- The Washington Times - Friday, November 12, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — Bill Cosby says his public proddings on the failures of fellow blacks are consistent with what he has done as an entertainer for more than 40 years, and he will continue on that path.

In several forums this year, Mr. Cosby, 67, has criticized some black youths for not knowing how to read or write, said they had squandered opportunities that the civil rights movement gave them and accused them of unfairly blaming whites for problems such as teen pregnancy and high dropout rates.

“I didn’t take this as a job,” Mr. Cosby told CNN’s Paula Zahn in an interview that aired last night. “I took this as an emotion. No, and I’m not stopping, either.”

Mr. Cosby said the poet Maya Angelou told him, “You know, Bill, you’re a very nice man, but you have a big mouth.”

He said he doesn’t mind that role.

Of his critics, Mr. Cosby said, “Let them stay mad.”

Mr. Cosby said that when he started as a young comic in the 1960s, he didn’t want to be like other black comedians and talk about race issues.

“I don’t play that,” he said. “You’re not going to laugh at the color of my skin. You’re going to laugh with me at our similarities and some of our differences. But I’m not going to have you, because this is not the time in this United States of America, where you’re going to laugh at what my people are suffering with.”

In the 1980s, his inspiration for “The Cosby Show” grew out of seeing so many sitcoms with children smarter than their parents. It looked as if many comedy writers had had bad relationships with their parents and were trying to retaliate, he said. He wanted to depict parents as strong role models.

Even the cartoon characters in “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” were designed as misfits who made something of themselves, he said.

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