya angelou. she welcomed me into her world. she became a surrogate mother to me. i became one of her sons. she had one son guy and i became one of her many sons. the book is really kind akin to tuesdays with more riff if you know that book. about a mother, son relationship. what this 28 year friendship with maya angelou was like with me. the experiences we had traveling the world. experiences we had staying at
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herouse, she visiting with my. i have more public conversation with maya angelou than anybody on my public radio and public tv programs. the meals she cooked for me things she talked to me and things she exposed to me and the fact that this world class intellectual would let me disagree with her and wanted to have my point of view. i am raised in a very strict, you know, pentacostal, by the cook religious family. i'm one of, one of 10 kids. and you ve to have a lot of discipline and se strict rules in that family and i was taught in my family, young people are to be heard not to be, to be listened, young people should listen, rather than speak. and my point of view was not always valued when ias a kid the rules were very different. imagine, i could get exposed to somedy like maya angelou who well comes me interrogating her welcomes my point of view. this is andult like my
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grandmother, who doesn't mind me arguing, pushing her back on her. man, did we have disagreements. this book talks about good tis, thereere almost good times. we disagreed on clarence thomas nominated for supreme court. we disagreed on a number of issues. there were some movies that we disagreed about things she starred in that we disagreed about. when barack obama was running for president she started out supporting hillary clint because she is dear friend of clintons. we recall giving wonderful speech on the morning of mr. clinton's inauguration. very good friend of clintons. supported hillary when hillary first ran in 2008. after hillary lost she became a supporter of barack obama. the obama campaign at one point getting a little testy about my holding them accountable. they played the trump card. ha maya call me one day. in the book you will hear the sty what maya said to me and
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back and forth we had about barack obama andther issues. that book comes out on april 7th. i will ben tour for that around time of mother's day. >> host: tavis smiley, hough did you at 20 something get to know maya angelou? guest guest i mentioned that i had a couple friend knew her and. julianne malvo. i love dr. malvo and dr. ruth love who was the superintendent of schools in both chicago and oak oaknd. somehow i got connected to dr. malvo and dr. love and ended up on this trip to africa and the rest they say is history. >> host: where did you go to college? >> guest: university ever mississippi. my father is from georgia. my father was stationed at a air force base in biloxi at keesler air force base.
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he is in mississippi at air force base. my mother lives in mississippi. the two of them m. the rest they say is history. we got transferred to air force base in indiana. through another long story my parents had 10 kids, although four were my cousins we brought in as family. there are 10 kids in my family. eight boys, two girls. our family got to be so large after my mother's sister was murdered, we took in her four kids. that is how they became, 10 of us, pam, phyllis paul, patrick all four ps, became to live with us. our family became a family of 10 kids. that is how i was raised. it was a economic hardship for military tmove us around like other military families. we didn't move around much. we pretty much stayed i indiana. that is good crop of my family. almost all of them were there early last year when i was honored with my star on hollywood walk of fame. first time all of them, they have been out various times to visit. that was one time all of my
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siings my mom my dad all came out for theeremony last year. it was a great moment in my life. >> host: what i know for sure, my story of growing up in america, 2006, you dedicate to phyllis. why? >> guest: phyllis is one of my sisters in the that photo. i mentioned earlier in answer to your question about the beating when i was 12, my sister phyllis, and myself were both in that situation. so both of us were accused of something in our church that we hadn't done. quite frankly the minister of our church just got it wrong. i don't want to call him a liar. he is deceased now. i don't feel comfortable doing that but he was wrong in his assessment of what we were accused of having done and so he got in front of the entire church stand up inront of the entire con agation chastising my sister and me and goe in on my parents. it was just an ugly situation in front of the entire church. never should he happened. at no point did we get called i
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for convsation what had happened were we in the room when i happened it is so surreal i can't understand how an adult you stand up in front of entire church congregation and accuse two kids of doing something that, i mean, anyway. e point is, that it was an embarassment to my family. obviously my father was very involved in our church. lost his temper d phyis and i had beatis of our lives. so when i went to the hospital, that is phyllis right above my shoulder. that is me on front row in tan brown suit. that is phyllis over my shoulder. phyllis and i were two who got if trouble. both of us were in the hospital at the same me. i love all my siblings. phyllis has a special place if know heart we shared that sort of tragic moment together. we're in hospital recovering together. as i mentioned inook, because the incident was so, so heinous my father got arrested. we had to go to court. it was all in the local newspaper.
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it was an ugly situation. both of us were taken out of our family. both of us sent to two different foster homes. long story short after bei away for a few months i really, i was upset and frankly as i said in the book at time. hated my parents for what happened. hated my dad for what he did. hated my mom not stopping him. thankfully all theseears later we got through. that all wonderful family. you saw them at my star last year. we got through that. at the moment i hated my parents but i missed myrothers an sisters. i'm oldest. i really missed them. the foster family that i was staying with lived close enough to my house that i could actually see them out in the field playing as i drove past in the car with my foster family. i could see my siblings out in the fields playing i would cry looking out the window. after a few months i askedhe court to let me go back to my family. i would have to figure out to navigate through all the hate stored up in me.
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i figured that out over time. my brothers and sisters i missed most. my sister phyllis went to another foster family and never came back. at age of 12 i lost phyllis. she went away. her foster family lived much farther away. i didn't see phyllis much until we got out of high school. got reconnected. that incident set my life in one direction, peter but sent her life in another direction. for me, when i g introduced to dr. king as i intimated earlier it allowed me to see that there was a a roleo play in the world. i didn't quite figure all that life until my years later meet maya angelou, and figured out i had to find my own voice and find my own way in the world. tavis, we find our path by walking it. we findur path by walking it. king lets me know there is a calling for me in the world. maya angelou helps me figure out what that calling is. phyllis on the other hand had
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her spirit broken by that beating, peter. it broke her spirit and she became crack addict. and had a number of kid out of wedlock. just had aery, very difficult life for a lot of yrs. i'm happy to report tha while it took a long time, a lost rehab, a lot of work, aot of money, a lot of patience, phyllis eventually went to nursing school and eventually graduateand she is doing okay now but it took a long time for her to turn that corner. i just have always felt particular peculiar love for her. that is why i dedicated that book to phyllis. >> host: is she sober today? >> guest: she is sober. doing fine. watching right now. hi phyllis. >>ost: this is what you write what were daily events for most other students were revelations to me. i was amazed, for example at my first trip to movie theater, nor will i forget the movie i s "live on the sunset strip" or its star, richard pryor.
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>> guest: very strict pentacostal family and in my church we were forbidden to go to movies. we were forbidden to secular music. i couldn't listen to the jackson 5 or other stars of the day i wanted to hear. weouldn't listen to secular muc or go to movies. couldn't play sports. very strict pentacostal upbringing. wasn't until i got to college that i experienced things most people experiee every day first time i walked into movie theater on the cpus of indiana university on indiana after avenue. i didn't know how to buy the ticket. i didn't want to go with anybo first time. because i was too embarrassed to tell my friends at college i didn't ever go to movie theater. i was surprised sold popcorn and other goodies and sit back in plush sheet seat and big screen. see richard pryor live on the sunset strip my first movie
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considering pryor's language and comedy. richard pryor i come to appreciate him all these years later perhaps, mo so that an dr. king, which is anoth conversation, richard pryor was freest black men i ever known. he was a black man free enough to speak and live his truth. muhammad ali probably shares at same bill. just free, just a free black man. i always aspired to be as free as i can be. freedom by any other definition ability to tell the truth even when you catch hell for telling it. you have to be a free black man or free white man or anybody be willing to speak the truth atever the consequences are you deal with it. that i ultimate freedom. i respect pryor for that. second mov was "purple rain" with prince. i remember these things vividly. because i never had a chance to experience those things until i got to college. >>ost: back at iu here, the death of denver smith galvanized the black student population of ui -- iu.
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who is that? >> guest: since i've been 12 i've been learning everying i can about dr. king. i read everything i can get my nd on. i've gone to any library for miles around. anything about king i was soaking it up like a sponge, so much so when i got to high school i was o the speech team and everywhere i went for four years on the speech team i would wiall of these speaking contests and i enter vfw contests and rotary contests. i was always delivering one of king's speeches and winning having a lot of fun sharing king's message. so i had king in my spirit but i hadn't been tested as to whether or not i could show that kind of love that kind of compassion and step out front when the truth needed to be told in a ry difficult situation. one thing to have imbibed all of that. another thing to actually step out and lead on those kind of king principles.
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to your question, my friend denver smith who was on the football team at indiana university, shot and killed, the black denver smith was shot and killed by some white cops, not unlike when we see today unarmed black man killed by unarmed cops, this happened to me in college. i know this eric garner story. i know this mike brown story. i know this trayvon martin story. i lived ts as so much more in indiana university around my friend denver smith was killed. so we galvanized ourselves as student leaders around the killing of denver smith. and we couldn't accept the fact that denver had been shot inordinant number of times in his back. yet the police said they shot him in self-defense. how do you sot somebody in self-defense in the back and he was unarmed? very difficult situation for me to lose a friend so early and to to be tied in that way. but denver smith was the moment and incident in my life.
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everyone of us has those moments. i hope it is not for those watching the death of a friend. everyone has the moments when our courage d our conviction and our commitment and our character are going to be tested and i hope that in those moments that i will always be ready to step forward but that denver smith moment was first time i was confronted how do you handle a crisis and use these kingian principles of love and non-violence and protest and pressure. how do you u the stuff you've been reading tavis? all the stuff you're reciting in these speeches. you will be tted at a moment as student leader in indiana university. denver's wife and kids still live in the chicago area. he was married at a young age an a daughte who again i have seen over the years but it was a moment of deep sorrow for me when i was just a young kid. >> host: tavis smiley, when year did you graduate from u-iu?
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>> guest: i went to indiana from '82 to '86. i went for internship with mayor tom bradley of los angeles. i went back to finish up my degree. there is funny story i tell in my boo. i wento indiana university from '82 to '86. when i say i finished i left indiana univerty a couple credits short of my degree. and long story aga very short, i keep saying that phrase, i'm trying to make most of our time, this is one of 20 mistakes i made in my life i wrote in the "failed up" book, in my senior year in indiana to make the point i got ito a dispute with one of my professors. the dispu was so serious that the dean of my school had to settle the dispute the dean settled the dispute in my favor but suggested to me that might be wise to leave this
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particular class and go into another session. so there were other professors teaching same class. tavis i think this will be fraught with so much tsion the rest of this semester, thi incident happened early on. if you go to another class right now, you can graduate and she won't have to see you every day. you ain't got to see her and put this moment behind us. my little aogant, arrogant narcsistic self at the time said, no no, no. it was her mistake. i was right. she was wrong. you ruled for me and she is not running me out of this class. he said, okay, have it your way. i stayed in the class. i have no excuse. i flunked. i just didn't, my last semester in indiana i didn't go to class didn't study wasn't paying attention. i flunged thatlass. it was funnierhan that becse we got to the end of the semester here is the sad part about it, peter i shouldn't
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tell the story on television. so embarrassing. >> host: if you don't, i will read it. >> guest: in that case i will tell it to you. what is so funny this was pass-fail class. all i needed was d minus. how do you fail a class when you only need a d pass or fail? i didn't need c plus or b. it was pass or fail. i was so bad becse i was arrogant and wouldn't go to class, this, that and other. comes time for the final. i know i'm getting f in this class. doing all-nighter trying to prepare r the last exam. if i really, really aced this last exam i can get out of here with d minus. i have to get close to 100 on exam which i know isn't going to happ but i'm trying real hard. so i do horrible on the exam as you can imagine. so then same teacher who i had gotten into with and went to the dean and scread on her and got her in all kind of trouble this is same professori had to go backo now beg her somehow to
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give me opportunity to get a passing grade to get out of this class and graduate from indiana. and she lked at me with that cheshire cat grin, oh, mr. smil, oh the semester is over now and you're back in here asking me to help you when you failed in this class? okay. she is just laughed at me. i knew what that meant. so i had already been given a job, offered a job i had gone out earlier to intern for a semester and back to indiana to finish my degree. got into the trouble in last messer of school even though i have a job waiting for m in los angeles. i had to make a decision. do i stay here nor another semester and take this class all er again and or g to l.a. take the job i've been offered. i went to l.a., took the job. i can say that i never lied about having my degree because they knew i was going back to finish up. i went back to l.a. took the job. nobody asked me, did you
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graduate? the truth the matter is tha years went by befe i finally got back and finish that crse to get my degree. it was funny because so many years passed before i actually did this, by the time i finally finished the course and actually got my degree, two years later indiana gave me honorary doctorate degree. they weren't going to do that until i finished that one course. they wanted to honor me, my broadcast career done well and i had written books all that kind of stuff. they wanted me to fish the course. i literally buckle down, finish the course as an adult if was a funny story. >> host: there was counselor who wouldn't retire. >> guest: counselor, miss dorothy, if she is watching now hello, miss dorothy. she is good friend of mine. i was out of indiana so long. i took job for tom brad limit i was offered money man. i hadn't forgotten about it. it was in back of my head.
