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Interview With Bill Cosby

Aired November 3, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Bill Cosby, one of America's all time funniest men, gets serious about a crisis that goes beyond race and threatens an entire nation. Murder is the number one cause of death for black men age 15 to 29, and blacks make up 12 percent of the general population, but 44 percent of the prison population.
So why is Bill Cosby taking such flak from the community he says he wants to save?

Bill Cosby as you've never seen him, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Bill Cosby, the legendary comedian, "New York Times" best-selling author, who, by the way, holds a doctorate in education and is co-author of the new book "Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors". There you see its cover.

With him is Dr. Alvin Poussaint, the famed director of the media center of the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston, professor of psychiatry at Harvard, Bill Cosby's longtime collaborator. He was a consultant on "The Cosby Show" and he is co-author of this book, "Come On People".

Explain, Bill, the title.

BILL COSBY: My granddaughter was in line with me at the Ray Charles Post Office. Alvin and I were writing and writing, but we didn't have a title. And the line is moving slowly, slowly, slowly. And she's three-years-old. And she's going, "Ah, oh, gee, poppy, why don't we going home?"

I said, "The line is moving. Don't worry. We have to get stamps."

She said, "Ah. I'm so tired."

And I said, "Well, look, the people are working and they're moving the people."

And so finally I hear coming out of this little body, "Come on people!"



COSBY: And so... POUSSAINT: He called me up and he said, "Alvin, we have the title for the book."

KING: All right.

And when you say "Come On People," what people are you talking to?

POUSSAINT: We're talking about all people.

KING: Black and white?

POUSSAINT: Black and white. COSBY: Well, there's some brown.

POUSSAINT: (INAUDIBLE) but it's symbolic.

COSBY: There's some Asian. We're talking about United States or world people -- people who are stuck.

KING: Your subtitle is "Victims to Victors" -- "The path from victims to Victors."

Victims of what?

COSBY: Self. Victims of bureaucracy, victims of politics, victims of people who are more powerful than you and you allow them to continue to do bad things to you without you responding like you had a voice to represent and protect yourself.

POUSSAINT: And, also...

KING: Are the victims blacks?

POUSSAINT: They're people who are victims of discrimination.

KING: So you're writing to -- for blacks?


KING: Or for all victims of discrimination?

POUSSAINT: Yes. Our group is black that we're writing about, primarily, and what they suffered as victims. And, then, you know, continuing discrimination. We're not saying that the system is free of racism or discrimination. But we're still calling on the people to do what they can in the face of whatever the problems are to help themselves. And if they help themselves, they'll be in a better position to change the system.

KING: The first sentence, first chapter: "For the last generation or two, as our communities dissolved and our parenting skills broke down, no one has suffered more than our young black men."

Are you blaming it on their parents?

Are you saying that it's the skills of the black parent that broke down?

COSBY: Uh, yes, in terms -- in terms of protection. The numbers say things. If you have 30 percent of the African-American population that's in poverty -- am I correct? Thirty percent...

POUSSAINT: (INAUDIBLE) percent of black babies are born to single mothers each year. So the fathers are not there most of the time. So these young men, now for decades, many of them have been growing up without fathers.

KING: And you recently have spoken out a lot about the responsibility of those people for taking responsibility for themselves, as opposed to blaming it on the society that they were born into.

COSBY: No, I never said society was not at fault. That was...

KING: A misquote?

COSBY: No, no, no, no, no. That's not you. That's victim-mongers who decide that they can make some money off of victims. It's a known fact -- and I've sat here with you over the decades and we've talked about racism and the problems there. Now, given that, within look at problems going on in the home, we look at the way a child will behave without a father, the way a child will behave without character corrections, the way parents will behave without character corrections. And there's a generational problem going on. So there's no way that I ever said this doesn't exist.

What I have said is that if we strengthen ourselves with the same tools that every successful group of people have used, then we will succeed.

KING: Was he unfairly criticized, Dr. Poussaint?

POUSSAINT: I think...

KING: There was a lot -- a lot of uproar.

