Like a slice of soft-ripened brie, cultural icon Bill Cosby’s exterior has gradually toughened, becoming more distinctive and sharp with age. Some fans have welcomed the comedian-turned-activist’s dried, crumbly rind while others prefer the softer, quintessential family man of old.
In his 1987 bestselling book “Fatherhood,” Cosby wrote, “I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”
Whatever one’s personal Cosby taste, one thing is certain. Bill Cosby has never been one to cater to conventional palates. His material has ranged from the dramatic, as seen in his 1960s Emmy-award winning series “I Spy,” to the revolutionary “Cosby Show." But the family unit has remained the center of Cosby’s material.
As Cosby celebrates his 75th birthday Thursday, we’ve rounded up a few of his more memorable quotations to spotlight his evolution from America’s quintessential family man to controversial, bootstrap activist.
Throughout his extensive line of work in comedy, writing, and acting, Cosby has always placed childhood at the center of his work. "What do I need if I am a child today? I need people to guide me. I need the possibility of change," Cosby said in a <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/05/-8216-this-is-how-we-lost-to-the-white-man-8217/6774/" target="_hplink">2008 interview with <em>The Atlantic</em>.</a> "I need people to stop saying I can't pull myself up by my own bootstraps. They say that's a myth. But these other people have their mythical stories -- why can't we have our own?"
"The lower-economic and lower-middle-economic people are not holding their end in this deal," said Cosby, during his controversial "Pound Cake" speech at an NAACP awards ceremony in 2004.
"These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake," said Cosby in his infamous 2004 "Pound Cake" speech. "Then we all run out and are outraged: 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"
"Are you not paying attention, people with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack?" Cosby asked audiences during his 2004 "Pound Cake" speech. "Isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up?"
"My problem is I'm tired of losing to white people. When I say I don't care about white people, I mean let them say what they want to say," said Cosby while addressing his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts. "What can they say to me that's worse than what their grandfather said?"
"We are not a pitiful race of people. We are a bright race, who can move with the best. But we are in a new time, where people are behaving in abnormal ways and calling it normal," said Cosby, speaking at Detroit's St. Paul Church in 2007. "When they used to come into our neighborhoods, we put the kids in the basement, grabbed a rifle, and said, 'By any means necessary.'"