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ironic because i'm eldest of all these kid i had brothers and sisters who i put through college. i worked really hard to get them through school. brother graduated from moore house. another from indiana. i was paying to help send my brother, and sisters to college so they could graduate. so my siblings who were younger than me technically got their college degrees before i did. i had a counselor at indiana my counselor called me every year, tavis, you have to finish thi course. she found -- hounded me every year. because she knew i was that close to finishing degree. every year, peter she would call me, new school year. i have can take it by corresponden in los angeles. correspondence class. one class, tavis. she called me every year. and hounded me to take that class. year one went by, year two year three, four, five, so many years went buy. one of the years she called me and one of the books i read, tavis i'm retiring end of this
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ar. i am not going to retire until you finish this course. and it hit me so hard that she loved me enough to call m i am in los anges. she is a counselor in my school at indiana university, 2 or 3,000 miles away and every year she would ll me to hound me to finish what i started. reminded me so often peter, my grandmotr, we call big mama. big mama, said to me, tavis, a once a task you have begun never finish until it is done. be a labor, great or small do it well or not at all. i can hear my grandmother in back of my head who had been de deceased at that point. finish what you started. miss dorothy called me every year. it was powerful for me in my life this really shouldn't matter. but i nt to make a point quickly, in my life there are two people who expected more out of me than i expected out of my self, both of them interestingly
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and ironilly happened to be white woman. my second grade teacher who i loved and dedicated my books too, vera graft. my second teaer god bless her soul, died in her 90s. my second grade teacher said in class, only black kid in indiana, in all white class she would not tolerate me giving up. there was something about being only black in that class that made me feel inferior. that was my own internalized inferiority. she read that and she said to me one today. >> hear it in my ear right now at my little desk, tavis i expect as muchut of you than anybody else in this class and you, young manou will have to quit quitting. you have to quit quitting. you're quitting on me. i know you're capable of doing this. this is white woman in second grade, who expected as much out of me as everybody else in my class. never forgothat. fast forward to years later in college. here is mice dorothy calling me
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in l.a., you got to finish this degree. she hounded me on that. there are aumber about stories i can ask about. that is smart artist. they will get it. >> host: very quickly. we'll take calls. hang on, i apologize. you brought up big mammama. i was on television debating ja kemp, bob dole. kemp is smart. former buffalo bills quarterck who relishes verbal contact. our exchanges was sharp and caustic. as our heated dialogue went on, back in kokomo, big mama made her way into the kchen where my mother was watching. oh, my god we got to g in the car and get tavis before they come after him. guest: my grandmother was afraid when she walked into the kitchen and saw me on television, big mama die in her 90s.
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born and raised in mississippi at the height of segregation. big mama walked into the kitchen and saw her grandson on television sassing a white man. she didn't understand that i was being paid to have this debe with jack kemp on national television. i was a commentator. he was a commentator. wee getting paid to do this. she saw me on tv sassing a white man. this is one of the funniest stories of my life. my mother called me, tavis, wn you get this message, please call home. i could hear it in my mother's voice a bit of, she was frantic but she was also jeff y'all. i couldn't understand, why is she sounding frantic and jovial at the same time. jovial because she thought it was funny but frantic because my grandmother was taking ito seriously. to call home after he got off the tv set to let big mama know
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i was okay. she was not going stopping crying an saying they would kill me to sass a white man. this is from mississippi where they killed emmett till where he was killed whistling at white woman. she is scared me sassing this white man on television will get me killed. she wants my mother to get in the car, drive from indiana to d.c. to come get me and stop me from sassing jack kemp. i love jack kemp. he was a great guy. >> host: from your 2000 book, doing whats right, are u willing to make a scene, cause a stink, shake,ae and rouse? if you plan to be on the front lines as opposed to helping out in more support role you will be operating on the cutting-edge of change. you must be willing to step outside of the box be willing to holler to be heard. les go to calls for tavis smiley. our author this month. we'll begin in baltimore. thanks for holding. you're on the air with tavis
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smiley on booktv. >> caller: good afternoon, friend. mr. smiley, i'm big fan of yours for probably, 10 15 years. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: since your bet days, actually. i love your work. you're excellent. i was in school and i heard you were coming to washington. i left my school, my class just to be with you so you could sign my book for your daughter, mr. smiley. mr. smiley, i'm really, really disappointed a bithat you've done with the president. like you, i was against mr. obama and voted for mrs. clinton during that time. but over the time, but over the time we have to come to conclusion that barack obama is the president of the united states. he is not a king. he can not say let there of course lights and there will be lights. he can not mr. smiley. barack obama can not say okay,
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pele tite aut holding ople accotae. but i'm no ainst barack oma >>ost: john in las vas. hi john. >> cle good morning happyewear. >> guest: happy n year. >> caller: tavis congtulations on yourell earned andeserve success. i your book "death of a king." fbi's enity and infiltration of martin luther king and j edgar hoover referred to him as bizarro, my question, i will start what about your coretta king'successful civil case against the fbi and the federal government? what are your thoughts about dick gregory and mark lane's wonderfully researched book, code name sorrow -- "zorro". and after coretta successful case against the fbi why did
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not thousands and thousands of blacks take to the streets and protest for the way they did of the sad case of mr. garland? probably the most successful entertainer, political activist, who was black in this country was paul robeson. why is it that very successful blacks like spike lee and -- >> host: let's bring this to conclusion? >> caller: not fund ad movie about paul robeson. >> guest: a lot of good stuf there. two quick answers. with regard to your question about mrs. king and my friend dick gregory and others who have done a lot of work on the assassination of dr. king, this book, death of a king. not about the assassination. from april 4th six sy ven, to april 4, six sy eight where the book ends. that very powerful epilogue. the book does not cover the assassination.
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i do not believe james early ray acted alone in the killing of dr. king, number one. number two, i believe our government was complicit in killing of dr. king. i leave it at that night. with regard to the comment about paul reock so i don't know what spike has on his docket any other director who could do a great film about paul robeson i till tl you this. i concur with you wholeheartly, paul robeson may very well be the most underareciated american that we've ever known. as many as i say d king may be the greatest american we ever produced. that is my own assessment, maybe greatest american ever, i 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
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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 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
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nation" this morning about the movie, "selma" and how it portrays lyndon johnson. joseph califano, written a piece, head of lbj museum in 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 a 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
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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 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
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initially was wrong on slavery. that is major major fact i wish they put in "link conn." we -- "lincoln." 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 you? >> guest: how are you? >> calr: give you references, ghana, anthony nuclear, a book called. the bomb, the president and his daughters, nuclear primer on all issues of nuclear weapons. >> guest: okay. >> caller: and power. 10 million people died in congo
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where uranium just recently, not over yet. the war over uranium where we got uranium for first nuclear weapon >> guest: okay. >> caller: hope you read principles on the air. written by greatest generation. o veterans, greatest work number of principles. there is currently highest law of the land. geneva convention despite -- >> host: joseph, where are we going with this? did you have a question or recommendations? >> caller: i'm all for president obama and what he is doing. i voted for him and hope we go forward. >> host: that is joseph in a delphi maryland. >> guest: more stuff my for my reading list. i appreciate it. >> host: john, sarasota, florida, question for tavis smiley. >> caller: good afternoon. tavis, can you hear me? >> guest: you're fine, sir. >> caller: i have two to three quick comments. first i want to tell you being sincere, on my little table
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right away from this telephone here, i made a tape of your appearance on booktv where you gave about a hour lecture on your book about dr. king. >> host: lorraine motel in memphis that we covered it. >> caller: right. i was so inspired by that. our family -- made a tape of that. will send it to my brother. >> guest: it thank you. >> caller: that speech and that book obviously obviously his life but that one hour speech that you gave, that lecture that you gave was very, very helpful and very inspiring. >> guest: thank you. . .
