Tavis Smiley Booted From MLK Event

Source: MJ Lee / Politico

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.

“Something is wrong with this country … that so often the political right, and I am no defender of the political right … gets accused of playing the game of political correctness. What this underscores is that those on the left, the Democrats can play that game of political correctness as well,” he added.

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 The group announced last week that Smiley had been replaced by Michael Eric Dyson as the guest speaker of the event, citing people who were “upset about comments that Tavis Smiley has made.”

“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 week, according to a local report. “And it 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.”

Smiley said Monday that some 1,500 guests had bought tickets to attend the luncheon, but the “six people” that complained ended up “trumping the entire event,” calling the situation a “quintessential example of political correctness.”

To read this article in its entirety visit Politico.

  • Brad Smith

    I remain somewhat surprised that Black leadership, to a large degree, is still encased within the confines of smaller-thinking, either refusing or just somehow unable to see the seriousness of the shutting-down of the rights & free-will of the People, not just in the United States, but on a global scale. Granted, I understand organizational politics, and how potentially controversial positions such as those taken by Smiley could cause a knee-jerk reaction.

    That said, the accelerating topple down the side of the mountain of opportunity, freedom, and social stability propagated by the thugs & crooks in Washington (& their well-oiled corporate/industrial/military machine) has got to reach the attention of Black leadership soon, lest there remain finally nothing to be politically-correct about.

    Dr. King was all about resistance to civil, state-sanctioned tyranny, and gave his life fighting and defending the rights of not only Black Americans, but all people. Dr. King was assassinated because he challenged the status-quo, questioned why Black communities were not treated with the respect and fairness of white communities, and dared to bring the matter to public light and scrutiny.

    Tavis Smiley — in contrast — has now been chastised by an organization bearing Dr. King’s noble name for daring to pose honest questions along the very same lines of thought. It’s time to lose the country-club mentality for a moment, and begin to quickly understand the very real threat staring not only the Black community in the face, but the entire free-world at large.

  • tiztiz

    Look there is nothing wrong with Tavis Smiley holding the president feet to the FIRE.
    Just look at the black community and what has the President talked about -every other ethnic group problem accept the people that look like him.
    Now i am not NAIVE either black people need to step up to the plate just like everyone else need to step up to the plate – but if every time the Pres opens his mouth – he opens for other groups – he can most certainly do the same for the people that look like him..
    All i can say is -it’s going to be a tough re-election for this President and that’s just what the GOP is hoping for….

  • the issue with Tavis Smiley is that he lost his credibility when he refused to allow Mrs. Michelle Obama, an educated attorney in her own right, to stand in when then-candidate Senator Barack Obama could not attend Tavis’s self-promoted event designed to put his stamp-of-approval, wanna-be-kingmaker-mark on President Obama. Tavis is no better than the GOP.  I have heard him speak in public and he does not bring substance, but wants to simply sell books and expand his franchise, he is not expanding opportunities for the black community.  and frankly, President Obama, in his heated climate of the last few years and obstructionist congress, could not target the issues of the black community public (Eric Holder has done a lot of that, instead) and President Obama has championed issues that would benefit all americans, generally, and black americans specifically, like health care.  tavis is self-seeking, that is more why the group did not want to attend an event honoring Dr. King if tavis was the speaker, in my opinion

    • Valerielarche

      I totally agree with you…

  • Norvell

    How dare they boot out Travis the President is the very one who said we need to hold him accountable and if someone choose to acknowledge that then what is the issue…He is so right…President Obama spend so much time spending his wheel on getting illegals past the immigration Dream Act that he does not visit Blacks or address their needs…once in a while he needs to spend time on us rahter than whites and Latinos because we do vote and was part of the reason he got in…many illegals are not citizens and he feels if they become citizens that they will vote for him…Not true…they will not they will get a L:atino in as sure as I know my name is 3..and I am black they will vote for a Latino…Dream Act further disecfranchise AA and he is definitely a part of it. Be a President and enforce the rules of the constitution that is your main responsibility…not helping them continue to break the laws of this land…by the way …they don’t respect or do they like blacks

