Tavis Smiley’s ‘Standing’ on Faith

Book documents accountability, courage of blacks


As it seemed that America was about to do the seemingly impossible – elect an African American man president – broadcaster Tavis Smiley and 10 black male friends took an intense introspective journey to Memphis and Nashville in the summer of 2008 to discuss the state of race relations, politics, and the legacy of the civil rights movement.

The result of that road trip is “Stand,” a documentary directed by Smiley that analyzes what their and our responsibilities and duties as a people are to better the situations and opportunities of black men in our local and national communities.

Smiley says he made “Stand” as a message of empowerment for Black men to realize the kind of relationships that we can and should to have with each other. And for people outside the black community, he hopes the film will bring them understanding to celebrate the intellect, humanity, soul, and spirit of black men.

The documentary opens in Memphis during the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Smiley’s group — including Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Eddie Glaude, Dick Gregory, and Wren Brown – conclude their trip through Tennessee in Nashville, stopping along the way at rich, history-filled landmarks that in some way or other resonate with the travelers.

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