Theodore M. Shaw ["Beyond What Bill Cosby Said," op-ed, May 27] demonstrated that most civil rights workers and their organizations, including the NAACP, are out of touch with the real problems of black Americans.

Mr. Cosby's comments did not diminish what the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has done to benefit blacks and all Americans. But the "advancement of colored people" is not confined to the political arena. The NAACP should be raising funds and bringing the best minds together to operate:

* A national math, reading and writing after-school tutorial program for inner-city black kids.

* An intense summer study program for the same subjects for inner-city black kids in grades 7 through 12.

* Parenting classes for young, underage and undereducated parents using inner-city high schools.

The D.C. and Prince George's County school systems have mostly black teachers, students and school boards. Yet they have terrible test scores, and some schools are dangerous. Mr. Shaw probably would blame this situation on centuries of discrimination. But why isn't the NAACP going into these communities and schools and changing the culture?

Mr. Shaw said: "As a nation, we wage war on poor people in this country, not on poverty." We have had a decades-long war on poverty called welfare during which we have given fish to the poor. Instead, maybe we could give them some self-worth by teaching them how to fish. The blueprint for eliminating poverty is well-known. It is education.



Bill Cosby was on target.

The Rev. Willie Wilson was quoted as saying that the Brown v. Board of Education decision "resulted in total cultural and historical surrender" [Metro, May 26]. He added, "[W]e walked away from thousands of businesses because embedded in our minds was that all that was black was inherently inferior."

I disagree.

I am almost 73, and I grew up in Washington. Following the passage of civil rights legislation we did indeed walk away from thousands of black-owned businesses across America, not because we thought that all that was black was inferior, but because those businesses were inferior.

How many blacks my age can sincerely say it was a sad day when the Dunbar Hotel, at 15th and U streets NW, closed and blacks were "forced" to stay at the Statler Hotel (now the Capital Hilton) at 16th and K?

In the late '50s the nicest black restaurant in the District was arguably Westbrook's, with Southeast and Northwest locations. However, whites-only restaurants such as Hogate's, Flagship and O'Donnell's were nicer in terms of menu and ambience; plus, they served martinis.

Let's be honest with our younger generation. Many of the black businesses that prospered before the civil rights movement had lasted as long as they did because their black customers had no other options. The Brown decision did not cause us to walk away from a thing worth keeping.




I don't know what parts of Bill Cosby's remarks [Style, May 23] apply to which parts of the African American population. I do know that I was privileged to work as the choir director at the largely African American St. Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church in Washington.

There I saw the best-behaved altar boys and girls I have ever met. I saw well-dressed families being reverent and teaching their children by example. I worked with some of the most deeply spiritual people I have ever known, people who lived their faith.

At St. Gabriel's, I met people who, despite hardships, were hardworking but joyful and loving. I met people who were proud of their heritage -- parishioners often wore African dress, and African music and dance were included in church celebrations.

Mr. Cosby should visit St. Gabriel's and, I'm sure, many other inner-city churches, and then tell the other side of the story.