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>> caller: you and dr. west go around, get people registered to vote. nothing's going to ange in this country until we get people to vote in this country. >> host: thank you, john, in sarasota, we will leave it there. tavis smiley. >> guest: john, first of all thank you for your kind wds and i couldn't agree more on the issue of voting. concern these ys that too many fellow citizens see that our system i broken, that it is dysfunctional, that this town where i sit right now, washington is bought and bossed by big money and big business. dr. king said many years ago when he was living that the negro in the south at the time
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could not vote and the negro in the north had nothing for which to vot i think a lot of americans now, never mind black people i think a lot of americans now feel they have not much to vote for and 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 yo 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
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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 line when you want. that caller also referenced this book "the rich and therest of : a poverty manifesto. tavis smiy and cornel west. in is book talking about race to the top education dollars. cornel west says to the secretary of education "i know u are all break dancing over this $4 billion initiative but ghistan gets $4 billion every day." >> guest: yeah. dr. westak a powerful point in this book that we co-authored. and his point was and slls that education ght notbe a race, education in america ought to be a right. and i right about that. education oughtot be a race, it ought to be a right. so i have my critique and dr. west has misery teaks of -- critiques of the race to the top ogram. the point h makes is very
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clear, tt we put money out for the thin that mter to us. we go back to dr. king's tple threat facing ourdemocracy 50 yes ago, still fcing ou democracy now;acism, poverty and demille tarrm. t the only one of tho thr that gets the money isemille terrorism. we won't put theoney where we ed to t it. one t things i'm going to be doi a lot o year ter -- so i'm glad you raised that -- using the hashtag 20portydebate, one of t things'm pushing for a lot i've already started talking about, this is my goal between now d november 2016 or fall of 2016 by the tmee get to september o 2016 and the presidenti debatcoission sanctions thosehree debates that we're going to have between the two fil ndidates whoever theyay be and as enticing and as juicy as it is for us in the media to want a bush/clinton
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rematch, i'm not sure it's going turn outhat way. i think there's a wonderful piece in "the new york times" today thatlays out in the times in thisorng why both hillar an jeb aren't going to me it. it's a fascinati rd that i w rlier thisorng in toy's new york tes. having said tat i think he's right. i just don' see bothof them makingit to e en but i coul berong abouh. e point is that wev the nomineesre in0 we need to ve for the first time ever ter, ithis country one of osthree predential debates to fos exclusively on the issue of poverty and incom inequality. inll the research i have done, i can't find asile presidential date ever, eve thatfosed for 9 minutes exclusively on the issue of poverty and ince iqualit if it is ai believet is, the defininssue of our time, why can't he one of tho three debates that focus exclivy on poverty and come inequality? and whatheext president of
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the united states isoi t d about this ise that reatens r very demoac an ise that is now a maer ofationa security. so that hashtag is hasag 2016portydebe, and that's m mission for t nextear and a lftwoes,ow do w get eof theseebates to b about essue o vey. ht:he d e rnel west/tavismiley frienhip begin? >>ue: i was aid working for to bradley. the time i w onoano, speaking of dr. king, was on lo t th southern ristia adership conferencef greater losangeles. sclc, as u ow is tnly organization king founded in his fetime so i s loan from the mayos office t sc l.a. to wo o theeirst-er king holiy cebration in the ty .a. so sclc was in chargeof i i was lan fromheay's ofceo help th ogaze this firs annuali
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cebrioin theity of l.a and i w in the offe one dy, d itturns outdr. west was go friends ofth eciv direorf at ganizaon and he was inow and ppped in say helloohi fend wh was bo a gamedmark thomashos n t most werful black mann the state califoia he's the he he's t cirf the l.a. counoardf supervisors now which mes m the mtowfu black m running allf l.a coun. was my boss ten a great elteofci in california now. he and . st were good frnds,o west poed in to see hind he he wksn. yokn him whe you see him; thefro, the three-piece black suit. he walks in the door a i saidh, ld -- [laughr] oh it's the big e. izabeth. i lookedup hers cornel west. i read this guy in college, this is my man! ancoel west wlks inhe door. d i've been asked this quti many times, the person o i amire the most who is dead would ber. king but e person f most of myife who
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i've admiredhe most is dr. west. it's not just thate's brht but he haausable intelct. the e a lot srt folk i thcademy, buto havehe ki of love and ccernnd care for everyday people and to use that intellec inseice to emyou know, and d west and i don't always age on everything we're not lock sp on erything. he our own minds obviously, our own points of view. but the love he hasfor everyday people is palpable, and went you're in his ace, that kind of jumps you as you well kn. >> >> host: paul's in alendria, viinia. hi paul. >> calle hi, hello i've been a follower of tavi il fr some me and i really like his itervieng style. busince his association with mr. west he's becom more of an anchist d sile-minded thinker and frankl-- >> ht: paul, what do you mean single-minde what do you mean by
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sile-mind? >> caller:e's, like, arrogant and narcissistic are his own wos there which aptly describe hiand alwa angry man now. he'sever trying to get anybod to appeo their reaso he's alwaysjust oerwhelming em with endless verbiage >> guest: well, again, people are entitled to their opinio. i'm gladhat my bosseat pbs don't think i'm an angry black n who is espsing hate every night. i wouldn't be on pbs for 12 years, but you're entitled to your point of view, a i'l ep working on trying to be a better man. that's my commitme every year so tha you for your critiq. host: thiistom joyner talking about you,f i'm the hardest woing man in radio tavis ishe mst talkative. and since he talks fast, he has moreime to g me words in he can say more intelligent things in three minutes tha st people can say in 30. i'm just afraide's goingto blow out his voice box. >> gue: yeah. i've done that a couple times.
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i' had a cuple srgies on my voicebox. it's a challenge b that' actuly very -- it's a legitimate ccern tom had becae when you do radio or television as much as i do and mch as you do, you really do have to be concerned about your instrume. i love mucal artists particularly, and'm aays fascinedy peoe who i've seen go deep intoheir career, and they still have their instment. there are so many people that come to mind. tony bennett. tony bennett's like 90 years old now, a tony bennett can hit that note and hold it just like he did 40ears ago but it's how you protecthe instrument you have. there's many great artts whi feel that way about. over the years i'vactually lened -- tom's joke aside -- how to mage thishing so it will take me from here to checkout. >> host: tavis smiley, you used to doind oa state of black america, tavis smiley presents for yearshat we cerere on c-span. is that stillhappening? >> gst: it isn at the moment, and that's a good
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questioneter. did ifor, le, a dozen years, and it wasne of the mostatch things on c-span every year. you'd tune in on a saturday in february, and all day long right hereon c-spawe wouldha the biggest and brightest minds, best minds inlamerica dissecting the iues of the y. usuay a morning panel, afteoopane and all on c-an and i s appreciative to c-span for the dozen years w did tat of carryi it every year. the short answer is when back ama t elecd, you know, there was a different poi of view abo whether o n those kinds of conversations were cessary or needed. and so in truthe d e t first year that he was in office, andfter that and, again, this is part of the critique. 'rgoing to he a serious -- since u raised it, i'll spond. we'rgoing to he a serious come to jesus meeting in black erica, a seris come to jesus meeting when he's out of offi with all due respect to the persons who have called and ofred their points of vi
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callers have their point of view iave my pointf ew and then there are the facts. and these are the fts. the data is very clear and the white house can't even argue this. d th haven't tried targue it. when back obama out of office, the day is going to indicate as it -- t data going to indicate as it does now that bla people have lost ground in every single leadi economic indicator category. you n't bieve me? go to the kerr win instite at the ohio unirsito to the pew research data. all the data indicat rightow at if his presidency ended today, t dat indicates that black folk have lost ground in every leading econoc indator category. no do blamearack oma r all that? no, that's not my point. point i though that in the era of obama, his most loyal constituency has lost ground in every category. d i believe that it happened to some degree because of the deference of so-called black leaders to t white house.
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too any black leaders have been silenced and sidelined in the era of oama that nobody wants toffer a crique. nobody wants t say athg. and i get some of that ference. he's got a headwind coming at him in the rht. he's gotobstructiosm he's facing everyingle y. thers so muchn h plate. they're hating on him, they're trying to kill him, seet seice won't protect m like they should. i get all those debates, i'm in the barbershop, i'm part of my community. i goto black church. i get all of that. but at the end of the day, the datandicates because we have been so sle thib tat i read says you have not because you as nt. andif you don't make any demands, then you're notoing to getnything. so what's happened is our hispan brothers and sisters vetaken 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'veot to pu yourself the way,ou've got t get out there. you've gotoake dan ring the bell, beathe drum, pic ur metaor. but yove got to find a way to
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be heard. and in t era of obama black people have been eery silent, so mucso that dr. king turns in his grave that blackpeople are silent not just about verty, but about militarism. how ist that we gave th wld dr. king? is is our man of peace. 's man of nonvionc th is the guy that we regard mo thaanybody els in black history and we've beme silent even on the war question. this admistration has used more drones than george bush did. theye killed more innocent women and children with dron than george bu did. so if i say that i'm hating on the president. i'm hate no, my brother orister, these are the facts; that we have one ogm on steroids, we've not made anyrogress poverty,nd on the racism issue it is only wen ack mestart getting killed in the streets that we raise up inrmabout the racism that's still intractable in this country. all i'm saying is that we can never, ever surrender our rht to be heard jt because theguy
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or gal in the oval offe looks like us. that can't be o strategygoing forward. d, again as i said earlier great presidents have to be pushed. and you don't t anything from them if you don't make demands. >> host: tavis smiley, viewers out there a listening, they want to buy one book. which one book should theyuy [laughter] of yours? >>uest: i think any author probly says the most recent on with. this new album is the best alm i've ever done. i've ierewed people a thousand times. i've never, er inrviewed one musical arst who didn't say this album is the best alb. michael jackson was tryinto tell us after thriller that the next alm was -- how could th be michael? prince would tell yu now this isthbest album i've ever done so iue you would say this dr.ings t best book i've everritten but iteally is. all jokes aside now,his is my he, and this book has been -- in mo of the almost all of
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the reviews of book, they have talked about the meticulous resech that we did over years to get this book righ 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 america to be the great nation that i think she can , ithink that's inextricably linked, that realit to how seriously we take legacy of dr. king. and this is a story about king th most americans just don't knowand i hope that in january, a few days awa from his actualirthday 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 wouldsay "death of a ki." and finish. >> host: and athe bottom it sayswi david -- >> guest: 's a wonderful writer. david ritz wrote "divided sou witharvin gaye. has a new bk coming out this year th willie nelson, he's
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done a book wi buddy guy. i just saw the "rolling stone" list the other day the "rolling stone"ist of the top ten music books of t yearand david rich i holding down the number ree and fourosion. his book on aretha franklin, "respect," and abook with joe perry of aerosmith. those books are number ree and ur on the best books of t yearso says "rolling ston" the definitive voice on music in thisountry. 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 nedavid on all, everytng i do. but onhis king book i didn't want to write history book like brah o carson. i wanted a book about the lt arf s life that res like a movie it's like screplay d you ca just go right through it. i neede se help mki it read in thatway, and david was the best person to dot, and he's agreat guy >> host: this tweet forou what isourndividualring
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process like? on avera, how long does it ke for you to complete ur bo? >>uest: i can do -- my rearcheris the time ey take is another issue. it takes a while to get research right, particularly for a book like "ki." but when i ces to the actual writing,'ve done 17 or 18 of these now i can actually do it in three or four months. whatthat mns 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 mons i cancel -- i dn't cancel, i don't accept, my office knows if i'm going into a new book for three or fr monthsweoc the calendar down. i don't make any trips, no speeches, no appearances, no awards, no nothing. ius don't leave l.a. for three o four monthsand i'm in my house or, you know, in the case of david in david's office and we're working together. but is really three or four months. once t resrcis done, i can sit for three months and pretty much cnkut the writing.
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and then once i do that i turn it into my itor an the editing process begins, and i terally down to e wire on the maya book, i literally turned it into a couple wes before christmas to lite brown. my edito has now, so wre goin through the edits and revisionson that just in time to get it out ouor april but usually about three months. >> hos lda, minneapolis. good afternoon. >> caller: yes, good afternoon toou too. i have auestion, o course, for mr. smiley. d i have t questions and they relate directly to your book "death of a king," because i heard your lecture a week or so ago. you spokeow about how martin luther kg went tobj and criticized him think, in the oval office andrged 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 --
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what was his response tohe criticisms, you know? and en i have onether qution t. >> host: go ahead linda, and ask your question. >> calr: okay. the other question is, again relating to sometng you said onhe lecture about the ac leaders and other blacks who abdod him who for his stance against the war in vietnam. did they -- were they reallyor the war in vietnam these people who abaoned him? or did they leave him for other reasons -- >> ht: 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 aner in detailhat johnson's respon the was to king -- was toing. certaiy robert caro who's done all the wonderfulwork on lyon johnson's life and legacy, i would suggestou re his work to get what rert caro says
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about lyon johnson the way he vied it. my book is from king's perspective, not from johnson's, so i don't feel knowledgeable enough to answer on your second qstion, i do know the deal on the second question so many of these black leaders i refenced earlier byname roy wilkens of the naacphitney young inhe urban league,arl roha ralph bunch, thurgd marshallndhers who had issue with drki, many of them, most of them were concerned about he damage that king was doing to their relationshipth is to say to black america's relationship withyndon johnson. pu anotheray lyndon jhnson was viewed by many black folk at th time as the besfriend that black folk in th country had ha ithe oval office since lincoln and the emancipation proclamaon freeing the slaves. this guy paes the civilights act, the voting rights act, you know, to say nothing of the other social programs he pushed forward. he's calling for a warn
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porty. so again to most black lk johnson was t best friend w ha had in the oval office nce lincoln had been the president, and they did not like the fact that martin over an issue in vietnam over there, was messing up the relaonship that black people had writarge with the president in the whitehouse who had been our friend. and that's what their issue was. i meani don't know that the vietnam war was their primary concern. their primary concern as i have re the research, was that martin was going to do damage to their relationship the domestic front that we were starti to make somerogress on inside the white house. >> host: 2011, two important affairs, safingmerica's boys -- saving america's boys came out. we've seen the hollywo script dons of times. se actor of choice, meryl streep matthew perry, michelle pfeiffer. signed t a ghetto school with dangerous, low income smart ass andbnious students.
