Tavis Smiley: Obama 'Should Have' Mentioned Black Lives Matter At State Of The Union

"This president has always had a tedious and interesting relationship with race."

President Obama remained hopeful at his State of the Union address on Tuesday, touting success on job growth and health care and referencing the national conversation surrounding police violence and racial issues.  

The one problem? He never actually said "black lives matter."

Tavis Smiley called out the misstep on HuffPost Live on Wednesday and said Obama "should have" directly mentioned the growing Black Lives Matter movement. Smiley said he wished Obama would have broken through his "tedious" relationship with race and gone further than merely evoking the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech.

"I want us to be King-like, not just to quote Dr. King," Smiley told host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. "Fifty years ago. King warned we were going to lose this democracy if we didn't get serious about the triple threat facing America. What is that triple threat? Racism, poverty and militarism."

While the president's speech appeared to focus on cementing his legacy, "not enough has been done" on those key issues, Smiley said.

"The president, again, has accomplished a great deal given the obstruction he's been up against," he said. "But when you grade him on racism, poverty and militarism, it's a very different conversation."

Smiley pointed to the painfully ironic fact that police are rarely held accountable for the killing of black citizens, despite a black man's presence in the White House.

"The historians are going to have a difficult time trying to juxtapose how, in the era of the first black president, black boys and black men were being shot dead in the streets and it lead to the genesis of the Black Lives Matter movement," he said. "We've got black boys and black men and black women dying. So I don't know that we get a passing grade on race."

Watch Smiley discuss poverty and militarism above, and check out his full HuffPost Live interview here.

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