This is a partial transcript from "The O'REILLY Factor," May 20, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY HOST:  In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, Bill Cosby (search) spoke at a gala in Washington on Monday and severely criticized African-Americans who are not raising their children responsibly.

Cosby compared these people to the blacks of the 1960's and said, "These people marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking round...the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.  These people are not parenting, they're buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers, for what?  And they won't spend $200 for "Hooked on Phonics"...I can't even talk the way these people talk:  "why you ain't, where you is..."

Now some of the audience were angry with Cosby, but the NAACP's Kweisi Mfume (search) told me today on the phone he agrees with the comedian.

With us now is Reverend Sekou, the executive director of "New York Common Ground (search)," a community outreach group and author of the book, "Urban Souls."

All right, Reverend, do you object to what Mr. Cosby said, first of all?

OSAYGYEFO SEKOU, NEW YORK COMMON GROUND:  Well, first and foremost, I think we wanted to articulate the fact that Mr. Cosby is an icon in our American life, that he distills certain notions of black folks as related to his show, "Cosby Show."

O'REILLY:  Right.

SEKOU:  And so, I think that it's important for us to keep track of that, because we don't want to demonize anyone.  I am first and foremost a Christian.  And the gospel doesn't allow me to do that.

Secondly, I disagree with any comments that attempt to limit the ways in which people of African descent are acknowledged and dealt with.  And so that we want to expand the conversation in that there are a multiplicity of poor people who are working hard every day, who are loving their children, who are radically committed to the Democratic project, who are activists and things of that nature.

And so, there are some of us who believe that there has to be an expanded conversation about the ways in which people find themselves living in circumstances out of...

O'REILLY:  So  you -- do you object to the generalness of his remarks?

SEKOU:  Yes. 

O'REILLY:  All right.  But you know, I do that all the time, reverend, to make a point to, shock people, hyperbole, use a little bit of hyperbole there.  And you say hey, what's going on.

But let's be honest here.  You're an honest guy.  When you have 70 percent out-of-wedlock birthrate as the African-American community does in America, OK, you got a cultural collapse on your hands. 

SEKOU:  Well, not necessarily.  When we look at...

O'REILLY:  Really?

SEKOU:  ...the fact that single mothers are disproportionately the amount raising families, they should be celebrated and not demonized.  Secondly, Jesus' mother was a single mother.  So we want to be clear that...

O'REILLY:  I think St. Joseph was in the house.  Yes.

SEKOU:  No, no, no, no.  There was not -- she was not married to her - to Jesus' father.

O'REILLY:  Well, I mean in the traditional sense.

SEKOU:  And in the traditional sense.  And we want to be clear on that, that if something about understanding that simply because one is born in a single-parent home, it does not mean that one does not have certain kinds...

O'REILLY:  Look, I don't want to demonize anybody.  But if...

SEKOU:  Secondly, I think the most interesting point that he's  raised, that has to be distilled, is this question of comparing the folks of the '60's to young people today.  There are a multiplicity of young organizers around this country, such as my own organization, New York Common Ground.

The folks with Jobs with Justice, the New York Unemployment Project, the National Political Hip-Hop Convention, there are great young people who are organizing in a way to keep track of these questions of poverty.  None of the presidential candidates are dealing critically with these questions of poverty about the proliferation of the underground economy and things of that nature.

O'REILLY:  OK, maybe that's true.  But Cosby says...

SEKOU:  So we need have that conversation in a way...

O'REILLY:  Whoa, whoa, whoa.  We're having a conversation here.  But Cosby says forget about the politicians dealing with it.  You deal with it, African-Americans. 

SEKOU:  And people in the African-American community...

O'REILLY:  You deal with it.

SEKOU:  We're dealing with it every day.

O'REILLY:  You see...

SEKOU:  The folks are dealing with it every day.  The vast majority of our children don't go to...

O'REILLY:  But the stats don't belie your optimism.

Look, let me give you another stat, all right?  The rate of incarceration for black males 18 to 24 is eight times what it is for whites. 

SEKOU:  And we have to deal with these questions of the ways in which the criminal justice system has placed its eyes and ears...

O'REILLY:  So you're blaming the wrong people.

SEKOU:  No, not necessarily...

O'REILLY:  You aren't?  Cosby's preaching self-reliance.  You're preaching societal responsibility. 

SEKOU:  And - no.  No, no, no.  I'm saying that part of being a Democratic citizen, the demos, has to do with everyone.  You, me, everyone in the nation being accountable for the little boy on the street.

The best of the democratic project, the best of the African-American civil rights movement, has been always linking personal responsibility to social obligations.  You can't live in a whorehouse and not turn a trick.

O'REILLY:  Well, I agree with you.  I think we ought to look out for the kids.

SEKOU:  So eventually poor people are going to find themselves in a situation where they're not of their own choosing.  When we look at NAFTA taking jobs overseas means young people don't have access to a decent wage.

O'REILLY:  Look, you're macroing it out. 

SEKOU:  And so -- no, it's not macro.  It is not macro...

O'REILLY:  All right, hold it.  Let me get something in here.

Now I agree with you that all have to look out for the kids.  All of us have to look out for the kids.

SEKOU:  Yes.

SEKOU:  But I disagree with you in the sense that what Cosby is saying is right.  There are significant numbers of African-American parents and white parents as well, all right, who are not raising their kids responsibly.  And those parents should be...

SEKOU:  And not only in the inner city.  They're in Columbine.

O'REILLY:  Yes.

SEKOU:  They are in Paducah, Kentucky.  They're in... 

O'REILLY:  You are saying it's society's fault, rather than their fault.

SEKOU:  No.  I'm saying that the society has a moral and ethical obligation to care for the most vulnerable members of the civilization.

O'REILLY:  That's true.

SEKOU:  And as a result of that, to simply point out black families and say they're the problems when we look at the school shootings around this country, just - happening in communities....

O'REILLY:  Making an excuse. 

SEKOU:  It is not excuse.  Excuse has to do with the fact that we have a president who cannot put two sentences together, who is not and never...

O'REILLY:  Now you're going into an illogical...

SEKOU:  No.  It's not a new launch.  It's not illogical.. 

O'REILLY:  Sure it is. 

SEKOU:  Poor people are catching hell and there's no conversation about it.  And we're demonizing...

O'REILLY:  And we're demonizing...

SEKOU:  You work.  You weight out of it, and you get educated.  That's it.  If you're going to count on Bush to do... 

SEKOU:  No, it's not counting on Bush.  I'm saying that all of us  have an obligation and when we look at what is happening...

O'REILLY:  All right.

SEKOU:  With this country, poor people are catching hell.  There's no legislative mandate for it. 

O'REILLY:  All right, it's a good conversation. 

SEKOU:  And if one can live righteously every day in America, and still not be able to make a dollar...

O'REILLY:  All right, Reverend, thanks for coming in.

SEKOU:  Thank you.

O'REILLY:  I agree with Cosby.

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