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Smiley Convenes Dialogue on America's Future

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By Dorothy Rowley, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers –

Public Broadcasting Service personality Tavis Smiley is on a mission to help America hold on to its legacy as a global leader.

After suffering through two costly wars, a faltering economy, failing public education, and continued job losses, Americans are worried about the country’s ability to hold on to its greatness, according to Smiley.

To zero in on these and other problems, Smiley recently brought his nationally-televised town hall meeting format to the nation’s capital with a group of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-racial panelists to ponder America’s future.

The conversation, which was held at George Washington University, was broadcast by C-SPAN on several occasions. The event followed Smiley’s lauded series of “State of the Black Union” presentations.

Prior to the event, Smiley told the AFRO that the dialogue—which brought together Democrats and Republicans—was about efforts to put the country back on the right track.

Citing a recent poll in which more than half of the Americans interviewed said they felt America’s better days are behind it, Smiley said, “it’s all just unacceptable.”

Smiley added that, as far as he knows there are no Black people who are better off today than they were two years ago, and said President Obama’s stimulus package should have been much larger.

“When he controlled the House and the Senate, he didn’t get a bigger package and he should have fought for that,” Smiley said of the president. However, stimulus funding from Washington has mostly been dished out to states when it should have gone straight to the cities to help alleviate poverty-in urban communities, according to Smiley.

As for the state of Black America, Smiley said. “This is our last chance to get it right…and if we can’t count on Barack Obama to help us get it, we’re in trouble.”

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