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Ending poverty town hall meeting

Tavis Smiley speaks at poverty town hall meeting in L.A.
Tavis Smiley speaks at poverty town hall meeting in L.A.
Tony Hicks

Thursday Tavis Smiley convened a multidisciplinary panel of experts to talk about poverty. The town hall meeting was held at the California Endowment Foundation in downtown Los Angeles; and is part of the Tavis Smiley Foundation’s four year initiative, that will include holding other such meetings across the country.

It was stated that L.A. County is the most populous in the state, and has the highest rate of poverty among Californians. The panel agreed that much work has to be done to deal with the inequity of resources in education, housing, health care, employment, and other areas for much of the population living in the greater Los Angeles area, and other like populations in our nation.

One tool that Tavis and his foundation team will utilize to engage the public around the issue of poverty is an app called Ending Poverty: America’s Silent Spaces where people can tell their own stories, and provide solutions to alleviating poverty in our communities.

Some comments that panelists made in regards to poverty was that “a number of studies link poverty to higher levels of diseases, schools lack investment of resources for students and families, and for too many of those living in poverty - work is not even a way out of poverty.” Tavis told the audience that one day while speaking to celebrity financial advisor Suze Orman she said that “there is a highway into poverty….but not even a sidewalk out.” What a powerful statement!

Tavis said that his four year campaign across the country will mainly focus on solutions – since so much effort has already been put into documenting the causes of poverty. He said that some of our great past leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Martin Luther King Jr. all led great efforts to alleviate poverty, and those of us still here need to continue the fight.

This writer believes that ensuring California’s new school funding system, LCFF/LCAP is adequately monitored by local communities is critical to alleviating poverty.

I also briefly re-introduced myself to Tavis after the meeting…. I used to be his cameraman back in the early 90’s when he used to dash from his radio show in L.A. to report the news on cable T.V. in Compton….wow those were the days.

The town hall will air on PBS in a couple of weeks. For more info: go to

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