Smiley and West: Still Fighting for the Poor

Smiley and West: Still Fighting for the Poor

A new book by the duo tries to make poverty an issue for the 2012 election.

Published April 25, 2012

If there's any doubt that the economic crisis persists, consider the takeaways from recent headlines: The official unemployment rate remains 8.2 percent. One in six Americans -- nearly 52 million people -- receives food stamps, even as Republican legislators in Washington and state capitals push austere cuts to social programs.

In a Gallup survey released Monday, two-thirds of Americans say they know someone who has been laid off in the last six months -- the highest share in the venerable polling firm's history. But the biggest takeaway is this: The gap between the rich and poor in the United States is not only worsening; it's also greater than those in many other countries. Few people are connecting the dots.

Enter The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto — a richly insightful, slightly academic book released this month by talk-show host Tavis Smiley and professor Cornel West. The two men have been friends for 25 years. The current book project was born last summer during the duo's 18-city Poverty Tour, which extended from a Native American reservation in Minnesota to Appalachia and Washington, D.C. The tour came just as the Congressional Black Caucus launched a series of job fairs.

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(Photo: UPI/Jim Ruymen/Landov)

Written by Steven Gray,


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