The black family in America has long been an institution seemingly under attack. For the past half-century, since Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his infamous report on the growing crisis in “The Negro Family,” the breakdown in the black family has been blamed for just about every ill that plagues black America.
So when Bill Cosby came along in 1984 with “The Cosby Show” and brought the Huxtable family into American living rooms, it ushered in a monumental transformation in the way that America saw black families.
No longer did the idea of a black family mean something negative and destructive. Here was a black doctor and his lawyer wife, struggling like the rest of the nation to raise their children with strong values and common sense. Along the way, all of America, black and white, fell in love with Cliff, Clair, Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy. Many of the story lines were taken from Cosby’s own life and his stand-up routines. The result was comic genius.
In the process, Cosby rescued the fortunes of NBC and revived the television sitcom.