Kansas City, MO – Bill Cosby was at Penn Valley Community College on Tuesday, May 23, 2006. He addressed more than 1000 people in two separate sessions about personal responsibility and parenting. The crowd included some white families, but the majority were African American. Kansas City Resident Tanya Titus brought her son Darius to see the man behind Fat Albert.
Mayor Kay Barnes presented Cosby with the key to the city, and Missouri State Representative Sharon Saunders Brooks read a proclamation with a personal twist.
Cosby responded quietly to these honors, giving hugs and making his familiar grandfatherly faces. As part of the program, Cosby invited a series of Kansas City residents (myself included) to share stories about violence and overcoming adversity. When he heard something particularly strong, he shot his fist into the air, and held it steady. Bill Cosby sparked controversy two years ago, when he began criticizing poor African Americans for their dress, language, and parenting skills. Some, like author and University of Pennsylvania Professor Michael Eric Dyson, a recent guest on KC Currents, accused him of blaming the victim. But Cosby continues to use his fame to preach a message of self-reliance for African-Americans.