Bill Cosby: Black Women Should Lead
Monday, May 15, 2006 11:32 a.m. EDT
Bill Cosby challenged Spelman College's
graduates "to take charge" Sunday, adding those leaving the historically black college for women have no choice but to lead.
"You have to know that it is time for you all to take charge," Cosby
said. "You have to seriously see yourselves not as the old women where the men stood in front and you all stood behind, because
the men, most of them are in prison."
Added Cosby: "It is time for you to pick up the pace and lead because
the men are not there. They're not there and every one of you young women know it."
In 1987 Cosby and his wife, Camille, gave a $20 million gift to Spelman,
which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The Camille
Olivia Hanks Cosby
Academic Center on the campus
opened in 1996.
said when a Spelman graduate in the 500-member class of 2006 accepted her diploma "there's no time for you to fool around
"You've got to because our race depends upon you and your sisters graduating
all across the United States to realize
that what's left is you," he said.
In his current "A Call Out with Cosby" speaking tour, he has emphasized
the need for proper parenting and education as self-help answers for low-income, urban families.
In an interview with The Associated Press before his commencement speech,
Cosby acknowledged that some would say he is "preaching to the choir" by talking to the Spelman graduates about those who
fail to place an emphasis on parenting and education.
"I smiled and I say every Sunday so does the preacher," Cosby said.
message is clear. What's not clear is why black scholars, who ought to be saying what's on their minds, are not putting it
into the African-American community the way it ought to be. They ought to be challenging the issues of high dropout rates
of African-American males."
Cosby, 68, said he realized parts of his speech would be unsettling to
many in the audience.
"I'm going to speak to these young women about taking charge and I know
it's going to be fearful and it's going to tweak a lot of things," he said. "They have to because it's in their lives and
it's real. It is there. They are going to be needed to protect the legacy that is good."
Cosby told the graduates that the same male students who are dropping
out of high school "have memorized the lyrics of very difficult rap songs."
Added Cosby: "And they know how to send their sperm cells out and then
walk away from the responsibility of something called fatherhood."
Cosby said he acknowledged that his criticisms are not meant for all
black males, but he said 70 percent of black graduates this year are female.
"Who's running the show?" Cosby asked. "It appears that the male is,
but I have news for you. It's your turn.
"We want you to lead in business. We want you to lead in medicine. We
want you to lead in everything."
Cosby, who has enjoyed great success as a comedian, actor and author,
has been accused of being out of touch and unsympathetic with the poor.
Cosby made a reference to his critics, who he called "all those liberals"
and in his response he told the graduates "I'll be darned."
He reminded the audience of his youth in the projects of Philadelphia.
"I had three Christmases with no tree, no presents," Cosby said, adding
he was too embarrassed to invite friends into his home during the holiday "because I didn't want them to see I had no tree,
"Don't tell me I don't know, don't tell me I'm out of touch," he said.
"I'm telling you I am in touch."
2006 Associated Press.