Life in an American Tent City


You can’t give Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West exclusive credit for bringing the conversation about poverty to the forefront of the American public’s socio-political dialogue; however, you can definitely give them credit for pumping up the volume on the conversation.

In August, Tavis and Dr. West – co-hosts of the syndicated radio show on PRI that bears their names – embarked on a 6-day, 11-state, 18-city tour to highlight the plight of the poor in America. Assisting them was a taskforce of Tavis’ colleagues that helped to broadcast, document and display the stories of real folks, of varying backgrounds and upbringings, who are facing real financial and emotional hardships during these precarious economic times.

As managing partner of High Quality Speakers Bureau, I was able to play a part by coordinating three town hall meetings in Chicago, Detroit and Memphis, where locals came to air their grievances about, as well as identify solutions to, the failed federal policies and skewed partisan priorities that have helped to exacerbate the situation.

Brandon A. Lucas, viral marketing manager for The Smiley Group, Inc., was on the tour and captured a wealth of post-able, tweet-able and upload-able content to help generate greater awareness about the deplorable conditions so that those who may be listening, reading or watching might lift their voices to be heard in the chorus. In the below clip provided by Lucas, Tavis and Dr. West visit Camp Take Notice, a tent city for some 40-50 homeless persons located just outside Ann Arbor, MI.

Jeremy Berry is the Managing Partner of High Quality Speakers Bureau, a subsidiary of The Smiley Group, Inc.

  • Elizabeth Freer

    Thank you for bringing this out in the open! It is disgraceful in such a rich country..if only WE the People had some of the riches.

  • clotella white

    Finally eyes will be opened six years my nine year old twins And I have been homeless no job for a single black women who has made a mistake now Im paying with my sanity being strong for my son who already suffers from depression and my daughter who doesn’t know what a father is man stand tall and continue this eternal battle. Facing true struggle

  • Jody Wright

    Wow, this piece tears me up. I felt a real sense of pride coming from the woman showing off the camp, a sense of accomplishment. Many homeless are depicted as crazy or violent. Thanks for shattering that stereotype.

    But to go further, I look at their little encampment — one that only works based on the generosity of members to each other — and I almost want to be with them! Such decency and common sense not often found these days.

    Thank you SO MUCH, from the bottom of my heart, for doing this tour.

  • Jeff McCoy

    I have been involved in a documentary film entitled “Land Of Liberty”. It covers the entire U.S. and took three years to film. I have witness this unjust hardship on many people. Some working, some with college degrees. It is a problem that we do not understand. The government pours money on the problem but it is usally spent on another study. I have witnessed hundreds of camps, watched as people died without medical aid or blankets. We need to do more. Thanks for your effort into moving this story on. Yes it has been told a hundred times but we still need to hear it again and again until we fix a very fixable problem.

  • Jeremy Berry

    Thank you all for your comments. We will continue to shed light on the issues that have been obscured by the darkness of injustice.

Last modified: October 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm