tv In Depth CSPAN April 4, 2015 3:26am-4:54am EDT
♪ ♪ booktv's web site, booktv.org. >> host: tavis smiley, you list jesus christ and paul robison, two of your influences. >> guest: yeah. that's quite a pair, isn't it? [laughter] i was raised in a church as i mentioned earlier pentacostal church, and i've said for all of my life that i call them the three fs, the things that mean the most to me, faith family and friends in that order. i wrote a book called "keeping the faith," i close my show on pbs by saying thanks for watching i'm tavis smiley, keep
the faith. i'm always trying to remind people that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. that's what faith and hope really are, the evidence of things hoped for -- the hope of things, but even when you don't have the evidence to see how things are going to work out it's always possible. i make a distinction all the time, and here's why i say "keep the faith" all the time i make a distinction between optimism and hope. optimism suggests there's a particular set of facts circumstances or conditions, optimism suggests there's something you can see feel or touch that gives you reason to believe things are going to get better, and that's not where i live most of the time. hope, on the other hand, says even when you can't see the next step in the dark stair welshing you take that step -- well, you take that step believing that it's going to be there. you can, in fact, build a whole life on hope. so hope and faith are terribly important to me. that comes from my abiding faith, and i thank my mother and father for introducing me to
that. every one of us who happens to be a believer, i didn't come here to prosthelytize, but every one of us has to have something to believe in. and for me personally there are just moments in my life when -- but i don't have all the answers, and i can't see my way through and don't know how it's going to work out. and for me my abiding faith is terribly important. so paul robeson, who you mentioned a moment ago, we talked about that earlier with one of the callers, paul robeson was a truth teller and never shied away from speaking the truth. and they did everything they could to destroy paul robeson. i mean, literally. the story of paul robeson is one that just sends shivers down my spine every time i consider it. and i've been fortunate over the course of my life to be friends with two very important people very close to me. i have lunch with them fairly regularly because he lives in l.a. and the other i never go to new york he doesn't come to l.a. without us getting
together. and the two of them are good can friends, and both of them are from the islands, sydney poitier -- studyny poitier and harry belafonte. i only raise that not to drop these name but i only raise it because you cannot talk to sidney poitier for five minutes without him raising his teacher paul robeson. and you cannot talk to harry belafonte for, like, two and a half minutes without belafonte raising the name of paul robeson. so aside from the history books and all all the stuff i've read or seen about paul robeson i feel like for at least 25 years sitting at poitier and belafonte's feet, i've come to here firsthand and know so much about this man paul robeson courtesy of poitier and belafonte. >> host: you mentioned earlier, mr. smiley, that you attend a black church. >> guest: uh-huh. >> host: what does that mean, a black church, and do you care to
tell which one? >> guest: yeah. i grew up in a little church in indiana called new bethel tabernacle a little small church. and i loved growing up in a little, small church. couple hundred people, on a good sunday. but i loved growing up in a small church that was very familial. in l.a. for most of my life in l.a. have gone to a much larger church, the city of refuge. my former minister passed away, and when the new minister came in we moved to a new facility kind of changed the name to city of refuge, but that's where i spent most of my youth. i've only been to two churches, one in indiana one in california. i don't do a lot of moving around pretty stable guy. they're both pentacostal tradition. and again, as i've grown older, there are things even in my own teaching that i have issue with from time to time. i sometimes feel for catholics who, you know are always wrestling with church doctrine
and this and that and the other. i don't have those kinds of consternations, but i you know i have had the experience of growing older and coming out of a very strict church environment like, you know if i were still true to the church i grew up in, i couldn't go to the movies or to a ball game. i think some of those things takes this sufficient a little -- this stuff a little too far, and i think these are manmade rules and not necessarily god's rules for our live. so my faith is still always has been and always will be the most important thing in my entire life. >> host: your book "keeping the faith," you open by saying this is a book about black love. >> guest: yeah. i wrote that book specifically because we don't hear just you saying that phrase hit me. how often do we hear the phrase "black love"? say that again on c-span. "black love." black love. we hear about black-on-black crime, we hear about the black-on-black stats for the achievement gap.
we hear about black this and black that. but how often do you hear -- black president. but even when you talk about the black president we don't ever get to a conversation about the black love that's exhibited this that family with michelle and sasha and measuring ali -- malia. i live again as i said earlier in los angeles. when's the last time you saw a movie about black love? there's a movie that was out this year "beyond the lights" same sister who did the movie "love and basketball" some years ago. wonderful film about the power and the beauty of black love. and it couldn't really get off the ground. so there's something about the nation, about our psyche, about our expectation that doesn't allow us to revel in black love. and so i wanted to do a book about the power of black love. so this book "keeping the faith" is about the love that african-americans specifically have been the beneficiaries of that got them through all kinds
of difficult situations and got them out of rock in hard places and got them through all kinds of test and trials and tribulations. the whole book is about the power of love to pull you through any situation that you go through. >> host: let's go back to calls. david is in memphis. david, this is "in depth" on booktv, and you're talking with tavis smiley. >> caller: great. mr. smiley, i want you to know that you and brother cornel west are a great light on the hill and you must continue to use your platform to educate the world. i love you. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: for what you have done. you're not afraid to tell the truth, and that's -- this is what we're supposed to do. so my office is going to call you. i love you brother. >> guest: thank you, i appreciate it. >> caller: i've got the word with you.
