by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West
Record unemployment and rampant corporate avarice, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunities in an increasingly paralyzed nation-these are the realities of 21st-century America, land of the free and home of the new middle class poor. Award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, one of the nation's leading democratic intellectuals, co-hosts of Public Radio's Smiley & West, now take on the "P" word-poverty.
The Rich and the Rest of Us is the next step in the journey that began with "The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience." Smiley and West's 18-city bus tour gave voice to the plight of impoverished Americans of all races, colors, and creeds. With 150 million Americans persistently poor or near poor, the highest numbers in over five decades, Smiley and West argue that now is the time to confront the underlying conditions of systemic poverty in America before it's too late.
By placing the eradication of poverty in the context of the nation's greatest moments of social transformation- such as the abolition of slavery, woman's suffrage, and the labor and civil rights movements-ending poverty is sure to emerge as America's 21st -century civil rights struggle.
As the middle class disappears and the safety net is shredded, Smiley and West, building on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., ask us to confront our fear and complacency with 12 poverty changing ideas. They challenge us to re-examine our assumptions about poverty in America-what it really is and how to eliminate it now.
From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders, broadcaster, author, advocate, and philanthropist continues to be an outstanding voice for change. Tavis Smiley is currently the host of the late-night television talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS, and The Tavis Smiley Show distributed by Public Radio International (PRI).
Smiley has authored or edited 14 books including his memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, which became a New York Times bestseller. The book he edited, Covenant with Black America, became the first nonfiction book by a Black-owned publisher to reach #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. His latest book, Accountable: Making America As Good As Its Promise, examines hard-hitting truths about the issues our country faces; and addresses how our political leaders, corporations, and finally, American citizens themselves, can enforce accountability and effect change.
Educator and philosopher Dr. Cornel West is the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. Known as one of America's most gifted, provocative, and important public intellectuals, Dr. West has won numerous awards, including the American Book Award, and has received more than 20 honorary degrees. His best-selling book Race Matters (1993), which has sold over 400,000 copies, changed the course of America's dialogue on race, justice, and democracy; and his book Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (2004) was a #11 New York Times bestseller. His writings, along with his frequent lectures, have brought him widespread attention and honors.