Musician and actress Stephanie Mills publicly expressed support for Phylicia Rashad in a social media post over the weekend following the controversy surrounding her friend’s comments praising the release of Bill Cosby.
Cosby’s sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on June 30 after spending more than two years in prison. Following his release, Rashad, who is the Dean of Howard University’s Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts, shared a post on social media welcoming the release of her former television husband.
The 73-year-old’s response was, however, met with swift backlash, prompting her to clarify her initial comments and also explain she was in no way discrediting Cosby’s accusers and victims of sexual abuse. Rashad’s employer, Howard University, also released a statement in response to her initial comments, saying it “lacked sensitivity” towards sexual assault survivors. Some students and alumni of the university also called on its leadership to terminate her appointment as Dean.
But in a Twitter and Instagram post on Saturday, Rashad’s friend Mills appeared to insinuate it’s ironic if it’s “true” the HBCU is planning on firing The Cosby Show actress over her comments. “I love you @phyliciarashad,” Mills shared with heart emojis. “If it’s true that Howard University wants to terminate her Position because they feel her comments about Mr. Cosby were insensitive, then they should give back the millions of dollars that he donated to the university.”
Though Howard University honored Cosby with an honorary degree in 1989, the presumed funds he donated are reportedly uncertain. That notwithstanding, the 83-year-old thanked Mills for her comments.
“Thank you @iamstephaniemills your voice has always been powerful!” Cosby tweeted in response to Mills’ post.
In a separate statement on July 4, Cosby urged Howard University to respect Rashad’s freedom of speech and also condemned mainstream media.
“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,” he said in the statement, NPR reported.
“This mainstream media has become the Insurrectionists, who stormed the Capitol,” Cosby continued. “Those same Media Insurrectionists are trying to demolish the Constitution of these United State of America on this Independence Day.”
He added in caps: “WE THE PEOPLE STAND IN SUPPORT OF MS. PHYLICIA RASHAD.”