In the nearly half-century in which we have gone from George Wallace to Barack Obama, America has another, less hopeful story to tell about racial progress, one that may be even harder to reverse.
In 1965, a young assistant secretary of labor named Daniel Patrick Moynihan stumbled upon data that showed a rise in the number of black single mothers. As Moynihan wrote in a now-famous report for the Johnson administration, especially troubling was that the growth in illegitimacy, as it was universally called then, coincided with a decline in black male unemployment. Strangely, black men were joining the labor force more, but they were marrying — and fathering — less.
There were other puzzling facts. In 1950, at the height of the Jim Crow era and despite the shattering legacy of slavery, the great majority of black children — an estimated 85 percent — were born to their two married parents. Just 15 years later, there seemed to be no obvious reason that that would change. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, legal barriers to equality were falling. The black middle class had grown substantially, and the first five years of the 1960s had produced 7 million new jobs. Yet 24 percent of black mothers were then bypassing marriage. Moynihan wrote later that he, like everyone else in the policy business, had assumed that “economic conditions determine social conditions.” Now it seemed, “what everyone knew was evidently not so.”
President-elect Barack Obama, right, with his daughter Malia, 10, wait to greet people at a food bank at St. Columbanus Catholic Church on the South Side of Chicago, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
By Kay Hymowitz
The Washington Post
We at Peace and Freedom salute Bill Cosby for his outspoken remarks on Black society and culture….
As recently as July 1, Cosby hurled himself back into the hot seat by yet again openly criticizing the black community while alongside Jesse Jackson at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition annual conference.
In response to the charge that he is airing African American’s dirty laundry out in the open, Cosby answered critics by saying, “Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2;30 every day, it’s cursing and calling each other n**** as they’re walking up and down the street.”
“They can’t read, they can’t write. They’re laughing and giggling, and they’re going no where.”
Above: The Rev. Jesse Jackson (right) is side by side with Bill Cosby as the entertainer urges the black community to work harder to help their children build better lives and a better future. (AP)
But it was the comedian’s first public outburst that really got everyone talking.
On May 17, 2004, at a NAACP celebration that marked the 50th anniversary of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation in schools, 66-year-old Bill Cosby made pointed comments about the way black youth dress, citing their oversized clothes as “ridiculous.” He also attacked lower class blacks for not speaking proper English, not raising their kids properly — by instilling corrupt and materialist-based values — and naming them silly names.
His bottom line: black people have to take personal responsibility and own up to the fact that (part of) the reason we have not advanced further is because of squandered opportunities.
From the front page to the Op-Ed section, the African-American press has been filled with commentary on the actor and philanthropist’s tirades. The past month has seen Cosby’s words rehashed and dissected, with opinions ranging from full on agreement to flat out denial.
Following Cosby’s lead, some commentators worry that blacks have not done enough to improve their situation.
Above from New America Media, by Danielle Worthy, Posted: Apr 03, 2005
Bill Cosby has long bristled at suggestions that his pioneering NBC comedy, “The Cosby Show,” was somehow unrealistic in its portrayal of a black upper-middle-class family.
So with the Obama family set to take up residence in the White House, Cosby reflected on those statements last week with a chuckle. “For all those people who said they didn’t know any black people like the Huxtables,” quipped Cosby in a phone interview, “all I can say is, ‘Will you watch the show now?’ ”
The entertainer and comedian, who was promoting Tuesday’s release of the 25th anniversary box set of “The Cosby Show,” also admitted to being pleased with observations about the role of the so-called “Huxtable factor” in Obama’s victory.
Bill Cosby’s TV family
Said Karl Rove, a former Bush strategist turned Fox News commentator, on election night: “We’ve had an African American first family for many years in different forms. When ‘The Cosby Show’ was on, that was America’s family. It wasn’t a black family. It was America’s family.”