god bless you. >> guest: thank you, thank you. see, that's black love. [laughter] every mow and then you can get -- every now and then you can get some of that. it's nice to get a little love on c-span every night. >> host: is in harrisburg or, pennsylvania. hi lance. >> caller: hello. >> guest: hey, lance. >> caller: hello? >> guest: hello. >> caller: hey, thank you guys for taking my call. mr. smiley, i just want to tell you i appreciate definitely appreciate the work that you do. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: don't always necessarily agree concern. >> guest: that's okay. >> caller: -- but definitely appreciate your approach and everything. i'm a 48-year-old african-american male. i own a barbershop, and my clientele is probably 40% white, 40% black and another 20% other. and lately here with the controversies going on with the police in the news and everything, we've been having some really great conversations. and i just wanted maybe some suggestions for you on how to
approach and facilitate the conversation without looking like the angry black male and driving my clientele away and losing money. >> guest: yeah. first of all -- >> host: lance, before mr. smiley answers, do you get different points of view from your white clientele and your black clientele? is it pretty consistent? >> guest: yes. yeah, it is. people meet in here that wouldn't normally talk or meet because you have a half hour, 45 minutes to an hour that normally they wouldn't meet and engage one another on the street or wherever else. i have a platform that i'm able to do that and i want to be even-handed and not too, you know, like i said seem to come off angry although i'm very passionate about it. >> guest: first of all, i celebrate the barbershop, i just want to say first of all. i love the barbershop. i'm fortunate often times the barber will come to me, i love and make it a point as regularly as i can to go into the barbershop because there ain't in place in america like the black barbershop, the
conversations, the relationships. and i'm just struck by you saying your shop is 40% black 40% white. that's a beautiful thing. barbershops are where these kinds of conversations can be fruitful. so i'm just excited to know that you've got a shop that's that sort of integrated and you can have these kinds of cross-cultural conversations. i think that's a beautiful thing. so much of what's wrong with our country is we're so often engaged in monologue that we don't ever have enough dialogue. too much monologue in america not enough dialogue so i'm glad you are a place that can facilitate that kind of dialogue. to your question specifically lance, about what i would suggest, and i say this with all humility, i think the ultimate question here, the ultimate issue that we have to get to on these issues that you raised is the issue of humanity. the humanity and the dignity that all life must be afforded. that's the bottom line. so much of what we deal with in our daily lives even with these police shootings to me is not as
much about black and white as it is about wrong and right and why we seem not to have the kind of respect for the humanity and the dignity of all of our fellow citizens. my point very sum my is whenever -- simply is whenever you are engaged in a conversation, and i offer this as humbly as i can, if you can get the conversation on the terrain of humanity, it changes everybody's points of view. if it's about race or it's about class, you know, or anything, any other extraneous factor then the conversation will go a thousand different directions, and there's nothing wrong with that. it's good to have different conversations, we can hear even's point of view. but if you can ever get the conversation to center on the dignity and the humanity of whomever is in question then the conversation puts everybody on front street when you when you circle around to that. so that's my advice hope that helps, and one day i'd like to come hang out at your barbershop. >> host: tavis smiley, he used the grade "angry black man," is that something he should avoid? >> guest: i've been called that
a few times including a couple times on this program today i've been called an angry black man by one of our callers. that's par for the course. i used to get upset put it another way i used to get angry when i was referred to as an angry black man, and now it rolls off my back like water off a duck's back because when people call me angry, if by calling me an angry black man what they mean is that they sense and feel from me and receive from me a righteous indignation, there's -- isaac hayes once said i stand accused. i'm guilty as charged. if you if you regard me as an angry black man but what you're talking about is a righteous indignation, i stand accused of that. there are things about which i am righteously indig in a minute, things about which i am angry and quite frankly, i don't think -- how might i put this peter, i don't think we ever come into the fullness of our own humanity if we can't revel in the humanity and the
dig any -- dignity, as i said a moment ago, of every other fellow citizen. and there's no way that you can live in this country and be blind to the injustices the indignities, the contestation of too many fellow citizens' humanity and just look the other way. there are too many people in this country whose humanity is being contested every single day. by any other by any other name, you know homophobia is the contestation of somebody's humanity. ageism is the contestation of somebody's humanity. sexism and patriarchy is the contestation of somebody's humanity, and i don't think you come into your own humanity in full or in toto if you can't real and celebrate the humanity of other people. so for me, there are a lot of things i'm righteously indignant about, and if you call me an angry man and think i'm mad about x y or z, then again, as i said, i stand accused. >> host: tim in los angeles hi, tim.
>> caller: hey, how you doing? thank you. the reason i'm calling is because recently you guys mentioned the education in america, and i just wanted to know if mr. tavis smiley could comment on what could be done to improve the situation for our young black men and women growing up in america and going to school and this to whole thing. that was all. >> guest: yeah. it's a good question and there are so many answers to it, and i know there
a constitutional amendment that would guarantee every child in this country access to an equal high quality education. so think of automatic constitutional amendments and all the -- all the constitutional amendments and all the guarantees we have to free speech to carry weapons and all the other rights we have as americans. why is it that in this country every child no matter what state you're born in, no matter what color you are what county you live in, why is it that every child in this country is not guaranteed access to an equal, high quality education? that doesn't mean that you're trying to judge outcomes. but why doesn't every child in this country at least start at the same place? we got 50 states and 50 different way of educating
children, but nobody is guaranteed access to an equal, high quality education. so the next question is how do you figure out what that is? the answer is, it doesn't matter to me. whatever the best education is in this country that we can agree on, whatever the students in the schools that are regarded as the best, whatever they get let's give that to every country in this country. we can file the standard. what we think the is and whatever the best students have access to in this country what every child ought to have access to. and, again, i offer for your consideration what would happen and how education in this country might dramatic create change. somebody once said, peter, if benjamin franklin came back, the only thing he'd recognize is the education system because it ain't changed much in all these years. but i think it's going to take something radical to change our education system. so again i ask you to consider what would happen if we had a constitutional amendment that would guarantee every child in this country access to an equal, high quality education.
>> host: in your book "fail up," you write the story about sarah jane olson and your history relationship with bet. what is that history? >> guest: that is a long and sordid story. you've got good questions peter, that take hours to answer sometimes. so the short answer is after working with tom joyner on working every day, urban radio, i had the opportunity to go to bet to host a talk show that i hosted for five years on black entertainment television, and it was the combination of tom joyner's morning show in the morning and bet at night that made me a household name in black america heard in every major market in the country. at his height nine ten million listeners every morning, and i'm the resident commentator on that program and more watching every night on bet. so you got radio and tv covered in black america eventually you're going to become a household name and that's how i got exposed to my own community and then came pbs and npr and
all the other stuff later on. so that's where i started to get my work done. after five years or being on bet, i had an opportunity for an exclusive interview, as you mentioned, with sarah jane olson who had been accused of trying to kill a cop in los angeles. this interview again, long story short, kind of fell into my lap. i wasn't looking for it, but everybody was chasing this interview. dan rather diane sawyer barbara walters everybody was trying to get this woman to do the interview. why? because she was a white soccer mom who was living in the twin cities who got pulled over one day for a routine traffic stop and was discovered to be this woman who had been on the run for 30 some years, on the fbi's most wanted list. she's a soccer mom, married with kids now living in, again the twin states but for years -- twin cities, but for years nobody knew where she was. routine traffic stop for a back light that was out. they run fingerprints and, lo and behold, it's sarah jane
olson. and so anyway i got the interview that everybody was chasing, and bet had been sold at the time to viacom. viacom also owned cbs then and now. so this interview was the kind of story that wasn't really going to resonate with my black audience on bet, so i was looking for another outlet since i had the interview, the exclusive, another outlet to broadcast the interview. so since viacom had bought bet and they also owned cbs i first go to cbs and say i've got this interview, and i'm happy to sell it to cbs but let me do it on "48 hours," whatever, "60 minutes," give me a place to do the interview, but i'll do it on cbs because i've got the exclusive. oh, you don't have it, dan rather's going to get that. i said, you don't understand, it's on tape. cbs says show me some of the tape. i showed them some of the tape. three times cbs passed on the
interview because rather and others -- i love dan rather it's not about rather, but the network was trying to get the interview for their big guy, dan rather. they didn't want to give tavis smiley the interview. but iez already done it and taped it. cbs passed three times, i went to abc, they bought it. it aired on abc. it killed on the ratings and next morning the people at viacom woke up and said why did we get beat so bad last night and they found out they had this big, exclusive interview with tavis smiley. and they said, well, doesn't he work for us? he's on bet, our network. how did this happen? and they started trying to unravel the story and eventually i got fired for doing an interview on abc which cbs had turned down three times. but most importantly, my contract with bet allowed me to do independent productions. so i was never in violation of my contract. but somebody had to be the fall guy, and so i got fired. and missouri yahoo! angelou --
maya angelou as i discuss in "my journey with maya," there's a wonderful story of the book of the night when she calls me when the news breaks that i got fired by bet. this was in time magazine, the new york times tavis smiley gets fired by bet, the most public thing i've ever done except critique barack obama, you know? it was in all of the news media everywhere. so maya angelou calls me one night, and we talked about it. she knew that i was -- she didn't know i was feeling but she wanted to know how i was processing being fired by bob johnson. and she said to me that night i have a feeling that in the days to come, you're going to have to end up sending bob johnson a thank you letter. i said a thank you note for what? she said because sometimes in life we jump and sometimes in life we get pushed, but either way in our lives there comes a tomb when it's time to move. p.m. -- it's time to move.
