Tavis Smiley Says He’s Not an Obama Critic: Hmmmmmm

tavis smiley says he's not a critic of barack obama

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World

In a recent interview, Tavis Smiley took issue with being described as a critic of President Barack Obama. Smiley made it clear that he is not a critic of the president, since he has never criticized him personally.

“Your facts are wrong because I have never leveled a personal critique against the president ever. I’ve never said anything personal about Barack Obama,” Tavis said to TheGrio.com.

“I detest when people suggest that I’m an Obama critic. I’m a member of the media and my job like yours—if you’re doing it well—is to hold the president accountable. That doesn’t make me a critic,” he said.

Most of the Your Black World writing team couldn’t hold back the laughter when Smiley made his statement.  Perhaps I risk being considered a Tavis Smiley critic for saying this, but a critique does not need to be personal for you to become a critic.  Movie critics don’t usually make personal critiques of the director, food critics don’t make personal remarks about the chef, the list goes on and on.  In fact, being a critic is not always a bad thing – it’s being a “haterologist” that gets you into trouble.

Yes Tavis, your actions have defined you as a leading critic of President Obama (and until recently, a textbook haterologist), and this wasn’t a good move on your part.  A leader is supposed to guide others based on his vision for the future, not spend all of his time engaged in a wide-eyed obsession over the activities of another man.  While all of us have space for commentary on the actions of black public figures (I’ve evaluated the president regularly), your two week tirade against the president back in 2008 was beyond awkward.

To balance the perspective here, I firmly believe that Tavis Smiley has the black community’s best interests at heart.  He and Cornel West have done a wonderful job of highlighting American poverty, which is one of the most significant and unaddressed problems in America right now.   The Obama Administration and Congress must be held accountable for the fact that black unemployment and poverty are worse than they’ve been in 30 years.  President Obama’s team of Wall Street-based economic advisers didn’t necessarily cause this mess, but they are responsible for not doing all they can to fix it.  As a Finance scholar, I can say that the “rising tide will lift all boats” solution in replace of targeted economic policy is the reason that black unemployment has gone up dramatically while white unemployment has dropped.  As a result, both white and black people are very upset at the president right now.

Tavis Smiley’s perceived role as an Obama critic didn’t start when he began “holding the Obama Administration accountable.”  It began in 2008 after a series of temper tantrums Smiley threw on national radio after President Obama refused to appear at his convention.  Had President Obama shown up for Tavis’ event, I’m sure that the public tirade would never have taken place.  That, quite honestly, is one of the things that made the issue personal.  Tavis forced black America to make a choice that they didn’t want to have to make, and Tavis Smiley was not the winner.

Since the 2008 Obama/Tavis debacle, Smiley has creatively and intelligently morphed his critiques of President Obama into a series of passive-aggressive remarks.  A case-in-point would be Smiley’s note that President Obama is the “first president in my professional career to not invite me for anything” or that Tavis has a concern that  “Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly and others are getting interviews and invites to the White House,” but he cannot.   Tavis knows that people are listening to his words with careful ears, but in spite of this, he has a hard time getting away from his apparent disdain for all things Obama.

Sometimes, the first impression can taint all impressions made afterward.  If a man calls his wife a “fat, ugly woman,” these words will ring in her psyche long after he explains that he simply wants her to take better care of her health.  Tavis Smiley made a horrible political calculation three years ago by convincing himself that he was powerful enough to make the African American community believe that Barack Obama was a disingenuous political figure for not coming to the State of the Black Union convention.   Tavis’ comments (even if they were well-intended) came off as self-righteous delusions of grandeur, as Tavis seemed to believe that black people could not think and make decisions for themselves.

Tavis’ reputation as an Obama critic appears to be connected to his close relationship with Obama’s arch Democratic nemesis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  While Tavis correctly notes that he has never been invited to the White House, I’m sure he’s been invited to the State Department several times.  Also, if Hillary ever gains the audacity to run against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tavis gives her an endorsement.

In good old-fashioned American politics, people choose sides and the victor gets the spoils.  Obama was the victor, so those who stood by him during the campaign (i.e. Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey) get all the spoils.  Everyone else (including Tavis Smiley and Jesse Jackson) gets to eat dinner on the back porch of the White House.  This is unfortunate, because President Obama should be listening to both Smiley and Jackson on some level – this might have helped the Obama Administration avoid some of it’s black public policy mistakes.  Smiley might do well to take notes from Rev. Jackson, who has found more dignified ways to express his concerns about the Obama Administration.

Voices like that of Tavis Smiley are critically important to our community.  His recent work to highlight the struggles of black boys in the educational system is the kind of thing that isn’t going to be done on Capitol Hill.   He has also used his platform to shine a light on other matters within the black community that you aren’t going to see addressed in mainstream media.  Having a black president and Attorney General has, thus far, only made matters worse for our community, in large part because people falsely assume that the success of Barack Obama and Eric Holder is a replacement for genuine civil rights advocacy.  The fates of poor black people are not, in almost any way, conjoined with the outcomes of black men who graduated from Harvard and Yale.

