Submitted to the AFRO by James L. Walker Jr.
Bill Cosby will spend the next three years in a Pennsylvania prison as a state judge declared justice’s time had come.“It is time for justice. Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come,” loudly proclaimed Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill as he ordered Cosby to spend three to 10 years in jail.
In April, a jury found Cosby guilty of three counts of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his gated estate in 2004 after being barraged with similar accusations from more than 60 women over the past 50 years.
For Cosby, 81, the sentencing marks the first powerful celebrity to be sent to prison in the wake of the rapidly growing #MeToo Movement. Many believe Harvey Weinstein; the ousted former owner of Miramax Films will be next.
Constand, who in her statement to the court, said that Cosby took “her beautiful young spirit and crushed it.” She and dozens of other women who accused the legendary comedian-actor, all celebrated at the courthouse in what was seen by many of his accusers as a reckoning richly deserved and long overdue.
But, while they celebrated and thousands nationwide stood with them, the incredible fall of the disgraceful pop culture icon known for his involvement with Coca-Cola and Jell-O pudding ads has left Black America angry, confused and sadly disappointed.
As an attorney, I never understood the legal strategy on this one. And the press conference and statement by his publicist at the courthouse moments after Cosby was taken into handcuffs was the worst move possible for Cosby and his criminal appeal, to immediately play the race card.
One longstanding Cosby Show lover, well-known author and speaker Darrius Gourdine summed it up best on his Facebook page opining:
“Heathcliff Huxtable is a great husband, father, granddad and physician”, but he loudly added, “Bill Cosby is a rapist!!! Y’all need to stop.”
And, therein lies the issues and struggle of Black America this morning: we truly adored Heathcliff and the Huxtable family. But, we totally despise and denounce these countless horrific stories of young girls being taken advantage of by Cosby and a number of actresses, models and everything in between sharing nightmares of waking up to find their clothes off and bodies violated after being drugged.
Which is why this is all so tough.
Dr. Bill Cosby as Heathcliff Huxtable was the mythic genius, humorous and thoughtful, bigger-than-life father patriarch, fictional “Cosby Show” character.
Through the life of Cliff, Claire, Sandra, Denise, Vanessa, Rudy and Theo, the Huxtables, moralized Black culture, and showed prime-time network television that there was a“normal” Black middle-class institution in thousands of neighborhoods across the country.
The message to America: here’s a Black family that loved Jazz, Sunday church, Romare Bearden art as well as classical music, sent their kids to college and was just like every other middle-class family out there regardless of race.
The list goes on and on as the show crossed all racial barriers.
And, as a result, Cosby, America’s Dad, shattered every Black family stereotype associated with other Black television sitcoms like “Good Times”and “Sanford and Son”, “That’s My Mama”and “What’s Happening,”and main stream media’s limitations, along with Hollywood boardrooms’ closed minds.
Donating millions of dollars to colleges, Cosby even ignited thousands of Black youths to enroll into Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) by creating the fictional Hillman College, attended by his tv-daughter Denise Huxtable in the Cosby Show spinoff, A Different World.
No one had seen powerful HBCUs and the pride, confidence and great education afforded to our Black children until “A Different World” premiered as produced by Cosby with the legendary Miss Aretha Franklin singing the classic theme song to the show.
And, now some 30 years later, by contrast, Dr. William E.D. “Bill” Cosby Jr., the man, has been made mortal and prisoner number NN7687, in a minimum security Pennsylvania Prison, a fallen hero, facing a minimum of three (3) years in jail.
The star of the 1960s hit “I Spy” has been destroyed like a tragic Shakespearian leading character. Admitting to infidelity on numerous occasions and showing no respect or remorse for any of the alleged 60 women, Cosby finds himself in a six-by-six jail cell due to, ironically, a joke by a fellow, lesser known comedian named Hannibal Burress, whose joke about Cosby’s victimization of women went viral and the rest is history.
The civil lawsuits will now proceed with a swiftness too, as lawyers bring lawsuits nationwide against him for civil damages.
Regardless of where you fall in this conviction of the “Cos,” all would agree, if you are convicted of a crime you have to serve the punishment as this is the crux of our justice system, pending your appeal and vindication.
But, separating the mythic flawless Heathcliff Huxtable Cosby character from the clearly human, imperfect flawed struggling defendant Bill Cosby is still one of the toughest realizations in the Black community.
Sadly, Black America has to accept the reality: even our heroes let us down sometime.
James L. Walker Jr. is a graduate of Howard and Yale universities and practices law in Atlanta. He can be found at www.walkerandassoc.com. He is @jameswalkerjresq on IG.
The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.
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