Smiley, Sharpton Spar Over Black Agenda, Obama • A debate ignited yesterday over America’s black agenda between Rev. Sharpton and Tavis Smiley.
• In a commentary on "The Tom Joyner Morning Show," Tavis Smiley, host of "Tavis Smiley" on PBS, announced plans for a discussion in Chicago on March 20 entitled "We Count: The Black Agenda is the American Agenda."
• As part of his comments on the TJMS, he said:
“Over the past few weeks a chorus of Black leaders have started singing a new song. I must have missed that choir rehearsal, because I don’t know the words to this new hymn. The President doesn’t need a Black agenda, they sing. He’s not the president of Black America, he’s the president of all America, and he need not focus specifically on the unique challenges Black America is facing, they sing... I know “What’s going on.” I know “We shall overcome,” but I don’t know this new tune, the president doesn’t need a Black agenda…We have asked some of these lyricists to show up who apparently wrote this new song to explain why they penned these words. It’s time for a choir rehearsal so that we all are singing from the same page...Do we think we can give President Obama a pass on black issues and somehow, when he is no longer in office, resurrect the moral authority to hold future presidents accountable to our concerns?”
• Smiley’s concerns were based on comments published in an article and a recent meeting between Pres. Obama, Sharpton, NAACP Pres. Ben Jealous and National Urban League Pres. Marc Morial to discuss the jobs bill.
• In the afternoon, Smiley called in to Sharpton’s radio talk show; Sharpton said while he, Morial and Jealous talked with Obama, the focus was on getting aid to the communities with the greatest need, and many of those communities have a majority black population with high unemployment.
“We didn’t ask for a race bill because we didn’t think it would pass. We asked for a grace bill, where jobs would go to where people are impacted.”