Instead of holding the president accountable to the black agenda outlined in the covenant, he has chosen to embrace the president's more pragmatic, racially nonspecific political agenda. Whatever the case, I understand Smiley's disappointment with certain black Americans, given the fact that so many of the individuals who pledged with him to hold the president accountable have decided otherwise.But then I also understand why many blacks question Smiley's motives, given the reality that he didn't hold President Clinton or any other elected official to the same standard of criticism that he's held President Obama.Moreover, this type of rhetoric attempts to reduce all of Smiley's years of service to this one political moment, which, in my view, is unfair and intellectually dishonest.I am unashamedly a critical supporter of the president, but my support of the president has never once diminished my respect for the work of Tavis Smiley (or his partner in protest, Dr. I have been able to hold in tension the fact that President Obama has been forced to govern from the political center (and in some cases right of center) due to the ridiculously partisan chicanery of those who claim to represent us in Washington.Since this time Tavis Smiley and many black Americans have been engaged in what can only be described as a lovers' quarrel.
Certainly there were many blacks who never heard about or bought into the covenant movement. Just because you are our color don't make you our kind.
But, on the other hand, there were a significant number of black leaders and others who pledged to hold all presidential candidates in 2008 accountable to saying where they stand on the covenant policy initiatives. Al Sharpton was once a supporter of the "covenant coalition." At Smiley's 2007 "State of the Black Union" symposium in Jamestown, Virginia, Rev. Obama, said: [W]e cannot put our people's aspirations on hold for anyone's career, black or white. Obama, I would tell him, "Get every vote you can, but tell them where you stand. We want to know who you represent." As it turns out, Rev.
Sharpton has become an advisor to the president, but he's changed his tune substantially.
No matter whether he was providing social commentary on Tom Joyner's morning radio show or conducting interviews on his television talk show, Smiley's voice and views seemed to always find a large ready audience in the black community.
At the height of his popularity, Smiley hosted a highly celebrated, nationally televised "State of the Black Union" symposium that comedian Chris Rock once hilariously called "the annual black people listen meeting," which featured some of the best and brightest of the African-American community. Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president of the United States of America.
Smiley said he met with PBS executives and lawyers for three hours but was never informed of specific allegations.