[Congressional Record Volume 155, Number 155 (Friday, October 23, 2009)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2619]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                           HON. CHAKA FATTAH

                            of pennsylvania

                    in the house of representatives

                        Friday, October 23, 2009

  Mr. FATTAH. Madam Speaker, I rise today to congratulate a hometown 
hero and constituent of mine--the distinguished and very funny 
Philadelphian, William Henry Cosby, Jr.
  Bill Cosby has been tickling the nation's funny-bone and prodding its 
conscience throughout his adult life. He has won a trophy room of 
honors, but none like this one. Bill Cosby's talents and his insight 
have earned him the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, 
awarded by the Kennedy Center on October 26, 2009. The star-studded and 
laugh-filled presentation will be shown on PBS nationally on Wednesday, 
November 4, always one of PBS's most popular and acclaimed programs.
  Bill Cosby--aka Heathcliff Huxtable, friend of Fat Albert, 
``America's Dad''--is no stranger to the nation's viewers and comedy 
fans. Less well known, but looming large in terms of character and 
values, is the Bill Cosby who has served as role model, activist, 
educator, author, anti-violence crusader, fundraiser and valued citizen 
of his native Philadelphia.
  Bill Cosby was born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia into a 
modest family that valued hard work--the son of a maid and a Navy cook. 
He was raised in the Richard Allen Projects, attending Channing Wister 
Elementary, Fitzsimons Junior High, Central and Germantown High 
Schools, playing various roles as class clown, class president, star 
athlete, shoe repair apprentice, produce seller, and ultimately Navy 
hospital corpsman.
  As a young adult he began a lifetime relationship with Philadelphia's 
premier public institution of higher learning, Temple University. 
Building on his high school equivalency diploma, earned through 
correspondence courses, he enrolled in Temple in 1961 on a track and 
field scholarship, also playing fullback. Cosby, telling jokes as he 
earned a living, interrupted his studies to pursue show business, 
returned to academia and ultimately received a bachelor's degree from 
  Eventually Bill Cosby would become Doctor Cosby. He earned a masters 
and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, a springboard to 
his later involvement in advocating for educational opportunity. But 
Bill Cosby, proud alum, has never left the Temple family, happily 
donning the cherry and white for football and basketball games, 
cheering on the Owls during and after the tenure of his close friend, 
Coach John Chaney.
  Cheerleading isn't all Bill Cosby has done for Temple. He has endowed 
scholarships (including one for graduates of Philadelphia schools he 
attended), established a lecture series, generated the University's 
Cosby Scholarship Committee of the Provost's office, appeared at 
numerous fundraisers and alumni functions, and served as the public 
face for Temple on countless occasions.
  Another side of the Bill Cosby Philadelphia Story is his anti-
violence work. I have marched with Bill Cosby and my friend Bilal 
Qayyum through the streets of our city beneath the banner of Men United 
for a Better Philadelphia to denounce the scourge of violence, murder 
and gang activity. He has been outspoken--and raised considerable 
controversy--in denouncing the gang-minded culture and the negative, 
hateful cultural influences that fan street violence among our youth. 
He aimed his toughest words at parents, calling on them to step up and 
take responsibility for their children's education, safety and values.
  Education has been another Cosby cause. He and I share the passion 
for leveling the playing field, providing every child the resources, 
the quality teachers and the full opportunity to achieve his or her 
dreams. Earlier this year he donned a T-shirt from Central High School 
to stand with Governor Ed Rendell and advocate for fairer school 
  In his famous 2004 ``Pound Cake Speech'' Bill Cosby raised some 
hackles by telling African American parents they need to do a better 
job teaching their children morals at home. He chided those who ``had 
forgotten the sacrifices of those in the civil rights movement'' and 
declared that many young African Americans put too much emphasis on 
sports, fashion, and acting tough in the streets.
  The controversies raised by Bill Cosby still ripple through 
communities of color, but the points he raises are valid. And of course 
he has never lost his sense of humor. In all these ways, Bill Cosby is 
a worthy recipient of the Mark Twain Prize and the legacy of Mark Twain 
  I urge my colleagues in the House to join me in congratulating and 
thanking Bill Cosby, Philadelphian and American, upon this great