Mar 9, 2010

Cosby’s ‘Pound Cake’ speech inspires book

by Emily DeFosse

The Huxtables have forever taken their place in American television history as an upper middle class black family. The show, based on the comedy of Bill Cosby, reminds alumna Merisa Davis of her own family growing up, according to the first chapter of her soon-to-be-released book, “Bill Cosby is Right.”

Davis, Cosby’s cousin, grew up in Scottsville, Va., with her three sisters and one brother. They occasionally attended evening services at Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC), which at the time was a predominately white church that Davis’ family helped integrate.

“I was a small child, and I would think, ‘Oh we’re going to the white church today,” Davis said. “I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it was a big deal. I did not understand what we were actually doing until my mother passed in 2007. Dr. Jerry Falwell dropped everything and came out to Scottsville, Va., and preached at my mother’s funeral.”

Davis said that she and each of her siblings attended Liberty.
“My parents gave us no choice. They said, ‘You go to Liberty or you pay for your own education,’” Davis said.

Davis’ oldest sister Melody Day attended Liberty from 1977 to 1982 and graduated with a degree in music education.

Day recalled her family’s first experience at TRBC.

“We sat under the balcony because we got there a little late. There were these students that turned around and they helped us and talked to us,” Day said. “They were so nice. I remember thinking, ‘I want to be a part of this,’ because they were just so different.”

Davis’ second oldest sister, Dr. Monica Parson, is an associate professor of physical education at Liberty. She received her undergraduate degree from Liberty in 1983.

While at Liberty, Parson joined a music team called “I Love America,” which travelled to every state capital.

“It was a really white team and they decided they needed to add some color. They had auditions … just to get some color, some people with extra melanin in their skin,” Parson said.

Falwell traveled with the team and would often lead group devotions, according to Parson. Parson also recalled the first time she met Falwell .

“I remember my father and mother talking about how Jerry Falwell saw our family sitting out in the pews, and he made a beeline out to us when the service was over and shook my dad’s hand, shook my mom’s hand, apparently he was impressed because it was basically a really white church,” Parson said of her family’s first visit to TRBC.

Davis’ book, which should be released later this spring, focuses on Cosby’s 2004 “Pound Cake” speech at the NAACP’s 50th anniversary celebration of the Brown vs. Board of Education court victory, in which he bluntly chastised the black community for the high percentage of high school drop outs, incarcerations and unwed births that have resulted from the breakdown of the traditional family.

Davis looks at Cosby’s speech, beginning each chapter with an excerpt and supporting what her cousin said, despite the negative reception his speech received.

“(I think the book) should go national,” Day said. “It is my prayer that it would. I also pray protection over (Davis) because (the book) is pretty blunt and honest in some aspects, particularly with some of the issues in the black Muslim community. Once the truth is out there (if) people don’t appreciate that, they may even try to do some harm.”

Day hopes people will receive the message and make changes to their lives and society.

“I hope that the people that really need to hear the message, whether they agree with it or not, I hope that they will hear it … and if they need to make changes, do so,” Day said.

For more information about the book and to read an excerpt of the first chapter, visit Davis’ Web site merisadavis.com. The Center4Me plans to host a book release party for Davis at the time of the book’s release.

Contact Emily DeFosse at
ebdefosse@liberty.edu.


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