This article was originally published in the Main Line Times.
The Bill Cosby trial was an international fascination, not just a Philadelphia-Montgomery County-Pennsylvania obsession. I even received a request from a French magazine reporter who was in the region, covering the trial for his readers before he returned to Paris. He forwarded to me a column I had written in the Main Line Times about Cosby’s having received the Marian Anderson Award in Philly some years ago. The French reporter thought I might be able to give him contact information for three people whom I mentioned.
I answered him in French, letting him know that one of the people he wanted to speak with had died, one had left town years ago, and the last one, Coach Gavin White Senior, had retired from Temple.
So I have two distinctly different visions of Bill Cosby, who was once an idol of American television viewers. And film buffs. First there is the Bill Cosby in a Temple T-shirt or sweatshirt who raised awareness nationally — and even internationally — about his alma mater, in North Philadelphia.
Cosby never missed a Commencement, drawing cheers from students, professors, family members of the graduates, and media members alike. He would come early to the robing room, pose for photos with everyone, kibbitz, make us all laugh, and guarantee media coverage for the graduates and for Temple U.
I do believe it was the late Temple University President Peter J. Liacouras who reached out to Cosby and asked him to be the public face of Temple. And when Cosby starred in the most popular television series of his time, “The Cosby Show,” we could not even calibrate the value of seeing Cosby in the show sporting a Temple T-shirt!
In 2010, Cosby was the Marian Anderson award-winner, and at the time I wrote this about the Coz: “He is the consummate performer, successful author, humanitarian, philanthropist, advocate, educator, role model and creative genius. And he and his wife maintain scholarships at many universities, including Temple.”
Now I do not dismiss Andrea Costand’s testimony — or the charges of any of the dozens of other women who claim that Cosby plied them with drugs and then used them sexually when they were totally defenseless.
It’s just that this was not the Cosby whom I used to see on campus, whom I worked with to make the Temple recruitment television ads, who created a riot as he had everyone laughing and feeling good about themselves at whatever Commencement or Temple University event he would appear at. And who constantly would talk with the parents of students, praising them for their sacrifices.
There is only one other time when someone whom I liked and admired a lot turned out to be quite a different person at another point in his life And that person is Ira Einhorn. Now I do not by any stretch of the imagination equate Ira’s having murdered his girl friend Holly Maddox and stuffed her in a steamer trunk in the closet of their apartment with Cosby’s being a sexual predator. No comparison.
When Ira and I were undergraduates at Penn, Ira was a founder of Earth Day, he would sit under a tree and recite poetry. He was impressive. I was Miss Goody two-shoes with my saddle shoes, knowing nothing about drugs or alcohol. And then I lost track of him while I was substitute teaching in Lower Merion Schools while raising my children, and Ira just disappeared. Probably in a pot-filled haze, but I didn’t know it at the time.
Cosby would lecture and write books and exhort men to be responsible fathers.
Each time, though, that one of Cosby’s extensive legal team would be quoted on radio and television as saying, “but the sex was consensual,” I cringed! I would yell out loud! I mean — Cosby is married to Camille, an elegant, intelligent, philanthropist in her own right. And she has stood by her husband, even appearing one time in court in Norristown with him.
There are cynics who would retort, “But she’s staying for the money!” I highly doubt that now that Cosby’s reputation and career have been destroyed, that much money is still coming in. Although re-runs of “The Cosby Show” are probably running around the world.
I thought Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele controlled himself and his team admirably, and his comments at his press conference after the judge declared a mistrial were sober and professional.
We will have to endure the worldwide publicity again at some time in the future. I will try to keep in mind the original vision I had of Dr. Bill Cosby.
Bonnie Squires is a communications consultant who writes weekly for Main Line Media News and can be reached at www.bonniesquires.com. She hosts the weekly Bonnie’s Beat TV show at Radnor Studio 21 and Main Line Television which airs Monday nights at 7 p.m.
If you missed the opportunity to hear Georgia Congressman John Lewis, my hero, speak out at a Senate confirmation hearing last week, explaining why he cannot vote “yes” in favor of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the nation, and why he will not participate in Donald Trump’s inauguration — well, you owe it to yourself to watch his remarkable speech in its entirety.
There is never an ounce of bitterness when John Lewis speaks, even when he talks about the vicious beating he received while peacefully marching from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, some 50 years ago, asking for voting rights. The right to participate in the democratic election process of the country he calls “home.”
But he knows all about suppression of voting rights, and he almost paid with his life when he marched peacefully in 1965 to try to gain the right to vote in Alabama. Several times I have had the privilege of being in Congressman Lewis’ company and I asked him how he could possibly avoid even a trace of bitterness when he recites his horrendous experiences in the segregated South.
His answer is always the same: He believes in non-violence.
Senator Cory Booker was also impressive on that second day of Senate hearings into the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Booker made history as the first sitting Senator to speak out against the confirmation of a colleague of his in the Senate.
But his concern, like Lewis’ concern, was for having an Attorney General who would speak up and speak out for the rights of minorities, of poor people of those without a voice.