My assessment of Tavis?  His ego sometimes interferes with his ability to make rational choices. He also appears to be a bit self-absorbed, as if it’s his God-given mission to eventually control the earth and all surrounding planets.  But he’s also principled and determined to lead those who believe in him, and for that he has my respect.  Yes, Tavis Smiley has been an Obama critic in the past, but I am hopeful that he won’t remain an Obama critic in the future.  Smiley’s voice is too important for him to spend all of his time worried about the actions of another man.  I’m sure that Tavis would agree, at least in public.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

About these ads

67 Comments

Filed under african american professors, African American Scholars, African Americans, black professors, Black Scholars

67 responses to “Tavis Smiley Says He’s Not an Obama Critic: Hmmmmmm

  1. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Tavis Smiley Says He’s Not an Obama Critic? Negro Please | SyracuseUniversity.com

  2. Kevin Agee

    Very well and clearly communicated, Dr. Watkins. Creative conflict always focuses on the issue, not the personality. Both Mr. Smiley and Dr. West have personal as well as ideological issues with the President.

  3. David JB

    There are some who are against President Obama no matter what he says or does. Perfect examples of these types in media would be Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. I believe what Tavis Smiley is saying when he says he is not an Obama critic is that he is not someone who summarily criticizes everything about President Obama the way the aforementioned might. That’s not to say he will not criticize the President when he doesn’t agree with him, but I understand his statement that he is not an Obama critic–yet I am not so sure that this column was written within the context of that understanding.

  4. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Tavis Smiley Says He’s Not an Obama Critic? Negro Please « ScholarshipInAction.com

  5. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Tavis Smiley Says He’s Not an Obama Critic? Negro Please « Black Politics for Black Americans

  6. L. Boogie

    I would have said this myself if I were smarter and more clever! Love the critique. Wouldn’t change a word. So agree Dr. Boyce….

  7. Rex

    When WE learn to talk to, work with, and respect each other the progress will be inevitable! WE can do it! LET’S!!!!!!!

  8. Irvin Blackburn

    There are a number of problems facing the Black Community in general we need to stop looking for the Federal or any other governmental agency to address them. We instead need to stand up and do what we need to do as a people to initiate change ourselves

  9. deacons of defense

    boyce, you are such a hypocrite. what is the difference between what tavis is doing with obama and what you are doing with tom joyner?

    isn’t your personal issue with joyner due to your relationship with west? everything you said about tavis could apply to your behavior with joyner. i cannot speak for others, but in my opinion, you’re no different than tavis, and at times your remind me of tavis. your statement that tavis seemed to believe that black people could not think and make decisions for themselves is true. but maybe you should remember your own words when you attack another brother in the public domain for personal reasons!

    in addition, i’m sure i wasn’t the only one who noticed you did not include your boy cornel west with tavis and rev. jackson as being outsiders and having to eat on the back porch of the white house. apparently you have not received your invitation, but tell west to save you a seat because you’re also on the back porch.

  10. Shambra Mulder

    Again, what has Tavis said about President Obama that is personal and outside of what a polictial critic would say/write? Anyway, Tavis does not accept the “titles” that the media wants to give him to increase their ratings and divide the African American community.

  11. As you pointed out quite correctly, in his arrogance, Tavis thought he could compete with the President of the United States. Where he got that idea not only speaks volumes regarding his tenuous grip on reality, but indeed, more than nips at the clinical definition of delusional. As a result, he’s all but completely lost his credibility in the black community, which makes him useless as a shill for the corporate interests that’s been propping him up. In addition, he’s a marginal television host. Thus, Tavis is on his way back to the obscurity from which he came – and no man deserves it more.

  12. Cynthia

    Can’t we agree to disagree? Life is full of opinions, the good, the bad and the ugly. I am confident that we Black folks, who are engaged in politics and commentary, can make our own choices and form our own opinions. As it stands now who speaks for Black folks? Only those who get the spotlight!

  13. Rex

    You are RIGHT! I hope a pray WE get to it SOON! WE are perpetually behind the ‘eight’ ball and WAY behind time!!

  14. Dee Cole

    I respect a lot of what both Dr. West and Tavis Smiley have done in the past. However, I wish that they had used different tactics after the president was elected. There should have been a concerted effort to educate people, especially young and first time voters, about the political system. Truth be told, Obama isn’t as important to the African American community as our local and state representatives and congressional reps. Had we kept those voters engaged and informed, perhaps the current Congress would be occupied with more representatives who have our interests at heart, instead of Teapartiers and Republicans who have stated, repeatedly, that their main goal is Obama’s failure. My criticism of Dr. West and Tavis is that I’ve never heard them take any Black congressional reps to task or hold them accountable like he’s doing the president. IMHO that is misguided and unfair.

  15. Rex

    I am hoping ALL of this dialogue is leading to some CONSTRUTIVE MOVES on OUR part, so that WE can PROGRESS!! Dialogue with purpose for growth is good for US ALL!!

  16. Rex

    Thank You Dee Cole. The REAL work has to be done at the local to state level first. I am glad that WE are beginning to talk to each other. President Obama knows that things need to be done at the level where WE are. Mr. Boehner and company are talking to their ‘locals’, that’s who put them in office. When WE have dialogued amongst ourselves and drafted some strategems; then WE can hold OUR reps as You say accountable for what WE need and deserve!

  17. Rex

    Yes Cynthia, WE need to speak for ourselves and then appoint someone to represent what WE have said and are saying to the larger community! WE are the ones who MUST articulate US and OUR needs!

  18. WizardG

    Mr. Smiley may not be an Obama critic but I am! I can see right through the Obama facade. Even his jobs package is nothing more than a fake posturing to drum up votes during election. His Medical package was a fake implementation to give the appearance of his favoring a national health policy when all along it was a ruse which caused mixed emotions among those who would give him praise or just the benefit of the doubt.

