Bill Cosby breaks his silence, granting his first exclusive interview since beginning his sentence at SCI-Phoenix, a maximum-security Pennsylvania penitentiary near Philadelphia.
Today, in a special phone call with the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s BlackPressUSA.com, Cosby said he’s spending his time helping to teach and encourage a large population of African American inmates – men he calls residents — via Mann Up, a prison reform program.
The 82-year-old educator and award-winning TV producer/director/comedian was sentenced to serve 3-to-10-years in Pennsylvania’s prison system following his September 2018 conviction on charges of aggravated indecent assault.
Unless he receives relief from the state’s appellate courts, Cosby said he fully anticipates serving his entire sentence, saying he’s not guilty and will never admit to something he didn’t do. Displayed remorse is generally a required prerequisite to obtaining parole or a shortened sentence.
During the exclusive interview with NNPA, Cosby was candid, vivid and outspoken.
Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesman, was also on the call, where Cosby stressed that there would be no ground rules or restrictions. No topics were off-the-table for discussion.
Cosby received no special treatment from the facility for this interview. Because inmates are only allowed to remain on phone calls for 15-minutes, Cosby had to call back multiple times in order to complete today’s interview.
“I have eight years and nine months left,” Cosby stated. “When I come up for parole, they’re not going to hear me say that I have remorse. I was there. I don’t care what group of people come along and talk about this when they weren’t there. They don’t know.”
He said his trials were a sham, unjust and not fair.
“It’s all a set up. That whole jury thing. They were imposters,” Cosby stated.
“Look at the woman who blew the whistle,” he said, alluding to the potential juror who overheard a seated juror proclaim before the trial that, “he’s guilty, we can all go home now.”
“Then she went in and came out smiling, it’s something attorneys will tell you is called a payoff,” Cosby stated. “I know what they’ve done to my people. But my people are going to view me and say, ‘that boy looks good. That boy is strong.’ I have too many heroes that I’ve sat with. Too many heroes whom I listened to like John Henrik Clarke, Kenneth Clark, and Dorothy Height. Those people are very strong, and they saw the rejection of their people. This is political. I can see the whole thing.”
“I am a privileged man in prison,” he stated.
During the call, Cosby referred to his small cell as “my penthouse.”
He revisited his famous 2004 “Pound Cake” speech and clarified that he probably should not have addressed that controversial dissertation to all African Americans – the residents at SCI-Phoenix make for the perfect audience, Cosby stated.
Cosby said he remains concerned, however, for all of Black America.
“They are under siege. This thing with the drugs and the different pockets of the neighborhoods where it’s going on. When you look at what drugs are doing… things that make these people drive around and shoot into crowds,” Cosby said.
“The insanity of what is the cause to the brain by all the drugs these people are dealing with. It’s exactly what I warned them about in 2004. They’ve thrown education out the window.
“They’ve thrown respect for the family out the window, and they’re blaming each other for what’s going on. There is post-traumatic stress syndrome, and there are also bad manners.”
While inmates who spoke to NNPA Newswire said they were saddened to see an icon like Cosby imprisoned, each said they believe he’s serving a higher purpose. Cosby agreed.
“I don’t belong to the Mann Up Association, but it’s a privilege to come in and speak,” Cosby stated. “I never wanted them to lord me up (be put on a pedestal). This is a great privilege.”
A weekly highlight for Cosby since his incarceration, has been the reform program, Mann Up, where he is often the featured speaker. The program serves to encourage and empower African American men to strive for self-respect and dignity, and to put their family first.
Anthony “Benny-Do” Sutton, Tyree Wallace, Robert Groves, and Michael Butler, each spoke from SCI-Phoenix to NNPA Newswire about the program and Cosby’s influence.
“Every Tuesday, Mr. Cosby and I sit down and talk before the other residents come in and he explains to me what moves I need to make so that Mann Up can be a success,” stated Sutton, 56, who has spent his entire adult life in prison.
“He says to always remember to work as a team. We are all in this life together and Mr. Cosby is a political prisoner and he tells us that we’ve got to save our babies. We can’t be out there killing our children and our women,” Sutton stated.
Wallace, who has served more than two decades in prison, said Cosby has also opened his eyes because of his authenticity.
“This powerful man, one of the best comics, a legend and here he is with us,” Wallace told NNPA Newswire.
“Mr. Cosby comes into the room with his fist in the air and all of these men rise up and applaud him. He gives us so much wisdom and the Mann Up program is the perfect vehicle. He told us a story about his mother, and how she would have him clean the hallways after guys would go and urinate. He said he’d ask her why he had to clean it, and she told him that you have to clean where you live,” Wallace said.
Groves and Butler echoed their peers.
Both have served more than a dozen years in prison and said Cosby’s presence has helped them to see their lives differently.
Cosby recalled entering Temple University as a young man in the 1960s and his desire to become a teacher.
“I’m not a psychiatrist, and I’m not a psychologist. I’m an educator, and what I look forward to is talking to this group of 400 or so men. Some of them here are in their 70s, in their 50s, their 40s, 30s, and 20s,” Cosby said.
“I tell them what I know and what I feel. I feel that everything that I said in 2004, there is a light [behind it],” Cosby stated.
“The mistake I made [in 2004] is making it sound like all the people were making the infractions, and that’s not true.”
Cosby stated that he believes he’s in the right place at the right time because he’s spent his life and career trying to reach African American men.
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SOURCE: Black Press USA – Stacy M. Brown