Yes, Tavis Smiley will trade his tailored suits for a dance costume on Dancing With the Stars, but there is one thing he won’t be doing.
“You will not see me twerking,” he says. “Y’all can stop that nonsense,” he says. “I will not be looking like Emmit (Smith) with nothing shiny on. I will not be shirtless, I will not be twerking.”
Smiley says he asked producers for the worst people that have danced on the show – including Master P, Keyshawn Johnson and Billy Dee Williams. He says that at least encouraged him to believe that he could do better than they had. He’ll begin on the show on Monday night with partner Sharna Burgess.
One of the more interesting facts about his appearance on the show is that Smiley, who has 9 siblings, grew up in a strictly religious household that didn’t allow him to dance or listen to music. So his learning curve may be tougher than most contestants. According to The Washington Post, he couldn’t even attend his junior or senior proms.
In more serious news, Smiley recently penned a book (with biographer David Ritz) called Death of a King, which details the year of King’s life prior to his assassination in Memphis in 1968. The book is already in a second printing even though it’s just been released this week. Smiley says that’s a first out of the 17 books he’s written.
“It’s moving in part because there’s so much in the text that people don’t know about Dr. King. His three biographers… have done the heavy lifting and without their work I couldn’t have done this. But no book focuses on the last year of his life – April 4, 1967 to April 4, 1968 when he came out against the war on Vietnam, and moved from talking about civil rights to talking about the war in Vietnam to about what he called the triple threat of racism, poverty and militarism. And when that happened, everybody and everything turned against him.”
Smiley says both the Johnson administration, the media, including the Black media, and prominent African-Americans of the time denounced King because they felt his new focus would alienate them from The White House that had enacted significant civil rights legislation like the Voting Rights Act.
“If you really want to know who Martin is, look at how he stood in his truth when everything turned against him,” says Smiley. “That’s why this last year we don’t know anything about is so critical.”
Click the link above to hear the entire interview!