POUSSAINT: I think he was unfairly criticized because I think he, Bill has always recognized racism. He speaks about it. He's always spoken to me about it. He's been involved in civil rights. He's contributed -- you know, that's very clear. So I think people are trying to set him up by saying, well, he's letting society off the hook, he doesn't believe that there's any racism and all the blame is on black people for the conditions that they suffer today. I don't think he was saying that.

I think he was saying, yes, we've got to -- we're in a tough situation, but our struggle has always been about being and getting by and succeeding against the odds, right?

COSBY: If you...

POUSSAINT: It always has been...

COSBY: If you, Larry...

POUSSAINT: Even with racism.

COSBY: If you, Larry, stood at an evening -- a fundraiser, let's say, B'Nai Brith -- those are Jews -- and you begin to speak to them about things that are not correct, and you want them to correct it. And publications begin to take those things that you said -- and you're speaking to your own people about making corrections. And you're speaking the truth. And they play it like you -- you opened up a whole bin of dirty laundry to be put out...

KING: Against my own people.

COSBY: But the problem -- the problem is if your laundry's dirty, why would you want to keep it dirty?

KING: Coming up -- we'll be right back, Bill Cosby on Michael Vick and Isiah Thomas and O.J. Simpson and the 2008 presidential candidates. That's later.

When we come back, a list of statistics about black men that may surprise you.

Don't go away.


COSBY: We're just people raising children who don't want to know anything. Say they're not going to live and you won't challenge them. I don't want to be flipping burgers. I can make more money out dealing drugs. Listen to me, idiot. Nobody asked you to flip burgers for the rest of your life. Ask the man from Ethiopia. He will flip some burgers.


Because somehow he knows he's going to become the manager of the place.




COSBY: You're not being a parent to become the winner of the Junior Chamber of Commerce award for nicest person that ever let a kid do whatever she wanted to do.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

The book is "Come On People".

The co-authors are Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint. You will see on your screen now a list of some grim statistics about black men. And we're going to rundown a few for you. Homicide is the number one cause of death for black men 15 to 29-years-old. That's unbelievable.

POUSSAINT: Sure. That's true. That's been that way for a long -- a long, a long time. About 1972, in the mid-'70s, it was the second leading cause of death among young black men. Over this period of time, it's moved up to the number one spot.

COSBY: But, wait. You left another statistic -- well, I don't know if you're going to do...

KING: We're coming to more.

COSBY: Well, wait.

But the suspect -- do you have the suspect there?

The suspect is generally within the same age range.

KING: Oh, the person who might have done the shooting?

POUSSAINT: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Right.

KING: Life expectancy at birth of black men is 69 years compared to 75 years for white men.

Why, Bill?

COSBY: Well, there's the doctor.

POUSSAINT: Well, I think it's a lot of reasons. I think that black men -- one of them is that they're dying a lot from the diseases, heart disease and so on. That -- and they don't get the same type of health care. There's health care disparities. That is, they're not getting the same kind of health care for conditions they have. They've done a lot of studies showing that even sometimes in the same hospital, black patients may not get the same care.

KING: That's prejudice, right?

POUSSAINT: Yes, that's prejudice. And, also, because of the socio-economic conditions and so, we have more black poor. And poor people don't tend to get the same type of care. And then I think black men are more vulnerable. They're more likely to be in prison and all kinds of things are going to take a toll on their...

KING: Stuff...

POUSSAINT: ...on their health.

KING: Stuff like this, Bill, doesn't it rile you?

Doesn't it get you angry? COSBY: Well, that's why I speak -- but mostly to the black people about this and about how I believe they can make things better by taking charge themselves.

KING: But it's not their fault if the hospital takes care of the white patient before the black patient.

COSBY: But if most of them can't get a feeling of confidence about themselves, then they probably will wait a long time before they report that they have something wrong. It's the way people think about themselves.

KING: In some cities, black males have high school dropout rates of more than 50 percent.

POUSSAINT: Right. Right.

KING: That's...