    • Anonymous

      President Obama is the President of all the American people and does what he thinks is best for them as a whole. Employment, health, environment, crime are also Black issues.   This President has done more for Blacks, poor, middle class than any other president in my life time, and in less than three years. Everyone has their agenda and want everything right now and when they don’t get it they complain and whine. They sit back and wait for others to do things for them and do not lift a hand to help the President get what they want. The President does not make laws, congress does. How about holding them responsible. This President just save this country from a depression and you sat back and complained that he does not do things for Black people. If anything you let him down by not going to the poles in 2010. I suggest you look at his record, ask policemen, firemen, teachers, doctors, nurses, clerks whose jobs were saved by the stimulus packet. Ask the student who benefited from his education changes. Ask those who are no benefiting from his health care. Ask those who have jobs repairing or building schools, freeways, roads, bridges and light rail. I live in LA and the number one industry is manufacturing (making things). I see these things provided by the stimulus everywhere I look. Many persons are complaining about their health insurance increasing. Insurance companies are trying to get a heads up before the laws is fully implemented in 2014. That is one reason we need that consumer protection bureau right now that he cannot get the votes for the person to head the department. Tavis is upset because he lost his status among Blacks for turning on the President for personal reasons and wants revenge. He needs to go sit down some place and let the President do his job.  

  • Norvell

    It is hard to get up when they have their feet on your neck…Step up to what may I ask…I do agree we need to tighten up our game but for your info …they are not hiring black folks …they hire mainly Latinos…Travis has a right to his opinion and the president told us to hold him accountable have you lately addressed your concerned to President Obama …He has a website and love to hear from us but we don’t respond…many of us do have computers…He has not healed the climate …we were excited but he doesnt even acknowledge us nor does he come to the black community on his campaign trail…many black and wealthy black folks have some type of money and we need a President that address our concerns with resolutions..Tell me what have he done to assist us like he assist the illegals…?

    • Anonymous

      The last time I looked, USC is in the heart of the Black community. I saw him there with 37,000 other people. Roscoe’s Chicken and waffles is also in the Black community. So is Pomona, many Blacks live in Culver City, Hollywood, etc. and that is just in the LA area. So what is your point. I know I don’t know about the areas in other cities. Do you? In DC he goes to a number of places in the Black community to eat. What does any of this have to do with anything. If people wanted to see him, they travel miles when he is in the area. How many of the white President’s came to your community period? There are so many big problems in this world and you think this is important? Because they are not hiring Black folks you blame the President. That does not seem fair to blame the President for that. What have you done about it. You do realize that he is just one man, who has only been in office almost 3 years and cannot do everything everyone wants him to do. Try helping yourself and not expecting other to do it for you. Also, try doing some research and find out just what this President has done to help you and all other Americans. Tavis has always been one of those Black leaders that want you dependent on them for survival and when you no longer do, he is jealous and upset and want the President to pay. Get on board Tavis or get left behind.

      • Valerielarche

        He is not a leader more of a patsy!!! Travis lost my respect long before President Obama was elected.

  • Most of us who have studied government AND politics know that local government officials and social organizations (i.e. churches) bear a greater responsibility for individual suffering than the federal government. Tavis can’t take on on governors, legislators, council members or preachers because, well – they don’t care what he thinks.

  • The man held a benefit at the RED ROOSTER in harlem, only the hottest restaurant in that community in the last few years!  He doesn’t address or understand the black community?!  Quite a few of you commenting need to get your proverbial heads out of the mud, seriously!!!  These financial problems have been brewing since Bush senior was in office, continued under Clinton and were totally exacerbated under George dubya people.  Has he been a perfect President?  Hell naw!  But out of the Presidents that have served (you know the previous 43) you name one that has been….Come on, I’m waiting….Read some history and speak with a purpose, from an informed place not just verbal tantrums.  Tavis was acting like Obama is the sole problem of the poor, blacks, latinos, students, single mothers and the rest.  Both he and Cornell West have a right to their opinions but neither could do the job Obama does so I’ll end it on that note.  But remember opinions are like back chutes and everybody has one so just because they have the ability to get on TV doesn’t make their’s special by any stretch of the imagination!

    • TonyaJ68

      Couldn’t have said it any better myself…kudos to you and your comment. Tavis has never mentioned holding any of the other Presidents accountable…why now, does he want to hold President Obama accountable for the state of “black America?”

  • TonyaJ68

    If some of these people that are complaining (Tavis), can do any better as the President, “Why didn’t he run for the Presidency?” Another Jesse Jackson, and Congress…they think it’s all about them.