it may not have come the way you wanted it to come, but i've got a sneaky suspicion that one day you're going to thank bob johnson for firing you at bet. .. i would never have nobody what my worth of value was irpbs man wanted me or cnn would pay for me. i would never have known the tubs were there if had not been fired by bet. so i am grateful for the tomb i had at bet and even more grateful bob johnson fired me.
>> host: ever send the thank you note? >> guest: i did. >> host: any response. >> guest: snow. >> host: chris ex-you're on with staffs smiley. >> mr. smiley, honor to speak with you, sir. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: a man named dr. cart anderson out of maryland. i think you're familiar. >> guest: i am. >> caller: two questions real quick. do you believe that black people in this country are doomed to be a permanent underclass in the united states? number two do you believe that black people are due a reparations package from the government of the excuses the european governments. >> guest: first question hope not. second question, absolutely. now, i say absolutely we are entitled to reparations. the question then becomes what do we mean by reparations? so you asked 30 million black beam what it should look like you're going to get to 30 million answers. some people still want their 40-acres and a mule.
i don't need that. other things i can use. but we have to figure out what we mean when we say reparations. i have been in favor for years now of some kind of reparations that would allow for children to get the kind of education they deserve to go to the best schools. that's the best way that america could respond to this call for reparations, but i'm not interested in a lexus or a cadillac or something like that. the real question is all jokes aside, how do we defind what reparations is and there's so many different answers we could spend hours debating that. but is black america entitled to something? i believe the answer is yes. and to your first question, are we a permanent underclass, i hope not but if you tuned in earlier, the data is going indicate that black people have lost ground in every economic category in the own years. that's going to cause a serious
conversation among our leaders and community aboutabout what the future holds for us and that's when reason i have been so aggressive in trying to hold this administration and the other -- people act like i started talking about accountability when obama showed up, as if i never held clinton accountable, and i did or suburb the other bush and reagan itch wasn't just at barack obama election i talked about accountability. the point is that i've been so aggressive about it lately and so progressive, because i sense that the opportunity for us to no longer be an underclass is slipping farther and farther away. our time is not on our side. so hopefully we're not a permanent underclass but the data is hard to argue with: thank you for your call. >> host: from on-air, volume 2 may 22, 2003 last newt i was standing between bill gates and warren buffett having a conversation. i was thinking to myself these
are the number one and number two richest men in the world and there we telling jokes, amazing. last night we halt dinner at gates' crib and this thing is so fat. this is a fascinating experience for me. and i want to give you my top ten observations about the white folk who run the world. things just picked up in in the last two days hanging out with these ceos. number ten whenever you meet a white person who returns the world they're going to you, what do you do? number nine nobody has a business card. number eight, they get up early in the morning. number seven, they value information. number six, everything is free. number five not to be anxious don't be anxious. number four they're inquisitive. number three they will get their drink on. that's about all i can say about that one you write. number two i'm the only one
here who flew commercial. there will be nine g-9 private jets with wheels up when this event wraps up. and number one before they invite you to something like this they know everything about you. that's the ten rules of the white folk running the world. >> guest: this is a book is a collection of the second volume of my commentaries heard over tom joyner. let me put context to this. tom joineries one of the leading urban radio host inside the country. his show is a show mostly of comedy. i was for 12 years the resident serious guy but every now and then i did things that were funny. so i had a list of thing is called the top ten list. a la david letterman. he probably that has trademarked. sorry. but i did my top ten his every night and i met bill gates. we had done some work together on the issue of technology and
how black folk were being left out of these developments, and black people they even now are too often consumers but not producers of content. that slowly changing but not fast enough. so i met bell gates and we talk about this, and steve ballmer, the then ceo who now opens the clippers in my home town of los angeles. so i met gates and ballmer and talked to them and long story short i got microsoft to fund this program that it spearheaded to travel around the country to do some work on what we call blacks in technology. so i got to know bill gates somewhat. and don't ask me how but every year, microsoft, gates, would host a three-day summit for 100 -- the top 100 business leaders in america. and for whatever reason he invited me. and so it was three days up in washington, hang ought at gate's house, just like you can
imagine, i'm a little black kid on tom joyner, and for three days i'm hanging out another bill gates' crib. it was fat it was beautiful, lovely. so i'm hacking out with bill gates and i just was just -- i'm always a curious person, and that serves me well in my working a a broadcaster. i was taking these furious notes about what makes these people so unique. what makes these 100 people who are running the biggest companies in the world, so unique. and those were some observations. some funny, some serious. but as was always the case whenever i would come off the air on tom joyner with these commentaries, always a great deal of conversation about what tavis said this morning, and it was instructive, informative, and somewhat how manious for the audience to hear what it's like for a black kid to hang out with bill gates and warren but for three days. what did you notice? what did you see?
what did you learn? what was it like? so those are my observations and it is interesting. when you're around that much money and that much power, just to watch the way they operate ask the way they move. the most important thing on the list for me was curiosity. all jokes aside you cannot i learned in those three days and since that time i've hung out with a lot of ceos and interviewed them. but that was my first exposure at that level. but curiosity is what drives so many of these ceos. if you're going to run a major company, you got to be curious. you have to ask good questions have no know what's glowing on. i run a small company, 45 replyees can but -- employees, but so much of what i learned hanging out with those toys and i've taken on some traits i'll never be a millionaire but there are ways to run your company better even if it's small company like mine. >> host: annett, philadelphia, you're on with staffs smiley. go ahead.
>> caller: hi, staffs. >> guest: how are you? >> caller: i'm well. >> host: can you turn down your tv? could you mute your tv. >> okay, i just did. i had my charger off. i hoped my charger don't go out waiting. i had small questions. the time -- your parents got you home and -- that's wonderful. 90% of what you say when it comes to your business, i say amen and amen, because it is right. the one question -- threes questions, one is do you have any children, are you married? yes or no. >> guest: no. >> number two, what is it your birthday. >> guest: september 13th. >> caller: number three, if and win the.asks you to run for senator, would you consider.
