CNN anchor Don Lemon spoke to comic legend Bill Cosby on the CNN Newsroom Saturday, asking him about the importance of strong black leaders for the sake of African American youth.
“I think it has to come from the universities,” Mr. Cosby began. “I think, women, strongly because when you see 70% of research that says they are the leaders of the household. What we need is for people to realize, 'I want to raise my kid. I want to go back and get my three kids. I want to take on that responsibility. I want to love my children.'”
Cosby suggested leading by example. He recounted recently attending Essence Festival in New Orleans and “walking around to see a black male with his child on the shoulders and holding him – I mean that means something.”
He said young black people who don’t go to prestigious colleges or leave school early to “go to community college.”
“Okay, you backed up and didn’t do well. You quit school but now you find you need that high school credential. Go to the community college,” he said.
He related his own experience of being a young adult and realizing he had to take personal responsibility over his own future.
“At age 19 and a half, I knew I didn’t want to do certain things,” he said. “It is not what they weren’t doing to me, it’s what I wasn’t doing. It’s a very simple thing.”
He told Don Leman that it’s easy for young people to be derailed, but he said some of the people put in charge of helping juvenile offenders get back on track are making it impossible. He believes the overemphasis of medicating juvenile offenders, instead or counseling or rehabilitation, doesn’t help.
“If you drug these people, and then you release them, and there’s no prescription for them to get to take to do the same thing, and they go back to the same place,” he said, adding “Now, about this time, this is when you hear the no-groes jump up and say ‘Why don’t you talk about the good things?’”
“Because the good things happen to be taking care of themselves pretty well,” he explained. “We are trying to help those genius’, those not genius’, people who deserve, because they are human beings on this earth, in the United States of America, we are trying to get them in a position so they will understand and want to.”
Lemon asked why it’s such a difficult message to get out.
Cosby recounted something that Sammy Davis, Jr. said to him. “He said, ‘Bill, saying it loud don’t make it right.’ And so, every loud voice you hear yelling about something,” he explained, “and saying ‘Well you just — you lost us. You became a millionaire,’ the reason why I’m giving you this information is because I was living in the projects. I was not taking care of myself in terms of managing my education, and once the door opened and I saw quote, unquote, the light, I started to become very successful.”