The Poverty Tour

With nearly 50 million Americans now living in poverty, “The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience” was the focus of five special episodes in October 2011. Each episode was devoted to video highlights from Tavis’ August 2011 18-city, 11-state poverty bus tour with his co-host on PRI’s Smiley & West radio show, Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West. Following each night’s highlights from the tour, Tavis also spoke with a leading anti-poverty advocate, including Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West, Feeding America CEO Vicki B. Escarra, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, economist Jeffrey Sachs and ethics and religion commentator Jim Wallis.

Watch Part 1 – “Suffering to Speak” – as well as Parts 2-5 below. Also be sure to check out related content and join the discussion.


Featured Content

“I Had Everything”
Part 2 of the series puts the spotlight on the new poor. Tavis also talks with Vicki B. Escarra, CEO of Feeding America.



“No Room at the Inn”
Part 3 focuses on the housing crisis. The conversation continues with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.



“Nothing Moves Without Us”
Part 4 examines jobs and the unemployment crisis. Tavis also talks with the director of Columbia’s Earth Institute and co-founder of Millennium Promise Alliance Jeffrey Sachs.



“The Fight of the Poor”
The final installment of the series looks at the movement to end poverty across the country. Tavis also talks with Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners magazine.



Inside This Feature

  • Photo by Matthew Woitunski
  • Truly Living Well Farm
    "What I witnessed firsthand during The Poverty Tour was both inspiring and heartbreaking," Tavis said after returning from the road. View images from the 18-city, 11-state bus tour and share your thoughts.
  • View a map of the 18 cities that The Poverty Tour visited and share your thoughts.
  • Watch Tavis and Dr. Cornel West visit Camp Take Notice, a tent city for some 40-50 homeless persons located just outside Ann Arbor, MI.
  • When we talk about the poverty rate or families living in poverty, what definition are we using for “poverty?” That depends on which government agency is providing the measure.
  • In 2010, 46.2 million people are living in poverty, the largest number in the 52 years for which the poverty rate has been published. Check out this interactive chart, which offers a look at the growth of the poverty rate in the past 10 years.
  • The poor, according to former labor secretary Robert Reich, "are regarded as people who are somehow different, either because they’re assumed to be Latin Americans or African Americans, or they are just assumed to be somewhat different." Watch the full conversation, where Reich explains why economically, America is almost two separate countries.
  • According to Economist David Beckmann, the United States has persistent poverty because the political will to end poverty does not exist. Watch the conversation with Beckmann to learn what everyday Americans can do to tackle poverty in the U.S., and join the discussion.
  • As of 2009, almost 15 million children are living below the poverty line in the United States. Watch this sobering conversation with the President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and join the discussion.
  • "The call for economic fairness may not be 'rotten economics' at all," says religion and ethics commentator Jim Wallis in this guest blog post, "but, in fact, rather good economics, as well as good morality."
Last modified: September 29, 2016 at 5:49 pm