>> guest: no. thank you for your phone call. god bless you. absolutely not. >> host: do you have any children and are you married? >> caller: i have been married for over 30 years, five children all grown college issue indicated and three beautiful grandchildren. yes, i understand. >> host: when is your birthday? >> caller: april 23rd. >> guest: all right. whoa don't you run for president. >> caller: i think ask me, i'd say no, too baby. >> guest: i don't think annette or tavis has to worry about being asked to run for president. >> host: you have run for office. >> guest: i did when i was in l.a. and looking for tom bradley. i want for office ran for city council, long story short, again, lost the city council race but i can't begin to tell you, peter, the lessons i learn in losing that race. lessoned that have stuck with me all these years. and i'll put it this way. one of my books maybe the -- i
don't recall but i actually shared one of this lessons, and the point of the lesson was that sometimes in our lives -- how was it -- rejection is direction. sometimes in life, rejection is direction. in my case, i lost that city council race. i was rejected by the voters but it directed me to where i needed to be. there's no way i would have found my way into radio, commentary and television commentary, and writing books and doing what i do now in public radio and public television every day, sitting here talking to you for three hours on c-span none of this would have happened to me had i won that city council race. i'd still be fitting potholes and getting cats our of trees in los angeles. so i was hurt when i lost the race but many ways that lesson was learn then, and i've learn it many times, sometimes in our lives rejection is actually
re-direction. >> host: let's talk about tom bradley. from "fill up" you write, in hollywood looks can carry a person a long way and mr. mayor, the tall former ucla track star former police commander, had the look the vitality fitness and charisma of an l.a. mayor. this is in no way to diminish his unprecedented political contributions, but i see how people especially women, responded to his presence. the bradley way was on my mind when my ex-boss called and asked me to have lunch with him. long after he had left office and i was hosting my new show on bet. i knew he was proud of me. i was the ambitious kid he hire as his assistant. watched me pull myself up after i left his administration. my shields were lowered when we sat down four lunch so i was stunned by his opening salvo tavis, you have gotten too big.
>> guest: he meant i had gotten to big, not -- meant physically. there was a time in my life where i -- i loved playing basketball. i'm from indiana, so i you're from indiana you love basketball, home a hoosier. one day i blew out my left knee and then rehabbed and blew out my right knee and then tore up my left ankle i have torn up both ankles and knees playing sports because i love basketball ump don't play anymore because i had to stop obviously with all those injuries. i had two or three of those surgeries over a couple of years, just blowing things out playing basketball. my body was telling in, fine another sport. but i gained a lot of weight. i looked best at about -- i'm 50 now, so i look best at 205. but at the time, 185 or 190 was my ideal weight. i'll never see 190 again as long as i live and won't be by choice if i do.
if i get down to 190. but i had this surgeries and i had rally ballooned up. on that keeping the faith book if they have that the picture on the book my face is like one of the clumps in the eddie murphy movie. you see that picture there? that face is so huge. i raise it only because that was taken around the time that mayor -- that picture is -- i i was at my heaviest. now you can see how big my face was then. but the mayor called me because he loved me and was concern about my health. and he said to me, over that lurch, tavis, all other things being equal, all of other things being equal, if you and peter walk into an office looking for a job or anything else, if and you peter walk in, and everything else is equal, you got the same degrees from harvard, the same experience, if
everything else is equal and you and peter walk in and you're 400 pounds and peter is svelte like he is and all that -- there you go. exactly. they didn't get that on camera. you didn't get a chance to see that. if peter is looking like peter and i'm 400-pounds he said peter is going to get the opportunity. so he said to me you got to take care of yourself. that was his way -- literally i was doing my bet show in washington. was home at l.a. and he asked me to come back to l.a. to have lunch so the mayor of l.a. called me from washington, i'm back home to l.a. on a weekend, so he can tell me i was too fat. but he wanted to see me face-to-face because he wanted me to know it was in love and ask when he told me i was too fat, i really took it to heart and little by little, little by little working on it and working on it. i'm not at my ideal weight right now but i'm happy where i am. >> host: you have lived a life out in public.
i mean really very few secrets. >> guest: that's true. that's good and bad. it's good in the sense. >> host: i should say privacy not secret. >> guest: that's a good word but we all have secrets, i'm human. don't go digging but we all got some. i like about it that it don't have anything to hide. and i've never had to ever, not a single time in my life -- i can tell you this -- we talk about the fact i left indiana i hadn't technically graduated until i finished the last course, but other than that there's nothing necessary my life i have been afraid of coming out one day and destroying me, and that doesn't mean i've lived a perfect life. i've made mistakes but moe of them i've written about. i've been so transparent about the things i have done because i don't want to ever bev in a situation where somebody is holding something over my head. i feel that way about my personal life and about my private life and also the same
way about my career. so personally and professionally the same edict applies. i don't owe anybody anything. i don't mean to suggest that i'm a self-made man. depressant believe in being self-made. we're all who we are because somebody loved us. nobody does this by himself or herself no matter what they say. there is no such thing as a self-made man. we have people who love us and care for us and help us become who we are, but i don't owe anybody anything for giving me this or giving me that. i built my business up. i've gone through this recession for the last four years like every other small business and it's been tough, keeping my tv and radio things afloat and paying my staff and keeping them fed. so i have the same travails and turmoils everybody else but i don't have to ever have somebody come to me and say i made you. you wouldn't be this if i hadn't done this. i never had that. everything i've done i've done from the bottom up.
i've done it publicly. people have seen me. like me or loathe me agree or disagree, love me or hate me. i'm like popeye i am what i am. as flip wilson would say, what you see ills what you get. so this is it. i don't have anything to hide in that regard and that makes my life so much more easy to live, the downside is that especially in this era today, you're always in the public eye, and i finally got a point some years ago where my staff reads this stuff. don't read this stuff. this cyberhate is too much. i'm human like anybody else and peek can deny it all day long. that stuff hurts. i think about hillary clinton, i think about barack obama, i think about -- what they say about me is nothing compared to these people. but i think about celebrities and stars and the things written about them, open oprah and others, every day. how do you deal with this?
