Friday November 16, 2018
SNc Channels:

Search
About Salem-News.com

 

Jun-17-2013 22:44printcomments

Father's Day with Bill Cosby, an American Original

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante included Bill Cosby in the book, "The 100 Greatest African Americans."

Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby photo courtesy: 973thedawg.com

(WASHINGTON DC) - This Father's Day, I was invited by my son Burke and his fiancé Amelia to attend a performance by Bill Cosby at Wolftrap National Park for the Performing Arts in Northern Virginia. Cosby proclaimed himself "old"---soon to celebrate his 76th birthday---but he sat on stage for nearly three hours, without a break, and there was never s lull in the laughter.

Cosby is truly an American original. Born in Philadelphia, he and his family lived in the Richard Allen Homes, a low-income housing project. He started shining shoes at 9 and later found a job at a supermarket. Despite their hardships, Cosby's mother stressed the value of education and learning. She often read to Bill and his brothers, including the works of Mark Twain.

While a student at Temple University, he landed a job as a bartender at a coffee house. He told jokes there and eventually landed work filling in for the house comedian from time to time at a nearby club. The rest is history.

In 1965, when he was cast along side Robert Culp in the "I Spy" espionage series, he became the first African-American co-star in a dramatic series. At the beginning of the 1965 season, a number of stations declined the show. It quickly became a hit.


He later starred in his own sitcom, "The Bill Cosby Show" and was one of the major performers on the children's t.v. series "The Electric Company" and created the educational cartoon comedy series, "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" about a group of young friends growing up in the city.

During the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in "The Cosby Show," which aired eight seasons from 1984 to 1992. It was the number one show in America for five straight seasons (1985-89). The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African American family. In 1976, Cosby earned a Ph.d in Education from the University of Massachusetts. His dissertation discussed the use of "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" as a teaching tool in elementary schools.

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante included Bill Cosby in the book, "The 100 Greatest African Americans."

One thing Bill Cosby has little patience for is political correctness or the politics of racial polarization embraced by some in the black community.

In 2004, on the fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Cosby addressed three thousand of black America's elite at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Cosby called on black Americans to keep their self-help traditions alive. His speech challenged black Americans to take a hard look at poor parenting and the cultural rot preventing too many black children from throwing off the veil of ignorance covering them, including disproportionate fatherlessness, bad schools, high rates of unemployment, lives wasted in jails. In his talk, Cosby was critical of African Americans who put their priorities on sports, fashion and "acting hard" rather than on education, self-respect and self-improvement. He pleaded for black families to educate their children in many different aspects of American culture.


Speaking of the generation of civil rights leaders, be declared: "...these people opened doors, they gave us the rights. But today...in our cities we have fifty per cent dropout (rates among young black men) in our neighborhoods. We have (the highest percentage of any American racial group with) men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because (she is) pregnant without a husband. No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father..."

Cosby told his audience that the problems weighing down black America fifty years after the Brown decision, had nothing to do with white people or the racism of the past. "We can't blame white people," he said. "They've got to wonder what the hell happened....These people who marched and were hit in the face with rocks and punched in the face to get an education and today we got these knuckleheads walking around who don't want to learn English... These people are not funny any more, And that's not my brother. And that's not my sister. They're faking and they're dragging me down because the state, the city....have to pick up the tab because they don't want to accept that they have to study to get an education..."

The immediate reaction to Cosby that night was a standing ovation. Later, he came under attack from some in the civil rights establishment. The respected black journalist Juan Williams noted that, "Cosby had broken with the civil rights establishment's orthodoxy of portraying blacks as victims. That was the reason no other modern black leader or personality had previously pointed out the obvious problems bedeviling black America. Cosby had broken the code of silence."

