Thu Jan 17, 2013, 09:22 PM
Jefferson23 (26,339 posts)
As Obama Prepares for 2nd Term, Tavis Smiley Urges Him to Take Up MLK’s Fight Against Poverty
Thursday, January 17, 2013
SNIP* AMY GOODMAN: President Obama speaking in 2011 at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Well, journalist, author Tavis Smiley has spent the last year crisscrossing the country with activist, professor, preacher, Cornel West, to start a national conversation on poverty, which they address in their book, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto. They’ve called on President Obama to organize a White House Conference on the Eradication of Poverty in America. And tonight Tavis will be in the nation’s capital moderating a nationally televised symposium called "Vision for a New America: A Future Without Poverty." The event begins a 6:30 p.m. Eastern time and will be broadcast live on C-SPAN at George Washington University. Tavis Smiley joins us now from Washington.
Tavis, welcome back to Democracy Now! Talk about what you’re doing and what you want President Obama to do, to convene.
TAVIS SMILEY: Thank you, Amy and Juan, for having me back on, and Dr. West sends his regards.
First of all, let me just say very quickly, with regard to the King Bible being used in this inauguration, I’m feeling ambivalent about that, in part because I always—I have always regarded Dr. King as the greatest American this country has ever produced. And any celebration, any honor of Dr. King that keeps his legacy at the center of the conversation is important. But I’m feeling some sort of way about this because at a moment where this country is using more drones than ever before, oftentimes killing innocent women and children, at a moment when this country continues to render poor people invisible, at a moment when this country continues to escalate militarily, all the things that concerned Dr. King, those—that triple threat, those three evils that King talked about, are more out of control now than ever before. And so it’s one thing to engage in the symbolism of placing our hand on his Bible; it’s quite another to get down to the real work of—the substantive work that King would want us to be doing, were he here now—so that on Monday, President Obama will be in the foreground, but Dr. King clearly stands and looms large in the background, as the backdrop, if you will.
And so, I think the question that we have to ask ourselves now is the same question Dr. King asked when he was alive. "Life’s most persistent and urgent question," said King, "is: What are you doing for others?" "Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" And so, if we can’t make the world safe for his legacy by making poverty, the eradication of poverty a priority, then something is wrong with our commitment, our commitment to King’s legacy. And so, tonight we’re going to continue to do our small part to try to make poverty and its eradication a priority in the nation, here at George Washington University.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Tavis, the past few months, all this emphasis in the media and in Congress on the fiscal cliff, but the little talk about the growing nature—the spread of poverty in America and how the reduction of many of these, quote, "entitlement programs" will lead to even greater poverty.
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