The Covenant with Black America

ISBN: 0883782774
ISBN 13: 9780883782774
By: Tavis Smiley

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About this book

Six years' worth of symposiums come together in this rich collection of essays that plot a course for African Americans, explaining how individuals and households can make changes that will immediately improve their circumstances in areas ranging from health and education to crime reduction and financial well-being. Addressing these pressing concerns are contributors Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. surgeon general; Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Angela Glover Blackwell, founder of the research think tank PolicyLink; and Cornell West, professor of Religion at Princeton University. Each chapter outlines one key issue and provides a list of resources, suggestions for action, and a checklist for what concerned citizens can do to keep their communities progressing socially, politically, and economically. Though the African American community faces devastating social disparities--in which more than 8 million people live in poverty--this celebration of possibility, hope, and strength will help leaders and citizens keep Black America moving forward.

Reader's Thoughts

Tracy Lewis

I think this is a real informational book for people to read. Especially if they have children and want them to be active in their communities, churches and be an all around good person.

Sava Hecht

African Americans who want to make a difference should definitely read this book. There is much to learn, and more than much to do to create economic parity.

Yasmine Jameson

I finished this book. It was an interesting read. Different persons in black america and their take on societal woes. But you have to read for yourself to make a decision. I finished this a while ago. I am just dating it current

D Kimbrew

Things you should have an idea about....

Michael Glover

Tavis painted a solid picture about the state of Black America and the information he discussed in this book was powerful!

Isaac Holloway


This book is a blue-print for ideas to solutions for social issues in the black community.


A great book for new ideas on improving the current state of African-Americans in the USA. Also gives great recommendations of other idea driven books for those interested in an overall change state here in this country.


This book was decent in my opinion. Tavis Smiley isn't my favorite person or my favorite writer, but his solutions to the issues Black America faces are doable - even if they are unlikely. I appreciate that there are still individuals who think about the problems in Black America and work to find solutions to them. The problem with works by writers like Smiley is that they never seem tor each the audiences to which they are directed. The book is a little repetitive - if you get to the end of each chapter you'll see what I'm talking about. This is definitely a great sociology book, especially if you're looking to do some research on Black America.


This was a very easy read. The compilation of essays highlighted some stark disparities between African Americans and White Americans that makes one think twice about whether it's time to do away with the labels and distinctions. Most helpful were the suggestions to both individuals and policy makers on the actions we can take to change things. The sobering statistics regarding familiar issues(healthcare, incarceration, college graduates) and not so familiar issues (digital divide, plight of rural Black America, and environmental justice) helps the reader become more aware of the current state of affairs. If everyone was dedicated to make change in these 10 areas,we'd have a serious revolution on our hands. And perhaps we could move on to things that weren't addressed in the book - the war on drugs and the growing scarcity of the two parent household.


Covenant propounds ten issues critical to the African American community with an introduction to each issue by an expert in the area followed by detailed facts to support it, point-by-point recommendations on what leaders and individuals can do to help and, finally, some examples of successful projects addressing it. It's edited by Tavis Smiley and written in a very accessible style while including input from some of the most distinguished leaders and thinkers in the African American community. The presentation of some of the data seemed a little disingenuous to me, for instance citing a data point of the African American community without the context that might make it evident the problem is not limited to just the African American community. And so the tone of the book can seem a bit divisive and I definitely felt like an outsider looking in. Its disconcerting when a group as big and diverse as "African Americans" is presented as a unified block. Race in my world view is a mushy attribute - more of a continuum between black and white and anything else disturbingly harkens back to the "one-drop rule". The big "we" makes me wonder where along that continuum the author has drawn the line. But nonetheless research conducted comparing African Americans and other communities demonstrates undeniable differences and so all of these quibbles are inconsequential to the overall value of the book. Its clear that African Americans in this country have an incredibly difficult climb fraught with disadvantages at all levels. The data appears to overwhelming indicate that special focus needs to be paid to African American needs. But lest you walk away thinking that the problems are insurmountable, Covenant includes thoughtful, diverse and practical recommendations on what could be done to help and examples of existing successful projects that are making a difference.Covenant instills confidence that African Americans can attack key problems in their community if they pull their resources and work together towards a common goal. As a NY Times Bestseller its clear that the book is being read, but its more difficult to assess if the book has been successful at motivating readers to take action. No doubt it stands as a helpful resource that offers numerous ideas for leaders to start marshaling their own resources and campaigns in their local communities.


URL: see this diary on Daily Kos on Smiley's efforts to keep the pressure on the top GOP candidates for skipping this Thursday's GOP debate at Morgan State University (due to "scheduling conflicts"):


must read for black Americans and those who support a genuine racial equality.


Strong start to opening eyes to issues in America. Need to place action behind words to find success. Seeking more information from local gov. to make changes at the foundation!

Leigh Cross

A brilliant idea that doesn't quite pan out.

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