March 1st, 2011, by
Photo by: Van Evers, TS Media, Inc.

Legendary singer/songwriter Smokey Robinson, who sits down with Tavis tonight, discusses his recovery from a more than two-year drug addiction.

The Motown great also shares the advice that he offered his “little brother” El DeBarge, who, after an amazing musical comeback, recently returned to rehab for his own addiction.

“Unless you get your spiritual self together,” says Robinson, who has been sober since May 1986, “you are not going to beat it.”

Watch the clip below, where Robinson describes the path that he took to move beyond his addiction, and tune in tonight for the full conversation.


February 28th, 2011, by

If you watched the Academy Awards Sunday night, then you likely heard Inside Job director Charles Ferguson’s acceptance speech after his film won for best documentary. Ferguson’s acceptance speech began this way:

“Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong.”

Tonight, Ferguson sits down with Tavis and explains how it feels to have won the Oscar when the actual issue that his film addresses remains unresolved.

In the clip below, Ferguson explains why he is still hopeful for America’s financial future even though he calls the current financial struggles that many Americans face “the new normal.”

Watch the clip below and tune in to the full conversation tonight.


February 23rd, 2011, by

In this Web-exclusive video, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), discusses the future of the teaching profession in Wisconsin and beyond as it relates to ongoing protests in that state.

“What we’re seeing is the result of commitments that were made over many, many decades that can’t be afforded in a lot of states,” Sen. Bennet says.

“There are important values that seem like they’re in conflict, and what we need to do is figure out, on a state-by-state and city-by-city basis, how to sort through that,” Sen. Bennet continues.

Watch the Web-exclusive clip below, where Sen. Bennet outlines what is needed to ensure high-quality education going forward, and watch the video of his full conversation to find out what more he had to say.


February 22nd, 2011, by
Photo by: Van Evers, TS Media, Inc.

In this Web-exclusive clip, Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker addresses a recent piece in The New York Times entitled “Hollywood’s Whiteout,” about the absence of Black artists in the 2011 Oscar nominee class.

The article states:

The consolidation of a black presence in the movies and television did not signal the arrival of a postracial Hollywood any more than the election of Barack Obama in 2008 spelled the end of America’s 400-year-old racial drama. But it was possible, over much of the past decade, to believe that a few of the old demons of suspicion and exclusion might finally be laid to rest.

Are the coming Oscars an anomaly, or an unsettling sign of the times? The Academy, in any case, does not work in a vacuum. A look back at the American films of 2010 reveals fewer of the kinds of movies — biographies like “Ray” and urban dramas like “Training Day” — that have propelled black actors, screenwriters and directors into contention in the recent past. With a few exceptions, like the romance “Just Wright” and the ghetto farce “Lottery Ticket,” it was perhaps the whitest year for Hollywood since the post-Richard Pryor, pre-Spike Lee 1980s. The superhero, fantasy and action genres were drained of color. The urban dramas were set in Irish-American New England neighborhoods. Even the male-male buddy picture, a staple of interracial bonding since 1958, when Mr. Poitier and Tony Curtis were chained together in “The Defiant Ones,” has become a largely white-on-white affair.

“There has been a paradigm shift,” says Whitaker, who won an Academy Award in 2007 for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. “We’ve moved a long way, but we’re not at a destination point.”

Watch the Web-exclusive clip below, where Whitaker explains why he embraces technology to help with the democratization of Hollywood, and watch the video of his full conversation to find out what more he had to say.


February 15th, 2011, by ALAN KURTZ
Mark Twain, left, with John Lewis, a lifelong friend and inspiration for the character Jim in "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

“Until the lions have their own historians,” begins an African proverb, “the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s worth noting that the African American experience has often been chronicled by whites. Do such accounts, in effect, glorify the hunter at the lions’ expense? And if so, is the solution to declare Black history off limits to “white hunters?”

African American culture has long been irresistible to white authors, and often to the dismay of Blacks. In 1957 the NAACP condemned Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, citing its unseemly Negro dialect and lavish use of the N-word. As late as 2007, the book was banned from a Connecticut high school after a parent objected to its language. Now an Alabama publisher is selling a sanitized version that replaces the N-word with “slave.” Such controversies, writes Twain biographer Ron Powers, “have left deep imprints on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, encouraging students and general readers to approach the work not so much as literature but as battleground in the American culture wars.”

In a recent blog at addressing this subject, I argued that America’s story is no one’s property. It’s our collective experience and belongs to all races. Three days later, The Huffington Post adopted my title “Are Whites Entitled to Write Black History?” for an article that attracted hundreds of online comments, mostly from readers who identified themselves as African American. Not everyone answered my question, but of those who did, a ratio of 4 to 1 were in favor.

However, many Huffington posters attacked the question itself, calling it “a non-issue … a question that does not need to be asked … dumb beyond words … irrelevant … insane … nonsensical … ridiculous … silly … most stupid question ever … blatantly racist … racist and really ignorant … this is why racism is alive and well.”

Several Huff posters went so far as to flatly deny the existence of African Americans today who oppose a white author’s claim to write Black history. One even accused me of race baiting. “Ah yes,” he wrote, “nothing like a little Jewish race baiting to get the Blacks and whites worked up.”

Yet consider the following extracts from this same Huffington Post thread.

“White people should stay away from writing about other people. Leave Black history to Blacks.”

“Whites have written as much Black History as I’d like to see written by them. How about we let Black people write their own history for a change!”

