Cover image for Doing what's right : how to fight for what you believe-- and make a difference
Doing what's right : how to fight for what you believe-- and make a difference
Smiley, Tavis, 1964-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, [2000]

Physical Description:
144 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BJ1451 .S66 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BJ1451 .S66 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Black Entertainment Television (BET) talk show host Tavis Smiley, in an impassioned call to arms, sets forth the tools we can use to stand up for what we believe in and help transform our communities, our lives, and our world. Tavis Smiley isn't alone in pointing out that our neighborhoods are unsafe, our communities are unraveling, and our most basic values--civility, a sense of justice, integrity, and responsibility--are under attack, from the Oval Office to the corner office. But we don't have to put up with a world gone awry, claims Smiley. We don't need to play the blame game. We are neither helpless nor victims. InDoing What's Right, Smiley shows how each and every one of us can take up arms against complacency and fight for the causes in which we believe. We don't have to accept things as they are. By choosing the battles that matter most to us, and organizing a plan to bring about the changes we feel are necessary, we can make a difference--in fact we can transform the world around us. Smiley knows whereof he speaks--it was his lifelong determination to make a difference that helped shape Smiley's career, first as a member of former L.A. mayor Tom Bradley's staff, helping to fight for the rights of residents in South Central, and later in radio and television. He has long been known as a powerful advocate of social and political issues. Through his nightly television show and in his radio commentaries, he has helped to galvanize public opinion and initiate national grassroots campaigns on everything from corporate responsibility to voter turnout. For everyone who wants to be a voice for change,Doing What's Rightis a must-read. Visit the author's website at or In DOING WHAT'S RIGHT, Smiley shows how each and every one of us can take up arms against complacency and fight for the causes in which we believe. We don't have to accept things as they are. By choosing the battles that matter most to us, and organizing a plan to bring about the changes we feel are necessary, we can make a difference--in fact we can transform the world around us. Smiley knows whereof he speaks--it was his lifelong determination to make a difference that helped launch his career in radio and television. And through his advocacy of issues on his nightly television show and in his radio commentaries, Smiley persuaded Christie's auction house to change its policies on selling slave artifacts, and encouraged President Clinton to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Rosa Parks. For everyone who wants to be a voice for change, DOING WHAT'S RIGHT is a must-read. -->

Author Notes

Tavis Smiley is the host of "Bet Tonight with Tavis Smiley," a one-hour nightly talk show that reaches fifty-five million households. He has interviewed everyone from Bill Clinton to Pope John Paul II, from Fidel Castro to Bill Cosby. In addition, Smiley's political and social commentary is heard daily on "The Tom Joyner Morning Show," a national radio program with a listenership of seven million. Smiley is one of the most celebrated newscasters and commentators in America. He divides his time between Washington and Los Angeles.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

