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During speech at Tuskegee University, Bill Cosby urges Black Americans to “Get up”

Educator and award-winning actor Dr. Bill Cosby addresses students at HBCU Tuskegee University

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (November 3, 2013) — Calling James Brown one of the greatest songwriters, comedian and philanthropist, Bill Cosby, used soulful lyrics today to inspire black people to be more proactive and empowered. Singing parts of Brown’s funk classic “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” Cosby said many blacks have become inactive in determining their own destinies. He gave the keynote address for Tuskegee University's 2013 Homecoming/Charter Day Convocation.

“Get up. Stay on the scene,” Cosby sang to the audience.

Cosby said many black people have fallen into a state of being a perpetual victim who blames a “mythical white man” for their inaction. He said black American culture is under attack by people who wish to make money off of it. He said the culture has become riddled with negative images and activities, which are in opposition to its foundation of hard work, pride and determination. He also encouraged having respect for black women and rejecting obscenity.

“We’re not vulgar people. We’re not people who say to our daughters, ‘Go ahead out there with as little clothing as possible,’ ” Cosby said. “Our daughters have to have strength about who they are.”

Later in his remarks, Cosby turned his attention to Tuskegee’s faculty and students. He said professors are the last Civil Rights fighters in America and that students should take advantage of the guidance and opportunities that are offered to them. He also said students should not be afraid or embarrassed about seeking help if they are slipping in their studies.

“All around you is faculty,” Cosby said to the students. “They want you to know so you can go out there and succeed. ”

After his address, Cosby was given the Booker T. Washington Legacy Award by Acting Tuskegee University President, Dr. Matthew Jenkins. Later, Cosby helped raise funds for the university by appearing at a special event for donations held in the Legacy Museum. Cosby, who is an honorary co-chair of the “ Programmed for Excellence Capital Campaign for Advancing Tuskegee University,” spoke to guests and posed for photos with donors.