POUSSAINT: It's a tragedy. But all around the country, particularly in urban areas, more than 50 percent of black male high school students drop out. And in some cities, it's even higher. In Baltimore, 75 percent of the black male students drop out of high school.

KING: Why?

POUSSAINT: They drop out?

Because they haven't been prepared for school. They haven't been learning anything in elementary schools. So they're failing. They have not...

KING: And that's parental responsibility, isn't it, Bill?

COSBY: A part of it. But wait a minute. You can -- you can be in a neighborhood -- let's say the three of us are living in a neighborhood that is lower, lower economic. And the three of us have a mother. I'm homeless, your mother's there and he's with his Aunt Bee and grandmother. And we are in a school that is known to be one of the worst schools in the city.

Well, if you have one of the worst schools in the city, then chances are the teachers are not going to care for you. Chances are the parents don't feel seriously about coming to meet with teachers. I mean just the whole pileup of negative stuff that needs to be brought to the people so that they can begin to feel power and they can begin to make their move. Known fact, man, when the participation starts, things start to lift up. And this is what we need them to believe in and realize.

KING: Black people -- I'm reading this again. And this is important and is also discussed widely in this terrific book. Black people make up 12 percent of the general population, 44 percent of the prison population.

POUSSAINT: It's a terrible situation. Right now...

KING: It's unbelievable.

POUSSAINT: ...there's probably close to 800,000 black men in jail, and even more if you include black women. So the last figure I looked at, 910,000 blacks were in jail. The total prison population is about 2.2 million. So blacks make up about 44 percent of that, like there's affirmative action for black people that go to jail in this country so...

KING: Which...

POUSSAINT: know, the whole criminal justice system. That's not saying that blacks don't commit crimes and that's, you know, that's an issue and that's something that -- that Bill and I are very concerned about in this book -- drugs and all kinds of other behavior, as well as -- as well as violence.

But, still, the toll that locking up young black men takes -- and with these mandatory sentences and three strikes you're out and so on -- is really devastating the black community and the black family...

KING: We're going to take a break.

POUSSAINT: ...because they're not available men for fathers.

KING: We're going to take a break.

By the way, a couple other things. One third of the homeless in this country are black men. And homicide, as we said, is the number one cause of death for black men 15 to 29, in case you missed that.

COSBY: And the suspects, as well.

KING: And the suspects, as well.

More with Bill Cosby and Dr. Poussaint.

The book, "Come On People," when we come back.



COSBY: Now, I'm not talking about all Black people?


COSBY: Am I talking about all black people?


COSBY: But if 55 percent are dropping out of school -- 75 percent in some of the worst schools -- we're talking about them, aren't we?

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yes. COSBY: They've got problems, haven't they?


COSBY: And we can help them, can't we?


COSBY: All right. So that's what we're going to do.


KING: We're back with Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint.

When we hear those statistics and you see a major degree of a population -- a portion of the population of the United States being this way, what does this say about the whole country, Bill?

COSBY: It says that people don't like children. We're not raising children with the love that we need to.

Also, let me just play a game called what does it cost to educate a child a year?

Let's say $8,000 per child, all right?

Now, what does it cost to incarcerate -- what does it cost to keep a kid incarcerated?

KING: I think it's $35,000.

COSBY: Let's go to $40,000. I'd rather make it $40,000 out of...

KING: I think (INAUDIBLE)...

COSBY: OK -- $8,000 from $40,000 leaves us $32,000. So if we educated the child properly, we'd save that money. Taxpayers need to think and -- as opposed to letting a politician get away with we need to make cuts in education, they need to also look at 900,000 people incarcerated. Take 65 percent, am I correct, of those who people incarcerated -- a known fact -- to be illiterate or did not finish fourth grade. If we took that $32,000 and put it into educating our children properly -- now keep in mind, money, just money doesn't do it. Known fact -- people make the changes.

Therefore, if the taxpayers became upset enough to say to politicians, to say to superintendents, people on the board, the principals, the teachers, there is not much to making a child feel good about him and herself except saying you can do it, that's correct -- not to rush them along and then make them feel horrible, because at this particular juncture, you didn't learn X.

