It’s been more than two years since Bill Cosby has spoken out publicly.
The legendary comedian has patiently — and quietly — awaited trial on sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania while seeing those who defend him face libel lawsuits — many of which have been tossed out of court.
Now he’s decided: It’s time to talk.
Cosby and spokesman Andrew Wyatt of the Purpose PR Firm in Birmingham, Alabama, said they grew comfortable that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) would be more interested in “facts over sensationalism.”
Persistence by the Black Press — NNPA reporters had repeatedly requested interviews — also proved a factor in Cosby’s decision to speak out in a two-part exclusive interview, Wyatt said.
While the superstar declined to address his legal case, his youngest daughter, Evin did.
In a statement, Evin, 40, proclaimed her father’s innocence.
“The harsh and hurtful accusations … that supposedly happened 40 or 50 years ago, before I was born, in another lifetime, and that have been carelessly repeated as truth without allowing my dad to defend himself and without requiring proof, has punished not just my dad but every one of us,” Evin said.
Perhaps the closest Cosby came to addressing the allegations was his response to questions about his love of the arts.
His supporters have argued that Cosby’s the victim of propaganda and many have had their views skewed because they haven’t taken time to do research.
“The history about African-Americans is a history of the United States — but the true histories, not the propaganda that is standard in our nation’s history books,” Cosby said. “The great writer, James Baldwin, said, ‘If you lie about me, then you lie about yourself.’ The revolution is in the home. There is something about someone saying, ‘I didn’t know that,’ that could cause a change in that person’s thinking.”
The legend did shed insight on his life and a career that he’s eager to resume.
Stunningly, Cosby, 79, revealed his “total lack of vision.”
Waking one morning about two years ago, he nervously called out to Camille, his wife of more than 50 years, “I can’t see.”
His doctors confirmed that he’s blind.
“When he would perform, we’d draw a wide straight yellow line from backstage to the chair on the stage and he’d rehearse the walk hours before the show,” said Wyatt, whose worked for years with Cosby.
Otherwise, Cosby insisted he’s well.
“I’m fine,” he said.
Few have achieved the legendary status enjoyed by Cosby. His career has spanned more than six decades and includes a host of best-selling comedy albums, gold and platinum records, five Grammy Awards and even best-selling books.
With his role in “I Spy” in the 1960s, Cosby became the first African-American co-star in a dramatic series, breaking TV’s color barrier and winning three Emmy Awards.
After starring opposite Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier in the 1970s trilogy “Uptown Saturday Night,” “Let’s Do It Again” and “A Piece of the Action,” Cosby’s star soared even higher in the 1980s when he single-handedly revived the family sitcom — and, some argue, saved NBC — with “The Cosby Show.”
“Bill Cosby and crew should be allowed to have their careers intact,” said Devin T. Robinson X, an actor and renowned poet who’s been featured on MTV, NBC, CBS and BET. “He represents the finest example of guilty in the court of public opinion, yet Bill O’Reilly’s image isn’t tarnished. Punishing people before they’re convicted in court only seems accurate when it serves a media narrative that doesn’t hurt a specific demographic.”
Cosby said he thinks about his illustrious career that, at least for now, has been placed on hold because of the court case.
“Darn right,” he said when asked if he missed performing. “I miss it all and I hope that day will come. I have some routines and storytelling that I am working on. I think about walking out on stage somewhere in the United States of American and sitting down in a chair and giving the performance that will be the beginning of the next chapter of my career.”
He finds laughter “in the same house where the revolution is,” he said, a nod to his mother’s home where he learned the importance of a good education.
“My mother was a domestic employee and she fixed breakfast for us and lunch and then she went off to work,” Cosby said. “She made $8 a day, I believe. When she came home, she cooked us dinner.
“As soon as Camille and I had a home and hired someone to help us to do the cleaning, and other things, we made sure of two things that were very important to us: We always paid a generous salary to people working in our home and whether male or female, they would be addressed by us and our children not as Annie or Barbara or whatever, but as Mr., Miss or Mrs. — all of them in that manner. That there is a respect,” Cosby said.
It’s all part of a legacy that many said shouldn’t be destroyed by allegations.
“If the president of the United States can go on working in the White House after he has confessed to and bragged about doing gross sexually explicit and abusive things to women without their permission, justice requires that Bill Cosby should not be punished unless he is convicted of crimes,” said Dr. E. Faye Williams, president and CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. “He has been charged, but not convicted, and the charges came only after his expressed interest in purchasing a network that somebody obviously didn’t want him to have.”
Tanisha Jones, 28, a fashion designer who works in New York, lamented the “absolute murder” of Cosby’s legacy and accomplishments
“That’s what’s happened over the past couple of years,” Jones said. “I’m a woman who feels for any woman who has been raped, assaulted or demeaned in any way. But, realistically, we have seen no evidence that any of this is true … yet we elect a president who campaigns on and is elected on grabbing women by their private parts.”