As the presidential contest continues to be dominated by themes related to Mitt Romney’s personal wealth, two well-known radio and political personalities once again plan to bring national attention to economic injustice by announcing “The Poverty Tour 2.0.”
“The Poverty Tour 2.0” by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West will be on the road September 12–15, visiting four campaign battleground states: Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida, continuing the crusade to make the eradication of poverty a top priority in America—a clarion call to President Obama and Romney as the race for the White House heats up.
The pair behind the poverty effort are hosts of the nationally syndicated public radio program Smiley & West from Public Radio International.
“We expect that the forthcoming census data will reveal that poverty in America is not an abstraction; too many Americans are living hand to mouth,” says West. “Basic needs such as living-wage jobs, food, clothing, medicine, and shelter cannot be ignored by the major parties during the upcoming political conventions, or by their respective nominees on the campaign trail.”
In addition to discussing poverty on their weekly radio show Smiley and West say they have:
- Released the text, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto this past April, which debuted at #1 on The Washington Post Book World Best Sellers List and peaked at #7 on The New York Times Best Sellers List.
- Featured an all-woman panel focusing on the impact of poverty on women and children in America at “Made Visible: Women and Children in Poverty” on March 18, televised nationally on PBS, C-SPAN and PRI. The panel included Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten.
- Explored how to restore America’s prosperity in a live C-SPAN broadcast of “Remaking America: From Poverty to Prosperity” that included panelists such as Michael Moore, Suze Orman, and Barbara Ehrenreich on January 12.
- Examined the impact of the Great Recession on America’s poor in a white paper titled, “At Risk: America’s Poor During and After the Great Recession.” This paper served as a factual foundation for the original Poverty Tour and was released in collaboration with Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) on January 11. This white paper has since been expanded and will be published as a book, America’s Poor, this winter.
- Given voice to the plight of the poor during “The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience,” a week-long special television and radio series on both PBS and PRI that aired from Oct. 7–14, 2011.
- Revealed the new face of poverty with their national 18-city, 11-state “The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience” that began on Aug. 6, 2011.
According to last week’s Associated Press article, “Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty including in political battlegrounds [states]…”
During “The Poverty Tour 2.0,” Smiley and West will host free and open to the public, solution-providing town hall meetings that will broadcast live on multiple platforms including USTREAM, radio and social media. They will also upload podcasts. In addition to inviting local families, community organizers, job cooperatives, elected officials, war veterans, and religious leaders, the major presidential candidates will also be invited to participate.
“It is our intent that in the sprint from Labor Day to Election Day, poor people do not get trampled on or left behind,” says Smiley.