Introduction of Speaker
Dr. William R. Harvey
Hilton Marriott Beach and Golf Resort
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Wednesday, July 28, 2004 @ 6:00 P.M.
Atty. Baskerville, members of the Board, member presidents, family
members, and friends. I have the pleasure, at this time, of introducing
an individual who could be described, at the very least, as multitalented,
and at the most, as a man of pure genius. He has made us laugh
and think, reflect and envision the state of our relationships
and world. He has made us proud of ourselves and of our connections
with one another. He is America’s most beloved “father
Our speaker became famous as a stand-up comedian on the night-club
circuit. His popularity was so great, in fact, that he began making
comedy albums. He has won five Grammy’s and seven gold records
for his comedy albums.
Our speaker then turned to acting. From 1965 to 1968, he co-starred
in the adventure series “I Spy,” for which he won three
Emmy Awards. He was a pioneer of the era because he was the first
African American actor to appear in a continuing dramatic role
on U.S. television.
He would go on to star in and produce a number of television series.
The Cosby Show was the number one ranked show for four consecutive
years and was nominated for eight Emmy Awards.
Having championed recordings, television, and film, our speaker
began to engage his audiences through books. His 1986 book, Fatherhood,
is still a favorite. Other titles to his credit are Time Flies,
Love and Marriage, Bill Cosby’s Personal Guide to Tennis
Power, Friends of a Feather, and I Am What I Ate and I Am Frightened.
An exceptional writer and scholar, he makes complex observations
about family life accessible through humor and a strong dose of
Over the last couple of years, I have come to know, appreciate,
and respect him even more through a series of incidents which I
will briefly share with you now. The first deals with his presence
here tonight. When we called and asked if he would speak to the
Black college presidents this week, the first thing that the said
was that, “I respect Black colleges so much, therefore I
need to do that. I shall do everything that I can to be there.”
Secondly, Dr. Cosby read about two high school seniors from Springfield,
Massachusetts who had lived alone together since they were 14 years
of age. One of the boy’s mothers was in jail on drug related
charges and the other had other kinds of family problems. He contacted
the young men and told them that he would pay for them to go to
college as long as they chose a Black college to attend. They asked
to visit Morehouse, Howard, and Hampton. He then put them on his
private plane and took them to Atlanta to visit Morehouse, Washington
to visit Howard, and Hampton to visit Hampton University. The young
men chose Hampton and he has committed to pay for their education
as long as they make respectable grades.
His interest in and support for Black colleges are not surprising,
given his history. He and Mrs. Cosby have donated some $20 million
to Spelman College; $1 million to several other Black schools,
and have paid for countless other students to attend college. He
has clearly put his money where his mouth is. For your philanthropy
Dr. Cosby, I want you to know that we owe you a profound debt of
The third incident deals with his public comments concerning responsibility
of Black youths and the Black community. He has upbraided some
of us in the Black community for our grammar, physical abuse of
our women, and glamorizing convicts who steal, murder, and pump
drugs into our community by calling them political criminals. And
I want to tell you something—he is right. These thieves,
murderers, pimps, and drug kingpins do not deserve our sympathy.
They are destroying our communities and we should castigate them
for it. We also cannot blame whites for all the ills in the Black
community. We should do as he says and look into the mirror and
see that in many instances, we have met the enemy and he is us.
In several conversations recently, I told him that I would be
happy to enlist in his army. Those of us that are leading Black
higher education institutions should speak out just as he has against
the things that are destroying our communities.
Dr. Cosby is here tonight because he values us. Let us show him
how much we value his wisdom and life’s work by taking up
his cause in our various communities.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you an accomplished comedian,
recording artist, actor, producer, director, author, philanthropist,
and sage—Dr. William Henry Cosby, Jr.