Tavis Smiley

Tavis Smiley

From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders as a broadcaster, author, publisher, advocate, and philanthropist, Tavis Smiley continues to be an outstanding voice for change. He is currently host of the late-night television talk show, Tavis Smiley, on PBS and The Tavis Smiley Show, from Public Radio International (PRI). 

In 2007 he made television history as the moderator and executive producer of the All-American Presidential Forums on PBS, the first primetime television democratic and republican presidential debates with a panel exclusively comprised of journalists of color.

In addition to his radio and television work, Smiley has authored 14 books. His memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, became a New York Times best seller, and the book he edited, Covenant with Black America, became the first nonfiction book by a Black-owned publisher to reach number one on The New York Times’ best-sellers list.

An avid reader committed to presenting America with stories from many different voices, Smiley founded SmileyBooks as a co-publishing venture with Hay House, Inc. TIME magazine honored Smiley in 2009 as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People.” 

That same year Smiley released STAND, his first documentary film, which he directed, wrote, and produced. STAND shares the experiences of Smiley and 10 Black male friends during a special road trip through Memphis and Nashville. The friends explore the impact of the civil rights movement and the role and relationships of Black men in America against the backdrop of the 2008 presidential race and the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior’s assassination.

Smiley is the presenter and creative force behind America I AM: The African American Imprint, a traveling museum exhibition that is touring the country for four years, celebrating the extraordinary impact of African American contributions to our nation and the world.

Smiley’s most gratifying accomplishments are rooted in his passion to inspire the next generation of leaders. The nonprofit Tavis Smiley Foundation was established to provide leadership training and development for youth. Since its inception more than 6,000 young people have participated in the foundation’s “Youth to Leaders” training workshops and conferences.

His communications company, The Smiley Group, Inc., is dedicated to supporting human rights and related empowerment issues and serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums, and the Internet.

Smiley’s achievements have earned him numerous awards and honorary doctorate degrees, including one from his alma mater, Indiana University. In 2009 Indiana University named the atrium of its School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) building “The Tavis Smiley Atrium.” Smiley is also the recipient of the prestigious Du Bois Medal from Harvard University and the 2009 Interdependence Day Prize from Demos in Istanbul, Turkey.