“Whites have misquoted, outright lied about Black history. I prefer the offspring of the people tell the story.”

“When whites have the unmitigated gall to write about Black history they inevitably find a way to venerate themselves, no matter how undeserving. Their white racial frame makes it necessary. We have nearly 300 years of white folks writing American history and we have nothing but a one-sided lie.”

“One cannot possibly write the history of a people who were here on earth hundreds of thousands year before they were. We are tired of your lies about history.”

Given that 20% of these African American respondents reject on principle a white author’s legitimacy in writing Black history — without reading a word of what he wrote — anyone who calls this a non-issue or a question that doesn’t need to be asked is celebrating Black History Month by wearing a blindfold. It’s something that must be discussed, if only to dispel the myth that “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” If the historian is honest and true to his trade, the color of his skin should not matter.

Alan Kurtz blogs at and is the author of Stereotypes in Black Music: The African-American Crossover Compromise.

February 10th, 2011, by

When The Wall Street Journal slapped the “Why Chinese Mother’s are Superior” headline on an excerpt of Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, it sparked a national controversy about parenting that took Chua by surprise.

The problem with the subsequent controversy and hate mail that the Yale Law professor received is that it was not reflective of what she had originally written.

As Chua states in her conversation with Tavis tonight, her book is a memoir, not a parenting guide. The author goes on to say that she feels she “got caught in this amazing perfect storm,” which is partially fueled by every mom or dad’s concern with being a good parent as well as Americans’ growing fear of a rising China.

Watch the clip below, where Chua talks about the pressures she felt while raising her two daughters, and tune in to the full conversation tonight, when she clears up all of the misconceptions surrounding her book.


February 9th, 2011, by

Six-time Grammy-winner John Legend, whose latest project “Wake Up!” finds him paired with The Roots, discusses the socially conscious project tonight.

“I was always a bit of a political junkie, even as a kid,” says the singer/songwriter, who is nominated for five Grammy Awards for this latest album.

And when it comes to making music with a political or social message, Legend says, “it’s a risk that I’m willing to take.”

Watch the clip below, where Legend reflects on the price that some artists can pay for being outspoken. And tune in tonight for the full conversation.


February 4th, 2011, by JUDY LUBIN

It was two years ago at a Black History Month celebration that Attorney General Eric Holder observed that we live in a “nation of cowards” unwilling to have an honest conversation about race. Holder’s remarks sparked a firestorm of criticism from conservatives who felt his comments painted America in a negative light. But was Holder right?
In recent months, we have been reminded that American history is all too often the subject of revisionist interpretations that whitewash the nation’s past to score political points. These insults on our historical consciousness are far too easy to cite.
Take for instance a January speech by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to Iowans for Tax Relief, during which she declared that America was always a resting place for people of all colors. “It didn’t matter the color of their skin, it didn’t matter their language, it didn’t matter their economic status,” she said.

Ignoring the plight of black slaves who first arrived in 1619 — more than 100 years prior to the founding of America — and the enduring fight for racial justice, Bachmann went on to say that the nation’s founding fathers were ardent abolitionists. “The very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States,” said Bachmann. While the founding fathers professed that “all men are created equal,” that sentiment did not apply to the slaves many of them owned.

Interestingly, when the Republican leadership decided that members of the House of Representatives would read the Constitution as the first major act of the new Congress, the sections on slavery, including the one that indicated slaves were only three-fifths of a man, were conveniently left out of the reading.
And in December, presidential hopeful and current Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour in an interview with The Weekly Standard praised his hometown’s White Citizen Council for their support of integration. This is the same White Citizens Council movement that has long been on record as a white supremacist organization and known for launching campaigns throughout the South to intimidate blacks who were active in the civil rights movement. Barbour, in the same interview, appeared to not comprehend the injustices that led to the struggle for equality. “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” he said.

There has been no shortage of examples of the cowardice that Attorney General Holder referred to a few years ago. But these convenient errors and omissions should not be taken lightly. It may be easier and far less uncomfortable for some to rewrite history than deal with the reality that the nation has struggled with living up to its ideals. But we do ourselves and future generations no favors when we pretend that an entire segment of our population was never denied basic human rights or the chance to fully participate in society.

As Holder noted in his speech, “if we’re going to ever make progress, we have to be honest with each other.”

Judy Lubin is a writer, communications strategist and Ph.D. student in sociology. She writes about the intersection of race, class and gender in the media and in politics on her blog and on The Huffington Post.

February 3rd, 2011, by
Photo by: Van Evers, TS Media, Inc.

If you haven’t yet heard of The Fighter, you will.

The film – starring Mark Wahlberg as boxer “Irish” Micky Ward and Christian Bale as Micky’s half-brother Dicky Eklund – has received seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress, a category that two of the film’s actresses – Amy Adams and Melissa Leo – received nominations in.

On Friday, Tavis will talk to Best Actress nominee Melissa Leo. The award-winning actress, who played Micky’s mother Alice Ward, discusses what it was like to play the mother of Mark Wahlberg’s character when she and Wahlberg are nearly the same age.

Watch the clip below, where Leo also discusses her apprehensions about portraying Alice and what it took to get her to take the role.

For the full conversation with Leo, tune in Friday, Feb. 4. Check local listings here.


January 31st, 2011, by

Country music duo Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones of Steel Magnolia discuss the success of their first album and share their thoughts on the sophomore jinx.

Watch the clip below and tune in to the full conversation tonight.


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