    There is nothing to any president and dare I say, any politician in this US climate of high crimes, high deception, and high treason. We the people don’t have a chance against these scheming blood curdling shysters.
    African Americans are defenseless without a proper and righteous government in this still very white dominant racist social structure, but these most cunning elite are working vigilantly to tear down our only real wall of defense. We will not be hired, not educated, not kept healthy, not helped while suffering and worst of all we will be preyed upon by those who not only outnumber us but own and operate everything that makes this country run. Mr Obama is their man…..For now!

  19. Rex

    Now that WE know what WE are working with; let’s do what WE have to do!

  20. II am glad Tavis Smiley see President Obama positively. We need such news people in Obama column. I will ask DNC to put more ads in his radio and TV programming.

  21. I agree with the Deacons of Defense, above, they aee so right what a hypocrite you sre! When you wrote the article from “Steve Harvey” it was as though you thought he was an idiot. Well, an idiot he is not. Tavis Smiley is so egotistical is is pathetic, Cornell West thinks he is God’s gift to Bblack people because they can’t think for themselves, and after Jessee Jackso(preacher) was caught on the mike saying the most cruel and non-spiritual thing about the President I am surprised he shows his face anywhere. Tom Joyner and Al Sharpton are fighters and have done more for Black people than any of the three mentioned. I see you did not mention your friend and the one you so admire(Cornell West) also. Why?

  22. Jessie H.

    My response to all of this is that in 2008 Tavis was holding a forum which he had been holding for many years previous. As I recall, 2008 was not the first year of the State of Black America forum. Furthermore, as I recall, many black key influencers (including Sharpton and Joyner) attended and participated in this annual event focused on addressing critical issues and concerns impacting the black community.

    Thus, the one thing I am having trouble getting a understanding around concerns how these issues were such a concern before that year to where these same black folks gathered to have frank open dialogue on these issues impacting black folks often calling out policies and positions of former President Bush and others who stood in the way of progress for blacks as it related to policies and decision that impacted the black community. The focus of the forums were in large part to highlight the black issues and find solutions to hold elected leaders responsible and have them support policies to better our community.

    I wonder what would have happened if Pres. Obama would have not ran for President in 2008. Would the black community have been okay if Hillary or now VP Biden would have told Tavis (and the other black influencers that participated in the forum) that they were too busy campaigning and could not attend? Furthermore, could you imagine Hillary telling this to a key women’s groups focused on the state of women in America that had been holding the forum for many years? I think not.

    In conclusion, the larger problem for black America is not that Tavis confronted/challenged Obama surrounding the 2008 state of black america and who was more powerful. In fact, I would argue that pre 2007 Tavis actually was more well known and had more overall appeal in the black community than President Obama. Which brings me to this point, why and what has President Obama done (other than winning a election) for the black community to place him on such a pedestal where he is above criticism. Especially, when the same issues Tavis and others spoke out against in years before Obama was a household name have seemed to get worse in the last three years.

    And no I don’t blame President Obama for the increases in the jobless rates, crime rates and poverty rates in the black community because he inherited a lot of bad things that he had little control over previously. However, I do question the lack of policies the Obama administration has offered focused on solving these issues in the black community. The question I ask is, what will we do if Romney and/or Perry is elected and we ask them what are they going to do for our community and its’ growing issues. I’ll bet if they respond “I am the President for all people and have to work on issues for all people” we will respond very differently as though we deserve and expect a more specified response and plan, although neither one of those guys will ever be identified as the “first Black President” nor will they have had a 90% plus backing from our community during the election.

  23. I voted for Obama by absentee ballot about 3 weeks before the election but by election night I was sick of him … And as I have kept a close watch over time he has steadily slipped downward … He is a coward , throws like a girl ( or as girls used to throw ) , capitulates before the battle is joined , and he is showing his white side in my oipnion .. One more thing , I believe marrying Michelle was a calculated move … Personally , if I ( him ) was sooo much I would have been able to find a strong woman but a tad more attractive .. She does seem to have more balls than he possesses ..
    And you brothers and sisters who automatically see no evil with him need to grow up .. Thta is how whiyte people do it ..

  24. DW

    Dr Boyce,

    Thank you for a thoughtful, well written article. I agree with you with the exception of one point, that Tavis Smiley’ voice is “too important”. The reality is that Tavis is a self serving, narcissistic individual that has absolutely NO credibility in the African American community which in turns makes his ‘voice’ irrelevant.

  25. Rex

    Well said! A lot of ‘food’ for thought!! What are WE or What can WE do??!?

  26. Rex

    What is the problem of treating him just like WE do any president. The Book says “Pray for them that are in authority, that WE may lead a quiet and peacable life in entire godliness and proper conduct”. It does not specify whether he be black or white.

    Peace & Blessings!

  27. Rex

    No one’s voice is irrelevant! No matter who is talking HEAR the TRUTH! Our responsibilty is to respond correctly to the TRUTH.

    Peace & Blessings

  28. Sharon

    I too am extremely disappointed in President Obama’s performance. I believe that by inviting people like Steve Harvey to his Barbeque and favoring Tom Joyner is a political move on his behalf to gain favor with African Americans and gain their votes. Sadly, more African Americans are likely to listen to and follow people like Steve Harvey and Tom Joyner than our more learned brothers and sisters. And calling Tavis Smiley and Brother West “haters” is something people can easily relate too.

    President Obama is one of them, not US. The Black Community is a separate entity and should be address as such. We have not asked the President to consider us exclusively, but us also. He’s showing his true colors and I do not want to vote for him in the next election because he simply does not put up a fight. He gives in before the fight even begins. He offered up cuts to Social Security before the Republicans even asked for them. At this point I’m more concerned with the welfare of “grandma” than making sure Obama isn’t just a one term President.

    Taunts from Limburgh aren’t going to determine who I select as the best person to address issue affecting the Black Community. President Obama backed off on the issue of Universal Healthcare and extended tax cuts for the rich. Time and time again he tell the American people he did the best that he could do and it may be true. But the bottom line is that President Obama’s best is not good enough. I not willing to sacrifice my well-being or that of my family just so that he can be a second term president!

  29. HARGASS

    IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, TAVIS , MAGIC , BLACK CAUCUS MEMBERS AND A WHOLE LITANY OF PROMINENT BLACKS SUPPORTED THE CLINTONS IN ’08 IN HOPES OF A BIG PAYDAY
    IE; AMBASSADORSHIPS, JUICY COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS, TAVIS
    WANTED HIS OWN NET WORK AND OTHERS THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE MADE LARGE.

    TO BE HONEST MOST OF THE QUOTE ” BLACK LEADERSHIP CLASS ”
    DOESN’T HAVE THE ECONOMIC OR POLITICAL CLOUT TO INSTITUTE
    THE NECESSARY STRUCTURAL CHANGES NEEDED TO HAVE A LONG TERM POSITIVE FUNCTIONAL IMPACT FOR THE VERY BLACK CONSTITUENCY THAT ENABLES THEM TO HAVE A PUBLIC VOICE.

    SO IN ESSENCE RANK AND FILE BLACK PEOPLE HAVE TO MAKE THE
    SACRAFICE TO BECOME LEARNED AS TO HOW POLITICS AND ECONOMICS WORK AND FIND WAYS TO LEVERAGE THEIR SUPPORT
    INTO MEANINGFUL ACTION FOR THEIR BETTERMENT.

  30. Rex

    Does that hold true regardless to who the alternative is?

  31. Rex

    That’s the word! Let’s get it done!!

  32. Tavis Smiley and his carnival barker boy Cornell West are small potatoes. Blacks should focus entirely on making sure President Obama is re-elected. In a recent poll 92% of us supported the President’s re-election. I want 95% by election day. We cannot afford to let the extreme right and the Tea Party displace President Obama from the White House. Join me in the fight against right wing extremism. Plus I want to see Michelle Obama as the first lady for another four years. Ric Perry, Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachman, Ron Paul, Herb Cain, et al over President5 Obama. Are you kidding me. Re-elect President Obama 2012!

  33. KFrush

    Very well said Hargass, the money movers and shakers are not black people, however as you stated we have to educated our selves to play the game. Haters stop hating on Obama aleast he had the guts to risk his life to run for President and WIN.

  34. Sonta

    I think Tavis should focus on what Obama is doing right!!!!!!!!!!!! Tavis, when was the last time you went on vacation? There you could focus on how to improve your next world situation.

  35. Tavis’s loyalty lies elsewhere.

  36. mdchoc

    I agree with most of what you said, Dr. Watkins, except that I think you cut Smiley too much slack! President Obama’s not appearing at Tavis’s convention definitely seems to be the beginning of his attacks and I suppose the comment about his not being invited to the White House was supposed to be intimidating. In any case, thank you for a well-stated position here.

  37. Ruby

    WizardG doesn’t do his homework. The health plan that President Obama proposed was almost identical to the one signed into law by Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachussetts. It worked fine; everyone was covered. This information was widely reported in the media. Some wizadr!

  38. JellyBean

    Very well said, Dr. Watkins. Very well said. Tavis created this mess, now he has to deal with the aftermath.

  39. I think your focus on Tavis Smiley has shown how we as black people are becoming wiser and wiser to the games the “Super” self made spoke persons for the black community are all about.. Their desires for positions in a Clinton whitehouse are evident by their inability to “let go” and work FOR the success of the President instead of showing their childish behaviors. So far we have not mentioned the behavior of the ex-owner of BET: Johnson, as he and Magic Johnson sat on stage with Hillary Clinton. It was so disrespectful it nearly compared to Jessee Jacksons’ ill timed remarks. These men are being “crabs” and showing how thin their skin is! Wake up men and show how you are “for” blacks and wish to heal and educate our people instead of focusing on who came to your event and whether or not you were invited to the Whitehouse! Why couldn’t Tavis accept Michelle Obama? She is a great first lady! The President respecded him enough to offer to send her! Tavis should watch out, before he become an “outdated bitter man”!
    whitehouse

  40. Chris Matthews of MsNBC ask Jim Cramer (CNBC) “Why do the people on Wall Street ‘hate’ President Obama so?” When he took office the DOW was 7,900 today it closed at 11,550? Statistics show that is a 31% increase and statistics show that people are “richer”now than they ever have been before as a matter it is 88 to 1 percent gaind. In addition there are places taking us backwards: with criteria that you must meet in order to vote. Cramer’s answer was that he did not go along with it but everyone he talks with say they want a “businessmaa” who understands WallStreet. What? And what will the three named do to mobolize the black community against this legislation. This is what we need to do something about ‘Leaders’ We need your help in undoing this legislation because we know they are in place to suppress the black and latino vote!

