In a wide-ranging interview that spanned multiple phone calls, prisoner number NN7687 spoke out on his refusal to admit guilt, his time behind bars, black families, his accusers, Michael Eric Dyson, the infamous “Pound Cake Speech” and how he might have stopped a prison murder.
Over three 15-minute phone conversations, 82-year-old incarcerated comedian Bill Cosby spoke with the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s BlackPressUSA.com on Sunday. In the phone interview, Cosby repeatedly asserted his innocence and said that he will not admit guilt, a decision that may prevent him from being paroled from the Phoenix State Correctional Institution (SCI Phoenix) in Collegeville, Penn., where he is serving a 3 to 10-year sentence after he was convicted on charges of aggravated indecent assault in September 2018.
“I have eight years and nine months left,” Cosby explained. “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.”
From his self-declared “penthouse,” Cosby said that he probably should not have addressed his notorious, condemnatory “Pound Cake Speech” to all black people.
“The mistake I made [in 2004] is making it sound like all the people were making the infractions, and that’s not true,” he said before going into an updated version of the 2004 speech.
“They are under siege,” Cosby lamented. “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…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,” Cosby added. “There is post-traumatic stress syndrome, and there are also bad manners.”
NNPR Newswire’s Stacy Brown writes:
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.
“I’m looking at a state [Pennsylvania] that has a huge number of prisons, and the one I’m in, thankfully, has the largest population of African Americans,” Cosby stated.
“These are guys who are also from Philadelphia, where I grew up. Many of them are from the neighborhood. Michael Eric Dyson said ‘Bill Cosby is rich and forgot where he came from.’
“That’s not true. I’m not calling him a liar; I’m saying that’s not true. What I’m saying is that it’s not the same neighborhood as it was when I was coming up.
“The influx of drugs and what they’ve done with their own history. If they would pay attention to these things and put education first and respect for others first…it’s almost insane to hear someone say they don’t know how to be a father.
“As I said earlier, the revolution is in the home, and we’ve got to put it there. Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On,’ is very prophetic in that too many of us are dying in these neighborhoods. Too many of us dying and, another quote from the song, is ‘we’ve got to find a way.’”
Cosby touched on a number of issues including:
- His accusers: “It’s all a setup. That whole jury thing. They were imposters...it’s something attorneys will tell you is called a payoff.”
- The impact of The Cosby Show: “They did not like what The Cosby Show looked like for us, and many of us traded into it. Now, look at what has happened. They’ve taken everything that I’ve done and swept it into a place where it would not be shown.”
- On that one time he was Batman: “I heard a guy say to someone that if someone did something he didn’t like, he’d go out and get all his boys and they’d kill the fella. I said, how much sense does that make? You call your boys, and they want to kill him. I said to look at all the people you’ve got involved, and when you get caught, you are all going to jail, and you got one dead fella. ‘Call it off,’ I told the guy. I said to him that you need to call your friends, too.”
- On the importance of the black press: “Sixty-five years from now, they will be quoting what you’ve written about your fellow journalists...I’m a privileged man. You talk to [NNPA President and CEO] Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., and he will tell you that there is a history of Black political imprisonment in America, and it’s repeating itself in some kind of way.”
Cosby stated that he is working with his fellow incarcerees on addressing these issues, most notably with Mann Up, a reform program with weekly meetings where Cosby is often the featured speaker. BlackPressUSA spoke with imprisoned men who noted that he is a “political prisoner” and saluted his impact on the prison.
He did not comment on his NBC bid.