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the benevolent, frtrated by stubborneacher refuses toive up on these poor souls. he/she bucks the stale, bureaucrat education system to the chagrin of supervisors. he/she helps the deprived students confront their ner ci demons and discover their true gifts, purpose and worth ilogue the maligned, mistreated and misunderstood educor has been vindicated. pessimistic, frowning, ha core studentsave been trsfmed in smiling, grateful, timistic veslsof limitless possibilities. cue the sentimental music, roll the critics -- credits or,ade to black. >> guest: we've all seenha vi and that's not hoit works most of the time. itworks in hoywood, where i live in l.a., it sell ticke but it doesn't qte work that y in real life. so this bookto impornt to fail," was a companion text to a pbs special th i d by the sameam "t important to il."
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d i cared much then and now abt e subct matter that it was the fir series that i did for pbs for wich i did a companion text. my friend ken burns does this all the time, always a compion text with his documentary work. i was very pleased with the results. the special waseceived well, the book did remarkably well. but the reality is and iss, again, anoer conversation for another time but the majoty oflack boys in this country are being taught every day by white women in classrooms. now, tt raises all kinds of questions. and beforeou miss my point, am not demozing white women in the classroom. i said earlier two of m best friends in the wld were two white women who looked out for . that's not my point. but therare all kinds of questions it raises, cultural and political and economic quesons. all kinds of questions it raises abt whait mea that our blk boys in the most multicolored and multiracial
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multiethnic american history are being taught by white teachers. are they prepared to handle these black boys? are the black boys being assigned to read material where theyee themselves in the material? these black boys and research poin this out asoul s in the book if these black boys dot develop a love of reading by the second or thir grade, they're lost. so manof theoys th rearch h been done on shows thatbecause they don ever see emselves in the narrative, they don't develop a love of reading. you love to read i love to read, but i liktoread a certain kind of book. u like to only brianamb reads everytng. but we like to read certain kinds of books. so these bo are no different. there are all kinds of issues that were rais that special forhe betterment of the school system and for th betterment of these boys who are stuck in this publ education system that in many ways is not wking for them. that'sagain, one of my passion prec. i still do alot work with black boys. ani just, i have sevenounger
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brothers. so this is someing that comes naral for me. it's notustsomething i do because i'm on tv. i have seven younger brothers an now tnks to those seven brothers and two sisters, i have 31 nieces and nephews, many of whom e black boy sohis is something i live every day even in my own family. >> host: neville is in cleveland. you' on booktv with tas smiley. >> caller: um, mr. smiley, i wod like to ask youo make a comment on the contribution of people fro the cariean to americanociety. i think the fact that people like colin powell and eric holder have backgrounds from the cabbn, harry belafte stokely carmicel marcus gaey. and at the other end rihanna, nicki minaj from the caribbean. would you care --
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>> host: nille, where are you from? >> caller: i fm guyanan south america. >> host: thank you sir. >> guest: i think you just commented, and i couldn't age were more. that's what's so betiful about this country and this is wor remembering as we have this debate this pseudo-debate in the next few weeks and months d w with the republicans controlling both hoes of congss, where is th immigration debate going to go? obviously, cservatives and others in this town think the president, you know, has rubbe their nosin thismmigration debate and has really, you know gone beyond the pale when he usedhis executive privilegeo do what he did on the issue of immigration reform. they didn't like that, as we all know, and you've seenhat vered here on c-span. but it'sorth remembering th this country a country built on immigrants. and islso worth remembing that all these immigrants aren't mecans, you know? there are all kinds of persons cocome tothis -- who come to this country and make grand contritions. i think somimes we lose sight of that, thathis country so
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great becauseeople around the world have come here toa this coury areat nation. this is a beautifulosaic that we call amica, and so often we have these kinds ofebates abt us versus them, a it just doesn't make ch sense me. >>ost: every guest we have here onin dep," we ask him or her for what they're reading currentl some their favorites, some of their influences. here's a look at whatavis smey ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ bookts web site, >> host: tavis smiy, youist jesus christ and paul robison,
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two of your influences. guest: yeah. that's quite pair, isn'tit [laughter] i was raisedn a church as mentioned earlier pentacostal church, and i've said for l of my life that i call them the three fs, the tngs that mean th most to me, faith family and friends ihat order. i wrote a book called "keeping the faith," i close my show on pbs by saying anks for watching i'm tavis smiley, keep the faith. i'm always trng rend ople that faith ishe substance of thing hoped for, the evidce of thing not seen. th's what faith and hope really are, the evidenc of things hoped for -- the hope of thingsbut even when you don't have the evidee to see how things are going to work out it's always possible. i make a distinctionll the time, andere's why say "keep the faith" all theime i make adistinction between optimism and hope. optimism suggests there's a particular set o facts circumstances or condions,
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optimism sugges there's mething you can see feel or touch that gives you reason to believe things are going toet better, and that's not where i live mostof the time hope, on the other hand, say even when you can't see the next step in the dark stair welshing u 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 hopend faith are terrib important me. that comes from my abiding ith, and i thank my mother and father for itroducing me to that. every one of us who happens to be a belier, i didn't come here to prosthelytize, but eve one of us has to have sething to believe d for personally the are just moments in my lfe when -- but i don't ve allhe answers, and i can't see myay through and n't know how it's going to work out. and for mey abiding faith is teibly important. so paul robeson, who you mentioned moment ago, we talked aut that earlier with
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one of the callers, paul robeson was a truth teller and never shied away from speakingth truth. and they did everything they could to destroy paul robon. i mn, literally. the story of paul robesonis one that just sends shivers downmy spine everyime i consider it. and i've been fortunate over the course of my life to bernds with two very important people very close to me. i have lunch with em fairly regularly because he lives in l.a. and the other i never g to new york he dsn't come to l.ithout us ttg together. anthtwo of them are goo can friends, and both of them are from the islands, sydney poitier -- studyny poier and harry belafonte. i only raise that not t drop these na but i only raise it because youcannot talk to dn poiti for five minutes without him raising his teacher paulobeso and you cannot talk to harry belafonte for, le, two and a half minutes without belafonte raising the name of paul
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beson. so ase from the history books and all allhe stuff i've rad seen about paul robeson i feel like for a least 25 years sitting at poitier and belante's fe, i've come t here firsthand and know so much abt this man paul robeson courtesy of poitiernd belafonte. >> host: you mention 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. grew up in a little church in diana called n betl tabernacle little smal church. and i loved gring up in a littlesmall church. couple hundred people, on a good nday. but i loved growing upn 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 psed away, and when the new mister came
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in we moved to a new facility kind of changed the name to city of refuge, but that's where i spt most of my youth. i've only been to two crches, one in indiana one in lifornia. i don't aot of moving around etty stable g. they're both pentacost traditio and again, as i've grown older, there are things even my own teaching that i have iue with from time to time. i sometimes feel for cthics who, you know are always wrestlingith church doctrine and this and tt andhe other. i n' have those kinds of consternations, but i y know i have had the experience of owing older and cong out of a very strict church environment like, you ow if i were still true to the church i grew up in, i couldn't go to e movies or to a ball game. i thinkomof those tngs takethis sufficient a little -- this sff aittle too far, and i think these are manmade rule and no necessarily god's rules for our live. somy faith is still always has been a always will be the most
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impoanthginy entire life. >> hos your book "kping the faith," you open byaying this is a book about black love. >> guest: ye. i wrote at book specifally because we don't hear justou ying that phra hit m how often we hr the phre "black lve sathat again on c-span. "black love." blk love we hr aboutlack-on-black crime, we hear about the black-on-black stats f the achievement gap. hear about black this and black that. but how ofte do you hear -- black president. but even when yu talk about the black president we don't ever get to a conversation about the black love th's exhibited this that famy with michelle and sasha and measuring ali -- malia. i live again as i said earlier los angeles. when's the lasttime you saw a moe about black love? there's a moe that was o this year "beyond the lights"
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same sister who did the movie "le and basketball" some years ago. wonderful fi about the power and the beau of black love. and itouldn't really get f the ground. so there's something about the nationabout o psyche, about r expectation that doesn't allow us to revelin black love. and so i wanted to do a book about the power of black love. so ts book "keeping the faith" about e love that african-amics specifically haveeen t beneficiaries of that got them through all kis of difficult situations and got them ou ofock 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. >> hos let's go back to calls. davids in memphis. davi this is "in depth" on booktv, and you're talking with tas smiley. >> caller: great. mr. smileyi want you to know
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that you and brother cornel west are a great light on the hill and you must connue touse your platform to educate the world. i love y. >> gstthank yo caller: for what you ve done you're not raid to tell the truth, and that's- this is what wre supsed to do. so my offic is going to call you. i love you brother. >> guest: thank you, i appreciate it. >> caller: i've gothe word with you. god bless you. >> guest: thank you,hank yo see, that's black love. aughter] every mow and then you can get -- every now and then you can get se of that. it nice to get a little love on c-span ery night. >> host: is in rrisburg or, pennsylvania. hi lance. >> caller: hello. >> guest: hey, lanc >>aller: hello? >> guest: hello. >> caller:ey, thank you guys for takinmy call. mr. smiley, i just wnt to tell you i apeciate definitely appreciate the work that you do. >> gue: thank you.