KING: Dr. Poussaint, why do you think Bill took such flak when he spoke out about the crisis in the black community?

POUSSAINT: Because I think... KING: He took flak from blacks.

POUSSAINT: Yes. He got black people...

COSBY: No, there were white people, too.

POUSSAINT: Too. But I think because they accused him of airing dirty laundry, you know, by criticizing, particularly, a lot of black youth who were not getting an education and doing the wrong -- wrong things and involved with drugs and so on. He expressed his frustration and people felt embarrassed, well, this is out in the public.

Well, as Bill said, they see our dirty laundry every single day, you know, on buses and other places where kids aren't doing the right thing or are involved in certain kinds of behavior.

So I think that they were unfair and defensive, I think, in attacking Bill in that way.

COSBY: And the call outs have proven -- which we address in the book -- the call outs have proven that people who deal with children, people dealing with children and staying on them about the corrective behaviors, in spite of the things that they feel are important, it's just a matter of no time at all before these children will come around and begin to realize the value of math, science, English, history and especially the value of studying and getting a good grade on a test.

POUSSAINT: Yes. And black people, you know, we've come as far as we've come because we've taken personal responsibility for changing things.

KING: Judge Clarence Thomas, the conservative black judge on the United States Supreme Court, Bill, says that he went conservative because he thinks that the black responsibility is to himself. He doesn't need any help. He doesn't want any help. He doesn't need that pick me up.

COSBY: And he doesn't want to help anybody.

KING: He doesn't need affirmative action.

COSBY: And he doesn't want to help anybody.

POUSSAINT: But he got affirmative action.

KING: He got affirmative action.

COSBY: Plenty of -- he got a whole lot of help and now he doesn't want to help anybody.

KING: Do you think he's hypocritical?

COSBY: He doesn't want to help anybody.

KING: I know it.

Do you think he's...

COSBY: He doesn't want to help anybody.

KING: All right.

But he says blacks don't need help, they can do it themselves.

And that's partially what you're saying, isn't it?

COSBY: Well, that's not -- yes, see partially is where you get into trouble if you're trying to put me in the room with Clarence Thomas, the brother lite.


KING: Brother lite.

COSBY: Larry...

KING: I'm just asking.

COSBY: No, no, no. I understand. I'm trying and Alvin is trying to reach those people who feel abandoned, who feel for so many years -- generational, whatever -- that they can't do it.

KING: Coming up, we'll talk more about this very important book. We'll also get the gentlemen's thoughts on O.J. Simpson and what that means in American society.

Lots to cover with Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint.

The book is "Come On People".

We'll be right back.


COSBY: I cannot understand how the education of this United States of America has been fooled time and time again. Either make it separate but equal or integrate, therefore it will be equal. And it has been separate and unequal.




COSBY: Your mayor says that the city, 75 percent black, 27 percent of you voted. Come on, people! The simplest thing to do. People will come and get you on the voting night. Too much happens (ph).


KING: The book is "Come on People." The guests are Dr. Alvin Poussaint, the director of the Media Center of the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston and professor of psychiatry at Harvard; and Bill Cosby. If I have to tell you who he is, you have a major problem.

In this atmosphere, Dr. Poussaint and Bill, does Barack Obama represent the kind of -- for black people, a hope?

POUSSAINT: Well, I think obviously he does, and he has rallied a lot of black people behind him and black people are contributing to his campaign, including, you know, upper and middle class black people. So I think, yes, that's important and -- symbolically and otherwise because it shows just as we get people as secretary of state and these other positions that we can go to the very top.

KING: Are you supporting him, Bill?

COSBY: I want to say that it's unfair. Do you ask white people this question?

KING: No, I'm...

COSBY: I'm asking you -- I'm not raising my voice, I'm asking, have you -- no, no, have you asked them, seriously? Because I get people -- they ask me this, and then it's sort of like those other people are not running. I want to know why this fellow especially is brought up in such a special way.

