- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 23, 2004

Cosby under fire

New York Times

Bill Cosby, known mostly as a genial father figure who contributes to a wide range of black philanthropic causes, last week found himself immersed in controversy after making inflammatory remarks during last Monday’s gala at Constitution Hall commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision.

Commenting on the behavior and values of some poor black people, Mr. Cosby said Friday that he had made the remarks out of concern and because of his belief that fighting racial injustice must also include accepting personal responsibility.

Mr. Cosby spoke after a week of discussion on the Internet, on talk shows, on radio programs and in newspaper columns about his comments.

Mr. Cosby said Friday that what was left out of those discussions was that he had begun his remarks by talking about what he said was a 50 percent high school dropout rate among poor blacks. The National Center for Education Statistics, a federal agency, says that in 2000, the dropout rate for blacks was 13.1 percent. Mr. Cosby’s publicist, David Brokaw, said it was the superstar’s understanding that the rate was 50 percent in some inner-city schools.

Some people said Mr. Cosby’s comments had simply brought to the surface long-simmering generational and class schisms among blacks. Some applauded him for using sharp language to reignite a long-running debate among blacks about the direction of the black struggle. Still others said they feared that his remarks would become fodder for racists or conservatives who believe that blacks alone avoid personal responsibility.

Addressing that point, Mr. Cosby said, “The conservative groups are not saying anything that they weren’t already saying about us.”

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said he agreed with much of what Mr. Cosby had to say. He also said he disagreed with Mr. Cosby for singling out low-income people as having failed to hold up their end through destructive behavior in the post-segregation era.

Bottle buddies

San Francisco Chronicle

Macaulay Culkin’s father, Kit, has claimed he found troubled pop superstar Michael Jackson sucking on a baby bottle with his 2-year-old son.

Macaulay Culkin, 23, developed a strong relationship with Mr. Jackson — who is awaiting trial on child molestation charges — when he first found fame in 1990’s “Home Alone.”

However, according to Kit Culkin — who is estranged from Macaulay — Mr. Jackson also took an interest in his youngest son, Rory.

Cash and carry

Bloomberg News

Music legend Johnny Cash’s guitars, trademark black leather jackets and Ford F-150 black pickup truck will be sold by Sotheby’s Holdings Inc. in New York.

The singer and songwriter, who died in September at age 71, made gold and platinum records for such albums as “A Boy Named Sue,” “Ring of Fire” and “I Walk the Line.” All of those will be offered at Sotheby’s on Sept. 14 and 15, estimated at $3,000 to $4,000 each.

Sotheby’s also will sell the possessions of June Carter Cash, Mr. Cash’s wife and musical collaborator, who died in May 2003 at age 73. Included among the couple’s belongings are handwritten lyrics, such as those for the early Sun Record hits “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “I Get So Doggone Lonesome.” The auction house also will sell clothing such as boots, hats, dusters, fur coats and Miss Cash’s gowns.

Scent-sational

Associated Press

Estee Lauder Cos. said Friday it will sell a line of fragrances under the Sean John label of hip-hop music mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Terms were not disclosed.

Sean John, a privately held company, debuted with a men’s sportswear collection in 1999. It has annual retail sales in the United States of more than $350 million, Estee Lauder said.

The Sean John clothing line is also going upscale, the New York Times reported Friday. This fall, Mr. Combs plans to add pinstripe suits and other elegant outfits to his athletics-inspired collections. New York-based Estee Lauder said the development of the new fragrance line will be overseen by John Demsey, president of the contemporary M-A-C line.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web, staff and wire reports.

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