Cosby ties education to remembrances of the civil rights movement

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Bill Cosby

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 04: Dr. Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the The Jackie Robinson Foundation Annual Awards' Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 4, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)

Bill Cosby tells it like it is. At 75, the comedian, philanthropist, actor and everyone’s favorite dad as co-creator and star of The Cosby Show, is still feisty, opinionated, and determined. Only now, his energy is often devoted to touting causes that have nothing to do with show business.

“If folks had to write for the segregationists, and for the people loaded with hate who in their minds, and with their bodies, have done so much to try, and stop, American-Africans and others as well, who are in this country, born, raised, and are not Anglo-Saxon,” he told theGrio recently. “I think that some of the[ir] work has become apparent in terms of our children not fully getting the kind of education they deserve.”

To Cosby, the failure of black and other minority children to get a top-notch education is more than just a societal failure. It’s an historic failure that in some ways, has left African-American children worse off than they were during segregation.

“Many of our elders speak of when they were in one room, and there were four different classes in one room,” he said. “And many of them went on to historically black colleges; went on to get degrees.” Today, Cosby worries that “if a child is studying, she is not ‘acting black.’ If a child is studying, he doesn’t really blend in with the ‘real’ people. The people who hate American-Africans have set this up, but, in fact, some of it is right there in our own neighborhoods: the neglect of education by some of the parents, the neglect by some of the teachers, [and by] some of the institutions that are set up to help to help children to learn.”

“Every city I’ve ever gone into,” Cosby said, “when it’s suppression, oppression of the-the poor … it starts with education, and it has drugs included, and of course, firearms.”

Earlier this month, Cosby joined a group of black leaders who hope to connect his passion for the issue of education to the commemoration of the civil rights movement, many of whose signal events will have their 50th anniversaries this year.

“Over the past year and a half, we have been planning a commemoration of events that took place in 1963 – the impact that it had on, not just the South, but the entire country, as well as the world,” said Birmingham Mayor William Bell. ” We looked at several different areas, and we’re looking at Dr. King’s involvement in the movement in Birmingham, which was highlighted by his arrest, and the writing of the ‘letter from a Birmingham jail,’ or the Children’s March that took place, of which Miles College was a critical component of the organization of that march, and the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.”

The remembrances culminated in a re-enactment of the 1965 Selma to Birmingham march, which drew a number of civil rights leaders as well as leaders from Capitol Hill, including Vice President Joe Biden (see full list at www.topmedicalassistantschools.com). Now, the organizers of the Birmingham commemorations hope to use the 50th anniversary to put a spotlight on continued racial disparities in education.