- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2004

ATLANTA - Joseph Kellogg hasn’t seen his father since he was 8. When he was 15, he was shot. He has spent 20 of his 24 years living in housing projects.

On Thursday night, the young Atlantan got a standing ovation next to comedian Bill Cosby.

“I could be out robbing, stealing and taking drugs because I didn’t have a father,” said Mr. Kellogg, who manages three convenience stores in Atlanta. “But it would be nobody’s fault but mine.”

Mr. Kellogg is the model Mr. Cosby wants blacks to follow.

Dressed in a maroon University of Massachusetts sweat shirt, blue sweat pants and sandals, Mr. Cosby spoke bluntly about the way some single mothers bring men into their homes who are “worth nothing.”

The child “hears you having sex in the room, he hears you arguing, he hears you cursing,” Mr. Cosby said. “And then four days later, you bring another man into the house.”

The audience of 2,500 packed into the Frederick Douglass High School gym gasped.

He told single fathers in the audience that being unemployed is no excuse for not being involved in their children’s lives. And neither is having an acrimonious relationship with the child’s mother.

The world-renowned entertainer, who has a doctorate in education, has been touring the United States and talking about the plight of black America.

Ron Petty, a 27-year-old Atlanta clothing entrepreneur, disagrees with Mr. Cosby.

“It’s not as simple as ‘get over it,’” Mr. Petty said. “We need Bill Cosby, instead of putting all this money behind colleges, to open up a rehabilitation center for when these guys come out of jail.”

James E. Donald, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections and one of the speakers, said that of the 54,000 men imprisoned in the state, 30,000 are black. “And they average about 2.3 children,” he said. “That is over 60,000 children going to bed tonight without their fathers.”

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