  41. Rudy

    @Sharon

    First, you voted for Obama for the wrong reason i.e. he’s black. You didn’t pay attention to the platform he was running on for president, you just assumed that because he’s black he will swoop down to save you and make your life easier without you having to make an effort.

    Second, how could he offer up SS and Medicare when it was already on the table and had you really been paying attention, he SAVED Social Security and Medicare from being cut.

    Third, I hope that you reconsider your position because people had to die so that we can be able to have a voice in this country and you are choosing to squander it away. If so many black folks hadn’t squander their rights in 2010 we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Ask yourself Sharon, what do you think that the Republican Party is going to do if they retake the White House and Congress next year? Seriously, what do you think will happen to grandma? It’s scary.

  42. Rex

    It MUST be done!!

  43. JanetL

    Tavis Smiley Cuts Bank Ties Over Racism Claims (PUSHING the community to purchase SUB PRIME LOANS remember those that cause many millions in the community to loose their homes and are now homeless?

    Tavis Smiley has severed all ties to Wells Fargo in the wake of criticism that the bank targeted African-American borrowers for subprime mortgages by using trusted black speakers to woo victims to a series of day-long “Wealth Building” seminars in black neighborhoods.Eight cities across the country hosted such gatherings, which were promoted heavily in black media and featured such prominent African-Americans as Smiley, host of his own PBS talk show, as well as Kelvin Boston, the host of multicultural financial affairs show “Moneywise.

    “In the seminars, Smiley praised Wells Fargo and encouraged attendees to seriously consider real estate investments, according to Mary Kane writing for the Web site Washington Independent, a project of the Center for Independent Media.

    In seminars held after Hurricane Katrina, Smiley also emphasized the importance of building assets and wealth, saying those who had had done so were able to leave New Orleans, while those with nothing had to stay behind, Kane wrote.Wells Fargo was also a sponsor of Smiley’s radio show on Public Radio International, and underwrote the annual CSPAN-televised “State of the Black Union” conference that Smiley organizes.

    The column “Journal-Isms” is reporting that Smiley, on Friday, announced that his relationship with Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc has ended.”I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,” he declared. He said the move cost “a lot of money”; he said he did not know how much.”I was never a spokesman for Wells Fargo,”

    Smiley said. “I hate payday loans. My role in these seminars was about financial literacy and wealth building.” A lawsuit brought against Wells Fargo by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alleges, the bank’s “wealth building” seminars were a part of its overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans, the suit said.

    Smiley said his relationship with Wells Fargo was a “package deal.” In return for the company helping to finance his radio show, he went on the road for Wells Fargo. He said he owns his own radio and television show and while it frees him from network control, it also requires him to come up with his own financing

  44. JanetL

    HBCU News: After dispute Texas Southern strips Tavis Smiley’s name from Communications building

    Remember that Big Advertisement Tavis Smiley Gives TSU Donates $1 Million Dollars

    Right?

    A long-simmering disagreement between broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Texas Southern University ended Friday when the university’s governing board agreed to strip Smiley’s name from its communication school.
    Smiley promised in 2004 to donate $1 million and to raise another $1 million for TSU. The school later created the Tavis Smiley School of Communication in his honor.
    In return, Smiley made one $50,000 donation in mid-2005 and raised $250,000 from three corporate donors.

    But he said Friday that he had intended to fulfill his personal $1 million pledge.

    “Any institution that turns away a $1 million gift in this economy, I think ought to have good reason for doing that,” he said in a telephone interview.

    He also said former university President Priscilla Slade offered to name the school for him before he pledged any money.

    “I even made a joke, how much is this decision going to cost me?” he said. “She said, ‘This decision has already been made.'”

    “It doesn’t feel good,” he said of the board’s decision. “My intentions were to help the students.”

    Ongoing dispute

    TSU President John Rudley said the dispute had been going on since he arrived on campus in early 2008.

    Talks broke down last month after more than a year of negotiations, and Rudley informed Smiley the deal was off.

    “Because you did not fulfill your original commitment to our partnership, TSU plans to treat the partnership as being at an end,” Rudley wrote in a letter dated Sept. 28. “TSU will therefore remove your name from the School of Communication and the KTSU Radio facility to allow us to provide other major donors with the naming opportunity.”
    Smiley promptly responded in an e-mail to Rudley. “I understand your letter to say that you don’t want that gift,” he wrote. “I … will continue with my benevolence where it’s appreciated.”
    Smiley is best-known for his work on radio and with the Black Entertainment Television.

    He has a PBS program, which airs at 12:30 a.m. five nights a week on KUHF, channel 8.

    The flap prompted TSU’s regents to adopt a policy last spring spelling out under what circumstances it will consider naming a university building, college, endowed professorship or other program.
    New naming policy

    Under TSU’s new policy, anyone interested in naming consideration for a college has to donate $10 million, with half in hand before the name change takes effect. Naming consideration for a department or school within a college would require a $2 million donation.
    “Most universities have a naming policy just so you don’t have this kind of misunderstanding,” Rudley said.

    He also said he doesn’t believe the naming of the school wasn’t tied to any promised donation.

    “My experience with universities is, you don’t name something for someone without getting money,” he said.

    Smiley agreed in 2004 to give TSU $200,000 a year for five years and to help raise another $1 million.

    He said he stopped the payments out of concern about mismanagement under Slade.

    She was accused of using school money for personal expenses and fired in mid-2006. She eventually was sentenced to 10 years probation after a grand jury indicted her.
    Altered agreement

    Last summer, Smiley informed TSU he was changing the terms of the agreement.

