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Mon, 05.17.2004

Bill Cosby’s ‘Pound Cake’ Speech at Brown v. B.O.E. Ceremony

Bill Cosby(2004) AP image

On this date in 2004, entertainer and philanthropist Bill Cosby made controversial public comments about African Americans.

His comments occurred during commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Cosby talked about African Americans who do not take enough responsibility for their economic status, blame police for incarcerations, and teach their kids poor speaking habits.  He made his remarks in the presence of (then) NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and other African American leaders at a Constitution Hall event. Cosby's words were met with surprise, laughter, and applause.

Among his remarks: "Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids, $500 sneakers for what, and won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics. They're standing on the corner, and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is.' And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk.  Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"

Cosby also referred to imprisoned Blacks. "These are not political criminals; these are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake, and then we run out and we are outraged, saying 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"

Mfume, the NAACP president who was on stage with Cosby, said later that not only did he agree with Cosby but that he made similar points in his speeches and that he had just heard the same points made by the philosophers in his barbershop.

Cosby further spoke about his feelings for the black community on July 1 in Chicago.

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