Comedy legend Bill Cosby pauses before beginning his discussion with parents and officials at the Albany Municipal Auditorium Friday morning.
Albany Bill Cosby strode across the stage, bent slightly at the knees and smiled broadly.
That's all it took for the capacity crowd gathered Friday at the Municipal Auditorium to burst into laughter and wild applause. But Cosby, who gave a performance Friday night at the Albany Civic Center, wasn't at the auditorium for comedy. He was there to head a panel discussion on parenting.
"The revolution begins in the home, not in the schools, not in the Boys & Girls Clubs, but in the house," Cosby told the crowd. "The people who need to be here ain't here. You people need to go back and tell them — whisper it, yell it or hit 'em in the head with it — there's got to be some changes made."
Cosby, who for the past seven years has espoused his sometimes controversial concerns and ideas on the state of parenting within the black community, held nothing back during the discussion.
"Did you know that 74 percent of (black) children are raised in single parent households? And that most of the people in those households are raising children that they didn't have?" Cosby asked.
When asked what one piece of advice he would would give the head of a household, he replied "more advice, and more advice. There's no one thing. A lot needs to be said. You have to be a parent, you have to teach every day, you can't let the child con you."
Barbara Turner, one of the panelists and the coordinator for student support services for the Dougherty County School System, agreed.
"There has to be an adult who is the established head of the household," Turner said. "You can't let the child be the head. You have to remember you're a parent, not a friend."
Another panelist, Juvenile Court Judge Herbert Solomon, chose a shorter route, urging that children should be taught "respect of parents, teachers and authorities ... at all times."
Mount Zion Baptist Pastor Daniel Simmons had another suggestion for parents.
"Surround yourself with people who can strengthen you as a parent," he said. "And surround yourself with people who can strengthen you spiritually."
Cosby then added that change needs to happen now.
"We need to get together and talk with each other," he said. "We have to make this turnaround now. Parenting does something to a kid."
The panel pointed out that parents need to provide positive reinforcement for their children.
"You can't ask a child to do something you aren't doing yourself," Solomon said. "And remember it's not the job of the state to provide everything. Many kids today think somebody owes them something, and that is often instilled by the parents and gives them wrong expectations."
Cosby asserts that parents should depend on themselves to lead fulfilling lives for themselves and their children.
"God is not gonna help you until God sees you move," Cosby said. "Don't forget, the devil is working all the time. Say something to your kids. We buy them sneakers and clothes to show them off. Make 'em behave also."
Cosby then recounted a man he once met.
"I had a person once tell me that he couldn't do anything with his kids," Cosby said. "I asked him 'who are the parents?' He said 'what?' I said "who are the parents?' He said, 'I don't know what you're talking about."
"I said 'exactly.' That's the problem."