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Solid Gold Soul

September 21, 2009

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TAVIS CUTS WELLS FARGO LOOSE

Tavis Smiley

Tavis Smiley

Tavis Smiley has severed all ties to Wells Fargo in the wake of criticism that the bank targeted African American borrowers for subprime mortgages by using trusted black speakers to woo victims to a series of day-long “Wealth Building” seminars in black neighborhoods.

Eight cities across the country hosted such gatherings, which were promoted heavily in black media and featured such prominent African Americans as Smiley, host of his own PBS talk show, as well as Kelvin Boston, the host of multicultural financial affairs show “Moneywise.”

In the seminars, Smiley praised Wells Fargo and encouraged attendees to seriously consider real estate investments, according to Mary Kane writing for the Web site Washington Independent, a project of the Center for Independent Media. In seminars held after Hurricane Katrina, Smiley also emphasized the importance of building assets and wealth, saying those who had had done so were able to leave New Orleans, while those with nothing had to stay behind, Kane wrote.

Wells Fargo was also a sponsor of Smiley’s radio show on Public Radio International, and underwrote the annual C-Span-televised “State of the Black Union” conference that Smiley organizes.

The column Journal-Isms is reporting that Smiley, on Friday, announced that his relationship with Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc has ended.


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