Tavis Smiley On 'Stand' Documentary and Why Trayvon Can't Be Rodney King
1 year ago
Branded journalist opens up about his latest project and the role of black media
Unfortunately nowadays, when the name Tavis Smiley is brought up many of us instantly think "Obama critic," which isn't something he shies away from. But, it's not fair to just label this seasoned journalist and activist with that term alone. We can't act like the man hasn't used his many platforms and resources to keep all of us informed and aware of the stories that most media outlets won't cover and people that other journalists hardly ever talk to.
Over the years Smiley has built a brand that has become unapologetically synonymous with the black agenda and his new documentary "Stand" is no different. The doc is centered around Smiley and some of his buddies (guys like Dr. Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson) going on a bus trip back in 2008 as the U.S. economy was in turmoil and the entire country was chanting "Yes We Can." Smiley visited everyone from Dick Gregory to Sam Moore of Sam & Dave fame.
Without giving too much away, the trip revealed previously unheard stories about Martin Luther King and documented some entertaining dialogue among some of black America's greatest minds.
Loop 21: First off, kudos to you for adding some young guys on the trip. Because at first glance of the line-up, it already looked like it was going to be “instant vintage.”
Tavis Smiley: [laughs]
Loop 21: Why did you think it was important to do that?
Smiley: I’ve always been one to encourage young people, because when I was young, I had people to encourage me. I’ve had a foundation for a dozen or so years now that works with young people on leadership development. So I’ve always wanted to make sure that we are empowering, inspiring and uplifting our youth. It’s not a stretch for me, that has always been a component of my work. It was good to have Robert and Daryl on the bus with us. I met them during one of the Democratic presidential debates in 2007. I think they learned a lot.
Loop 21: Through your work, "Stand" included, we pretty much know what you are about. So we wanted to know, do you think “black pride” is going out of style now? Because you can listen to certain music or see different elements of our culture assimilating or aligning themselves with the “check writers” so to speak.