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Bill Cosby Urges Howard University To Support Phylicia Rashad's Freedom Of Speech

Bill Cosby called on Howard University to support former co-star Phylicia Rashad's freedom of speech after she expressed support for him when his sexual assault conviction was overturned.

In a statement, Cosby also lashed out at the media, comparing journalists to the rioters who stormed the Capitol in January.

"Howard University you must support ones Freedom of Speech (Ms. Rashad), which is taught or suppose to be taught everyday at that renowned law school, which resides on your campus," Cosby said in a statement provided to NPR by his spokesman Andrew Wyatt.

"This mainstream media has become the Insurrectionists, who stormed the Capitol," Cosby continued in his statement. "Those same Media Insurrectionists are trying to demolish the Constitution of these United State of America on this Independence Day."

Cosby concluded by saying, "WE THE PEOPLE STAND IN SUPPORT OF MS. PHYLICIA RASHAD" in all caps.

Cosby's support of Rashad comes after the actress, who played his TV wife in The Cosby Show, defended the comedian in a tweet. Cosby was released from prison last week when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated his sexual assault conviction on the grounds that his due process rights were violated.

"FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!" Rashad said last week.

The tweet has since been removed and Rashad later backpedaled, writing that she "fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward." She also sent a letter of apology to Howard students

Many Howard alumni had expressed disappointment at the remarks. Howard University responded with its own tweet, stating that Dean Rashad's "initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault."

Rashad was recently named Dean of Howard University's Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts.

Rashad, an acclaimed stage and screen artist, graduated from Howard magna cum laude in 1970 with a bachelor's in fine arts. She returned as a guest lecturer and adjunct faculty member.

In a statement announcing her appointment in May, Provost Anthony K. Wutoh said Rashad's "passion for the arts and student success makes her a perfect fit for this role."

One of the students Rashad mentored at Howard was the late actor Chadwick Boseman, for whom the school's College of Fine Arts is named.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.