In this commentary, TV talk show host Smiley points out that because our neighborhoods are unsafe, our communities are falling apart, and our most basic values are being destroyed by the Oval Office, we should stand up and take action for those causes we believe in. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Why We Need Advocates To let the politicians and the social indicators tell it, these are absolutely the best of times in the United States, the most prosperous society in the world. The economy is booming. Jobs abound. Crime is down. Unemployment is at a thirty-year low, the Dow is at an all-time high. More Americans own their own homes than ever before. Other factors that speak to quality of life--college enrollment, birthrates, salaries, consumer purchases--are also on the upswing. But beneath these good vibes and good times lies a dark underbelly of despair, for America's problems are more serious than we want to believe. Our economy is booming, but a number of countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America have had serious problems which could eventually hit home with us. Jobs are abundant, but the majority of them either require advanced technical skills or are service-industry positions that barely pay a livable wage--hardly a choice for unskilled people who are leaving the welfare rolls to join the workforce. We are not certain that Social Security or Medicare will survive long enough to take care of the huge baby boom generation. Crime is down, but violent crime is up, especially among juveniles, and the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, basically rendering the jailed useless to the rest of society. Blacks and Hispanics remain less likely than whites to secure a home mortgage. And the Dow is hardly a barometer for measuring the heartbreak of those who are wondering where their next meal is coming from. We can continue to ignore these unsolved problems, or pay short shrift to them, but if we do, they will remain with us well into the new millennium. They will worsen and foster an environment for new problems, creating a burden for our children and grandchildren. We had heady prosperity during the 1980s too. But we chose to live for the day. We ran up huge debts on our credit cards, financed ourselves to the hilt, and got in way over our heads. We ran up huge debt on the nation's credit cards as well, creating massive federal budget deficits that were creeping toward the trillions of dollars. Then we crashed and burned. We ended the eighties in a recession. Now, ten years later, things are good again. But we may be setting ourselves up for another crash-and-burn. Indeed, as I write this book, President Bill Clinton and the Republicans are at war over what to do with a federal budget surplus. The Republicans were pushing a plan to cut taxes by billions of dollars, while the president argued that the GOP tax cut would rob safety-net social programs of much-needed cash. Right now, America is experiencing an erosion of values in its communities. There is an increasing sense of isolation in neighborhoods, as more of us simply pass through on our way from one city to the next and fewer of us truly get to know the family next door. Militia groups attack our government as an entity; indeed they work to destroy our government. They don't value patriotism as we know it--they think they are being patriotic by rejecting, in the name of constitutionally protected personal freedoms, everything the United States stands for. We watched millions of people die in Rwanda and Bosnia and did virtually nothing to stop those slaughters. Instead, we debated whether we needed to get involved in such conflicts because the United States can't police the world. Increasingly, holding elective office has become more about raising money than raising issues, where serving private interests becomes more important than serving the public good. We used to greet new neighbors with fresh-baked pies. Today we greet them with laws that demand disclosure of whether they are sex offenders. All of these things converge to turn the Internet, a concept that was meant to revolutionize our society, into an arena that offers up some of the worst around us: hatespeak, child pornography, sedition. We want the advances the Internet and its associated technology bring, but the Internet also exposes some of the excesses that have become so much a part of our society. As people take up arms in anger, neither our workplaces nor our homes--as evidenced by the rise in domestic shootings--offer protection. Not even our schools and churches are safe. The rise in violence in our streets has become so commonplace that people have grown inured to it, until it takes place in their own backyards. Even the most jaded, however, were jolted by the killing spree in Littleton, Colorado, when two teenaged boys mowed down twelve of their high school classmates. It prompted all of us to question the level of violence we subject our children to through movies and television, and video games that allow them to kill, hit the reset button, and kill again. Three months later we were jolted again, when stock trader Mark O. Barton murdered his family and nine colleagues in Atlanta before killing himself. While values were eroding and these events began to unfold, we also experienced a fundamental loss of trust and integrity. This loss is especially felt when it comes to our elected officials. During the nineties, hardly a day went by without word of some public official falling from grace. We saw President Clinton, a married man, impeached and later acquitted for having a young female intern perform sex acts on him in the Oval Office. We saw the president's cabinet secretaries-Bruce Babbitt, Ron Brown, Henry Cis-neros, Hazel O'Leary, to name a few-paraded before grand juries and judges courtesy of investigations that never seemed to end. We saw Marion Barry, mayor of the nation's capital, led out of a hotel in handcuffs after smoking crack cocaine with a female friend (who was cooperating with authorities), complaining, "The b--- set me up.'' Later we saw Barry go to jail, then come out and get elected to his old job again. We saw a Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, brought up on ethics charges. Gingrich's would-be successor, Representative Bob Livingston (R-La.), was forced to resign from office before he could ever wield the Speaker's gavel because of allegations that Livingston had had an extramarital affair. Months after he left the House, we learned Gingrich, too, had a three-year extramarital affair with a female Capitol Hill aide. The guilt or innocence of these folks is not the issue. The fact is that we no longer trust our leaders and politicians. It has cast a pall over the many politicians doing the right things, who are working for the good of society. Excerpted from Doing What's Right: How to Fight for What You Believe--and Make a Difference by Tavis Smiley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1. Why We Need Advocatesp. 1
2. How I Did Itp. 10
3. What Are You Waiting For? Why People Don't Advocatep. 31
4. Pick Your Hillsp. 42
5. Know What You're Talking Aboutp. 61
6. Don't Fight Harder, Fight Smarterp. 79
7. Contributing--Putting Your Two Cents Inp. 95
8. Go Tell It on the Mountainp. 115
9. Never Give Upp. 122
Advocacy: A Case Studyp. 129