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Tavis Smiley: ‘State of The Black Union’
Published February 19, 2009

Returns to Where it all Began in L.A.

National television host and renown book author Tavis Smiley returns to the Southland for his 10th annual 'State of the Black Union' three days symposium beginning Feb. 24 and culminating on Feb. 28 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Smiley began his 'State of the Black Union' seminar to ignite dialogue for many of the ongoing challenges facing the African American community, but he had not a clue that his 10th anniversary would be on the heels of the inauguration of America's first Black President barrack Obama.

"Ten years ago we started on the eve of the Democratic Convention in which Al Gore was nominated," Smiley explained this week. "It wasn't anyplace on the agenda where Black thought leaders and opinion makers could have been brought together for this type of a national dialogue."

That event began with Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, actor and civil rights activist Danny Glover, civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., National urban league President Marc Morial, college president Julianne Malveaux, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, Princeton professor Cornel West and Los Angeles Sentinel executive publisher and community leader Danny J. Bakewell Sr.

All of the aforementioned will reconvene for the panel discussion on its decade celebration.

"We started it because of two reasons, one being that the president normally gives his state of the union speech in January and we wanted to do the event in February because of Black History month," Smiley stated.

"The President normally left us out during his speech and did not address many issues that are important to us so we felt it important that we began to address issues affecting us on our own."

The goal then was to help Black American better and all of America better and this year's theme is right in sync with the election of President Obama, "Making American As Good As Its Promise."

Smiley's three day event will begin with 'An Evening with Tavis Smiley' on Tuesday Feb. 24 at the University of Laverne, then on Friday Feb. 27 will be Young Scholars Forum at the University of Southern California Bovard Auditorium, and the finale will be 'State of the Black Union: Making America As Good As Its Promise."

It has become the preeminent conversation of thought leaders and Black opinion makers throughout the nation and will be televised on C-Span at 8 a.m. local time.

Admission for the concluding event on Feb. 28 is free to the public on a first come first serve basis and doors open at 6:30 a.m.


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