    His business manager, Kenneth Goldman, wrote that Smiley wanted to pay $50,000 by the end of 2009 and $100,000 a year for the next nine years.

    He no longer would try to raise money from outside donors.

    TSU’s well-publicized problems made it impossible to raise money from corporate donors, Smiley said Friday. “And obviously, not unlike most Americans, my personal income has been impacted by this recession.”

    Still, he said, he intended to honor his commitment, even if it would take a decade to do so. Now, he said he will donate that money elsewhere.

    Yet this is who Your Black Bloggers Loves to Write About?

    How about covering someone more deserving and more dedicated to the community?

  45. JanetL

    Remember that $1 Million Dollar Donation to TSU RIght? bHBCU News: After dispute Texas Southern strips Tavis Smiley’s name from Communications building

    Remember that Big Advertisement Tavis Smiley Gives TSU Donates $1 Million Dollars

    Right?

    A long-simmering disagreement between broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Texas Southern University ended Friday when the university’s governing board agreed to strip Smiley’s name from its communication school.
    Smiley promised in 2004 to donate $1 million and to raise another $1 million for TSU. The school later created the Tavis Smiley School of Communication in his honor.
    In return, Smiley made one $50,000 donation in mid-2005 and raised $250,000 from three corporate donors.

    But he said Friday that he had intended to fulfill his personal $1 million pledge.

    “Any institution that turns away a $1 million gift in this economy, I think ought to have good reason for doing that,” he said in a telephone interview.

    He also said former university President Priscilla Slade offered to name the school for him before he pledged any money.

    “I even made a joke, how much is this decision going to cost me?” he said. “She said, ‘This decision has already been made.'”

    “It doesn’t feel good,” he said of the board’s decision. “My intentions were to help the students.”

    Ongoing dispute

    TSU President John Rudley said the dispute had been going on since he arrived on campus in early 2008.

    Talks broke down last month after more than a year of negotiations, and Rudley informed Smiley the deal was off.

    “Because you did not fulfill your original commitment to our partnership, TSU plans to treat the partnership as being at an end,” Rudley wrote in a letter dated Sept. 28. “TSU will therefore remove your name from the School of Communication and the KTSU Radio facility to allow us to provide other major donors with the naming opportunity.”
    Smiley promptly responded in an e-mail to Rudley. “I understand your letter to say that you don’t want that gift,” he wrote. “I … will continue with my benevolence where it’s appreciated.”
    Smiley is best-known for his work on radio and with the Black Entertainment Television.

    He has a PBS program, which airs at 12:30 a.m. five nights a week on KUHF, channel 8.

    The flap prompted TSU’s regents to adopt a policy last spring spelling out under what circumstances it will consider naming a university building, college, endowed professorship or other program.
    New naming policy

    Under TSU’s new policy, anyone interested in naming consideration for a college has to donate $10 million, with half in hand before the name change takes effect. Naming consideration for a department or school within a college would require a $2 million donation.
    “Most universities have a naming policy just so you don’t have this kind of misunderstanding,” Rudley said.

    He also said he doesn’t believe the naming of the school wasn’t tied to any promised donation.

    “My experience with universities is, you don’t name something for someone without getting money,” he said.

    Smiley agreed in 2004 to give TSU $200,000 a year for five years and to help raise another $1 million.

    He said he stopped the payments out of concern about mismanagement under Slade.

    She was accused of using school money for personal expenses and fired in mid-2006. She eventually was sentenced to 10 years probation after a grand jury indicted her.
    Altered agreement

    Last summer, Smiley informed TSU he was changing the terms of the agreement.

    His business manager, Kenneth Goldman, wrote that Smiley wanted to pay $50,000 by the end of 2009 and $100,000 a year for the next nine years.

    He no longer would try to raise money from outside donors.

    TSU’s well-publicized problems made it impossible to raise money from corporate donors, Smiley said Friday. “And obviously, not unlike most Americans, my personal income has been impacted by this recession.”

    Still, he said, he intended to honor his commitment, even if it would take a decade to do so. Now, he said he will donate that money elsewhere.

    Yet this is who Your Black Bloggers Loves to Write About?

    How about covering someone more deserving and more dedicated to the community?

  46. JanetL

    Dr. Boyce you said

    Voices like that of Tavis Smiley are critically important to our community. His recent work to highlight the struggles of black boys in the educational system is the kind of thing that isn’t going to be done on Capitol Hill

    Unfortunately the Over Whelming Majority of the Black Community Does not Agree with you and for good reason

    People are judge based on their Actions and his and West have not been good.

    Just what did Tavis and West do to help those Poor that they Highlighted?

    The Black community has long suffered the Smiley and West of the community a constant division, refusing to work together and within the community to make the community a better place for those in the community

    Making a living off the Backs off the community well just doesn’t qualify as a good guy and worth of being essential to the community

  47. Alisa

    I don’t agree with everything in your article, but I do think it is a good article. I too, find it curious that you excluded Cornel West from your “take” on this issue because he is part and parcel of Tavis’ road show. In some ways, he has been even more offensive than Tavis, and certainly more personal, because it is West that called the President a black mascot and puppet, and even referred to him as unrooted because of biracial make up, and proceeded to describe the President as basically an oreo. But you seem to have too much respect for West to call him squarely on his circus antics. But I digress.

