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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!

Check out this season’s Dancing With The Stars cast here. 

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3 thoughts on “Tavis Smiley Talks New Book, No Twerking Rule On ‘DWTS’

  1. aletheat on said:

    Tavis Smiley best selling author, and host of television and radio released his latest book, Death Of A King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year. Starting with the introduction, he goes into much detail about how Dr. King had such a positive affect on his life. ”As a young boy growing up in a trailer park in rural Indiana, my initial encounter with the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. altered the very course of my life”. Then he moves on to say that his goal in writing this book is to answer one simple question, what kind of man had King become? In addition, he laid out his purpose, which was to convince the reader, that even though King was vilified during that last year he fought on tirelessly against racism, poverty, and militarism. At the end of the introduction, Smiley reminds us that King’s vision is still unfulfilled and should demand our attention even to this day. This is just before his disclaimer about the generous amount of interpretations, and calling Dr. King ‘Doc’ throughout the book as King’s friends did. After laying out his goal and intention Smiley, seem to fall incredibly short of accomplishing them. For example, the first chapter sets the stage and covers King’s April 4, 1967 speech on the war in Vietnam. Smiley tries to convey King’s innermost thoughts before, in between, and after a string of quotes from the entire speech. This style of writing quote after quote followed by an interpretation and his continue reference to Dr. King, as ‘Doc’ sets a tone of distracting rhetoric throughout the book. And does not really offer a newer look at King’s persona. It was also interesting that Smiley had 16 pages of bibliography. Naming sources that aided him in his research, interviews, TheKingCenter.Org Archives, web and online sites, videos, text, and newspaper and magazine articles but at no point cited them throughout the book. Instead of giving tribute to a man that Smiley said had such a positive impact on his life, he seem to merely string together quotes from King speeches inserting his interpretations that supported his own ideology. The Real Story of King’s Final Year seem to fall more on the side of what Smiley believed along with what we all knew that King was vilified in that final year. When observing history and historical figures one should remember that there is no ‘The Truth’ but ‘A Truth’ and even ‘Multiple Truths’ according to the evidence presented. Presenting the facts as they were and leaving it up to the reader to decide might have been beneficial to everyone in understanding a man that represented so much of America’s history. We should all be vigilant in embracing and protecting our history from exaggerates and distortions that could be used for profit and gain. History is the only thing we have to observe objectively and build on so that we can create a better future.

  2. Prophetic Imagination on said:

    Tavis Smiley has to feel a measure of vindication every time Don Lemon opens his mouth on the TJMS. Don Lemon sets Black folk back about 400 years with each commentary. I have gotten to the point where I turn my radio down when that asshole starts talking.

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