Cosby puts his money where his mouth is....
Cosby foots college bills for top grads
Thursday, July 8, 2004 Posted: 9:32 AM EDT (1332 GMT)
SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts (AP) -- Comedian Bill Cosby, who recently said black children are "going nowhere" because they don't know how to read and write, is paying for the college education of two top high school graduates who support themselves.
Cosby, who lives in Shelburne, read a story in The Republican of Springfield about Loren M. Wilder and Jimmy L. Hester, who are also black. They went to three colleges in a tour arranged by Cosby, and selected Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia after visiting the campus on Tuesday.
"This is all about your careers, your lives," Cosby told the teenagers, who are black, as they traveled with him on his private jet, The Republican reported for Thursday editions. "The more you study, the better you do now, the more will open up to you later."
Wilder was 14 when his mother was jailed for dealing drugs, and Hester left home at 15 after years of moving around and fighting with his mother.
Both moved from place to place before getting an apartment together this winter with another student from Putnam Vocational Technical High School.
Cosby was scheduled to honor a dozen high school students and graduates, including Hester and Wilder, on Thursday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
"Fifty percent of African-American males drop out of high school. We're talking epidemic here," said Cosby, who has recently drawn both praise and criticism for his strongly-worded comments. "You've got kids who never get told how important it is to study. They've got the designer shirt, but no one's telling them to study. People have to start seeing the light."
"So to find two young men whose values are on the right side, it's refreshing," he added.
The teenagers said they were impressed by Cosby's generosity and the attention he paid to their story.
"Experiencing this with Mr. Cosby has been great," Wilder said. "Here's a guy who has millions of dollars and he's focusing in on the two of us. It's a good feeling."
Cosby made headlines in May when he upbraided some blacks for their grammar and accused them of squandering opportunities the civil rights movement gave them. He shot back Thursday, saying his detractors were trying in vain to hide the black community's "dirty laundry."
Before Cosby stepped forward to pay their college bill, Wilder had planned to attend Westfield State, while Hester was headed to American International in Springfield.
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