Tavis Smiley used to be a contributor on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Twice a week he would offer his opinion on all things black related. He was an oracle in the community until he took on Barack Obama. Smiley said he wanted to hold candidate Obama accountable and that would have been fair until Smiley crossed into Obama bashing. he left the show but his assualt against the president has been ongoing. Sunday Smiley wrote an editorial below where he laid out his contention that the president is not the MLK embodiment of the dream. That’s fair, but Smiley is not either. Tom Joyner reently said “What do many Republicans, the spokesmen for NRA and Tavis Smiley have in common? Once they start down a road, no matter how dangerous or ridiculously wrong it is, they won’t turn back.” Joyner went on to say “I believe that Tavis is the one fascinated with Dr. King’s legacy, but more importantly Tavis is fascinated with his own legacy, and that’s not good. He wants more than anything to be remembered the way Dr. King was, and to some how make that kind of mark on the world. Dr. King wasn’t concerned about how he would be remembered, he was concerned with doing good and doing right. In the end, that made him great. Tavis has done a lot of good things but his obsession with becoming great is destroying him. The whole issue with the inscription on the King Memorial illustrates the differences between Tavis and Dr. King. Days before he was killed, believing that death was imminent, Dr. King dealt with it publicly in his Drum Major speech. Dr. King knew good things would be said about him in death and he was humbled at the idea of it. Tavis is afraid of what will be said about him and it’s driving him crazy. He points out on the day of President Obama’s swearing in that the President is not the fulfillment of Dr.King’s dream, but maybe a good down payment. I wonder what that makes Tavis, and sadly, does he.” So is this just the latest scuffle between Tom and Tavis? Below you will find the complete text of the Tavis Smiley essay. Read it and share your thoughts.
Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as president tomorrow for a second term, on the holiday honoring the person I have long regarded as the greatest American this nation has ever produced. Obama will be in the foreground, but Martin Luther King, Jr. is the backdrop. I’ve heard people exclaim that President Obama is the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream. Well, not exactly. Obama might be a good down payment, but he is not the fulfillment of King’s dream. We’re still a long way away from that. The interrelated triple threat of poverty, militarism and racism that King talked about still looms large in a yet-deeply-divided America. In the spirit of MLK, it’s time for President Obama to deliver a major policy speech on the eradication of poverty in America. He ought to tell us how the richest nation in the history of the world is going to confront the scourge of poverty. In the spirit of MLK, President Obama should rethink the random use of his favorite weapon – the unmanned aerial vehicle, better known as “drones,” which have killed too many innocent women and children. In the spirit of MLK, President Obama should not continue to feel boxed in by his blackness, but feel liberated in a second term to find ways to push back on the most intractable issue in America — racism. The president wants to channel King so badly that he’s decided to use Dr. King’s Bible at the inauguration ceremony tomorrow. Obama is a politician, and a pretty good one, but King was a prophet. And while I can appreciate the president’s fascination with King’s legacy of unarmed truth and unconditional love, I’m feeling some sort of way about King being used symbolically for public pomp and circumstance, but disregarded substantively when it comes to public policy. Our future as a nation depends on how seriously we take the legacy of Dr. King: Justice for all, service to others, and a love that liberates people. For all the dysfunction that our country is exhibiting at the moment, Dr. King reminds us that the time is always ripe to do right. We should never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.