people deal with it by not dealing with it. so for me i've just gotten to a point not that i'm tone death to people disagreeing with me. i come on c-span and take every phone call but i don't read that kind of stuff because it gets in your spirit it's not good for you, and it throws you off the game. while people are talking you need be working, and if you're reading what they say you're taking time from getting your grind on. >> host: patrick stockton california, thank you for holdingful tavis smiley is our guest. >> caller: oh, map, appreciate you taking my call. >> guest: thank you, patrick. >> caller: tavis map, a lot of folks -- fire can be a blessing. the question i want to ask you what was your definition of a house negro and -- i don't want to put you on a spot but i'd like to know where you fall on that spectrum because in that black barber shop myself, you know i'm kind of an outlier. i'm considering he wasn't
readded by a black grandmother. different ways of seeing life that you were raised by the africa grandmother. i don't dislike the president but i just don't feel that he love our people as much as some of us do and not by -- because he just wasn't around it. so i would consider him to be a house. i don't want to put you on the spot -- >> guest: but you don't want to but you just did. >> host: what does that phrase mean? >> guest: house negro, field negro, and back in the day field negro was out in the field working all day long in the sun, et cetera, et cetera. house negroes were in the house, and there -- when you want to -- in the vernacular, the field negro is in the more authentic negro than the house negro. that's the best way to put it. house negroes, pampered, taken care of, not in the sun,
et cetera, et cetera. >> host: sucking up to the white map? >> guest: pretty much. so there's more authenticity for the field anything fro than the house negro. so the caller was saying that he reviews -- regards the president as a house negro and said i don't want to put you on the spot. i would never, having set -- it would never refer to the president as a house negro. what i would say is that he has raided a very serious issue -- raised a very serious issue that does in fact as he pointed out, get talked about in barber shops but never here on c-span. black barber shops but that is to say that there's always been great conversations since he first popped up on the national scene in 2005 or 2006 or whatever it was about the fact that he was not raised the way most of us were. he is biracial. he didn't come up from the south like many of us did. he was in hawai'i and indonesia. and i take nothing away from his
upbringing help didn't choose where, when and how to be born or raised. those were not his choices. i'm not faulting him or even trying to dissect that. all i'm saying is to the caller's point, he did have a different journey than most african-americans. so his experiences are not the same even as his wife michelle obama's -- michelle robinson's experiences are very different than barack obama's experiences. she on the south side of chicago, two african-american parents, raised in poverty. had to work hard to get to princeton, she and her brother, and then harvard law. it's a different journey when you come from that kind of background. their kids, sasha and malia, even different kind of journey given the privilege they have grown up with and will have for the rest of their lives courtesy of their parents. that's the way it ought to be. every generation ought to hit easier than the previous generation. that true in the obama household.
not true for black families outside of the obama household. the data indicates now that for the first time ever, black kids today, the generation of black kids today, are not going to do as well as their parents. sasha and malia don't have that problem but most black kid, the data tell us, are not going to do as well as their parents have done. so now in black america, we flip the script. for all the sacrifice and all the service and all the struggle, the blood, the sweat and tears we have now arrived at a play in more than history in black history, where black kids are not going to do as well as their parents. i've gone full circle here. so again i'm not ever going to call the president a house negro. what i am suggesting is he had a different journey and the journey he had is the different than the journey most of us have had and the journey his kids -- his daughters are going to have is a very different journey than most black kid inside america are going to have if we read the
data. that where the conversation in the barber shop and the beauty salon gets interesting. >> host: claire in new york, good afternoon claire. >> caller: good afternoon. thank you for taking my call. i am a white folk. i'm a big follower of tavis, the truth-teller. i really just want to talk to him. i have a very simple question, i guess. i just want know what he thinks of al sharpton elizabeth warren and bernie sanders. it's a pleasure too meet you both. thank you. >> guest: thank you for your call, your kind words. al sharpton, warren and sanders. bernie sanders. great respect for him. one of the -- i appreciate your comment for me as a truth-teller. i attempt to be and i regard bernie sanders in that regard. one of the rare voices on the hill. i mentioned earlier this morning before i came to responds this
wonderful three hours with peter, i wednesday by abc and we had a segment this morning in tribute to the late great mario cuomo, and i made the point this morning, peter, that it's hard to find in this town or anyplace else people who are willing to wear the label, liberal. willing to wear the label, progressive. mario cuomo was talking about poverty, income, inequality espousing liberal views way back then in the reagan era when it was really unpopular. now that the clinton -- mr. clinton and others have moved the democratic party more centrist, nobody wants to be a liberal, liberal is a dirty word and mario cuomo did not shy away from that and i celebrated him for being that kind of person. bernie sand irs in that category. mrs. warren, senator warren out of massachusetts, is being regarded by many people if not as a progressive, certainly as a liberal, and so she has taken some unpopular stances in the
town and has a huge following as a result of it and a lot of people pushing her to run for president. and she keeps saying she's not going to run. but i like her politics another most things. not everything. and finally to reverend sharpton i've known for many years. he has done some good in his life. dr. king -- there's some good in the worst of and evil in the best of us so none is perfect and things she has despun said i don't agree with. but he has done some good work in his life. has spent years trying to change. think every one of us have to be allowed to grow. have to be allowed to redeem ourselves for things we have done that don't represent the best of who we are. finally in the obama era, he and i have had debates about this on tv and radio and beyond of. his tact for how he has dealt with the president is different than my tact. in terms of dealing with the president and holding hip accountable. i believe that you need a good inside and outside strategy but i believe that black leader have to be just that, black leaders.
you testify to tell the president tough he might not want to hear but you can't meet with the president in the white house and come out speaking talking points the white house give you. doesn't work that way. i love reverend sharpton and respect him for the good he does do, i would never say a negative word about him. but again i would just say his approach for dealing with this administration is different tan my approach. >> host: e-mail, mr. smiley i want to begin by stating i'm an admirerrer. i can't be untroubled by your tipping to accept sponsorship of your pbs tv program by wal-mart. >> guest: i figured that question in -- how deeply in this program -- i knew it was coming. >> host: well, he sent it before the show. >> guest: i already raised that because -- i was going to scheme three hours without being asked the wal-mart question. some question i get asked. there's always an obama question, a wal-mart question. and so the short answer is,
wal-mart has been my sponsor for 17 years. 17 years on my radio and tv work, wal-mart has been a sponsor. we just did a new deal a among are month ago that extends for three years so i will have a relationship with wal-mart for 20 years. i appreciate the support wal-mart has given me over 20 years. having said that, i say all the time that there are no perfect companies. in this country. some of the greatest companies in the country have had lawsuits filed against them for all kinds of things, npr had a major lawsuit for race discrimination. coca-cola has had lawsuits. toyota. i could run the list. there are probably no companies in this country who at some point have not had lawsuits against enemy for things they need to get bert at. and -- better at. and every company ought to be striving every day to get better but there nor perfect companies. if i were waiting for a perfect
company to sponsor me week never be on the air. so the question is, is it worth hearing a voice that otherwise would not be heard and being exposed to views you otherwise would not see or hear and being introduced to books and people that you would otherwise not know about, et cetera et cetera, is it worth that or is it worth letting all of that go because you don't like one sponsor and i have many sponsors, but you don't like that one sponsor. i don't quite get that. quite frankly other than c-span, none of us would be on the air if i weren't for wal-mart because they basically sponsor agency. all the networks news programs. wal-mart is the biggest company in the world. so i you want to do away with wal-mart, there's a whole bunch of stuff going to the wayside is in country because they underwraith. that doesn't mean that wal-mart can't be a better company, that people should be not pushing them to be a better company. i have had on my program, on pbs, the ceo of wal-mart. you can go google it. he came on my program and i told
him i'm happy to have you come on but these are the questions you're going to get asked. for the full show we sat and went through those very difficult questions. about their practices policies right on my pbs program. he answered every question. i just saw the new ceo on charlie rose on pbs, and they show up on public television and other places and answer questions. so i've never felt lining i need to defend wal-mart. i'm just saying there nor perfect companies and if i were waiting for one i wouldn't be on the air. finally, just to get this out, what is interesting to me is that i am a union guy. i'm a union guy and all of my life. i have fought and defended and spoken up for and spoken at rallies and you name it. i belong to three or four unions myself. i will tell you this in my entire career wal-mart has sponsored me for 17 years. not one union not asked me, not seiu, not one union has sponsored me across the board on
my tv or radio work in all of my career. i've done some work with unions here and there but i have nod hat the kind of support from unions and i don't sit around and complain. i only raised now because the question comes up. but if i were waiting for unions to support me, i would never have been on the air. >> host: another e-mail. in your book you said success becomes failure when you lose your civility and your dignity. today you have spoken about faith, family friends, however the themes of success and failure are extremely prevalent in many of your works, at age 50 has the goalpost changed for what you wish a successful legacy to be? what is that legacy? what would be a failure? p.s., know that we were cheering for youon "dancing with the stars" here. amj. >> guest: a lot of questions there. let me -- >> host: legacy. >> guest: my -- i don't spend a lot of time worrying about what my legacy is going to be.
but i try to stay focused on is my calling. and my vocation and my purpose. and when i talk to young people i make a distinction between calling, vocation and purpose and your job. to our young folk, you get this degree, you don't want to spend your life looking for a job. you want to at some point -- i'm not saying that sometimes we don't have to work jobs until we get to where we want to be. but a job is very different than your calling. than your purpose. than your vocation. why are you uniquely here? what purpose are you here? what is your calling in the world? i believe that every one of us has a gift endowed by our creator. my own personal view. our creator endows each one of us with gifts. everybody has a gift. watch this. there is no reason for a gift. there's no rope for you to be gifted as you are if there is no purpose for the gift. for every gift there's also a
corresponding need. there's a gift and there's a need for your gift. now, watch this. when your gift connects with its purpose, now you're living the life of meaning and value. every one of us has to be in search of what our purpose in the world really is, and what is the need for that gift? and when those two things connect, that's the sweet spot, and i feel very good about the fact that i'm clear about what my gift is and every day i'm fining new ways to use the gift to try to make some sort of meaningful contribution. i consider my work on public television, my work on public radio, my books my foundation et cetera, et cetera, i consider all of this part of using the gift that i have, and when i die, which i hope is no time soon, i want to be thoroughly used up. i want to be thoroughly used up so i don't waste time on things that don't fit into what i think is the best use of my time, my calling, and my purpose. so that what i hope my legacy is going to be.
that i saw a need and wherever i saw it, tried to do the best to respond it to. with regard to the issue of civility she raises i take great pride in that. one thing i love about c-span i say it all the time and always grateful to brian lamb, because it is a network based on information which i believe is power, knowledge is power. but it's always civil. and the world we live today there is so. of that. when you get that on c-span and also on pbs you will never here screaming and yelling and shouting on my pbs program. you don't hear that on my public radio program. very few places left in our society where you can have that kind of civil discourse, where people can be heard where folk can agree disagree without being disagreeable. if i wanted to, i've had opportunities, been there before and had opportunities to go back if i wanted to, to be in commercial media. but i am so comfortable being in a space, not because i have the
most viewers not because i make the most money. ain't never going to get rich on pbs or public radio. not about the money or the most viewers. it's below having a conversation that has meaning and purpose and value, where people behave in a civil way. and i love it, and i sense at least -- unless there's something i don't know about -- this is where i'm going to be until they kick me off the air i guess. >> host: after all those big thoughts, what about "dancing with the stars"? >> guest: i enjoyed it. i enjoyed it. i was turning 50, as we established earlier. i was turning 50 last year. and i decided that i was going to do one last silly, crazy ridiculously stupid thing before i turned 50. now, since i turned 50 i've done a few more of those but i thought i would do one last one before i turned 50, and i thought i would do something out of the box. they'd come at me the producer, and i told them no, a few times.
and on the eve of my 50th 50th birthday they came to me again and i said late me take the meeting. i said i've never done this. let me try to do something outside of the box. we established earlier in this conversation that i was raided in a very strict pentecostal family and because that family was so strict, in our upbringing, i couldn't dance. i couldn't go to dances couldn't dance. i couldn't listen to secular music. here i am 50 years of age now and i'd never danced before. so i said i have to live life on my own terms and would do something -- to your earlier point i don't know why it had to be so public. i learned to dance but did it in front of 50 million people and they're voting on you but i enjoyed the experience and don't regret it at all. >> host: we have some video. >> guest: that me. the first week. that's the marvin gaye song. and -- you go tavis. look it, look it.
look our smooth he is. look at that turn, that dip. swings around. look at those moves. oh my. look at that dexterity. >> look that suit. >> guest: yes, throwback to the 60s, marvin gaye. look at that grace. moving so smooth for a big man. >> host: were you kicked off this week do. >> guest: no. that's my highest score that week. kicked off a couple weeks later. didn't last long but i had a good time. >> host: what did emery and joyce smiley think of that? >> guest: i didn't talk to my dad about it. my mother, because my mother is still very much in that faith tradition, she wasn't -- that wasn't her proudest moment with my decisionmaking but that's what relationships are all about. don't have to agree of everything. >> host: john in jacksonville florida, you have been very patient. you're on with tavis smiley go ahead. >> caller: yes tavis. the first thing i'd like to say
dyad mire you and especially admire dr. west tremendously. >> guest: thank you . >> don't see anyone spewing the fact that the economic indicators for black people have not made progress in america during president obama's term, but my question to you is, do not state and local governments also share some of the blame for that? i'll take your answer off the air. >> guest: a beautiful question. when i answered that question earlier i made it clear i'm not putting all the blame at the feet of barack obama. automatic i'm saying is that if there's going to be a serious come to jesus meeting after he is out of office because for all the hopes and dreams and aspirations that black people had, the data is going to be clear that we lost ground in every category. so my point is, barack obama could have been poke dot. his colors matter less to me -- believe symbolism and i believe in substance and as an african-american i'm proud we had a black president for two terms 'don't mean to take anything from that but the affects are stubborn and we have to come to terms with that and
yes, every branch of government is responsible for taking these matters seriously, but at the level of the federal government, i was just responding to that data that we're going to have a serious meeting at some point after 2016. >> host: lisa tweets in to you, their martin luther king recordings still available and will you ever write a book for young kids? >> guest: there's so much stuff online now. i don't know that one has to look too hard to find recordings of king. so a lot of that stuff is already online i know. regarding the children's book issue i got asked the question a while ago and i'm getting more and more interested in the idea. i don't know what it would be. i don't know what the subject would be. i was talking to a friend last night who is working on a children's book her first one. i'm titillated by it but don't know what it would be. >> host: phillip, fort myers, we have 15 minutes left go ahead.
