Last month Jackson invited Cosby to the annual Rainbow/PUSH conference
for a conversation about controversial remarks the entertainer offered May 17 at an NAACP dinner in Washington , D.C. That's when America 's Jell-O Man shook things up by arguing that African
Americans were betraying the legacy of civil rights victories.
"The lower economic people," he said, "are not holding up their end in
this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for
their kids. $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for Hooked
Thursday morning, Cosby showed no signs of repenting as he strode
across the stage at the Sheraton Hotel ballroom before a
standing-room-only crowd. Sporting a natty gold sports coat and dark
glasses, he proceeded to unload a laundry list of black America's
The iconic actor and comedian kidded that he couldn't compete with the
oratory of the Reverend but he preached circles around Jackson in
their nearly hour-long conversation, delivering brutally frank
one-liners and the toughest of love.
The enemy, he argues, is us:
"There is a time, ladies and gentlemen, when we have to turn the
mirror around." Cosby acknowledged he wasn't critiquing all
blacks-just "the 50 percent of African Americans in the lower economic
neighbourhood who drop out of school," and the alarming proportions of
black men in prison and black teenage mothers. The mostly black crowd
seconded him with choruses of "Amens."
To critics who pose, it's unproductive to air our dirty laundry in
public, he responds, "Your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30
every day. It's cursing on the way home, on the bus, train, in the
candy store. They are cursing and grabbing each other and going
And, the book bag is very, very thin because there's nothing in it."
"Don't worry about the white man," he adds. "I could care less about
what white people think about me . . . let 'em talk.
What are they saying that is different from what their grandfathers
said and did to us? What is different is what we are doing to ourselves."
For those who say Cosby is just an elitist who's "got his" but doesn't
understand the plight of the black poor, he reminds us that, "We're
going to turn that mirror around. It's not just the poor-everybody's
Cosby and Jackson lamented that in the 50th year of Brown vs. Board of
Education, our failings betray our legacy. Jackson dabbed away tears
as he recalled the financial struggles at Fisk University , a
historically black college and Jackson's Alma mater.
When Cosby was done, the 1,000 people in the room all jumped to their
feet in ovation. Long after Cosby had departed, I could not find a
dissenter in the crowd.
Cosby's plea to parents: "Before you get to the point where you say 'I
can't do nothing with them'-do something with them." Like:
Teach our children to speak English. There's no such thing as "talking
white". When the teacher calls, show up at the school.
When the idiot box starts spewing profane rap videos, turn it off.
Refrain from cursing around the kids.
Teach our boys that women should be cherished, not raped and demeaned.
Tell them that education is a prize we won with blood and tears, not a
Stop making excuses for the agents and abettors of black-on-black
It costs us nothing to do these things. But if we don't, it will cost
us infinitely more tears.
Bill Cosby Quotes