Monday, January 9, 2012

Tavis Smiley Ousted From MLK Event

Politico reports that Tavis Smiley, the PBS talk show host who has criticized President Barack Obama for not doing enough for the African-American community, says he was ousted as the speaker at a Martin Luther King luncheon because he was trying to hold the president accountable.
“I don’t see my role as one of criticizing the president. I see my role as one of holding the president – this and every other president—accountable,” Smiley said on Fox News on Monday.
Tavis Smiley-Cornell West

Smiley was booted from the 20th annual MLK luncheon on Jan. 16 that is hosted by the Peoria Civic Center. The group announced last week that Smiley had been replaced by Michael Eric Dyson as the guest speaker of the event, citing people who were “upset about comments that Tavis Smiley has made.”

Last summer, Smiley had teamed up with civil rights activist Cornel West to embark on a 16-city “poverty bus tour” to highlight the economic disparity in the country, especially as it effected the nation’s black community. Back then, Smiley said in an interview that “it would be nice to hear the president say the word poor – to say the word poverty.”
“But we can’t get this president or any leaders to say the words poor or poverty, much less do anything about it,” he said.

“What’s important to us is putting together a luncheon that celebrates the life and work of Dr.King,” luncheon organizer Alma Brown said last became evident over the last few days that people were upset about comments that Tavis Smiley had made, comments that we weren’t aware of unfortunately so we made the decision to cancel his contract.”

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