Bill Cosby has been in the news a great deal lately, and for good reason. A large number of women are coming forward claiming that he did terrible things to them. The allegations haven’t been tried in the court of law, but the number of accusers is so high that it’s almost impossible to ignore them.
This chain of events has led to a deeper, longer-term analysis of Cosby’s past and present. His future is becoming clearer every day, and he may never appear on television again. The study of Cosby’s past reveals both good and bad things that he has done inside and outside the black community.
One of the most notable things that Cosby has done is to make the single largest donation to any Historically Black College in history. In 1988, at the peak of his fame, Cosby gave a shocking $20 million dollars to Spelman College in Atlanta. Not only did Cosby make the major donation, but he didn’t want many accolades for it. He spoke about the money at one dinner and then told the press that he didn’t want to speak about it again. So, this appears to have been another time when Cosby was silent with the media, but for a different reason.
Another thing that Cosby said when he gave the money is that the donation was given to inspire other African Americans to step up and support HBCUs. Here is more of what he said, according to the New York Times:
”Mrs. Cosby and I have been blessed because I found a vein of gold in the side of a mountain,” he said. He also told then-president Dr. Johnetta Cole, ”Mrs. Cosby and I wanted this woman to know how much we love this school.”
Dr Cole seconded Cosby’s push to get African Americans to give back to their youth.
”We must claim and therefore support those institutions at the heart of our peoplehood,” Dr. Cole said to the New York Times. ”That was his point. If we can tithe for our churches, we can tithe for our schools. This doesn’t mean we turn away from the Federal Government or from the private sector, but either we support these institutions or they will die.”
”I woke up the next morning and pinched myself to see if it had been a dream,” she added.
”They’ve sent out a wonderful message to the country and these colleges’ alumni,” said Joseph Johnson, president of Grambling State University, in Grambling, La.: ”that is, that these schools are important national resources and deserve to be significantly supported.”
Financial Juneteenth lessons from this story:
1) Few people are 100% good or 100% bad. So, Mr. Cosby either appears to be a good person who did a few bad things or a bad person who did a few good things. Most human spirits are not entirely black and white. Rather than making an all-or-nothing decision, it may be possible to simply look at the facts as they stand and evaluate them accordingly.
2) As Cosby reaches the twilight of his life, it is important that we remember both the good and bad that he did in his life. Respect should be paid to potential victims, assuming he committed some of these terrible crimes, but that doesn’t remove the impact of things he did for the black community throughout the years. Quite a few of us have elders in our own families who’ve made terrible mistakes, but loved us nonetheless.
3) Many of the people who are seeking to destroy and remove Cosby from public space would never give a dime to send a black child to college; most of them, even many black commentators/critics, have given almost nothing. This does not, in any way, make Cosby a saint. But it does say something. It’s typically very easy to destroy things you don’t like, but much more difficult to build things that you support. Cosby, despite his many apparent and potential faults, appears to be a builder.
By Ashley Naples