    I found these points to be absolutely SPOT ON:
    “Tavis forced black America to make a choice that they didn’t want to have to make, and Tavis Smiley was not the winner.”
    “Tavis Smiley made a horrible political calculation three years ago by convincing himself that he was powerful enough to make the African American community believe that Barack Obama was a disingenuous political figure for not coming to the State of the Black Union convention.”
    “Tavis seemed to believe that black people could not think and make decisions for themselves.”

    I think that the key to Tavis’ dismay lies right there! Tavis had been elevated by many, (even the media) as the gateway to the hearts and minds of the African American community. He had become the face of commentary on many outlets when it came to our issues. I think Tavis REALLY believed this hype, and it is pivotal in his response to and about this President. Barack Obama found a way into the hearts and minds of African Americans WITHOUT going thru the Tavis door, and Tavis, so self absorbed, simply cannot handle it. That’s it, in a nutshell.

    I remember Tavis making a particular critic about Barack Obama’s address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. This speech basically put him on the national political map and it was highly lauded by all. Yet, Tavis could only fault find and make this petty criticism. Tavis chose the statement where Barack Obama referred to America as being the only place where his life story could be possible and he referred to America as a magical place that his Father before him wanted to come to for education.
    Tavis said of this comment, that America is no magical place and that Barack Obama will have a Christopher Columbus moment and “discover” what America is really like. Well, this whole thing reminds me of a bible proverb that warns to be careful when you dig a ditch for someone else, that you yourself will ultimately fall into it. It looks to me like it is TAVIS that is having a Christopher Columbus moment, in discovering that he IS NOT the gateway to the African American community, that we’re not the political neophytes that he thought we were, and we are more than capable of making decisions apart from him.

  48. That is beautiful positing or response. President Obama is a unifier of people of all races i.e. Blacks, Whites and Asians. Tavis and others such as Herman Cain, Allen Keyes should apologize to President Obama for their distastiful references. American people and people of the world are lucky to have Obama as President. After all I do not see any of the challengers electable. They have too much nasty baggage with them. Please join me in November 2012 to re-elect President Obama.

  49. Thank you for your post. I am with you all the way. I am sick of the carnival barkers (Smiley & West) and the Obama haters. I am joining you in the battle to defeat right wing extremism and the Tea Party. Re-elect President Obama 2012!

  50. charlotte

    I love my President, but the “rising tide will lift all boats” sounds like another way of describing “trickle-down economics”. I don’t want to wait for the tide for my boat to be “lifted”, I want a good strong boat with a good motor so I can move on my own speed. And I sure as hell don’t want to wait for something to “trickle down” for my survival.

  51. Alisa

    @ charlotte:

    I realize that the saying “a rising tide lifts all boats” can sound a bit cliche’ but the truth of the statement cannot be denied. And it is NOTHING like the trickle down scenario because the trickle does not always come down.

    A rising tide DOES lift all boats. Perhaps those who belittle this saying were sleepwalking through the 1990s when record economic expansion benefited all Americans, especially African Americans. According to a list of “Clinton-Gore Accomplishments,” “The unemployment rate for African Americans had fallen from 14.2 percent in 1992 to 8.9 percent in 1998 — the lowest annual level on record (data first collected in 1972).” Real wages were up. Poverty rates among adults and children fell. And that’s just a few of the benefits that accrued to African Americans because of the Clinton administration’s focus on the economy and slashing the deficit — for the benefit of all Americans, because the policies enacted by Clinton/Gore were for the country in general, and not targeted specifically to African Americans. We benefited mightly from these policies because we are also Americans, thus, the reference to “a rising tide lifts all boats”.

    Again, there is a litany of policies, i.e., unemployment insurance, labor laws, social security, medicare, medicade, education, etc, etc. The list goes on and on, and in all cases, the policies were not enacted to specifically target the African American community, yet we benefit greatly from these policies to this very day. Here again, the concept of “a rising tide lifts all boats” is at work.

    This President is no different, in terms of policy enactment, than any other of his predecessors, and if the obstructionist GNOP would let him get his policy initiatives in place, yours, mine, and a lot of other Black folks boats would once again be lifted, just like always.

    Peace to you!

  52. Thank you very much for the post. I wish the Obama haters and the carnival barkers (Smiley & West) would read your post! We must to educate our people. Re-elect President Obama 2012.

  53. Troll – People waited for schools to be desegregated, Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage law, DADT, the Healthcare bill, Blacks to be elected President, Jim Crow to be eliminated, Blacks to be allowed to play quarterback, Blacks allowed to coach all the major sports, Apartied to be defeated….. Wake Up!

  54. charlotte

    Thanks Alisa. That puts things in a different perspective for me. And so true about the obstructionists. The republican and tea party machine seems hell bent on keeping our President from doing anything because… it just might work.

  55. That’s a pessmistic outlook. We have to fight to support President Obama. He is in a battle to defeat the extremists and the Tea Party who are hell bent on defeating him. The Black Caucus, black folks, reasonable people, and other minorities must rise up to defeat these extremists. Re-elect President Obama 2012!

  56. charlotte

    I think I said that. And forgive me if I implied that the story ends with what the opposition is trying to do. I agree with you that we must fight for his re-election.

