Cliff West

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Tavis Smiley film a journey of Black men and cultural crossroads — Stand a soul-music-filled road trip through Civil Rights Movement during 2008 Obama campaign



By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


In 2008, broadcaster Tavis Smiley assembled a cross-generational core group — Dick Gregory, Michael Eric Dyson, brothers Cornel and Cliff West, Eddie Glaude, Jr., two college-age young men and others — for “an old-fashioned road trip” across Tennessee that started in Nashville and ended on the balcony outside Room 306 of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. America also watched a Black man win his party’s presidential nomination during the same time as Smiley’s trip. “Here you have this young Black man [then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama] making his move toward the White House at the same time we are commemorating the 40th anniversary of King’s assassination; that crossroads was intriguing and interesting to me,” Smiley recalls in a recent phone interview with the MSR about Stand, a documentary he directed. It first premiered on TV One in May 2009, and also has been shown multiple times on the Documentary Channel, a channel primarily available on satellite, during March and April of this year. The historic summer of 2008 prompted him “to bring my boys together, to spend some time together, trying to figure out what we make out of this moment,” continues Smiley. Continue Reading →

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