Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson join rally to encourage enrollment in DPS
by Darren A. Nichols/The Detroit News
Detroit — Hundreds of parents, teachers and children in blue “I’m In” T-shirts marched along Woodward on Thursday for the second annual Back to School parade and rally downtown.
School bands, comedian Bill Cosby, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and radio personality Rickey Smiley marched, while speakers such as the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP, beseeched students and parents to become more engaged.
“When you go back to school … go with an attitude that you’re in it to win it. Go with the attitude that you represent the DPS,” Anthony said.
“When you go to school, remember you have purpose.”
Marchers passed out candy, backpacks and shirts as part of a wider effort to ensure enrollment is at least 77,313 to avoid budget cuts. Last year’s campaign exceeded expectations, brought in 830 additional students, which generated about $6.2 million in state aid for the district.
“We should just work on making Detroit a better place and DPS (better),” said Brandon Bailey, 14, who will attend Cass Technical High School this fall. It’s very important that DPS stays good financially, education-wise and just keeping kids on track and on task.”
Cosby, who also participated in last year’s campaign, led the crowd in a reworked version of an old James Brown hit, tweaking the words to “Sex Machine” to his audience and singing “Get on up … stay on the scene, like a studying machine.”
Cosby also encouraged parents to deal with their children and relatives who are misbehaving.
“You have control over how you talk to your children (and) relatives,” Cosby said. “If they are misbehaving, why are you afraid to upset them? … It’s taking away from your Detroit Public Schools.”