Tavis Smiley and Cornel West kick off “The Poverty Tour 2.0”, hits the road in four battleground states

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West kick off the tour in Ohio, September 12, coinciding with the release of a new U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty

Washington, DC (BlackNews.com) — The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to announce this Wednesday, September 12, that America’s poverty rate is the worst in 50 years. In light of the bureau’s latest findings, broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary, kick off “The Poverty Tour 2.0: A Call to Conscience” in Cleveland, OH.

The co-hosts of the nationally syndicated public radio program Smiley & West, from Public Radio International (PRI), hit the road September 12-15 to host six town hall events that are FREE and open to the public.

“The Poverty Tour 2.0,” sponsored in part by AARP Foundation and HuffPost Live, will visit the key battleground states of Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida. In addition, one town hall event will be held in the state of Delaware. Smiley and West intend to push the moderators of the upcoming presidential debates to ask the candidates about America’s poverty problem, and to urge legislators to support public policy and implement programs that will alleviate poverty.

“These new Census numbers will underscore what we’ve been saying for a long time – poverty is the new American norm,” said Smiley. “The time is now to force poverty on the agenda; our leaders can’t simply continue to be quiet on this issue.”

The six town halls – which will be broadcast LIVE to radio stations across the country via the Pacifica Network and Native Voice One, and which will also be streamed on HuffPost Live and USTREAM – will feature national and local leaders, activists organizing on the ground, and Americans struggling with poverty, sharing their personal stories and solutions. Audio of all six town halls will be available as podcasts, and highlights will be featured on Smiley & West over the next two weeks.

Confirmed guests include: Peter Edelman, former member of the Clinton administration and co-founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers; Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and former presidential candidate; Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH); Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH); Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA); Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH); and Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for president. All presidential and vice presidential candidates have been invited to participate.

“We’re putting the spotlight on our precious fellow citizens who don’t have access to a decent job, decent housing, and decent healthcare,” said West. “We want to hear solutions that can be duplicated and adapted in communities across the country.”

The tour schedule is: 10am-1pm, Wednesday, September 12, Westfield Insurance Studio Theater at Playhouse Square, Cleveland, OH; 5-7pm, Wednesday, September 12, Cuyahoga Community College, Highland Hills, OH; 10am-1pm, Thursday, September 13, T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria, VA; 8-10pm, September 13, Delaware State University, Dover, DE; 10am-1pm, Friday, September 14, Tenth Memorial Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA; and 12-3pm, Saturday, September 15, Franklin D. Roosevelt Middle School, West Palm Beach, FL.

“We are pleased to be teaming with ‘The Poverty Tour 2.0′ to help put the spotlight on the national disgrace of having over 46 million Americans living in poverty,” said Roy Sekoff, president and co-creator of HuffPost Live. “This is an issue that HuffPost Live is committed to covering, and we are happy to support Tavis Smiley and Dr. West’s efforts to make it an integral part of the national conversation.”

To follow “The Poverty Tour 2.0” or register to attend one of the four events, please visit: http://povertytour.smileyandwest.com and http://live.huffingtonpost.com. The official hashtag is: #ThePovertyTour.

About SMILEY & WEST, from Public Radio International (PRI)
The weekly program from PRI, Smiley & West, is co-hosted by two of America’s most influential public figures, noted broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Union Theological Seminary Professor Cornel West. The one-hour program features thought-provoking, intelligent, and stimulating conversations. Listen, engage, and discuss on smileyandwest.com or follow them on Twitter at @tavissmiley and @cornelwest.

About AARP Foundation
AARP Foundation is AARP’s affiliated charity. The Foundation is dedicated to serving vulnerable people 50+ by creating solutions that help them secure the essentials and achieve their best life. AARP Foundation focuses on hunger, housing, income, and isolation as its key mission areas. The Foundation envisions “a country free of poverty where no older person feels vulnerable.” Foundation programs are funded by grants, tax-deductible contributions, and AARP. For more information about AARP Foundation, please visit www.aarp.org/foundation.

About HuffPost Live
HuffPost Live offers viewers new ways to engage before, during and after programs, through a groundbreaking social video platform. HuffPost Live was co-created and developed by HuffPost’s founding editor Roy Sekoff, who serves as President of HuffPost Live. HuffPost Live streams 12 hours of original live programming, five days a week, available online, on mobile and on-demand. HuffPost Live’s studios are in NYC and LA with a Washington DC bureau. Watch HuffPost Live now at Live.HuffingtonPost.com.