And then there was also on the panel Congressman Cedric Richmond, of Louisiana, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, respectfully but sadly pointed out that having an icon like John Lewis testify at the very end of the hearings was like consigning “to the back of the bus” the six African Americans who testified.
And even though Senator Sessions was not required to sit through the many hours of testimony, it was a glaring omission that he absented himself from the hearing room when John Lewis et al were testifying.
My mother could not understand why three of the people who testified were in favor of Sessions, until I explained that those three had once worked for Senator Sessions and been on his payroll when he served as Attorney General of Alabama.
Neither Booker nor Redmond nor Lewis was the slightest bit vitriolic. They were just heartbroken that the highest legal officer in the land should be someone who had never spoken up for civil rights in the decades of his service in various positions. The three of them had no expectation that Sessions would suddenly turn into a champion for civil rights, especially since Donald Trump does not seem to be interested in the rights of people of color.
Lewis announced that he would not, could not participate in the Inauguration on Friday, as he did not consider Donald Trump the “legitimate President,” with everything that has been unearthed by the Intelligence community about the role played by Russian hackers. The tension between Trump and the various intelligence agencies has both Republicans and Democrats concerned, especially in these challenging times.
Lewis is like the conscience of the Congress, and some two dozen colleagues have followed his lead and bowed out of attendance on Friday at the White House ceremony. If they follow Congressman Lewis’ lead, they are doing this not out of spite, or vengeance, but because they are saddened by the prospect of someone’s assuming the Presidency who has not shown either respect or concern for people who are heroes in American history.
Perhaps you were as fortunate as I was to have seen Congressman Lewis in person most recently at the National Constitution Center a few months ago, when he was awarded the Liberty Medal. His voice is always gentle, but he always speaks passionately about his search for justice, for equality. He does respect the Office of the President, but he just believes that illegitimate means were employed either by Donald Trump or on Trumps’ behalf in order to secure the office.
Some day we will know the extent to which Russian hacking and Vladimir Putin meddled in our democratic process. In the meantime, though, I hope that President Trump will cease vilifying heroes like Congressman John Lewis simply because they disagree with him.
And because I, too, love America and value our democracy, I am praying that Donald Trump turns into a good President and respects the rights of all Americans. If Senator Jeff Sessions does become the Attorney General, I pray that he, too, will fight for the rights of all Americans.
Reprinted with permission from The Main Line Times.Since the deadline for my column was a few days before the third and final presidential debate, there was no way that I could be up-to-the-minute with the latest developments. But then, with bombshells dropping seemingly every 15 minutes, even the 24-hour cable channels have had trouble keeping up with developments. [Read more…]
The award-winning actress Natalie Portman made several stops in the Philadelphia region as she campaigned for Hillary Clinton, on Monday, October 10th. At the Lower Merion-Narberth Democratic Committee headquarters in Ardmore, a large crowd gathered, including State Senator Daylin Leach and his daughter Brennan.
I got to ask the last question and Ms. Portman gave an insightful and extensive answer.
Earlier in the day Mike Pence, Trump’s running-mate, had held a press conference, avowing his acceptance of Jesus. He pressed his Christian faith, and accepting grace and forgiveness. He called Trump’s “apology” sincere.
I asked Ms. Portman, on the eve of Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur, what she felt about Pence’s pulling the “Jesus Card.” Ms. Portman looked pained as she rattled off all the different ethnic groups and women whom Trump has offended, insulted and threatened. She does not believe religion should be used as a club to beat anyone or any group. And she is really looking forward to having Hillary Clinton as the first woman President.
At another area event, also on October 10th, Ms. Portman’s talk was video recorded. She started by talking about being a mother. (She did not let her five year old son watch the Clinton-Trump debate Sunday night!) Then she reminded audience members that Tuesday, Oct. 11th is the last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania. She ended with questions from the audience. Video credit: Splash News and the Daily Mail.
Lewis began his own political career as a member of the Atlanta City Council, and since 1986, he has represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. For 13 years, he worked to promote the federal legislation that created the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington.Phladelphia Mayor Jim Kenney calls Lewis “an inspiration to people all over the world.” Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, describes Lewis as having “helped to extend the blessings of liberty and equality to all Americans.”
Among the attendees at the Liberty Medal Ceremony were elected officials as well as other civic and philanthropic leaders. The Liberty Medal itself was sponsored by Ira Lubert, trustee of the National Constitution Center and co-founder of the firm Lubert-Adler.
Photos by Bonnie Squires.
Channel 6 ABC will air the Liberty Medal Ceremony on Sunday, October 2, at 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday, October 23, at 1:30 p.m.
— by Bonnie Squires
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice celebrated its 11th anniversary with an award reception on September 27 in honor of Dan Segal, Esq., an outstanding attorney with the Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller law firm and a well known Jewish community advocate.
A crowd of over 80 people gathered at the home of Kathy and Jeff Pasek in Ardmore. They represented the many different strands of Segal’s life and activities. [Read more…]