Tavis Smiley and Cornel West to embark on The Poverty Tour


Broadcaster Tavis Smiley (left) and Princeton professor Cornel West, hosts of the nationally syndicated public radio program Smiley & West from Public Radio International (PRI), announced The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight Wednesday evening.

The 15-city bus tour will highlight the plight of the poor of all races, colors, and creeds so they will not be forgotten, ignored or rendered invisible during this difficult and dangerous time of economic deprivation and political cowardice.

Smiley & West will be on the road August 6-12, 2011, starting with a gathering of the nation’s often forgotten Native Americans on the Lac Coutre Oreilles Indian Reservation near Hayward, Wisconsin.  The Poverty Tour will also stop in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., and wrap in Memphis with a town hall conversation and a visit to the historic Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, while in town for a march with poor sanitation workers.  Smiley & West will meet with some of the 1968 sanitation workers.

The tour will also stop on the Southside of Chicago for another town hall event on August 7 at the Faith Community of St. Sabina. Both town hall meetings are produced by High Quality Speakers Bureau (HQSB) and are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.  

“We are taking Smiley & West into America’s communities,” Smiley said. “We want those people who are struggling in this current economy to know that they are not alone and not forgotten.”

Smiley & West will meet America’s unemployed, victims of bank foreclosures, senior citizens, students, homeless veterans, educators and young families struggling to survive. They will also meet with organizers, activists, social entrepreneurs and others who are using creative solutions to address America’s biggest challenges: jobs, food, energy, housing, health care and education.  

“We hope to speak truths about the suffering of everyday people, so that poor and working folks are empowered by the legacy of Brother Martin,” added Cornel West, one of America’s leading public intellectuals.

Many of the stories gathered from this tour will be heard weekly on the radio program Smiley & West, and be featured on Tavis Smiley on PBS.  For an opportunity to meet Smiley and West while on tour, visit www.smileyandwest.com where you can also download a daily podcast.

Following the tour, the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) will release a white paper examining the “new poor” in America, and how the face of poverty in America is changing.  Recent data suggests that many of the new poor in America are the former middle class.

“With all the talk about deficit reduction, somebody has to tell the truth about poverty in America and the impact the outcome of this debate will have on the nation’s poor,” said Smiley.

The Poverty Tour is sponsored in part by the AARP Foundation and the National Education Association (NEA).  

(Source: Smiley & West)