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>> caller: don't always necessarily agree concern. >> gst: that's okay. >> caller:- but definitely appreciate yourpproacand everything. i'm a8-year-old african-american male. i own a barbersho and my clntele is probably 40% white, 40% blk andnother 20% othe andately here with the controversies going on wi t li in the news and everything, 'veee having some reallyreat nversations. and iust wanted maybeome suggestions for you on how to approach and facilitate the conversati without looking like the angry black male and driving my clienle awaand losing money. >> gstyeah. firsof all -- host: lan, before mr. smiley answers, do you get differenpoints of view fr your white cliente and your black clientele? is it pretty consient? >> guest: s. yeah, it is. people meet in here that wouldn't normally talk or meet because you have a half hour, 45 minutes ton hr that normally they wouldt meet and engage
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one another on the street or wherever else. i have 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. >>uest: first of all, i celebrate the barbershop, i just wantto say fir 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 regurly as i can to go into the baershop because there ain't in place in america li the black barbershop, the conversations, the relationships. and must stru by you saying yr shop is40%lack 40% white. that's a butiful thing. barbershops are wre these kinds of convertions can be fruitful. so i'm just excited know that you've got a shop that's that so of integrated and you can have the kds of crs-cultal conversations. i think that's a beautiful thing. so much what's wrong wth our country is 're so often engaged in monologue that we dot ever ha enough dialogue. too much monologue in america t enough dialogue i'm glad
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you are a place that can facilitate tt kind of dialogue. toour questionspecifically nc aut what would suggt, and saythis with all humility, i think the ultimate question here, the ultimate issue that we have toet to on these ises tt you raised is the issue of humanity. e humanity and the digty that all life must be afforded. that's the bottom line. so much o what weeal with in our daily lives even with tese poli shootings to me is not as muchbout black and white as it is about wrong and right and why we seemot to have t kind of respect for the humanitand the dignity of alfour fell citins. my point very sum my is whenever -- simply is whenever you are gaged in a conversation, and i offer this as humbly as i can, if you c gethe conversation on the terrain of humanity, it changes everybody's points of view. if it'sboutrace or it's about ass, you know,or anything, y her extraneous ct then t conversation will go a
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thousa different directions, andhere's nothing wrongith th. it's good to have different conversations, we n hear even's point of vie but if you can ever get th coersation to centeon the dignity and theumity of whomev isn question then econversation puts everyby on front street when you when you circle around to that. sohat's my advice he at helps, and o y i'd like to come hang out at your barbershop. >> host:avis smiley, hused the grade "angry black man," is at something he should avoid? >>uest: i've bee clled that a few times including a couple times on th program today i've been called an angry black man by one o our callers. that's par for the course. i use to get upset put it other way i used to get angry when i waseferred to as an angry black manan now i lls off my back likeater off a duck's backecause when ople call me angr if by calling me an ary black man what they man is that they sense and feel from me and reiv from me a righteous
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indignation, there'-- iaa has once said itand accused. i'm guilty as charged. if y if you regard me as an angry black man b what you're talking about is a righteous ingnation, i stand accused of that. there are things about which i am righteously indig in a minute, thgs abohich i a angr and qte fnkly, i don't think -- how mit iut this peter, i don'think we ever come into the fullne of our own humanit if we can't revel in the humanity and the dig any -- dignity, as i said a ment ago, ovether feow citen. and the's no y that youan 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 thisountry whose humanity is being contested every single day. any other byany other name, yo know homophia is the ntestationf somody's hunity. ageisms the contestation of
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somebody's humanity. sexism and patriarchy is the contestati of somebody's humani, and don't think you come into your own humanity in full or in toto if you can't re and celebrate theumanity of oth people. so for me, there a a lot of things i'm righteously indignant about, and if you call me a angry man and think i'm mad about x y or z, then again, as iaid, i sancced. >> host: tim in los angeles hi, tim. >> calle hey, how you doing? than you. the reason i'm callings because recently you guys mentioned the education in america, and i just wanted to know if mr. tavis smiley could comment on what could bdone to prove the situation for our young black men and women growing up i erica and going to schl and this to wle thing. that was all. >> guest: yeah. it's a good question and there are so many answers to it, ad
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know there a constitutional amendment that would guarantee every ild inhis untry accesso anequal high quality education. so think ofautomatic constitutionmendments and allhe -- l the constitutional amendments and
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all the guarantees we have to free speech to carryeapons and all the other rights we have as americans. why is it tt in th cuntry everchd no matter at state you're born in, no matter what color you are whatounty you live in,hy is it that every child in this cotry is not guaranteed access to an equal, high quality ecation? that don' mean that you're trying to judge outcomes. but why doesn't evy child in this countryt least start at the same place? we got 50 states and 50 different y 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 mter to me. whateverhe best education is in this country thate can agree on, whater the students in the schools that are rerded as the bes whatever they get let' give that to every country in this country. weca file the standard. what we think the i and whatever the best students he access in thisoury what
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every child oug to he access to and,ga, iffer forour consideration what would happen and how education in this country ght dramatic create change. somebody once said, peter, if benjin franklin came back, the only thing h'd recnize is t educatn system because i ain'thanged mh ll these yes. but i think it's going to take sothing radical to chan o ucation system. so again i ask you to consider at would hpen if we had a constitutional amendment that wod guarantee every child in this cntry access to an equal, high quality education. >> host: in your ok "fail up," you write the story about sarah jane olson and your history relatiship with bet. what is th history? >> guest: that is long and sordidstory. you've got good questions ter, thatake hours to answe sometimes. sohe shortnswer is aer workg withom joyner on working everyay, urban radio, i had the opportunity to go to bet to host talk show tt i hosted for five years on black
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entertainment television, and was the cbinationf tom joyner's moing show inhe morning and bet at night th made me ahoehold name in black america heard in eve major market inhe country. at h height nine ten million listeners ery mning, and'm the resident commentator on that ogram and more watchingve night on bet. so you gotadio an tv covered inblack america eventuay you're going toecome a usehold name and that's how i got expod to my own community and then came pbs and npr and all the other stuff latern. so that's where i staed to get my work done. after five years or being on t, i had an opportunity for exclusiv interview, as you mentioned, wi sarah jane olson who had been aused of tryng kill a cop in los angeles. this intervi again, long story short, kind ofell into my lap. i wasn't lookg for it, but everybody was ching this interview. dan rather diane sawyer barbaraalters everybody w
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tryi to get this man to do the interview. why? cae she s awhite soccer mom who was living in the twin cities who got lled over one day for a routine traffic st and wa discover t be this woman who had been on the run fo30 some years, on the fbi's st wanted list. she's a soccer mom, married with kids now living in, again the twin states but for years -- twin cities, butor years nobo kw where she was. routine traffic stofor a back lighthat was out. they runinrprints and, lo and behold, it's sarah jane olson. d so anyway i got the interview that everybody was chasing, and bet had been sold athe time to viacom. viom alsowned cbsheand now. so this ierview was the kind story that wasn't really going to resonate wth my black audience o bet, so ias looking fo another outlet since i had the interview, the exclusive, another outlet t broaast the intervi. so since viacom had bought bet
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and they also own cbs first go to cnd say i've got this interview, and i'm happy t sell it to cbs butet me do it on "48 hours,"hatever, "60 minutes,"give me a place to do the interview,but i'll do it on cbs because ie got t clive. ohyou don't have it, dan rather's going toet tt. i said, you don' understand, it's on tape. cbs ss showme some of the tape. i showed them some of the tape. three times cbs passed on the intervw because rather and others -- i love dan rather it'snot about rather, butth network wasrying to get the interview for eir big gy, dan rather. they dn't want to give tavis smiley the intview. but iez already done it and taped it. cbs passed three times, i went to abc, they bought it. it aid on abc. it killed on the ratings an next morning the peoe at viacom woke up a said why did we get beat so bad last night and they fod out ey had this
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big, exclusive interview with tavis smile and they said, well, doest he rk for us? he's onbet, our network. how did this happen? and they started trying to unravel the story and eventually i got fired r doing an interview on abc which cbs had turned dn three times. but mo importantly, my contract with bet allowed me to do independent productions. so i was never in violatioof my contract. but somebody had to be theall gu a so i got fed. and missouri yahoo! anlou -- ya angelou as i disss in "my journey wh maya," there's a wonderful story of the booof the nighthen she calls me when the news breaks that i got fred by bet. this wntime magazine,he w rk tes tavis smiley gets fired by bet, e most public thing i've ever done exceptritique barack obama, know? it was in all of the news media everywhere. so maya angelou calls me one night, and we talk about it. she knew that i was -- she didn't know i was feeling t
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e wand know how i was processing being fired by bob johnson. and she id to me tt ght i have a feeling that in the days come, you're going tohave to en up sein bob johnson a thank you letr. i said a thank you note fo what? she sd because sometimein life we jump and sometisn lifee get pusd, but either way in our ves there comes a to when it's time to move. p.m. -- it's time to move. it may notave come the way you wanted it to come, but'vegot a sneaky suspicion that one day you're going to thank bob johnson for firing yout bet. ..
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would never have nobody what my worth of value was irpbs man wantede or cnn would pay for me. i would never havenown the tubs were there if hadot been fired by bet. so i am grateful for the tom i had at bet and even more gratul bob johon fired me. >> host: ever send the thank you note? >> guest: i did. >> host: any response. >> guest: sn. >> host: chr ex-you're on with staffs smiley. >> mr. smiley, honor to speak wiou, si >> guest: thank you. >> caller: a man named dr. car anderson out of maryland. i think you're familiar. >> guest: i am. >> caller: two questions real quick. do you believe tha black people this country are doomed to b
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a permanent underclass in the united states? number two do you belve that black pele are due a reparations package from the government of the excuses the euroan governments. >> guest: fit question hope not. second question, absolutely. now, i say absolutely we are entitled t reparations. the question tn becomeshat do we mean by reparations? so you asked million black beam what it should look like you're going to get to 30 millionnswers. some people still want their 40-acres and a mule. i don't need tat. other tngs i can use. buwe have to fige out wha we mean when we say rerations. have beenn favor for years now ofome kind of reparation that would allofor children to get the kind of education they deserve to go tohe best schools. that's the bt way that amera uld respond to tis ca for parations, but i'm nt interested in a lexus or a
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cadillac or something ke that. the real questn is all jokes aside, how do we defind what reparations is and there's so many dferent answers weould en hours debati that. but is black america entitled to something? i believe the answer is yes. anto your first question, are we a permanent underclass, i hope not but if you tuned in earlier, t data i going indicate that black people have lost ground in every eonomic category in the own years. that's going to cause a srious conversation among our leaders and community aoutabout what the ture holds for us and th's when reason i have been so gressive in trying to hold this administration and te other -- people act like i started talking about accountabilityhen obama showe up, asf i nereldlinton accountable, and i did or suburb the other bush an reagan itch wast just at barack obama election i talked aut accountali. the int is that i've been so agesve about it lately and
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so progressive, because i sen that the opportunity for uso no longer be an uderclass is slipng frther and farther away. our time is nt on our side. so hopefully we're not a rmanent unrclass buthe data is ha to argue with: thank you for yo call. >> ht: from on-air, volume 2 may 22, 2003 last newt i was standing between bill gatesnd waen buffett having a convertion. was thinking toyself these are the number one and number two richest men in the world and there we tllingokes, amazing. last night we halt dinner at gates' crib and this thing is so fat. this is a fasnating expeence for me. and i want to give you my top ten observations about the white folk who run the world. things just picked up i in the last two days hanging out with these ceos. number ten whenever you meet a
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white perso who returns the world they'r going to you, what do you do? number nine nobody has a businessard. number eight, they get up early in the morning. number seven, they value information. number six, everything is free. number five not t be anxus don't be anxious. number four tey're inisitive. number three they will get their drink o that's about all i can say about that one you write. nuer two i'm the only one here wholew commercial. there will be nine g-9 private je wh wheels up when this event wraps up. and number one fore they vi you to sothing like this they know everying aut you. that's the ten rules of the white folk running the world. guest: this is aook a collectionf the second lume of momntaries hear ov tomoyner. t me putontext t this.
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tom joineries one of the leadin urban radio host insidethe couny. his shois a show mtl of comedy. i was for 12 years the resent serious guyut every now and then i did things that were funny. so i had a list of things called the top ten list. aa david letterman. he probably that has trademarked. sorry. but i did m top ten his every night and i met bill gates. wead done some worother on the issue of technology and how black fo were being left out of these developments, a black people they een now are too often consumers but not oducers of content. th slowly changing but not stnoh. so i met bell gates and we talk abouthis, and sve ballmer, the then ceo who now opens the clpers in my home town of los angeles. so i met gas a ballmer a talked to them and long story short i g mrosoft to fund this program that it spearheed
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to travel arnd theountry to some work on what we call blacks in tenology. so got to know bill gates someat and don't ask me how but every year, microsoft, gates, would host a three-day summit for 0 the top 100 business leaders in america. and for whatever reason he invited me. and so it was three daysp in waington, hang ought at gate's house, just likeou can imagin i'm a lite blackid on tom joyr, and for three ys i'm hging out aother bill gates' crib. it wat it was beautiful, lovely. so i'macking out with bill gate and i just was just -- i'm always a curiouserson, and that serves me well in my working a a broadcaster. i was takinghese furious notes abouwhat makeshese people so unique. what makes these 100 people who
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ar running the biggest companies in th world, s ique. d those were some observations. some fnny, some serious. but as was alys the case whenever i would come off th air on tom joyner with these commentaries, alys great deal of convsation about what tavis said this morning, and it was instrtive, informative, and somewhat how manious for the audience to hear what it's like for a black kido hang out with bi gas a warren b for three days. what did you notice what did you see? what did you learn? what was it like? sohose are my observations and it is interestin when you're aound that much money and th much power, just toatch the way tey operate ask the way the move. the most important thing on the stor me was cuosy. all jokes aside you caot i learned in those three days and since that time i've hung out with lot of ceos and interviewed tem. but that ws myirst exposure at that level. but curiity is what drives so
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ma of these ceos. ifou're going to run a major company, you got toe curious. you have to ask good questions have no knowhat's glowing on. i run a small company, 45 plyees can but -- employees, bu so much of what i larned hanging out with those toys and i've taken on some traits i'll never be milliaire but there are ways to run your cmpany better even if it's small company like min >> host: annett, philadelphia, you' on with staffs smiley. go ahead. >>aller: hi, staffs. >> guest: how are you? >> caller: i'm well >> host: can y turn down your tv? cod you mute your tv. >> oka i just did. i had my charger off. i hoped my carr don't go out waiting. i hadmall questions. the time -- your pants got you
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home and -- that's woerful. 90% of what you say wh it comeso your business, i say amen and amen, because it is right. thone questi -- threes questions, one is do you have any childrenare you married? yes or no. guest: no. >> number o, what is it your birthday. >> guest: septemr 13th. >>aller: number three, if and win the.asks y to run for senator, would you consid. >> gst: no. thank you for your phone call. god blessou. absolutely nt. >> host: do you have any children and a you mrried? >> caller: i he beenarried for over0 years, five children all grown colleg issue indited an three beautiful grandchildren. yes, i understand. >> host: when is your bihday? >> caller: ail 23rd. >> guest: all right. oa don't you run for presiden >>aller: i think ask me, i'd
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say no, too baby. >> gue: i don't think annette or tavis has to worry about being asked to run for president. >> hos y have run for office. >> guest: i did wh i wasn l.a. and loking for tm adley. i want for ofce ran for city council, long story short, again,ost the city coci race but i can't begin to tell you, pter, the lsons i learn in losing that race. lessonedhat have stuck with me all theseears. and i'll p it this way. one of my book maybe the -- i don't recall but ictlly shared one of this lesson and the poi of the lesson was that sometimes in our lives -- h s it -- rejection i direction. sometime in life, rejection is direction. in my case, i lost that city council re. i was rejected by the voters t it directed me to where i
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needed to be. thers no way i wouldave found my way into radio, commentary and television commenta, and writing books and doing what io nowin public radio and public levision every day, sittin he talking to you for three hours on c-span none o this would have happened to me had i won that city cncil race. i'd ill be fitting potholes and getting cats our of tree in los angeles. so i w hurt when i lst the race but many ways thatesson was learn then, and i've learn it my times, sometim in our lives rejection is actually re-direction. >> host: let's talk about tom bradley. from "fil up" yo wri, in hoywd looks can carry a person a lng way and mr. mayor, theall former ucla track star former police commander, hadhe look the vitality fitness and charis of an l.a. mayor. is is in no way to diminish his unprecedentedolitical contritis, but i seeow people especially wme
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responded to his presen. the bradley way was on my mind when my ex-boss called d asked me toave lunch with hm. long after he had left office and i was hoinmy new show on bet. ine he was proud of me. i was the amtiousid he hire asis assistan watched me pull myself up after i left his administration. my shields were lower when we sat down four lunch so i was stunned by his oping svo tavi y have gotten t big. >> guest: he meant iad gten to big, not -- meant phycally. there was a time in my life where i -- i loved playing basketball i'm from indiana, so i you're from indiana y love basketball, ho a hooer. one day i blew my left knee and en rehabbed and blew out my rightne and then tore up my left an i have torn up both ankles and knees playing orts because i love basketbal umdon't play anymore because i had totop obviously with all
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those injuries. i hadwor three of those surgeries over a couple of year just blowing things out playing basketll. my body was telling in, fine anothe sport. but i gaed a lot o weig. i looked best a aout -- i'm 50 now, so i look best at 205. t at the time, 185 or 190 was my ideal weight. i'll never see 190 again as long as i live and won't be by choice if i do. if iet down to 190. but i had this surgeries and i d rally ballne up. on that keeping the faith book if they have that the picture on the book my face is like one of the clumps in the eddie murphy movie. you see thaticture tere? that face is so huge. i raise it onl because that was taken aound theime that mayor -- that pcture is -- i i was at my heaviest.
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now you can see how big my face was then. but the mayor called me because heoved me and was concern about my health. and he said te, over that lurch, tavis, all oth things ingqual, all of other things being equal, if you and peter lkn an office looking for a job or anything else, if and u peter walk in, a everything else is equal, you got thea dgrees from harvar the same experience, if everything ee isqual and you and per walk in a you're 400 unds and pet is svelte like he is and all that -- the you go. exactly. they didn't get that o camera. you didn't get ahance to see th. if peters looking lik pter and i'm 400-pounds he said teisoio get the oppounity. so he said to me you goto take care ofourself. that was his w -- literally i s doing my bet show in washington.
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was home at l.a and he asked me to com back to l.a.o have lunch so t mayor of l.a. called me from washington, i'm ba he to l.a.n a weekend, so he can tell me i was too f. but he wanted to see me fa-to-face because he wante me to know it was in love and ask when he told me i was too fat, i rely took it toeart and little by little, little by littleorking on it and rking on it. i'm not ay ial weight right now but i'm happyhere i am. >> host: you have lived a life out in public. i mean really very few secrets >> guest: that's true. that's good and bad. it's good in the sense. >> host: i should say privacy not secret. >> guest: th's goodord but we all have secrets, i'm human. n' go digging b we all got some. i like about it that it don't have anything to hide and i've never had to ever, not a single tme in my life - i
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can te you this -- we tlk about the fact i left indiana i hadn't technically graduated until iinished the last course, but otr than that thers nothing cessary my life i hav been afrd of ming out one day and destroying me, and that doesn't an i've live a peect life. i've made mistakes but me of th i've written abt. i've been so transparent about the things i haveone because i don't want to ever bev in a situation where somebo is holding something ove my head. i feel that way about my personal life and abouty private life and also the same way about my ceer. so personally and professionally the same edict applies. i don't owe anybody aything. don't mano suggesthat i'm a self-made man. depressant believe in bein self-made. we're all who we ae because somebody loved us. nody does ts by himself or herself no matter what they say. the is no such thing as a selfade m. we have people who love us a care for us andelp us become who we are,ut i don't owe
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anybody ything forgiving me this or givinge tat. i built my business up. i've gone through this recession for the last four years like every other small busiss and it's beenough, keepingy tv and radio things afloat and payingy staff andeeping them fed. so i have the same travails and turmoils eerybody else but i don't have to ever have somebody come to me and say i made you. you wuldn't be this if i hadn't done this. i never hd that. everything i've done i've done from the bottom u i'veone it publicly. people have sn m like mr loathe me ager disagree, love me or hate m i'm like popeye i am what i am. as fpilson would say, what you see ills what you get. so this is it. i don't have anytng to hid in that regard and that mkes my life souch more easy t live, the downside is that escially in thisra today, you're always in the public eye, and i fally got a poi some years ago where
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my staff readsh stuff. don't read this suf is cyberhate is too much. i'm humaike anybodelse and ek can deny it all day long. that stuff hurts. i think about hillary clinton, i think about barack obama, i thk about -- wthe say about me is nothingompared to these people. but ihink about celebrities and sts and the things witten about them, open oprah and others, every day. how do you deal with this? people deal with it by not dealing with it. so for me i'veust gotten to a point not that i'm tone death people disagreeing with me. i come on csp and take every phone call but don't read that kind o stuffecause it gets in your sirit it's n good for you,nd it throws you off the game. whe people are talking you neede working, and if youe reading what they say you're taking te frometting your grd on. >> ht: patrick stocon
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califoia, thank you for hoingful tavis smiley is our guest. >> caller: oh, map, appreciate you tang my call. >> guest: thank you, patrick. >> caller: tavis map, a lot of folks -- fire ne a besng. thquestion i want t ask you what was your definition of a house negro and -- ion't want to p you on a spot but i'd like to know wre you fall on atpectrum because in tat black barber shomyself, you kn i'm kind of an ouier. i' considering he wasn't readded by alarandmher. differt wayf seeing life that you were raised by the africa granother. i don't dislike the president but i just don't feel tha he love our peopl as much as some ofs do and n by -- because just wasn around it. so i would consider himo be a house. i dot wanto p you o the spot -- >> guest: but you don't want to but you just did.
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>> host: wha does tat phrase mean? >> gsthouse negr fid negro, and back in theay field negrwas outn the field workin all day lo in the sun, cetera, et cetera. house negroes were in the house, and there -- when you want t-- in the vernacular, the fiel gro is in tho authentic negro than the house negro. that's the best way to put i house negroes, pampere taken care of, not in the sun, et cetera, et cetera. >> host: sucking up to thehite p? >> guestpretty much. so there' moreuthenticity for e fid anything fro tanhe house negro. so the caller was saying that he reews -- regards the presiden as houseegro and said i don'want to put you on the spot. i would neve having set -- it would ner refer to te president as a house negro. what i would say ishat he has raided a very serious ise -- ised a very serioussue that does in fact a he pointed out,
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get talked about in barber shops but never here on cspan. blacbarber shops but that is to say that there alwaysee great cnversation since he fit popp up o the national ene in 2005 or 2006 or atever it was abo the fact that he was not raised the way most ofs were. he is biracial. he didn't come up from the south like man of us did. he w in hawai'i and indonesia. ani take nothing away from his upbringing help didn't choose where, wn and how to be bo or raised. those were not his choices. i'm not fating him or even trying to dissect that. all i'm saying is to the ller'soint, heid hav a ffent journey thanos african-amicans. so his experiences are not the sa evens his wife michle obama's -- michee robinson's experices are very different than bark obama's experiences. she on the south side of
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chicag t arin-american parents, raised in poverty. had to wrk hard to get to princen, she and her brother, and then harvard law. it's a dfferent journey when u come from that kind of background. their kids, saa and malia, even different kind of ury givethe privige they have grown up wth and will have for threst of their lives courtesy of their pres. that's the way it ought to be. every generation ought to hit easier than the previous generation. th te in the oba household. not true for black families tside of the obama houseld the da indicatesow that for theirst te ever, black kids today, the genation of bck kids today, are n gng to do as well a teir parents. sasha and maa don't have that prlem but most black kid, the data tell us,re not going to do as well as their prentsave done. so n in back america, w flip the script. for all the sacrifice d all the service ad all the struggle, the bood, the sweat
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and tears we have now arrived at a play in more th history in black hiory, where black kids are not going to do as well as thei parents. i've gone full circle here. so again i'm notve going to call the president a house negro. what im suggesting is he had a different jouey and the journey he had is the dferent than the journey most of u have had and the journey his kids -- s daughters are going to have is a ver different journey than mostlack kid insidemerica argoing to have i we read the data. th wrehe cnversation in the barber shop and the bauty salon gs interesting. >> host: clairin new yor go afterno claire. >> caller: good aernoon. thank you for taking my call. i am a white folk. i'm a big follower of tavis, the truth-teller. i really just wan to talk to him. i have a very simple question, i
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gus. i just wan know wh he tinks of a sharpton elabeth warren andernie sanders. it's a pleasure too meet you both. thank you. >> guest: thank you for your call, your kind wrd al sharpton, warren and saers. bernie sde. great respecforim. one of the -- i apeciate your comment for me as a truth-teller i tempt to be and i regard bernie sanders that regard. one of the rar voice on the hill. i mentioned earlier this morning before i came toeonds this wonderfuthe hours with pete i wednesday by abc and we had a segment this moing in tribute to the late gre mario cuomo, and i madehe point this morning, peter, tt it's hard to find in tis town or anyplace se people who are willg to wear the label, liberal. willing to wear tabel, progressive. mario cuomo was talking about poverty, income, inequality esusg liberal viewsay back en in the reagan era when it
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was really unpopular. now that the clinton -- mr. clinton and others have moved the democratic pay more centrist, nobody wts to be a liberal, liberal is a dirty wrd and mario cuomo diot shy away from that and i celebrated him for being that kind of person. bernie sand irs in that category. mrs. warren, senat warren out of masshusetts, is bein regard by many people i not as progressive, certainly as a libel, and so se has taken some upolar stances in the town and has a huge following as a result of it and a lot of peopleushing her to run for president. and she keeps saying she'sot going toun. bui like her politics another most things not everything. and finay to reverendharpton i've knownor many years. he has done some goodn his life. drking -- there's someood in the worst o and evil in the be of us so none is perfect and things she has despun said i don't agree with. t he has doneome good work in hisi.
