News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Black History Month: Our unfinished journey

Bill Cosby brought his unique American humor to Huntsville's Von Braun Center for two sold-out shows Sunday. The 69-year-old comedian is a national treasure. His humorous yet real depiction of family life focuses on the universal similarities that bring us together as a nation.

Some members of the black community condemn Mr. Cosby for his more serious message of personal responsibility. He has been critical of what he sees as the black community's acceptance of fatherless, single-parent households, high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. He encourages a more proactive effort from blacks and whites to reduce those problems.

In a Jan. 13, 2005, speech, Mr. Cosby challenged black Detroiters to stop blaming white people for problems they could solve themselves. "It's not what they're doing to us. It's what we're not doing," the entertainer said. Many responded to his speech in anger and resentment.

Mr. Cosby realizes that the greatest thing about the greatest country is opportunity, not entitlement. He knows that, as far as we have come as a nation, there is much room for improvement.

A younger black American is just making his way to the public stage. In an interview Sunday night on CBS' "60 Minutes," newsman Steve Kroft asked Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, whose mother was a white woman from Kansas and whose father a black man from Kenya who left when he was 2, if he, as a black child raised in a white household, struggled with his racial identity.

"I am rooted in the African-American community. But I'm not defined by it. I am comfortable in my racial identity. But that's not all I am," Sen. Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate and only the third black U.S. senator since Reconstruction, said. He, too, understands that we should judge people by their actions and accomplishments.

Our nation has come a long way toward recognizing the significant positive accomplishments of black men and women in the areas of entertainment, politics, science and medicine, education, business, and family and spiritual life. But the journey is not over. There are still cultural differences that tend to divide rather than unite us.

Rush Limbaugh, on his daily syndicated radio show, referred to Mr. Obama as a "halfrican-American."

Mr. Limbaugh's particular brand of hate plays to a crowd that, once prominent, especially in the South, is rapidly shrinking because of Mr. Cosby, Mr. Obama and thousands of others whose accomplishments advance a cause both righteous and noble.

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