Since 2000, Bill Cosby has been the subject of sexual assault allegations, claiming that he raped, facilitated drugs, and committed sexual battery and misconduct to at least 54 women, including Janice Dickinson and a former Ms. America. The alleged sexual assault occurred in the mid-60s, and since 2014, many women have gradually come forward. As of September 2015, there are five related lawsuits pending against the acclaimed comedian and actor.
While many have expressed their distaste for Cosby, others have come to his defense. Malcom Jamal-Warner was one of those who came to Cosby’s defense. In an interview with the Associated Press, Warner discussed his concern for The Cosby Show legacy.
“My biggest concern is when it comes to images of people of color on television and film, no matter what … negative stereotypes of people of color, we’ve always had The Cosby Show to hold up against that,” he said. “And the fact that we no longer have that, that’s the thing that saddens me the most because in a few generations the Huxtables will have been just a fairy tale.”
Warner isn’t the only “family” member to break the silence and express their concerns with the legacy of the Cosby brand. Phylicia Rashad (aka Claire Huxtable on the show) also commented on the allegations. “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy,” she said. “And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture. This show represented America to the outside world. This was the American family. And now you’re seeing it being destroyed. Why?” Keshia Knight Pulliam has also weighed in saying they’re “just allegations.”
The Cosby legacy being referred to has opened doors in the television industry in terms of diversity. The Cosby Show aired eight seasons on NBC from 1984 until 1992. The show was praised for featuring a stable, black family and breaking the stereotypes concerning African-American culture. Jamal-Warner revealed that he has been in contact with Cosby, but declined to share what the two discussed.
“I think the things that we discussed really have to stay private between us. But it’s just a bad situation all around – for him, for his family, the women, their families, the legacy of the show.”
With Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Pulliam, and Rashad speaking up, it seems like the Huxtable family is more than just an act. Cosby has not been charged in regards to any of the allegations, but he will definitely need the support as the lawsuits continue.