  57. Andrea

    I am so sick and tired of the Obama Haters. I expect this kind of behavior from the Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Tea Partiers of the world, but not from our own people. It is just absolutely disgusting! I listened very closely to President Obama during his campaign , and he said that things were going to take time – that it wouldn’t happen overnight! I even heard President Clinton speaking today and he said that it takes about a good 5 to 6 years to get out of the kind of economic depression that our country is facing! We must stay focused and not get distracted! We must not be distracted by Tavis Smiley, Cornell West, and others! We have to vote for President Obama in 2012! If we allow the Tea Partiers and the Republicans to regain power because of our inability to see the BIG PICTURE , our country will definitely be in worse shape than ever! Because we definitely know that the Republicans could care less about Blacks and other minorities! And let me say this also before I end, please stop calling our President an Elitist! Why? Because he graduated from Harvard Law School. We should applaud that! I believe our President genuinly cares about the plight of all people, but like he said during his election, it’s going to take time. So hold on and get out there in vote! That’s how the Republicans took over the House because as usual we didn’t get out there to exercise our right to vote, and if we don’t exercise our rights in 2012, we are going to be very sorry!!!

  58. If the “hater’s”, the hurt, thin skin “men” and the “envious” havent caused enough division (now) I have now read where “Cornell Wesr”(the man who stands for (“brotherhood”) and Ralph Nader (what?) are discussing starting a third party to oppose the President. They don’t expect to win but to get
    their issues into the political real because they have not been addressed. ” This is pathetic: “West and Nader” Isn’t Ralph Nader about 90 ? He will have a hard time remembering what “issues” are important. I am sure Dr West will inform him of the needs black people. Why didn’t he get Tavis
    Smiley to form a “third” party with him? These men need help!

  59. Unk

    I hope Tavis Smiley continues his work as a critic of the President and continues being the voice of accountability that Obama desparately needs to hear. I remember back in February of 2006 at Tavis’ annual SOBU meeting, he said that his whole Covenent movement was put in place as a mechanism to hold whoever the next president was accountable for the betterment of our community. This was long before Barack Obama threw his hat in to run for president. Al Sharpton and Tom Joyner were both there and in agreement. Now that they fell in love with Obama they want to
    revise history by putting the devil horns on Tavis. Mr. Smiley is really just doing what he said he would do and what he thought all those folks who supported him at the time thought he should do. I don’t begrudge him for sticking to his word, even if most of the people around you flake out.

    I honestly don’t know what Dr. Watkins is referring to when he describes the alleged tantrums. I even went back and dug up the old commentaries from the TJMS shows and didn’t hear anything that rises to the level of a tantrum. They all sounded pretty tame to me. This just proved to me how thin-skinned most of these staunch Obama supporters are. They deem any criticism of Obama as “hateration.”

    We really at the time should have been asking ourselves what Obama was afraid of? How come he chose to blow off a chance to talk to his core audience when he snubbed his invitation to speak. We were so busy hating on Tavis for pressuring Obama to come when we should have seen it as a sign of a man that didn’t respect the black community. Some of you may argue that he sent his wife, but what kind of candidate sends his wife to speak for him at a presidential debate? That alone proved that he didn’t respect the audience. Now, his disrespect of us is evident, but we should have known back then something was wrong. The fact that he now only hangs with media people who kissed his backside during the election should really be disheartening to most of us. While most of us are living on the verge of collapse, he’s at barbeques with Joyner and Harvey and Ballentine and Sharpton and all those who’ll get on the radio and tell us how down he is. We are really being played for fools.

  60. Rex

    Please talk like You know what You are talking about.

  61. Rex

    What are WE going to do??

  62. Rex

    When are WE going to stop this nonsense and get down to real business? While WE are fooling around with this nonsense of ‘back and forth’ WE are steadily losing ground. President Obama did not start this. What are WE going to do NOW!!??

  63. I am so glad i did not finish reading your negative article troll!

  64. Christine

    Come on my people, when are we going to stop blaming others and take responsibility for ourselves. Most of our issues are caused by us, lack of education, lack of financial smartness, crime, drugs, etc. None of our so-called black leaders spend time at the schools, or in our neighborhoods doing anything to help those who have been left behind. I am so sick and tired of hearing the same ole complaints, we need to make a difference in our community.

  65. Watch out. FoxNews, including Ailes, are spreading lies. For example, today Dick Morris sad Blacks are avoiding President Obama. I think Morris thinks Blacks don’t listen as to what present GOP candidates believe. Dick thinks Blacks will leave Obama for Cain. But Blacks know Cain says he is not African American. Cain thinks he is White Republican. No Black will vote for Cain. Dick thinks Blacks will leave Obama for Romney. But Romney religion, Mormon, teaches that Blacks are a cursed race? Romney religion also encourages that a man marry at least two wives. Black and White women won’t vote for Romney. Dick thinks Blacks will leave Obama for Bachmann. But Bachmann said recently that Blacks are better off as slaves. No single Black will vote for Bachmann. Dick think Blacks will leave Obama for Perry. But Perry has been encouraging Texas prisons to kill Blacks who commit crimes. Perry said he does not regret allowing executing Blacks even if it is mistake. Dick really think Blacks will leave Obama for Paul Ryan. But Ryan wants to cut Medicaid and Medicare with his Ryan-Care during this time of high unemployment? Dick lastly thinks Blacks will leave Obama for any TEA Party leader. But TEA Party leaders, who are involved with KKK groups, think Blacks are inferior to Whites. I believe FoxNews analysts such Morris have been brain-washed by Ailes. I am asking Ailes and his anchors to check themselves into rehab. Otherwise FoxNews is going under. Americans are now discovering FoxNews is full of liars.

    Pastori Balele

    Madison, WI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s