>> caller: hello. >> guest: hello. >> caller: our how are you doing? i'm good. >> caller: you have no idea how many positive ripples you put through the universe. you keep on going. i got a couple of questions for you. number one have you been invited to the white house? if not, why not? >> guest: second question? >> caller: second question is, as retired history teacher, it seems like it all began after the civil war with so-called reconstruction reconstruction was actually deconstruction, and i'm kind of upset that we have a congress now that is basically a confederate congress. i don't see much hope there. >> guest: we discussed that earlier this morning on this week on abc, whether or not this congress i going to get much of anything done. i was asked what my hopes were ski said not much. i thing the disfunction will down. three things concern me. the majority leaderrens once the
former minority leader but mr. mcconnell is the same mitch mccome who said his number one job was to defeat barack obama. the guy who is majority leader. if that sentiment continues not much is going to get done. number one. number two the hopes and dreams and aspiration moves sitting senators who want to replace barack obama in the house is going to get in the way of a lot of legislation just people's personal amibitions naked amibitions go together get in the way of certain agendas in the senate and thirdly if this republican senate is intent on spending its i'm trying to up do obamacare, which has been upheld in the court system we'll have a real waste of time and money and bad energy in this town. so for those three ropes -- ropes i'm not hopeful about this congress. your first question was about the white house. i'm laughing because i'm going -- i believe -- peter knows -- because i'm a broadcaster and a talk show host
i neverrer ever believe in avoiding answering a question. my job is to ask people questions. if you were on my show and asked me and i asked you a question i'd want you to answer, so i don't ever run from a question. but i'm only say that as a preface because the last time i was on c-span, i got asked this question. and i answered it. and i caught all kind of hell in the media for three or four weeks, i caught hell because i was whining on c-span about not being invited to the white house. i was asked a question by a c-span moderator, and i answered the question, but i caught hell for whining about not going to white house. now i get a phone call today asking me, have you been invited to the white house, people and sure enwhy answer the question the same thing will happen. smiley was on c-span whining about the fact that obama hasn't invited him to white house show. truth of the matter is, i was asked and i'm answering your question no, i have still not been invited. so barack obama is the first president since i have been a
broadcaster, 25 years now, 20 some years, the first president to not invite me to the white house for anything. not a ceremony, not to sit in the back row, not for a movie screening, not for a rose garden ceremony, not anything. i have not been invited to the white house. for nothing. period. not to sweep the floors, not to cook some eggs not to sweep the portico, nothing. >> host: but no anger there. >> guest: no anger. >> host: okay, all right. >> host: why did george w. bush invite you to the white house? >> guest: you know when republicans are in the white house you get invited to the black ceremonies. so i'm sure i was invited to some black -- somebody black was getting awarded something so they wanted some negroes in the audience. but i've always been invited and i typically try to go when i'm invited. but i just answered the question, i've not been invited. but having said that it's the
president's choice. the president has to invite me to the white house. that's his business. in fairness i haven't invited him to my house either. >> host: 1996 book hard left straight talks about the wrongs of the right. what is most fright frightening about the right and their attempt to legislate moriality and trample on the constitutional rights and freedom of the individual. >> guest: that was my first -- second book. i've written 17 or 18. that was my second book. what year -- >> host: 1996. >> guest: what you just read i wrote in 1996. this is 2015, it's like i wrote that this morning and that's how i feel. this is what is happening in '960 and here we are in 2015 about to endure the same thing all over again, in this town and it just goes to show that the more things change the more they stay the same. >> host: mark tweets in, do you still oppose marriage equality, if so, why?
>> guest: i do not. what. >> host: did you at one time? >> guest: i was asked here again people take things and put it out of context. i was at an event in l.a. some years ago and somebody asked me about my views about this issue. and i said to them, in my -- saying the same thing i say now -- in my faith tradition, marriage is regarded as between a man and a woman. that is my faith tradition. having said that i do not believe that i have the right to tell people who they should love or who they should marry. that is my my business. not my purview. i have my only beliefs about a variety of issues itch don't believe it has anything to do with other choices my fellow citizens make. so any my faith tradition marriage between a man and a woman, but i do not believe that i or anybody else ought to have the right to tell you who to love who to marry to who to be with. >> host: willy pennsylvania please go ahead with your question or comment for tavis
smiley. >> caller: how you doing, tavis. >> how are you. >> caller: i been waiting a long time to talk to you. you me and martin luther king got two things in common. both from georgia, okay i live in chester pa, and king king kin went to school in chester. he spoke his first sermon at the church in chester. >> guest: uh-huh. >> caller: okay. i'm one of king king -- martin luther king's proteges. i'm trying to put together the biggest rally and march this nation has ever seen for jobs, education, health care, policemen, school teachers colleges veterans unions, for the middle class the poor, that's restricted, and poverty -- >> host: willy, where is this
rally going to be held? >> caller: in washington dc. i need mr. tavis smiley's help to regain our independence on 4th of july. >> guest: okay. that's an ambitious plan. it raises serious questions, peter, and that is whether or not today marchers are as effective as they once were. i think they can be. and i'm not casting aspersions on his idea. the welcome have to be careful not to make marches like a novelty, and again i'm not demonizing the cause at all. i get invited to a lot of these things. and i do believe that you have to be up front vocal and demonstrative, have to get the attention of people, but i wonder sometimes whether or not we think that a march is just a default position to raise some cane or get some ink for a particular issue, but the real work -- king led marches but the
real work that he did to help change america happened out of sight, and i find that sometimes people are interested in showing up for a rally or showing up for a march or they'll be -- one of my friends called armchair revolutionaries, sit at their keyboard and espouse all kind of views but people aren't really willing to do the work it takes to make stuff happen. one reason why is because when get out there saying what i'm saying you catch hell for it. get called names and people talk about you. it doesn't feel good. so i understand in the world we live today why people don't want to be subjected to that cyberhate and that kind of social media pushback, but that's what it takes to get out there and try to make a difference. >> host: from your 2006 booklet, never mind success, go for greatness, here's vanessa williams. at a black person you have to do better than anyone else just to be considered equal.
