Center for American Progress Action

ADVISORY: The Candidates and the Covenant with Black America: A Discussion with Tavis Smiley
Press Advisory

ADVISORY: The Candidates and the Covenant with Black America: A Discussion with Tavis Smiley

Featured Speaker: Tavis Smiley, Host, Tavis Smiley on PBS and the Tavis Smiley Show from PRI

Moderated by: Melody Barnes, Executive Vice President for Policy, CAPAF

On Thursday, June 28, Tavis Smiley will moderate the All-American Presidential Forum on PBS at Howard University, where the Democratic presidential candidates will address the issues of concern to Black America. This marks the first prime-time presidential candidates’ forum comprised exclusively by journalists of color. The next day, the Center for American Progress Action Fund will host a moderated discussion with Tavis Smiley and give him an opportunity to reflect on the critical issues raised at the previous night’s forum. As the author of The New York Times best-seller, The Covenant with Black America, as well as THE COVENANT In Action, Mr. Smiley will also discuss the ideas put forward in his books, the candidates’ proposals, and the pressing issues before the nation, including health care and well- being, education, economic prosperity, and environmental justice.

The event will begin with welcome and opening remarks from Melody Barnes, Executive Vice President for Policy at CAPAF, followed by questions from the audience.

RSVP for this Event

Friday, June 29, 2007 Program: 10:00am to 11:00am Admission is free.

Center for American Progress Action Fund 1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor Washington, DC 20005 Map & Directions

Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center

For more information, please call 202-741-6246.


Tavis Smiley. From his celebrated conversations with world figures, to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders, as a broadcaster, author, advocate and philanthropist, Tavis Smiley continues to be an outstanding voice for change.

Newsweek profiled him as one of the “20 people changing how Americans get their news” and dubbed him one of the nation’s “captains of the airwaves.” Smiley hosts the late night television talk show, Tavis Smiley, on PBS, and his radio show, The Tavis Smiley Show, is distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). Smiley is the first American ever to simultaneously host signature talk shows on both public television and public radio.

Smiley, who started his career as an aide to the late Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, also offers political commentary twice weekly on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. In addition, he has authored ten books. Smiley made publishing history when the book he edited, The Covenant with Black America, reached #1 on The New York Times Best Seller list. His latest book, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America (Doubleday), also made The New York Times Best Seller list.

In 2004, Texas Southern University (TSU) honored Smiley with the opening of The Tavis Smiley School of Communications and The Tavis Smiley Center for Professional Media Studies, making him the youngest African American to ever have a professional school and center named after him on a college or university campus. Smiley cemented his commitment to TSU with a $1 million gift to the Center.

The mission of his nonprofit organization-Tavis Smiley Foundation-is to enlighten, encourage and empower Black youth. Tavis Smiley Presents, a subsidiary of The Smiley Group, Inc., brings ideas and people together through symposiums, seminars, forums and town hall meetings.

Smiley has received numerous awards and honorary doctorate degrees, including one from his alma mater, Indiana University. One of ten children, Smiley is single and lives in Los Angeles. In his spare time, he enjoys a good game of Scrabble with friends.

Melody Barnes is the Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where she coordinates and helps to integrate all of the Center’s policy work from the policy departments, fellows, and the Center’s network of outside policy experts.

From December 1995 until March 2003, Barnes served as chief counsel to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Kennedy’s chief counsel, she shaped civil rights, women’s health and reproductive rights, commercial law, and religious liberties laws, as well as executive branch and judicial appointments. Barnes’ experience also includes an appointment as Director of Legislative Affairs for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and serving as assistant counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. During her tenure with the Subcommittee, she worked closely with members of Congress and their staffs to pass the Voting Rights Improvement Act of 1992, which was signed into law.

Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City and is a member of both the New York State Bar Association and the District of Columbia Bar Association. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of The Constitution Project, EMILY’s List, and The Maya Angelou Public Charter School. She received her law degree from the University of Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with honors in history.