Pictured is Tavis Smiley
By Editor-in-Chief Kathy Wray Coleman, a-24-year journalist who trained at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio for 17 years, and who interviewed now President Barack Obama one-on-one when he was campaigning for president. As to the Obama interview,
CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, CLEVELAND, Ohio- Tavis Smiley, the host of the late night nationally syndicated television talk show 'Tavis Smiley,' which airs weeknights at 11:30 pm on WVIZ/PBS and on other PBS stations across the country, and also on Sundays at 3:00 pm on 90.3 FM WCPN, was in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday, Dec. 7 , 2016.
He did an 11 am taping in Cleveland at WVIZ headquarters on Thursday, Dec 8 on the opiate and heroin crisis of Cuyahoga County.
The heroin crisis broadcast will include commentary from Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas judges and the legal system in general, including bail, feess and bias. It will run at 11:30 pm on Tues, Dec. 13 nd Wed. Dec. 14 on WVIZ/PBS public broadcast television and ran on Sunday Dec. 11 at 3 pm on WCPN ideastream 90.3 FM, a non-commercial educational radio station licensed to Cleveland.
Smiley and the judges will also take questions from the audience, organizers said.
Cleveland Urban News.Com Editor-in-Chief Kathy Wray Coleman ran into Smiley at G-Lancer 21, a Black-owned restaurant at East 21st Street and Superior Avenue in Cleveland on the city's east side that is owned and operated by George Dixon, who owned and operated the now defunct historic Lancer's Lounge and Bar in Cleveland, and Glenville High School Head Football Coach Ted Ginn Sr.
Coleman said the restaurant food at the Black-owned G- Lancer, including its fish dinners, is delicious.
Also a Cleveland-based community activist who leads the Imperial Women Coalition and a former Cleveland schools biology teacher of 13 years, Coleman was eating dinner and on a date with a male friend when Smiley entered the restaurant with two people, and she immediately asked what he was doing in town.
Smiley smiled and responded that "can't I come to Cleveland?"
Thereafter, he elaborated on the heroin crisis.
Coleman told Smiley that Cuyahoga County, which includes the largely Black major American city of Cleveland, had the highest rates of death from opiate and heroin abuse in August and September of 2016 in its history with some 52 deaths.
The heroin associated death toll is expected to reach 500 in Cuyahoga County by the end of this year, according to the office of the county medical examiner. And though Blacks are impacted, Whites are disproportionately affected, a scenario that raises questions on incoming state and federal resources that have been all but denied to the Black community relative to the ongoing crack cocaine crisis, critics say.
"I read that," said Smiley, regarding the county death toll this summer and the heroin crisis in Cuyahoga County reaching its highest point ever.
Coleman then asked Smiley where he was coming from.
"California," said Smiley in response. "And LeBron James' wife and a Kardashian were on the airplane with me."
When asked by Coleman his views on President-elect Donald Trump, Smiley reserved comment.
But Smiley has not held back on his disdain for Trump, a Republican whose policies and practices, including his recent cabinet picks, are traditionally contrary to the interests of Blacks, politically, economically, and otherwise.
And he has taken on Trump in public venues, usually on television and radio talk shows.
After Trump's stunning win over Hillary Clinton last month, Smiley said, regarding the election of the Republican nominee for president, that racism, sexism and classicism "received the GOP seal of approval."
In addition to his role as a talk show host, Smiley, 52 and Black, is an author, liberal political commentator, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Civil Rights activist who frequently tours the country with Dr. Cornel West, 63, a scholar and academician who, during his career, has held professorships at Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Union Theological Seminary, and the University of Paris.
West, like Smiley, is a brilliant Black orator and distinguished author.
He is best known for his oratory skills and his poplar book "Race Matters."
Smiley is a former commentator on the Tom Joyner Morning Radio Show and he and West have received slack from the Black community for their sometimes criticism of President Barack Obama, the first Black president of the United States of America.
Smiley and West have acted sparingly in their compliments of the president, and have, on several occasions, publicly criticized Obama.
They say the nation's first Black president should be more aggressive and outspoken in his fight for equal opportunity for the Black community.
While some may agree, their critics say that Obama's policies have helped the Black community and that as a a pro-Black president he is limited in what he can say and accomplish in a a still vividly racist America, particularly since both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are controlled by Republicans.
Smiley and West are Democrats as are most Blacks.
In his own defense Obama, also a loyal Democrat, has said that "we're not Democrats first, we're not Republicans first, we're Americans first."
Nonetheless, Smiley and West, and President Obama, are forces to recon with, say their supporters, and are strong Black men whose voices serve a purpose in the ongoing struggle for racial and economic equality for Black people.