During the late ’80s and early ’90s when I was in college, my friends and I would not allow anything to take precedence over watching the “Cosby Show” or “A Different World” on Thursday nights. The campus at Hampton University and probably other HBCUs across the country were silent during that hour of television as the shows depicted a Black middle to upper-middle class lifestyle and the characters were accessible and familiar.
Issues about remaining in college, dating, racism, alcoholism/drug usage, family and other topics took center stage on the show and kept Black students and folks around the country glued to the television to see reflections of themselves on primetime television.
As a graduate student at UPenn, I felt fortunate at the time to meet Bill Cosby at the Penn Relays. My work study position was in the Center for Community Partnerships and that enabled me to have a field pass at the national track meet. I approached Dr. Cosby and asked for a picture with him and without hesitation he agreed. Almost 20 years later, I still have that picture today on the mantle in my office.
Like many others, I am fighting through my denial about the allegations against Bill Cosby because at one time, he was “America’s Dad.” On one hand, there are so few representations of positive Black men in the media that it is easy to be enamored with his charisma, generosity and sense of self.