Saturday, February 23, 2008

Barack, Tavis, and the Covenant

This weekend, a number of Black luminaries and celebrities came to New Orleans to participate in Tavis Smiley's 9th State of the Black Union (SOTBU). The convention (along with its companion book - "Covenant with Black America") is the brainchild (and brain trust) of talk show host Tavis Smiley. The SOTBU was held this year in New Orleans to highlight the plight of the still beleaguered city some 3 years after Hurricane Katrina.

As in past years, it is an opportunity for so-called Black leaders to convene and talk about the plight of the Black community and hopefully propose some solid solutions for the Black community. To date, I'm not sure if its proponents have anything tangible to hang their hats on other than sales of "The Covenant."

About 2 years ago, I wrote a post about "The Covenant" and what few results could be expected from it. Fast forward to the present, and the same issues that Tavis and friends blathered about 2 years ago are the same issues afflicting the Black community. This year would probably be no different, but this year we have the presumptive first female presidential candidate (Hillary Clinton) and the presumptive first Black presidential candidate (Barack Obama) running for the Democratic nomination. Both were invited to this weekend's festivities, only Clinton accepted the invitation; Obama couldn't break away from his campaign schedule in Ohio to attend.

I first heard about this a few weeks ago, when it was reported that Barack Obama had offered his wife's attendance in his place, only to be rebuffed by Smiley: he wanted Barack or nothing!
February 13, 2008

Mr. Tavis Smiley
President and CEO
The Smiley Group
3870 Crenshaw Boulevard
Suite 391
Los Angeles, CA 90008

Dear Tavis,

Thank you for the invitation to participate in the 2008 State of the Black Union forum in New Orleans, Louisiana February 21-23. The exchange of ideas raised at this annual symposium are invaluable as our nation strives to address the critical issues facing not just African Americans, but Americans of every race, background and political party.

I especially commend you for hosting this dialogue in New Orleans. On the eve of the Louisiana primary, I visited this great city for the fifth time since declaring my candidacy to share policy proposals for rebuilding the Gulf Coast so that we never experience another Hurricane Katrina. On February 9, I was deeply humbled to win the Louisiana primary with 86 percent of the African American vote and a 14 point lead among all voters who said they were adversely affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Uniting our country and creating a national constituency for fundamental change is why I am running for President of the United States. We have come a long way in this race, but we still have a long road ahead. In the final stretch, I will be on the campaign trail everyday in states like Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin talking directly with voters about the causes that are at the heart of my campaign and the State of the Black Union forum such as affordable healthcare, housing, economic opportunity, civil rights and foreign policy. I am committed to touching every voter, and working to earn their vote.

That is why with regret, I am not able to attend the forum. I understand that you have declined the campaign’s request to have Michelle Obama speak on my behalf. I ask that you reconsider. Michelle is a powerful voice for the type of real change America is hungry for. No one knows my record or my passion for leading America in a new direction more than Michelle Obama.

Tavis, this is our movement and our time. I look forward to working closely with you throughout this election. Thank you for your continued support.


Barack Obama
Read the entire CNN article about the State of the Black Union here.

plez sez: this is real close to a WTF moment for plezWorld! real close...

what is tavis smiley's issue with Barack Obama? is tavis pissed off that Obama has been so successful with his run for the democratic nomination without the support of the old guard black establishment? is he pissed off that Obama is "trying not to run" as the Black candidate? is he pissed off because this State of the Black Union couldn't land the most popular Black person in America for its little bitch session? or is he just pissed off because hillary clinton has lost a month's worth of contests to Obama?

The State of the Black Union is a waste of time (it is nice of C-SPAN to provide coverage of it, though). The Covenant with Black America is a waste of paper. And his attendance to such an affair would have had a serious impact on Obama's chances to win the crucial contests that come up in Ohio and Texas in alittle over a week. why doesn't tavis smiley understand that the democratic nomination nor the winner of the upcoming presidential election will not come through him nor his sham of a convention... he doesn't pull that much weight. and all this little escapade has done is damage smiley's reputation in the Black community (he has complained of hate mail and harassment of his family). by trying to throw his little weight around, he done nothing but further diminish the status of a shrinking SOTBU with its group of re-tread panelists.

by the way, i watched the very end of SOTBU with Morehouse College's president claiming that his school was the only place in the country to find 500 Black male college graduates (if that is the case, then the state of our union is pretty grim) and a comical looking Dick Gregory. the coup de grace of the evening was to be a speech by hillary clinton followed by her fielding underhand softball questions from tavis... the audience (and i) was unmoved by her uninspired performance. the smart move would've been to let Michelle Obama speak or failing that, just end the worthless convention with the panel discussion.

after today, it is my hope that tavis smiley will see how irrelevant he has become.


Kellybelle said...

Well said!

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

he wants all of the attention, i guess there is only room for one smart brother in America and thats tavis

AverageBro said...

Dag P, tell us how you REALLY feel about TRavis!!!

plez... said...

to all:

as a people, i feel we are so past having someone (or ANYONE, for that matter) telling us how to think, how to vote, how to behave, and who we should like or support. Black folk are not the monolithic group of downtrodden people who need a Messiah or Moses to lead us to the promised land... more than likely, when someone holds himself (or herself) up as one who knows what's best for us, then we should turn and RUN (don't walk) in the other direction.

for some reason, tavis smiley comes off as one such false prophet!

Ananda said...

tyou for the post. amen. yavis lost sight of the truth.