>> guest: she is right about that and she ought to know. a little small book and i had never planned to write this little book but at the end of most of my television programs, little pock book, fits in your back pocket, it's one of the most successful books i've ever put together because the advice is so beautiful. at the end of most of my programs, off camera for my own personal edification, i tend to ask my guests what's the best advice you have ever received and my cameras are usually rolling, and we record it. so i got thousands of these things. i can do a whole volume of these things. but the advice i've gotten from people, people who obviously have accomplished many things in their lives. my favorite -- in my library i have three of them one in my office and two at my home, and all of my libraries the most -- most of my books are biographies, books about people
who have actually done things that i think matter in the world. and that is because i want to be somebody, that does something meaningful in his lifetime, but the people i've had on my show who made significant contribution is want to know what is the best advice you have received and one day somebody said you ought to put this stuff in a little book. i said let's try a little booklet. we did that thing and it sold like hotcakes. i have so much good stuff i should put out one day when i am not on c-span i got time i'll put together volume two of that. >> host: where is the best place that people want to contact you if they want to see your books, what's the web site? >> guest: i don't know where to find all my books. my staff had to go into overtime literally, to find all these books because i haven't seen a lot of these books -- my web site is staffstalks.com. that's all die so it's easy tomorrow. tavistalks.com. and everything we dream' tv
stuff, radio work foundation work with kids, everything we do is housed on that one site at tavistalks.com. >> oo russ until long beach, california go ahead please. >> caller: hi, tavis. i'm a fan. i want you to know that up front. >> guest: the lbc. i love it. >> that's right. that's right. we're fans over here. i want to ask you a question. this is frustrating, tavis. especially when you hear intellectuals like you we their part of the largest forced migration of humans from one part of the world to the other and the history of man. so that makes this place our demographic kingdom. we inhabit the whole land but it's frustrate when people like you -- talk about the western hem fess sphere when you confine our analysis to that of the united states. because the promise of your analysis is necessarily limited. and we don't get the full measure of our humanity because
people like you -- it's a wonderful thing, we love you, but you confine our analysis to that of somebody else. >> guest: let me ask you a question. i'm curious as to you you point of view. i was just in long beach the other day giving a speech at cal state long beach when you've say i'm confining my analysis give me an example how i might expand my presentation. >> caller: well, look, just as an example, this place, the western hemisphere, as a result of the learnest force evidence migration of humans is our demographic kingdom. civilization. it's the largest and most culturally diverse civilization of all time. >> guest: but, my question -- >> caller: you would just approach our issues from a greater perspective, seems to me people would be more productive where they are. >> guest: but what but what -- hold on. my question is what is that
great- -- i hear you analysis. my question is, what is that greater perspective i'm missing in my presentation? what am i missing? >> caller: this place tavis, is our demographic kingdom. the united states of america -- i know that sounds rad aing a but it's the truth. we are the only -- >> host: all right russell, we'll leave threat and move on. >> guest: i take the point he is trying to make and i don't disagree, which is i would put it this way. we are citizens of the world that we live in a global community. and i couldn't agree with that more. i travel the world. i've talked about these issues around the world. discussed them on my tv and radio programs. i'm not a sure that it sounded a little interesting, i'm not sure i disagree that we're all citizens of a much larger society and it's not just about the u.s.a., and sometimes i get bothered by that. that we are so nativist inside of america, that we don't even see the rest of the world. that the majority of us don't
have passports -- something like 36% of americans have passports. most of us don't even have passports, and most of us who have them never use them. so that every year i make it my business to make sure i get outside of the u.s.a. every year i try to go somewhere, and sometimes depending on the year multiple places but i always try to get out of the country because it's one thing to see america from the inside. another thing to see america from the outside. and when you see it from the outside, you can see the good, the bad, the ugly the things worth celebrating, the things worth changing. but if you're -- if you're on the float, you can't very well see the parade. and sometimes you got to get off the fleet float and stand back and look at the parade and sometimes getting out of the country is a good way of appreciating america in different ways. >> larry from lake isabella michigan, wants to know, on a regular basis other than read-what does tavis smiley do
for recreation. >> guest: the thing i love dog the most in l.a. all the guys at the gym pound for found, the name of the gym where i work out, i love boxing and will be there tomorrow morning when i get back to l.a. i love to work out and boxing and i don't pound on the pavement anymore running, but i thereof box. as exercise. i love dish go to a comedy show every night. i love comedians. got a lot of friends who are come medians. entertainer, dl hughley, and god bless him bernie mac. i would good see pryor every night if he was still alive. i love comedy shows, i love music, and you can catch me in l.a. in the back hiding in the corner somewhere, anyplace there's good nukes in l.a. or any other city. you can find me in the corner. i love plays. love thingses that most americans love. >> host: from death of a king, it was 1941, martin was 12 years
old. his brother a.d. was 11. his maternal grandmother, whom he adored, had suffered a fatal heart attack. sliding down a bannister a.d. had unwittingly crashed into her and knocked her to the floor. >> guest: that store this prelude to a story that most americans don't know so the book is about the last year of king's life but there are a number of scenes in the in the book that we flash book into this earlier life because it's relevant to the telling of the story in that moment in real time in martin, at the age of 12 tried to commit suicide. i want tell the whole story but he left home as a child. i talked about you can't see the parade while you're on the float. martin loved parades and wanted to go to a parade one day. his parents told him not go and he left the house and went to the parade anyway but he came back, what you just read had
taken place. his grandmother was on the floor dead, and martin thought he had essentially killed his grandmother because had he stayed home and not disobeyed his parents are a teenager and went to see the parade he would have been there to stop his brother from going up and down the bannister and kicking his grandmother and killing her. he kick didn't kill his grandmother but martin felt he killed his grandmother. so that night when the family went to sleep,rtin win opt on the top of the house and jumped off, and tried to kill himself. there's more in the book about what happens after that but it is the first time we experience martin as a child with this radical empathy for other people and the role he wanted to play in feeling their pain which comes into play much later in his life as a civil rights leader. >> host: little bit of a depression? did he feel depression? >> guest: he did. the last year of his life depression mania. there's a professor at rut going
with a book -- rutgers doing the first ever psycho analysis and doing it with the research of his doctors reports and hospital stays can. the point is we raise some of this in the book, that martin in the last couple yearses of his life was hospitalized more than most people know. the official reason was being tired, overworkedded, anxiety. but there 'twas a bit more going on there he did suffer from depression and from mania, but again, the research by the professor at tufts points out that people who have that kind of mania can develop a greater and more radical empathy for other people because they know what that feels like. i'm not a scientist and can't explain it but the fact that martin suffered from mania made million much more able to feel the pain and hurt ofs could it
served him well. >> host: your out here in washington to be on this program but you're taping one of your programs while you're here, and you have two senators. >> guest: i'm doing a few shows here. one will air a week from now, very quickly, two african-american united states senators, edward brooke, the first senator elected and re-elected from massachusetts just died. corey booker tim scott, never sat for a conversation together. i'm doing them together. for two nights on pbs program a week from now. >> host: tavis smiley for the last three hours. here are his books very quickly...
freedom. ". >> host: arthur brooks, where did the phrase "gross national happiness" come from? [laughter] >> guest: the phrase comes from the government of bhutan, i should say the king of bhutan about 30 years ago realized that a process of development of economic development, was great. it would pull millions of people out of poverty. people wouldn't starve to death, but it wasn't enough for human flourishing. so instead of counting narrowly the amount of money people had per capita, he had the idea of trying to measure the amount of happiness. he started an index called gross national happiness. that's where the expression comes from.
>> host: and what did he find? >> guest: he found that a lot of the traditional measures of economic growth were, as i said, great and kind of a predeterminant for living a good life, but they weren't sufficient and so some of the things of cultural integrity, of family values, of being able to maintain one's faith, one's faith in god, that these are the things people needed for a truly flourishing life. and in so doing in a developing country, had a lot of lessons for the rest of us. >> host: can you measure happiness via economic success? >> guest: no. you can find some predeterminants for having a relatively good life by looking at economic indicators, but that doesn't get you far enough. there are really four things that can lead us to happiness and they don't involve money per se. let me back up for a second peter. money, one of the things that we find is enwhen people are poor and -- that when people are poor and they have deprivation and deciding whether or not to pay for
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