Three weeks after he ignited the debate, Cosby kept a commitment to appear at the annual convention of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Speaking to the Chicago activists, Cosby responded to criticism that he had betrayed the black community by exposing problems of the black poor to the world: "Let me tell you something. Your dirty laundry gets out of school at two thirty every day. It's cursing and calling each other nigger as they walk up and down the street. They think they're hip. They can't read; they can't write. They're laughing and giggling and they're going nowhere."

When he was pressed about taking the pressure off white people and continued racism, he got fiery. This is the time to "turn the mirror around," he said. "Because for me it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in the hole you are sitting in." His words were greeted with thunderous applause.


Juan Williams writes that, "The essence of the negative behavior he was railing against was behavior that the NAACP, the black church, the Jesse Jackson activists and the black intellectuals had long ago decided not to address. Not one civil rights group took up Cosby's call for marches and protests against drug dealers, pregnant teens, deadbeat dads, and hate-filled rap music that celebrates violence. The only saving grace was that he had built up such a deep reservoir of goodwill that the official black leadership still didn't launch a public attack. They simply ignored him."

In his book "Enough," Williams writes: "Cosby recounted to this author a conversation among teenaged boys he visited in a classroom. The boys told him they did not expect to live beyond the age of twenty-eight---some of them said twenty-five.

'If you don't expect to be alive beyond twenty-five, it is easy to do certain things, like make a lot of babies without worrying about taking care of them,' said Cosby.

'You don't care if you give AIDS to a woman. And the women don't care if they have baby after baby, because they don't believe they are going to raise those babies.' And there is no shame, he added. When he grew up in Philadelphia, Cosby said, a man who got a woman pregnant without marrying her often left town or went in the military or to a reform school. Now it's acceptable behavior, celebrated in hip-hop's corrosive culture."

Bill Cosby is an American original. Now, approaching 76, he is touring the country with his show. It was a treat to see him on Father's Day.

________________________________________

_________________________________________

Salem-News.com contributor Allan C. Brownfeld received his B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary, his J.D. degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William and Mary and his M.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. He has served on the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia, and the University College of the University of Maryland.

The recipient of a Wall Street Journal Foundation Award, Mr. Brownfeld has written for such newspapers as THE HOUSTON PRESS, THE RICHMOND TIMES DISPATCH, THE WASHINGTON EVENING STAR and THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. For many years he wrote three columns a week for such newspapers as THE PHOENIX GAZETTE, THE MANCHESTER UNION LEADER, and THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. His weekly column appeared for more than a decade in ROLL CALL, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have appeared in such journals as THE YALE REVIEW, THE TEXAS QUARTERLY, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, ORBIS and MODERN AGE.

Mr. Brownfeld served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and was the author of that committee's 250-page study of the New Left. He has also served as Assistant to the Research Director of the House Republican Conference and as a consultant to such members of Congress as Reps. Phil Crane (R-Il) and Jack Kemp (R-NY) and to the Vice President of the United States.

He is a former editor of THE NEW GUARD and PRIVATE PRACTICE, the journal of the Congress of County Medical Societies and has served as a Contributing Editor AMERICA'S FUTURE and HUMAN EVENTS. He served as Washington correspondent for the London-based publications, JANE'S ISLAMIC AFFAIRS ANALYST and JANE'S TERRORISM REPORT. His articles regularly appear in newspapers and magazines in England, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and other countries. You can write to Allan at abrownfeld@gmail.com

_________________________________________




Comments Leave a comment on this story.
Name:

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.



Anonymous June 18, 2013 6:31 am (Pacific time)

Isn't he the idiot who promoted islam the other day and asked for sharia law?

I have a feeling you know very very little about this subject!

[Return to Top]
©2018 Salem-News.com. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Salem-News.com.


Articles for June 16, 2013 | Articles for June 17, 2013 | Articles for June 18, 2013
Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


The NAACP of the Willamette Valley

Special Section: Truth telling news about marijuana related issues and events.

Call 503-362-6858 to Order Ahead  or for Party Reservations!

Annual Hemp Festival & Event Calendar