Tavis Smiley, host of the “Tavis Smiley,” PBS television talk show and the“The Tavis Smiley Show,” which airs on Public Radio International, is in Atlanta today as part of his “One Great Idea Tour.” He will record his show at Georgia Public Broadcasting’s studios in front of a live audience. The episode will air at 11 p.m. tonight on GPB.
“We’re traveling across the country to try to discover great ideas that are happening in cities that the nation at large should be aware of,” Smiley told the AJC during a phone interview. Other tour stops included Cleveland, where the conversation focused on making high-quality pre-k programs available to all, and a program in Milwaukee that makes a two-year associates degree at technical colleges tuition-free.
Here in Georgia, the conversation will focus on criminal justice reforms.
“The state of Georgia is becoming a model for reforming criminal justice,” Smiley said. “There’s so much talk these days in the era of Black Lives Matter. Prisons are like warehouses for black men in the state of Georgia.”
Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, known for his work with the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council and Drug Courts, will join Smiley during the GPB taping. Boggs made news a couple of years ago, after the White House informed Georgia’s U.S. Senators that President Barack Obama would not re-nominate Boggs to a federal judgeship next year, after Democrats blocked him for socially conservative stances he took in the past.
Smiley’s show will focus on issues like rethinking sentencing guidelines, the programs available to prisoners to help them rehabilitate and prepare to reenter society in a productive way, and support for people post-release, not past political squabbles.
“The city of Atlanta and state of Georgia is starting to lead the way,” he said. “There are programs that support these men and women when they get out (of prison).”
He enjoys hitting the road and especially visiting Atlanta.
“There’s such a great value in getting out of the studio, meeting the persons who watch the show,” he said. “That interaction with the audience is always a beautiful thing. I’m always learning things.”
Smiley’s brother is a Morehouse grad and his nephew is currently a student, making trips to Atlanta something of a homecoming.
“I’m always looking for any excuse to come to Atlanta,” he said. “I love the city.”