In May 2004, after receiving an award at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling—a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that outlawed school racial segregation in schools—Cosby made public remarks critical of African Americans who put higher priorities on sports, fashion, and “acting hard” than on education, self-respect, and self-improvement, pleading for African-American families to educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture. More Bill Cosby: https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&tag=tra0c7-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=921595d1fa8064cb19f35ccc73fade4f&camp=1789&creative=9325&index=dvd&keywords=bill%20cosby
In the “Pound Cake” speech, Cosby, who holds a doctorate in education, asked that African-American parents teach their children better morals at a younger age. Cosby told the Washington Times, “Parenting needs to come to the forefront. If you need help and you don’t know how to parent, we want to be able to reach out and touch” (DeBose, Brian). Richard Leiby of The Washington Post reported, “Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.”
Cosby again came under sharp criticism and was again largely unapologetic for his stance when he made similar remarks during a speech in a July 1 meeting commemorating the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. During that speech, he admonished apathetic blacks for not assisting or concerning themselves with the individuals who are involved with crime or have counter-productive aspirations. He further described those who needed attention as blacks who “had forgotten the sacrifices of those in the Civil Rights Movement.” The speech was featured in the documentary 500 Years Later, which set the speech to cartoon visuals.
In 2005, Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson wrote a book entitled Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? In the book, Dyson wrote that Cosby was overlooking larger social factors that reinforce poverty and associated crime; factors such as deteriorating schools, stagnating wages, dramatic shifts in the economy, offshoring and downsizing, chronic underemployment, and job and capital flight. Dyson suggested Cosby’s comments “betray classist, elitist viewpoints rooted in generational warfare.”
Cornel West defended Cosby and his remarks, saying, “he’s speaking out of great compassion and trying to get folk to get on the right track, ’cause we’ve got some brothers and sisters who are not doing the right things, just like in times in our own lives, we don’t do the right thing… He is trying to speak honestly and freely and lovingly, and I think that’s a very positive thing.”
In a 2008 interview, Cosby mentioned Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Oakland, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Springfield, Massachusetts, among the cities where crime was high and young African-American men were being murdered and jailed in disproportionate numbers. Cosby stood his ground against criticism and affirmed that African-American parents were continuing to fail to inculcate proper standards of moral behavior. Cosby still lectures to black communities (usually at churches) about his frustrations with certain problems prevalent in underprivileged urban communities, such as in illegal drugs; teenage pregnancy; Black Entertainment Television; high-school dropouts; anti-intellectualism; gangsta rap; vulgarity; thievery; offensive clothing; vanity; parental alienation; single-parenting; and failing to live up to the ideals of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., and African-Americans who preceded Generation X.
Cosby has also been openly critical of conservative Republican politicians in regards to their views on socioeconomic and racial issues. In a 2013 CNN interview regarding voting rights, Cosby stated “this Republican Party is not the Republican Party of 1863, of Abraham Lincoln, abolitionists and slavery, is not good. I think it’s important for us to look at the underlying part of it. What is the value of it? Is it that some people are angry because my people no longer want to work for free?”