Television and radio commentator, social activist, and author, Tavis Smiley kicks off the Festival with style, as President Walter Kimbrough's final 2012 Bless the Mic speaker at Philander Smith College. Smiley has authored 14 books. His memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, became a New York Times best seller, and the book he edited, Covenant with Black America, became the first nonfiction book by a black-owned publisher to reach #1 on the New York Times' best-sellers list. His new book with Cornel West, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, will be released in April. No tickets or reservations are required, but we’d suggest you get there early.