Nitetalk: Tavis Smiley on America’s Next Chapter

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TV and radio host Tavis Smiley is in town to host a notable panel at the George Washington University Thursday night, featuring eight of the nation's most influential thinkers, entertainers, politicians and business leaders. Cornel West, David Frum, Dana Milbank and Arianna Huffington will all be on the panel.

Smiley speaks exclusively to Niteside on what he hopes to accomplish with the nationally broadcasted conversation.

Why'd you decide to host America's Next Chapter here in D.C.?

I felt D.C. was the perfect place to come and address the country's issues, because it's the center of where everything happens in regards to politics. It's taking place on the eve of the president's address and almost at the halfway point of his second term.

Speaking of the president, why do you think the country is not as motivated as they were when they first elected him?

It's hard to keep people motivated when they don't have jobs. When people are constantly falling on hard times and trying to make it in an economy like this, they're not going to be happy.

A lot of people feel like you're harder on President Obama than you have been on any other president. Do you think that's true?

Absolutely not. If you watch any tapes from previous State of the Black Unions or any other discussions, we're hard on all the presidents. It's also not about being hard, but holding them accountable.

How does this conversation differ from the many you've had with State of the Black Union?

This is very different because when we have those conversations we're talking about African Americans and what a blue nation can learn from a bruised people. America's Next Chapter focuses are multicultural and features members of both parties on my left and right.

What excites you the most about America's Next Chapter?

I think the value of these conversations is that we get a chance to put stuff on the table that doesn't typically get there. There are all kinds of talk shows based in D.C., but what troubles me is that there are some issues that never get raised.

What do you hope people walk away with when they leave George Washington University on Thursday night?

I hope they're inspired and informed about America's Next Chapter.

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