Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Man Named Bill

The alum stood in front of the Northwestern University graduating class of 1997. Applause erupted refusing to end. We sat to his left in the upper seats watching from a perch where we could see both him at the podium and my son in one of the rows down front. Having a name starting with ‘D’ was an advantage.

I was first exposed to his records. We laughed as he entertained us with tales of babysitting his baby brother and Jello pudding. He took us to another culture and taught us that it was no different from ours. He crossed the barrier of color and blended them on college campuses. His name is Bill Cosby.

I never missed “I Spy”. It was the first drama I remember that incorporated comedy into the mix. A blend of color and another awakening for a white populace and success story for a black community. He opened doors and taught us to open our eyes. Even at a ripe old age, he continues to teach and care.

James’ graduation on June 26, 1997, was a day of pride and great excitement. Yet everyone in the hall watching this man in the Northwestern sweatshirt and tennis shoes were brought face to face with reality. Dr. Cosby had just lost his son in January, a mere six months before. Our hearts wrapped around this man. We wanted to ease his pain. He wouldn’t let us. Instead he lifted us up to a better place, planting young feet on a path to make their world better.

Ennis Cosby died January 16, 1997. Thirteen years later James and Lisa were married on January 16, 2010. Bill Cosby was in Portland the day the kids were married.

Bill Cosby has crossed our lives for some reason. Not sure why. Maybe it is to keep us aware that the world continues to change, and we are a part of that change. Maybe it is to remind us that we can be strong even when we are beaten down with pain. Maybe, just maybe, it means nothing.

I’ll think on it.

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