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has ent yar trying to change. think every one of ushave to be allod to grow. have to be allowed to redeem ourselves r things we have done that don't represent the best of who we are. finally in t obama era,e and iave had debes abou th on tv a radio and bendf. his ct forow he hsealt with the president is different than my tact. in terms of dealing with the present and holding hip accountable. i believe that you nee a good inside and outsidetrategy but i believehat blackeader have be just that, black leaders. you testify to tell the presidt tough he might not want to hearut you cat et withhe president in the white house and come o speaking talking points the white house give you. doesn't work that way. i love reverend sharpton and respect him for the good he does do, iould never say a negative rd about him. t again iod just say his apprch for deang with this administration is different tn mypproach. >>ost: e-mail, mr. smiley i want to begin by statin i'm an
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admirerrer. i can't be untroubd b your tipping to accept sponsorsp of your pbs tv program by wal-mart. >> guest: i figud tat question in -- how deeply in this program -- i knew it was coming. >> host: well, he se it before the show. >> gst: i already raised that because -- i was goi t scheme thre hours withouteg asked the wal-mart question. some queioi get asked. there'always an obama question, a walart question. and so the short answer is, wal-mart h been my sponsor fr 17ears. 17 years ony radio ad tv work, wal-mart has been sponsor. we jusdid a new deal among are month ago tha extends for three years so i wi have a relationship with wamart for 20 years. i appreciate the support wal-mart has given me over 20 years. having said that, i say all the tiha the are no perfect companies. in this country. some o the greatest companies
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in the country hav had lawsuits filed against them for all kinds of things, npr had a major lawsuit for race discrimination. coca-colhas had lawsuits. toyota. i could run the list. there arerobably no cmpanies in this countr who at some point have not had lawsuits against enemy for tngs they ed to get bt at. and -- better at. and ever compa ought to be striving eve day to gt better but there nor perfect companies. if i were waiting for a perfect mpany to sponsore week never be on the air. so the question is, is it worth hearing a voice that otherwe would not beeardnd being exposedo viewsou otherwe would not see or hear and being introduced to booksnd people th you would otherwise t knowbout, et cetera et cetera,s it wort that or is it worth letting all of that go because you don't like one sponsor and i have many sponrsbut you donike that one sponsor. i don't quite get that quite frankly othe than
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c-span, no of u would ben the r if i weren'tor wal-mart because they basically sponsor agency althe networks news programs. wal-mart is the biggest coany in the world. so i you wanto do away with wal-mart, there's a whole bunch of sff going tohe wayside is inountry because they underwrah. that doesn'tean that wal-rt can'be a better company, that peoplehould beot pushing them to be a better company. i hve had on my program, on pbs, the ceof wal-mart. you can go google it. heame on my program and i told him i'm happy to have y come on but these are the questions you're goi to g aed r the full show we sat and went through those very difficultuestions. about tir praic policies rit my pbs program. he answered every question. i just saw th new ceo on charlirose on p, and they show up onublic tevion and her placesnd answer questions. so i've ner felt lining i need to defend wamart. i'm just sayinghere nor perfect companies and if iere waiting for one wouldn't be on
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the air. finally, just to get this out, what is interesting to me is that i am a union guy. i'm a union guy and all of m life. i veought and defeed and spen up for and soken at rallies and yu name it. i belong t threer fou unions myself. will tellou this iny entire careeral-mart has sponred me for 17 years. not one union not asked me, n seiunot one union has sponsored me across the board on my tv oradio work in a of my care. i've done some work with unions here and there but i have nod hat the nd of support from unns and i don't sit around andomplain. i only raisedow because the question comesp but if i were witing for unions to suprt me, iould never haveeen on the air. >>ost: another e-mail. in your book you sai success becomesailure when you lose your civility and your digni. today you have spoken about faith, family friend however th themes of success and
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failure are extremely prevalent in many of your works, at age 50 hashe goalpost changed for what you wish a scessful legacy to be? what ishat legacy? what would be a failure? p.s., know tat we were cheerg for youon "dancing wh the ar here. amj. guest: a lot of questions there. le m-- >> ht: legacy. >> guest: my -- don't spend a lot of timeorrying about wh my legacy is goio be. but i try to sta focudn is my calling. d my vcaon and my purpose. and en i talk to youn people i make a distinction between caing, vocation and purpose and your job. to our young folk, you get this degree, you don't want to spd your lfe looking for a job. you want to atomeoint -- i'm t sayi that sometimes we don' have to work jobs until we get to where we want t be. but a job is very different than youralling. than your purpose.
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than your vocion. whare you uniquely here? what purpose are y here? what is your calling in the wod? i believe that every one of us has gift endowed by our creator. my own personal view. our creator endows each one of us with gifts. everybody has a gift. watch ts. there is no reason for a gift there'no rope for youo be giftedsou arefhe is no purpe for the gif for every gif there's als a corresponding nd. there's a gift and there's a need for your gift. now, watc this. when your gift cnnects with its purpose, now you're living the life of meaning andalue. every o of us has to be in search ohat our purpose in the world really is, and what is the ne for that gift? and when those twohings connect, that's the sweet spot, and i feel ve good about the fact tat i'm clear aout what my gifts and every day i'm fining new ways to use the gi
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to tr to make soort of meangful contbution. i conser my work on public television, my work on publ radio, my books my foundation cetera, et cetera, i conser all of this part of using the gift that i have, and when i die, which i hope is no time soon, i wan to b toroughly us up. i want to be toroughly usedp so don't waste time on things that don't fit io what i thin is the be use of my time, my calling, and my purpose. that what i hope myegacys going toe. th i saw a need and wherer i saw it, tried to do the best to respond it to. with regard t thessue of cility she raises i take grt pride in that. one thing i love about c-span i say it all the time and alwa grateful torian lamb, because it is aetwork based on informion whh i belie is power, knowledge is power. but it's always civil. and the worlde live today there is so.
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of tha when you get that on c-span a also on s you will never here screaming and yelling and shouting on mybsrogram. you d't hear that on my public radio program. ve few places left in our society where you ca have that kind of civil discourse,he people can be heard where folk can agree disagree without being disagreeable. if i wanted to, i've h opportities, been there bfore and opportunities to go back if ianted to, to be in commercial media. but i am so comfortable being in a space, not bcae i havehe most viewers not because i make the mtoney. ain'ner going to get rich on s or public rdi not about the money orhe most views. it's below havina convsation that haseaning and purpose and value, whe people behave in a civil way. d i lovet, and i sense at least -- unless the's something i don't know about -- iss ere i'm goingo b untith kick me off the air i guess. >> host: aer all thoseig
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thoughts, what about ancing th the stars"? >> guest: i enjoyed it. i enjoyed it. i was turning 50, as we established earlier. i was turning 50 last year. and i decided that i was going to done last silly, crazy ridiculously stupid thing bere i tned 50. no since i turned 50 i've dne a few more of those but i thought i would do one last one before i turned 50, and i ought i would do something out ofhe box. they'd come ate the producer, and i told them no, a few times. d on the eve of my0th 50th birthday they came to me again and i said le me take the meeting. i said i've never done tis. let me try to do something tside of the box. we established earlier in this conversation that i was raided in a very strict peecostal familynd because that famil was so strict, in our upbringing, i couldn't dance. i couldn't go to dances couldn't dance. i couldn't listen to secular music. here i am 50 years of ageow and i'd never danced before. so i sa he to live life
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on my own terms and woul d sothing -- to your earlier point i don't knowhy it had to be so public. learned to dance but did it in frtf 50 million people and th're voting on you but i enjoye the experience and don't regret it at all. >> host: we have some vdeo. guest: that me. th first week. that's the marvinaye song. and -- you go tavis. look it, lk it. look our smooth he is. look a that tn, tt dip. swin around. ok at those moves. ohy. look at that dexterity. >> lk that sui >> guestyes, throwbacto the 60s, marvin gaye. look at that grace. moving so smooth for a big man. >>os were you kcked off this week do. >> guest: no. that's my high sre tt week. kiedff couple weeks later. dn't last long but i had a
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good time. >> host: what did emery and joyce smiley think o that? >> guesti didn't tk to my dad out it my mother,ecause my mother is still ve much in that faith tradion, she wasn't -- that wasn't her poudest moment with my decisionmaki but that's what relationships are all about. don't have to agree of evything. >> host: john in jacksonville florida, you have been very tient. you' on with tav smiley go ahead. >> caller: yes tas. the first thing i'd like to say dyad mire you and especially admire dr. west tremendously. >> guest: ank you . >> don't s anyone spewing the fact that the economic indicators for black pele have not made pogress in america during president obama's term, but my question to you is, do not state an local geren also share some ofhe blame for that? i'll take your answer off the air. >> guest: a betiful question. when i answered tt question earlier i made it clear i'm not puing all the bamat the
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feet o barack obama. automatic i'm saying ihat if there'going to be a serious come to jesus meeting after h is out of office because for all the hopes and dreams and aspirations that black people had, the data is goin t be clear thate lost ground in every categy. so my point is, barack obama could havee poke dot. his colors matter lesso me -- believe symbism and i blieve substance and as an african-american i'm proud we had a bla presidt forwo terms 'don't mean to take anything from that but the affects are stubborn and we have to come to terms with tha and ye every branch of government is resnsible foraking these matterseriouy, but at the level of the federal government, i was just responng to that data that wre goi to have a serious meetingt some point after 2016. >> host: lisa tweets in to you, their martin luther king recordings sti available and will you eer write a bo for youngids? >> guest: there's so much stuff online now. i don'tnow that one has to look too hard to find recordings
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of king. so a lot of that stu is already online i know. regarding the children's book issue i got asked the question a while ago and i'm getting more and more interested in the idea. i don't know what it would be. i don't know what the subject would be. i was talking to a friend last night who is working on a children's book her first one. i'm titillated by it but don't know what it would be. >> host: phillip, rt myers, we have 15 minutes left go ahead. >> caller: hello. >> guest: hello. >> caller: our how are you doing? i'm good. >> caller: you have no idea how many positive ripples you put through the universe. you keep on going. i got a couple of questions for you. number one have you been invited to the white house? if not, why not? >> guest: second question? >> caller: second question is, as retired history tacher, it seems like it all began after the civil war with so-called
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reconstruction reconstructio was actually deconstruction, and i'm kind of upset that we have a congress now that is basically a confederate congress. i don't see much hope there. >> guest: we discussed that earlier this morng on this week on abc, whether or not this congress i going to get much of anything done. i was asked what my hopes were ski said not much. i thing the disfunction will down. three things concern me. the marity leaderrens once the former minorityeader but mr. mcconnell is the same mitch mccome who said his number one job was to defeat rack obama. the guy who is majority leader. if that sentiment continues not much is going to get done. number one. number two te hopes and dreams and aspiration moves sitting senators who want to replace barack obama in the house is going to get in the way of a lot of legislation just people's personal amibitions naked
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amibitions go together get in the way of certain agendas in the senate and thirdly if this republican senate is intent on spending its i'm trying to up do obamacare, which has been upheld in the court system we'll have a real waste of time and money and bad energy in this town. so for those three ropes -- ropes i'm not hopeful about this congress. your first question was about the white house. i'm laughing because i'm going -- i believe -- peter knows -- because i'm a broadcaster and a talk show host i neverrer ever believe in avding answering a question. my job is to ask people questions. if you were on my show and asked me and i asked you a question i'd want you to answer, so i don't ever run from a question. but i'm only say that as a preface because the 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 wawhining on c-span about not
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being invited to the white house. i was asked a question by a c-span moderator, and i answered the question, but i caug hell for whining about not going to white house. now i get a phone call today asking me, have you been invited to the white house, people and sure enwhy answer the question the same thing will happen. smiley was on c-span whining about the fact that obama hasn't invited him to white house show. truth of the matter i i was asked and i'm answering your question no, i have still not been invited. so barack obama is the first president since i have been a broadcaster, 25 years now, 20 some years, 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 cook some eggs not to sweep the portico, nothing.
