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George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, November 10, 2003

Radio commentator Tavis Smiley to present annual Neal-Marshall SPEA Public Policy Lecture

Tavis Smiley, a popular radio personality, political commentator, motivational speaker, book author and Indiana University alumnus, will present a lecture at IU Bloomington's School of Public and Environmental Affairs on Nov. 21.

Smiley, the first African American to host his own signature talk show on National Public Radio and host of The Smiley Report on the ABC Radio Network, will speak at 4 p.m. in the atrium of Willkie Auditorium, which is located at 150 N. Rose Ave. He will present the annual Neal-Marshall SPEA Public Policy Lecture. The lecture is free and open to the public. A title will be announced later.

The Neal-Marshall SPEA Public Policy Lecture series was established in honor of Marcellus Neal and Frances Marshall, the first male and female African Americans, respectively, to graduate from IU. Previous speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Roger Wilkins, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., and Jackson, Miss., Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr.

Many may know Smiley from his former television talk show, BET Tonight, and from his twice-weekly appearances on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. He is the author of six books, including Keeping the Faith: Stories of Love, Courage, Healing and Hope from Black America (Doubleday, 2002), a collection of narratives about love, loss and faith by African Americans from all walks of life.

A former resident of Kokomo, Ind., Smiley previously was a top aide to former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley. He has provided analysis on C-SPAN, NBC's Today show and ABC News' World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. He earned a bachelor of science in public affairs from IU.

Smiley also is the founder of the Tavis Smiley Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage, empower and enlighten black youth. Youth to Leaders, the cornerstone program of the foundation, is an annual series of one-day leadership-building conferences that take place in cities across the United States.

The lecture is sponsored by SPEA and the Neal-Marshall Alumni Association. It also is being presented by the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, the Black Graduate Student Association, the Black Student Union, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Black Faculty and Staff Council.