Tavis Smiley Book Signing

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Tavis Smiley was in Dallas on Saturday to promote his latest book What I Know For Sure, which is his 10th.  The book is semi-autobiographical and details his upbringing, and some of the lessons he has learned along the way.  Tavis stopped by Friendship-West Baptist Church where he delivered a 45 minute talk describing some of the events in the book and encouraging who he calls "black folks" to love one another.  He moved the crowd with his account of a particularly rough period in his life where a former pastor wrongly accused him and his sister; resuling in their father physically abusing them over the misunderstanding.

I must admit Tavis Smiley is one of my favorite authors, and his book Doing What's Right has served as an inspiration for my community advocacy.  I spoke with him briefly after his talk and he said "…more (African-Americans) need to get into blogging."

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The theme of Smiley's message on Saturday could be summed up as LOVE. He asked why African-Americans have abandoned what we already know, that love wins.  And the highlight of the speech came when he asked, "What ever happened to the notion of love in the public discourse?"It was here that Tavis honed in on the so-called War on Terrorism.  Here he asked how does one have a war on an ism, as opposed to a war on a terrorist.  He suggested that America use Black America as a model on how to deal with terrorist.  He used three poignant examples to illustrate this point. 

1.  Mamie Till-Mobley 

Tavis sited how Ms. Mobley chose to deal with the terrorist who murdered her 14 year old son Emmett Till in Mississippi.  Ms. Mobley allowed Ebony magazine to take photos of Emmett's face, which had grown to five times its size due to the lynching.  In spite of this, Smiley quoted Ms. Mobley has having said, "I don't have a minute to hate."

2.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here he used Dr. King's eulogy of the Four Little Girls killed by terrorists in the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.  Tavis noted that this is the only time that Dr. King was recorded crying.  He cried as he pondered the text of the eulogy that was taken from the lesson the girls were studying at the time of the attack: LOVE

3.  Nelson Mandela

In his final point, Smiley used the example of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that was established by Mandela's Government of National Unity in South Africa.  Perpetrators guilty of any and all atrocities during the apartheid era were able to come before the TRC and petition for amnesty.  If the crimes were politically motivated and the petitioner told the entire and whole truth, amnesty was granted.  That's love.

The book signing was sponsored in part by Ms. Emma Rodgers and Black Images Book Bazaar.  After signing his last book, Tavis dashed out as quickly as he had come, but his words lingered for the rest of the day.  He mentioned that his 2007 State of Black America event will be held in Jamestown, Virginia, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the African's arrival on the American continent as slaves.

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