KING: I'll tell you what...

COSBY: And here's the question I'm asking. How many Americans in media really take him seriously, or do they look at him like some prize brown baby like...

KING: I think he's taken seriously by most of American media. He proves it every time he talks, whether you (INAUDIBLE) him or not.

COSBY: Look, I see journalists, whether it's CNN or whatever, and they talk about him in a manner that I feel says, well, OK, what did he say, and how special was he for what he said and how hard does he have to work? Everybody else -- nobody else is held -- those four Republicans that didn't show up at Morgan State happen to be more accountable in terms of what they didn't do, especially for the brown people as well. What is it that they're not saying about those four guys that didn't show up?

They're not saying that we didn't -- we as black people, didn't vote for them. That's silly. Because if you need votes and if you want votes, and brown people are waiting to ask you some questions and the black people are waiting to ask you, and Asian people are waiting to ask you questions, how could you not show up?

And so who is it you're trying to appease that you feel happens to be worth more than the 8 percent vote that you might have gotten by standing up and answering some questions?

KING: Just as Hillary has changed the landscape for women in that there's a woman with a chance to be president, Obama has changed the landscape for blacks.

COSBY: But I think it's stupid.

KING: But it's normal for any minority or underdog, if there were a major Jewish candidate for president, many Jews would want to support him, just for the feeling of pride. That's understandable, isn't it?

COSBY: That's not the point. My point is, he's treated, and so is Hillary treated, like some anomaly. Can the person do it? Of course. Look at the education. Look at where they're coming from. And do I -- if I support them, if I don't support them, if I support her, the time between the Clintons and Barack Obama, the people making their decision on who they're going to vote for -- there's a guy in Ohio I happen to love. Ch, ch (ph), you can't finish his name?

KING: Ohio?

COSBY: Running for president. Ch...

KING: Dennis Kucinich.

COSBY: OK. Kucinich. All right. I love what he says.

KING: He's a good little guy.

COSBY: I love what he...

KING: He has got a good book out.

COSBY: I love what he says. And...

KING: Let me get a break. And we'll come right back.


KING: We'll be right back with Cosby and Poussaint. The book is "Come on People." Destined for a best-seller. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint. The book is "Come on People." The subtitle, "On the Path from Victims to Victors."

When prominent blacks get into problems, what effect does this have on, first, the black population...

POUSSAINT: Get into what?

KING: Problems. What effect does it have on the black population and conversely on the white populations dealing with -- and I'm referring to O.J. and Michael Vick, two prominent -- O.J. a former athlete, Vick a current athlete, major problems, do you think this causes the society to look and say, oh, they're all alike no matter what they get? POUSSAINT: Well, if it does, it's just affirming that there's still a lot of racism in American society. If they make generalizations from two men who -- I mean, that's ridiculous.

KING: Do you think they do?

POUSSAINT: I mean, I think a lot of Americans may do that, right? And it's kind of a white privilege thing that white men commit all kinds of crimes and (INAUDIBLE) and serial killings, but no one generalizes to -- about white people being criminal or violent and so on.

But I think the prejudice mind tends to do that when there's someone they're prejudiced against, a whole group of people and someone does -- then they're going to generalize and spread it or use it as an excuse to uphold their bigotry.

KING: Bill, what do you make of it? Do you think it has an effect on society as a whole when a major name black person gets into problems?

POUSSAINT: And the questions of the media attention to it, too.

KING: Oh, and the media attention.

COSBY: Well, I think that, first of all, we're not winning that one. There's more white people doing horrendous things.

KING: That battle you lose.

COSBY: Yes. We can go to -- we can start with war and who's responsible for killings and airplanes and ships and bombs and doing things for whatever materials happen to be under the ground and the labor of human beings.

So I find it interesting that we all know Michael Vick's name, and it has stayed that way, but we don't know the names of the three fellows with him. Who left their names out each time they said Michael Vick?

KING: They're not known.


KING: They're not the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons.

COSBY: Exactly. Now, how do we expect our public to behave if that's the only person -- if we keep throwing Britney Spears up, if we follow a woman -- a woman's hearse all the way to the cemetery, and what was it she did, but we keep making a huge thing, and we know how many pills she took and how -- what happened with the baby and who and then mysterious names come up, we begin to tweak and play these things, so how seriously -- how seriously is O.J. being played? How seriously is Michael Vick being played?

KING: You think it's all part of a mix? COSBY: I think -- no, I don't think, I know that it's publicity that goes out, and people -- I don't think it has changed since if it bleeds, it leads. You know what? We've got 300 and some murders of this caliber with the 18 to whatever that you have there in the statistics that you just read and -- in the city of Philadelphia.

And let's just say somebody cry out, somebody about maybe out of the 300 and some murders of these young men blowing each other's heads off, it may be 78 percent of the 300 and some murders, somebody cry out.

Somebody get started and say, let's have a football stadium full of people who are parents saying, how long are we going to go not looking at our child's bedroom? How long are we going to go not understanding that it is possible that somewhere, somehow drug dealers and somewhere, somehow upper echelon gangsters and criminals are handing and putting guns into the hands and that as we are, some of us in our homes, are bringing up our children in a violent manner, violent in terms of cursing at them, violent in terms of calling them names, who start out at a young age.

Then we put a CD in and put a little kid in the back seat of the car, and that's booming, and the profanity is coming, and it's talking about women in a derogatory way, and the children listen to it, and they don't know the difference between that and "pass the salt" by the time they hit age 8.

KING: Let me get a break, and we'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: Stephen, would you like to be our next podcast?


KING: I can arrange that.

COLBERT: How do I do that?

KING: You don't have to do anything, just say, I would like to be your next podcast.

COLBERT: I would like to be your next podcast.

KING: Our new podcast is available. Head to or iTunes. So you will be our next podcast.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper. We're working on two breaking news stories on "360" at the top of the hour. A suicide bombing kills more than 120 people in the heart of Pakistan. Tonight we ask what happens if this key American ally in the war on terror, a nuclear power, falls in the hands of terrorists. Plus, tornados rip through the U.S. Right now in from Indiana to Kentucky to Tennessee, tornado warnings are up. We'll keep watching and show you what has already happened.

All that and new developments in the O.J. Simpson robbery case and a controversy brewing over one of the top scientists, literally in the history of scientists, he's known as the godfather of DNA, but what he said about Africans and African-Americans and intelligence is stirring outrage around the world tonight.

All that on "360" at the top of the hour.



COSBY: Who says it's all over? Who told you, well, it's all right now? If the Ku Klux Klan was coming again, what would you do? You'd grab your children. You'd throw them under your table, put them under the bed, put bodies on them. Here we go. We're ready for them. What the hell is a crack cocaine dealer?


KING: We're back with Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint. The book is "Come on People." The subtitle, "On the Path from Victims to Victors."

Are you optimistic, Doctor?

POUSSAINT: I'm optimistic because I think people do want change. They don't like all of the misery they're living in. They're just -- many of them are still feeling like hopeless, you know, what do we do? And what we're saying, no matter where you are, you can make a difference, and there's hope.

And there are stories in this book, from the call-out meetings, town meetings, they talk a lot about how they came from the bottom, from jail, from being drug addicts and were able to turn their lives around and succeed. And we're going for that, that goal and trying to touch that in the side of people and in their hearts that they want to be successful...

KING: Are you optimistic, Bill?

POUSSAINT: ... and want to succeed.

COSBY: Yes. I want to get drugs out of the neighborhood. I want to get violence -- I want schools to start from K through 12 to just every day have teachers understand that they don't want to talk about anything that is violent, and they want to explain to the children how bad violence is and how behavior -- violent behavior, is something that they really should not practice and think about.

POUSSAINT: Going to be focused on -- in the book we focus on good parenting, how you raise a child, how you make a child feel a sense of self-worth, what things you shouldn't be doing to children in disrespecting them, calling them names or beating them too much. That, in fact, may turn children into being violent if you beat them too much.

So we're emphasizing all of that as well as how people take care of themselves and value their own lives in terms of taking care of their health.

KING: When the black child reads of Jena 6 and what happened in Louisiana, isn't that a step back?

POUSSAINT: A step back, what do you mean?

KING: I mean...

POUSSAINT: A step back to the civil rights?

KING: Nooses hanging from trees?

POUSSAINT: Well, you know, that...

KING: Kid kept in jail without bail for six months?

POUSSAINT: I mean, that has always been -- that has been around. I mean, this isn't new. We have incidents like this going on regularly and not just in high schools, but in the communities which sometimes police and others being involved in some of the brutality and abuse of black people and black men.

So I think that the Jena situation highlighted the fact that there's a lot of discrimination in the criminal justice system all over the country, and that frequently black males get harsher sentences. They commit some crimes, but they get harsher sentence, they're more likely to get mandatory sentences from selling crack and that type thing so that they are treated more harshly. And that's one of the reasons why the jail population is so high. They're not all violent and being sent to jail...


KING: Do you get sadder, Bill, when you read about Isiah Thomas, because he's black?

COSBY: I was more affected when I saw a news piece and a white woman was asked about the nooses, and she appeared to be around 44 years old. And she said, I just didn't think it was serious. See, to me, that, in itself -- this is a woman who's saying the nooses were not hateful. This is a woman who's saying, well, they were just put up there maybe as a sense of humor or something like that.

I don't -- I think that we need to talk and put things out also about how can you really get away from a noose or nooses, and what is it you don't know living here in Louisiana about things?

POUSSAINT: About the Ku Klux Klan and lynching. COSBY: And I think that, you know, while -- you know, you're putting certain things in a position of devastation, whether it's these black males that you've named. And I'll tell you something, television, entertainment and radio, and the way people have been behaving, and where we are, where we are with businesses and people doing the wrong things with our meat, with our vegetables, with our land, people being excused after breaking and causing people's life savings to turn into nothing, that these men that you've named...

KING: They pale, but they're...


POUSSAINT: But it's a question if it is the media playing up these negative images.

KING: That's right. We'll be back with Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint right after this.



COSBY: Every success story has a parent who says, over my dead body. Every success story has an old person who walks up to you and says, when you're acting the fool, you know I worry about you sometimes.


KING: We have only a few minutes left, sadly, we're going to do a lot more on this in the future. A very important book, Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint, the book "Come on People."

I asked you about Isiah Thomas and whether it pained you more, the fact that he's black.

COSBY: No. He has appealed the case. He may win this thing later.

POUSSAINT: That's right.

COSBY: This is -- we need help with these people. Come on, people. These things are epidemic. We've got people who are trying to help, but we would really love for people to take a look at themselves and really go around and ask other people.

For instance, if some people say, you know what? I really -- tell me what to do. I don't know. We need an organization, we need funding to learn how to parent. Stop. Do this. When you're someplace and you see a black father with his children and things look like -- go over to the guy and say, listen, man. I've got a kid, I'm not sure when I'll see him, but I'm not sure what I'm doing -- if I'm doing -- can we talk?

Talk to each other. Talk to each other. Women talk to each other. People get together. Because it's the end result of a community that is together where people realize the beauty of mathematics, of science, of studying to know and graduate.

There's a wonderful young lady by the name of Jessica Pope (ph), and she says that if you think of your child as a lamp, and inside of that lamp is a genie, if you rub your child -- the lamp properly, the genie will come out. Genius.

You will be granted three wishes. I add on to that, you only need one if that kid is a genius and you are rubbing it correctly. The other two wishes you can keep in your back pocket and give to Larry King, say, I hope -- I wish that you live a long time. And I hope that you will give me some money.


COSBY: And I hope that you will give me these papers.

KING: Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint.

COSBY: And I would like to say, on behalf of Jack Benny...

KING: The book is "Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors," a guaranteed bestseller. Anderson Cooper is next.

COSBY: He is?

KING: Good night.