Bill Cosby in Las Vegas

Credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

What Importance Does Cosby's Career Have Now?

June 19, 2017

The Montgomery County District Attorney has vowed to bring Bill Cosby to a second trial after his first ended in a mistrial.

Cosby was accused of sexual assault by Andrea Constand, but jurors were “hopelessly deadlocked” after debating the facts of the case for 52 hours last week. 

Reverends Emmett Price and Irene Monroe joined BPR to talk over the legacy of Bill Cosby’s case.

Emmett Price called untangling Cosby’s role a “conundrum.”

“Bill Cosby was a trailblazer. He was one of very few individuals who were African-American at the time who was able to permeate the media and have this very respectable role where he didn’t have to be a butler, didn’t have to be something that was diminished in capacity,” he said. “The problem is, that was then and this is now.”

Irene Monroe seemed to disagree with the current salience of Cosby’s material.

“We’ve really got to make a distinction between the man and his body of work,” she said. “I feel that if we can do this with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, I can’t see why we cannot do that with Bill Cosby.”

Monroe said she recently watched an episode of "The Cosby Show" and felt it was too important to ignore.

Price, on the other hand, argued that Cosby’s influence over the current generation is less than that of his influence over people in the 1980s.

“The people who we were trying to influence then ... those people are grown now,” he said.

Monroe emphasized the show shifted some stereotypes that white America held about black America during the 1980s, specifically related to the so-called “war on drugs.”

“Thirty minutes of a sitcom cannot remove us from the reality of what was going on in 1980,” she said, “but it’s not to negate the body of work and showcasing black America beyond the stereotype of being a deprived community.”

Price repeated his refrain: “That was then; this is now.”

Reverend Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist, and Reverend Emmett Price is a professor and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. To hear their interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.


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