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Smithsonian’s Plan to Include Cosby’s Material at New Museum Draws Criticism from His Accusers

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby is shown circa 1960s. (AP Photo)
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby is shown circa 1960s. (AP Photo)

Comedian Bill Cosby’s accusers are outraged about a museum’s decision to feature new material about the entertainer in the midst of legal woes from various rape allegations.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, based in Washington, D.C., plans to hold mementos about Cosby’s career as an actor and comedian. Most of these artifacts will feature his time and work on the television programs I Spy and The Cosby Show. There will also be pieces focusing on his help and support of Black Hollywood stuntmen.

Cosby, 78, is currently facing rape allegations from an estimated 48 women over the course of his 50-plus-year career. Many of these women were colleagues and personal friends of the Cosbys. Within the past two years, they have come out against him and revealed details of their encounters with the comedian.

Atlanta Black Star reported that Cosby brought Quaaludes, a prescription drug that was allegedly used to have sex with women. On July 6, released court documents from a 2005 lawsuit by Andrea Constand, a former Temple employee, say she was allegedly drugged at his Pennsylvania mansion in January 2004. The documents revealed that the comedian confessed to purchasing the prescription drugs.

Last week, Cosby was due in court to argue against seven women who have accused him of sexual assault, according to Reuters.

His accusers have asked museum curators to include the good and bad in their exhibit of Cosby, which is part of a larger exhibit called “Taking the Stage.” According to The New York Times, the exhibit will feature other artifacts about famous Black celebrities. The museum faced initial backlash last year when they received loaned art from Cosby’s wife, Camille.

“If they just speak about the contributions, there will be this enormous presence that is not talked about,” said Patricia Leary Steuer, 59, who accused Cosby of assaulting her decades ago.

Cosby’s reputation has been completely dismantled over the course of two years. Many of the allegations against him have yet to be proven. Temple has dropped him from their board of trustees, and others have completely distanced themselves from the comedian.

Another accuser Beth Ferrier, agreed with Steuer.

“A label is the only way I would agree to it,” she said. “We’ve been labeled.”

The racial bias in the dismantling of Cosby’s career is clear. Actor Stephen Collins from the hit 1990s and early 2000s show 7th Heaven confessed to child molestation in 2014. His career and previous work remains intact. Directors Roman Polanski (Chinatown, 1974) and Woody Allen (Annie Hall, 1977have had long battles with various sexual allegations, but the two remain Hollywood stalwarts and creative powerhouses. Cosby has had no convictions yet.

The Smithsonian Museum of National Museum of African American History and Culture still will feature Cosby when its doors open in September.

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