“Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys”

September 21st, 2011, by

This companion e-book to the Tavis Smiley Reports primetime special—which examines the staggering dropout rate among young Black males—picks up where the broadcast leaves off, with expanded discussion and resources needed to harness concern into collective and effective action. The volume is available on and

  • Carol Durante

    Thanks Tavis for putting this information out there!

  • freddie

    you are during a good job keep it up for us.freddie what can i do to help.

  • Patrick

    Thankyou, so much for your awesome journalism. It is a shame that it is not more mainstream so that more of America can see it! You are an inspiration and a major credit to society as well as the world. I will continue to try my best to get the word out about you and the facts that you present on your show. YOU SHOULD HAVE YOUR OWN NETWORK AND I AM READY AND WILLING TO DONATE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN! DON’T GET ALL EXITED, I AM JUST A BUS DRIVER W/ A MEGER INCOME AND REALLY WANT TO SEE THIS HAPPEN.

  • roderick

    Great work Tavis! We all need continued education and awareness concerning the challenges of our young men. As a motivational speaker, I am inspired by your insightful and heart warming

  • Nola

    My husband and I watched this episode with tears in our eyes. it was very moving and your journalism style was both refreshing and unbiased. I really appreciated that. Thank you so much for keeping us informed.

  • Carl Scott

    Tavis I saw the documentary on PBS and was blown away. I am a middle school educator in New York and plan to read the book. Where can I get the poster to display in my classroom?


  • Anna

    First and foremost let me tell you how much I do enjoy watching your show. Last night I watched your “Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boy’s”, which I thought was great but most of all all the people, teachers, instructors and everyone else involved in these young mens lives “my hats off to you” for caring. But I also feel that this is not just a problem for blacks as much as it is for latino/hispanic men (I am hispanic) and see the same issues, I see where we as parents have failed them, as most of these young poeple (females also) are growing up with out self worth, respect, morals and values. Though I do pray everyday that these parents wakeup and take responsibility for the children we have brought into this world. Again Mr. Smiley, thank you for your programs and may God Bless you.

    Respecfuly Anna

  • Corutney

    I can’t wait to buy this on DVD. I also plan to request that the library systems in my area buy this because this issue is too important for people to not be aware of it. I already knew the depressing statistics but it was nice to see some people stepping up to the plate to address this important issue.

  • Toney Hunt

    I’m facing an uphill battle in bringing the concerns of little black girls and little black boys to the forefront here in Panama City. I see the whirlwind that sucks our precious young children into it cycle until it spits them out in prison. I would very much like to start an Urban Prep or an academy of Smiley and West in the Panama City, Florida Area to serve our fragile young black minds. Looking to link up with the courageous inner city minds that are doing something to help. The Fierce Urgency of Now is Now!!! What a difference a day makes, Love

  • Tim

    I taught middle school for a three years before I got laid off and I now sell technology hardware and software to education. Because of this I get into a lot of schools– inner city public and charter schools, suburban public and private, religious schools, etc. The people who teach in these schools and the students who strive to succeed are often very heroic individuals. But what I found out as a teacher and as a parent of three boys is often overlooked during a discussion of the failings of our educational system. The most important thing in building strong young men is their home life. How can we expect young black men (or white, brown, yellow, or red ones, for that matter) to succeed if we do not solve the central reason for their failure– the lack of a supportive, stable, nurturing family life? My middle boy was an All-American track athlete in high school, but if he had to start every race 50 meters behind his competitors he soon would have gotten discouraged and dropped out of competition. Yet we continually focus only on the failings of our “coaches” (teachers) in preparing for the race of life, rather than what our “athletes” (students) encounter when they return home after school. We must increasingly treat this with a holistic approach otherwise we will continue to apply band-aids to lesions instead of treating the illness that causes them. Teachers need students that have at least a minimal preparation for life– emotionally, intellectually, spiritually– if they are to have a reasonable expectation for success. If this issue is not faced and included as the foundational one in solving the problems of our educational system, we are all lost. Poverty and ignorance are the two heads of the same beast and our democracy is in a lot of trouble if we do not attack them both with equal vigor simultaneously.

  • Helen

    Tavis:It is reassuring to hear a fellow Hoosier talking about the real issues of this day & age when so many are left behind in one way or another.Thank you for your care & concern re: others.

  • sue

    Thank you for taking time to make this film. I hope everyone I know involved in education watched this. Thank you!

  • evelyn powell

    …I am so in agreement with Tim…accurately and well said I am retired, with 38 years in Education, 23 of those years working with SEI students;who more times then not, come from the backgrounds that you spoke of …let’s keep it movin…!

  • Michael acuff

    Bravo Tavis, each segment I’ve watched all week keeps getting better. Looking forward to tomorrow nights episode ( segment 5 ) to hopefully learn who , when, & how I can b useful to help eleminate poverty , as I myself have been homeless, and In poverty for the past 9 years, with no promise of anykind in site due to my own set of circumstances in Dallas, texas. Every one I have tried to get
    help from just turns s blind eye, or never returns promised phone calls. Thank you to you , mr. West, PBS, Media Mobilizing project, and all who I’ve yet to learn that is standing up for he cause. I hope you don’t mind me nominating you the unofficial “Ambassador for the the
    poor” . Fight the good fight. By M. Acuff proud American Dallas,tx

  • Marsha A Lewis

    Thank you so much for this look into different areas in our nation. As my students watched and discussed some of their reactions and attention was peaked by the fact that other students in their situation found hope. I believe that some seeds have been watered and lives will be changed. Again thanks.

Last modified: September 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm