Bill Cosby spoke bluntly to Richmond, Va., students at the city's mostly black public schools, urging them to dedicate themselves to graduation, not gangs, and to control anger that threatens to derail their dreams.
Cosby toured four schools Monday with former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, who is running for mayor. Instead of talking about politics, Cosby stuck to his no-nonsense message to inner-city black children.
"Study. That's all. It's not tough. You're not picking cotton. You're not picking up the trash. You're not washing windows. You sit down. You read. You develop your brain," he said at Fred D. Thompson Middle School, where 65 percent of the 700 students meet low-income criteria for free or reduced-price lunches.
There and at George Wythe High School, the 67-year-old actor-comedian urged black children in their teens to begin studying in groups, for girls not to allow themselves to become pregnant and for boys not to compensate for love they lack at home with gangs or sex.
"I'd like to tell you I don't think things have changed since I was 14," Cosby said. "There are still old people who drink, do drugs — who will stop and take the time to tell you don't be like them. Have you heard them? Pay attention to them."