Tavis Smiley Hosts Multiethnic Panel Discussion at Lisner
“It felt like the time was right to have a conversation about how we can move this country forward; one that was multiracial, multiethnic, bipartisan, and multigenerational. One that emphasizes the three I’s – one that is informative, instructive and inspiring,Tavis Smiley. Courtesy Photo
Well-known radio and television personality, Tavis Smiley, will host three-hour, public roundtable discussion on issues that include the economy, the state of public education and restoring trust in America on the campus George Washington University. America’s Next Chapter, held at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, Thu., Jan. 13, will include prominent figures, including Cornel West, professor of African American Studies and Religion at Princeton University, author and syndicated columnist, Arianna Huffington and David Frum, a conservative columnist at the National Post.
Smiley, host of Tavis Smiley on PBS, is hopeful that far beyond being simply a CSPAN television broadcast, the platform will become a patchwork of Black oral traditions for generations.
“It felt like the time was right to have a conversation about how we can move this country forward; one that was multiracial, multiethnic, bipartisan, and multigenerational. One that emphasizes the three I’s – one that is informative, instructive and inspiring,” Smiley, 46, said.
He said that the District of Columbia served as the perfect venue.
Last modified on Thursday, 13 January 2011 06:19
“Any conversation happening in the nation’s capital gets the attention of the policy makers. Washington, D.C., is an incubator. In the past, where policy and change have been possible and successful in Washington D.C., it has also been elsewhere, and Washington has served as the incubator for that.”
Smiley sites recent data from a Pew Research Institute study, indicating that after 400 years in this America, the majority of the African-Americans feel they have already experienced their best days.
“The feelings of angst and fear are palpable; everywhere you move you feel people’s fears and anxieties about the present and the future,” Smiley said.
“I think what most concerns us is that our children will not do as well as we have done, and unfortunately the research underscores that,” he said.
Smiley has also partnered with West and an advisory board of African-American scholars to develop a multimedia project, America I AM: The African American Imprint. The multimedia exhibition elucidates a rare collection of artifacts and installations, the evidence of more than four centuries of African-American contribution to the development of America.
“It makes such a grand example of what we are capable of at our best,” Smiley said.
The group of scholars includes James Early, director of Cultural Heritage Policy for the Smithsonian Institution, Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum of Harlem and Henry Louis Gates, director of African and American Research at Harvard University.
The scholars contend that a nation in distress can learn from success in the face of adversity, characteristic of the African-American experience.
Smiley will be on-hand for the opening of the exhibit that features items from every area of African-American culture, including the key to the Birmingham jail cell where Martin Luther King, Jr. was imprisoned and a Cape Coast slave dungeon door.
The America I AM exhibit will be on display in Washington, D.C., at the National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th Street in Northwest Wed., Feb. 2 through Sun., May 1.
The traveling exhibit was organized by the Cincinnati Museum Center and Arts and Exhibitions International and sponsored by Walmart Stores, Inc., Northern Trust and Microsoft.
America’s Next Chapter will air live on C-SPAN, with encore performances on PBS Tue., Jan. 18 through Thu., Jan. 20.