As Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," Bill Cosby was widely regarded as one of America's favorite dads, mixing important life lessons with a bit of humor.
But that was then.
These days, Cosby is delivering a serious message about real problems plaguing black communities. He's traveling the country, hosting public "call-out" forums where he asks people to better themselves and the society in which they live. They give people an opportunity to deliver testimonies.
For Cosby, this is no laughing matter.
With Harvard psychology professor Alvin Poussaint, Cosby has co-authored a book "Come on People" that addresses hot-button issues like black-on-black violence, the disintegration of families and the collapse of the black community.
Cosby and Poussaint used what they have learned from their call-outs as inspiration for the book.
"It was all about hope. The, the stories in this book, the people who stood up, what they overcame to … to do what they accomplished," Poussaint said as he emphasized the message he wishes the book to convey. "You just can't wallow in being a victim, that you have to keep your eyes open to the choices and possibilities that you have."
A major theme in the call-outs has been drugs and the negative impact they have on a community.
"I want people to understand that I think that that's at least No. 1 on my list of how to destroy a wonderful housing project and how to destroy a family, how to destroy neighborhood, because when people become addicted on this, everything is gone," Cosby said.
He added that with confidence will come character change — confidence that must be instilled by elders. With that, Cosby uses the book to challenge black families to look to themselves first.
"If you're an unwed father, it's about this child and and helping her or him to grow," Cosby said.
Poussaint added that 70 percent of black babies born every year are born to single mothers.
"We have so many children, thousands upon thousands, who have no father in their lives. And so many fathers themselves don't feel like they're important, that they count," Poussaint said. "You have to realize that many of these young men themselves grew up in fatherless homes. They don't know what a father's supposed to do."
Poussaint said the solution involves stressing the importance of fathers, and he hopes his book will play a role.
"My hope is that they will read it, they will hear the stories, they'll hear our words and they'll feel like, yeah, there's something that I can do better for, for myself. There's something I can do better for my children, and there's something I can do for my community. I just have to get up and do it," Poussaint said.