PBS’s Tavis Smiley Takes on Poverty in America with GW Panel Discussion

By: Katy Adams and Nikki Schwab | 01/08/12 8:05 PM
Examiner Staff Writer Follow Her @KatyAdams

During some of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, PBS weeknight talk show host Tavis Smiley is hoping to make the issue of poverty in America a priority. “I am going to beat the drum as loud as I can,” Smiley tells Yeas & Nays. The vocal veteran broadcaster, who will lead a panel discussion about poverty in America on Thursday evening at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, tells Yeas & Nays that he tasked himself some time ago with making sure that we would not go through another presidential campaign like the last, where the issue of poverty did not get discussed. “During the Obama-McCain campaign or race for the White House, in three presidential debates, in those final pre-presidential debates, the word poor and the word poverty did not come up one time and I was disturbed by that then. I said it four years ago and committed myself to do my small part to address the issue.”Smiley suggests that the timing for this discussion is ideal since he did not expect the recent numbers from the Census Bureau suggesting that one out of two Americans is either in poverty or near poverty to be so devastating. “I wasn’t a math major in college, but I think that means 50 percent of the American people. Those kind of numbers quite frankly are unsustainable. This democracy is on the precipitous of something unprecedented because you can’t run a democracy with half of the people in poverty or about to be in poverty; particularly where the new poor are the former middle class,” he adds.

Smiley’s not the only long-distance runner on this issue, but is using his platform to facilitate and moderate the conversation. Expert panelists who will participate in the discussion include Princeton University professor and author Cornel West; America’s leading authority on personal finance, Suze Orman; and filmmaker Michael Moore.

The free event is open to the public. Doors open at 5 p.m. and advance registration is required at www.tavistalks.com/remakingamerica.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/yeas-nays/2012/01/pbss-tavis-smiley-takes-poverty-america-gw-panel-discussion/2074926#ixzz1jBALXqy7

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