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>> host: but no anger the. >> guest: no anger. >> host: okay, all right. >> host: why did george w. bush invite you to the white house? >> guest: you know when republicans are in the white house you get invited to th black ceremonies. so i'm sure i was invited to some black -- somebody black was getting awarded something so they wanted some negroes in the audience. but i've always been invited and i typically try to go when i'm invited. but i just answered the question, i've not been invited. but having said that it's the president's choice. the president has to invite me to the white house. that's his business. in fairness i haven't invited him to my house either. >> host: 1996 book hard left straight talks abouthe wrongs of the right. what is most fright frightening about the right and their attempt to legislate moriality and trample on the constitutional rights and freedom of the individual. >> guest: that was my first -- second book. i've written 17 or 18. that was my second book.
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what year -- >> host: 1996. >> guest: what you just read i wrote in 1996. this is 2015, it's like i wrote that this morning and that's how i feel. this is what is happening in '960 and here we are in 2015 about to endure the same thing all over again, in this town and it just goes to show th 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. what. >> host: did you at one time? >> guest: i was asked here again people take things and put it out of context. i was at an event in l.a. some years ago and somebody asked me about my views about this issue. and i said to them, in my -- saying the same thing i 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
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believe that i have the right to ll people who they should love or who they should marry. that is my my business. not my purview. i have my only beliefs about a variety of issues itch don't believe it has anything to do with other choices my fellow citizens make. so any my faith tradition marriage between a man and a woman, but i doot believe that i or anybody else ought to have the righto tell you who to love who to marry to who to be with. >> host: willy pennsylvania please go ahead with your question or comment for tavis smiley. >> caller: how you doing, tavis. >> how are you. >> caller: i been waiting a long time to talk to you. you me and martin luther king got two things in common. both from gegia, okay i live in chester pa, and king king kin went to school in chester. he spoke his first sermon at the church in chester. >> guest: uh-huh. >> caller: okay. i'm one of king king -- martin
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luther king's proteges. i'm trying to put together the biggest rally and march this nation has ever seen for jobs, education, health care, policemen, school teachers colleges veterans unions, for the middle class the poor, that's restricted, and poverty -- >> host: willy, where is this rally going to be held? >> caller: in washington dc. i need mr. tavis smey's help to regain our independence on 4t of july. >> guest: okay. that's an ambitious plan. it raises serious questions, peter, and that is whether or not today marchers are as effective as they once were. i think they can be. and i'm not casting aspersions on his idea. the welcome have to be careful
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not to make marches like a novelty, and again i'm not demonizing the cause at all. i get invited to a lot of these things. and i do believe that you have to be up front vocal and demonstrative, have to get the attention of people, but i wonder sometimes whether or not we tnk that a march is just a default position to raise some cane or get some ink for a particular issue, but the real work -- king led marches but the real work that he did to help change america happened out of sight, and i find that sometimes people are interested in showing up for a rally or showin up for a march or they'll be -- one of my friends called armchair revolutionaries, sit at their keyboard and espouse all kind of views but people aren't really willing to do the work it takes to make stuff hpen. one reason why is because when get out there saying what i'm saying you catch hell for it.
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get called names and peoe talk about you. it doesn't feel good. so i understand in the world we live today why people don't want to be subjected to that cyberhate and that kind of social media pushback, but that's what it takes to get out there and try to make a difference. >> host: from your 2006 booklet, never mind success, go for greatness, here's vanessa williams. at a black person you have to do better than ayone else just to be considered equal. >> guest: she is right about that and she ought to know. a little small book and i had never planned to write this little book but at the end of mostf my television programs, little pock book, fits in your back pocket, it's one of the most successful books i've ever put together because the advice is so beautiful. at the end of most of my programs, off camera for my own personal edification, i tend to ask my guests what's the best
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advice yo have ever received and my cameras are usually rolling, and we record it. so i got thousands of these things. i can do a whole volume of these things. but the advice i've gotten from people, people who obviously have accomplished many things in their lives. my favorite -- in my library i have three of them one in my office and two at my home, and all of my libraries the most -- most of my books are biographies, books about people who have actually done things that i think matter in the world. and that is because i want to be somebody, that does something meaningful in his lifetime, but the people i've had on my show who made significant contribution is want to know what is the best advice you have received and one day somebody said you ought to put this stuff in a little book. i said let's try a little booklet. we did that thing and it sold like hotcakes. i have so much good stuff i should put out one day when i am
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not on c-span i got time i'll put together volume two of that. >> host: where is the best place that people want to contact you if they want to see your books, what's the web site? >> guest: i don't know where to find all my books. my staff had to go into overtime literally, to find all these books because i haven't seen a lot of these books -- my web site is that's all die so it's easy tomorrow. and everything we dream' tv stuff, radio work foundation work with kids, everything we do is housed on that one site at >> oo russ until long beach, california go ahead please. >> caller: hi, tavis. i'm a fan. i want you to know that up front. >> guest: the lbc. i love it. >> that's right. that's right. we'reans over here. i want to ask you a question. this is frustrating, tavis. especially when you hear
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intellectuals ke you we their part of the largest forced migration of humans from one part of the world to the other and the history of man. so that makes this place our demographic kingdom. we inhabit the whole land but it's frustrate wh people like you -- talk about the western hem fess sphere when you confine our analysis to that of the united states. because the promise of your analysis is necessarily limited. and we don't get the full measure of our humanity because people like you -- it's a wonderful thing, we love you, but you coine our analysis to that of somebody else. >> guest: let me ask you a question. i'm curious as to you you point of view. i was just in long beach the other day giving a speech at cal ste long beach when you've say i'm confining my analysis give me an example how i might expand my presentation. >> caller: well, look, just as an example, this place, the
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stern hemisphere, as a result of the learnest force evidence migration of humans is our demographic kingdom. civilization. it's the largest and most culturally diverse civilization of all time. >> guest: but, my question -- >> caller: you would just approach our issues from a greater perspective, seems to me people would be more productive where they are. >> guest: but what but what -- hold on. my question is what is that great- -- i hear you analysis. my question is, what is that greater perspective i'm missing in my presentation? what am i missing? >> caller: this place tavis, is our demographic kingdom. the united states of america -- i know that sounds rad aing a but it's the truth. we are the only -- >> host: all right russell, we'll leave threat and move on. >> guest: i take the point he is trying to make and i don't disagree, which is i would put it this way. we are citizens of the world
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that w live in a global community. and i couldn't agree with that more. i travel the world. i've talked about these issues around the world. discussed them on my tv and radio programs. i'm not a sure that it sounded a little interesting, i'm not sure i disagree that we're all citizens of a much larger society and it's not just about the u.s.a., and sometimes i get bothered by that. that we are so nativist inside of america, that we don't even see the rest of the world. that the majority of us don't have passports -- something like 36% of americans have passrts. most of us don't even have passports, and most of us who have them never use them. so that every year i make it my business to mak sure i get outside of the u.s. every year i try to go somewhere, and sometimes depending on the year multiple places but i always try to get out of the country because it's one thing to see america from the inside. another thing to see america from the outside. and when you seet from the
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outside, you can see the good, the bad, the ugly the things worth celebrating, the things worth changing. but if you're -- if you're on the float, you can't very well see the parade. and sometimes you got to get off the fleet float and stand back and look at the parade and sometimes getting out of the country is a good way of appreciating america in different ways. >> larry from lake isabella michigan, wants to know, on a regular basis other than read-what does tavis smiley do for recreation. >> guest: the thing i love dog the most in l.a. all the guys at the gym pound for found, the name of the gym where i work out, i love boxing and will be there tomorrow morning when i get back to l.a. i love to work out and boxing and i don't pound on the pavement anymore running, but i ereof box. as exercise. i love dish go to a comedy show every night. i love comedians. got a lot of friends who are come medians.
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entertainer, dl hughley, and god bless him bernie mac. i would good see pryor every night if he was still alive. i love come shows, i love music, and you can catch me in l.a. in the back hiding in the corner somewhere, anyplace there's good nukes in l.a. or any other city. you can find me in the corner. i love plays. love thingses that most americans love. >> host: from death of a king, it was 1941, martin was 12 years old. his brother a.d. was 11. his maternal grandmother, whom he adored, had suffered a fatal heart attack. sliding down a bannister a.d. had unwittingly crashed into her and knocked her to the floor. >> guest: that store this prelude to a story that most americans don't know so the book is about the last year of king's life but there are a number of scenes in the i the book that we flash book into this earlier life because it's
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relevant to the telling of the story in that moment in real time in martin, at the age of 12 tried to commit suicide. i want tell the whole story but he left ho as a child. i talked about you can't see the parade while you're on the float. martin loved parades and wanted to go to a parade one day. his parents told him not go and he left the house and went to the parade anyway but he came back, what you just read had taken place. his grandmother was on the floor dead, and martin thought he had essentially killed his grandmother because had he stayed home and not disobeyed his parents are a teenager and went to see the parade he would have been there to stop his brother from going up and down the bannister and kicking his grandmother and killing her. he kick didn't kill his grdmother but martin felt he killed his grandmother. so that night when the family went to sleep, martin win opt on the top of the house and jumped
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off, and triedo kill himself. there's more in the bo about what happens after that but it is the first time we experience martin as a child with this radical empathy for other people and the role he wanted to play in feeling their pain which comes into play much later in his life as a civil rights leader. >> host: little bit of a depression? did he feel depression? >> guest: he did. the last year of his life depression mania. there's a professor at rut going with a book -- rutgersoing the first ever psycho analysis and doing it with the research of his doctors reports and hospital stays can. the point is we raise some of this in the book, that martin in the last coupleearses of his
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life was hospitalized more than most people know. the official reason was being tired, overworkedded, anxiety. but there 'twas a bit more going on there he did suffer from deession and from mania, but again, the research by the professor at tufts points out that 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 can't explain it but the fact that martin suffered from mania made million much more able to feel the pain and hurt ofs could it served him well. >> host: your out here in washington to be on this program but you'r taping one of your programs while you're here, and you have two senators. >> guest: i'm doing a few shows here. one will air a week from now, very quickly, two african-american united states senators, edward brooke, the first senator elected and re-elected from massachusetts just died.
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corey booker tim scott, never sat for a conversation together. i'm doing them together. for two nights on pbs program a week from now. >> host: tavis smiley for the last three hours. here are his books very quickly... thank u, peter. appreciate it.
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