Stephanie Mills shows support for Phylicia Rashad, Cosby against Howard controversy

Mills called on Howard to "give back the millions of dollars" Cosby donated to the university if the HBCU decided to terminate Rashad from her past as dean

Actress and singer Stephanie Mills has declared her support for her friend Phylicia Rashad after students and alumni of Howard University began to call for Rashad to be fired from her post as the dean of the College of Fine Arts.

In an Instagram post on July 3, Mills shared a picture of herself and Rashad writing in a caption, “I love you, @phyliciarashad ❤️❤️❤️. 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.”

On Sunday, Bill Cosby reacted to Mills’s message supporting Rashad, tweeting, “Thank you @iamstephaniemills your voice has always been powerful!”

Cosby was awarded an honorary degree from Howard University in 1989, however, it is unclear how much he has contributed to the esteemed HBCU. 

However, the actor donated a significant amount of money to another HBCU, Spelman College, in Atlanta. The funds that he and his wife, Camille Cosby, donated to the all-women’s college led to the creation of the William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship. 

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the professorship was funded through a $20 million gift from the Cosbys to the college in 1998 that also helped fund a new academic center named after Mrs. Cosby. 

Camille and Bill Cosby,
Camille Cosby and Bill Cosby. (Photo: Getty Images)

The university returned the funds and discontinued the professorship in 2016 after Cosby was convicted of sexual assault.

Mills’ comments were met with mixed reactions on both her Instagram and on Twitter. Some commenters wrote, “You do have a point,” under the post. While on Twitter others were less hospitable.

Writer Candice Marie Benbow wrote, “She’s gonna feel like an idiot when she learns he never gave millions to Howard and she’s thinking about Spelman. LOLOL.”

Others tweeted their support. One wrote, “I love Stephanie Mills. Always have, always will.”

In a recent interview with theGrio’s April D. Ryan, Mills addressed how some Black artists choose not to comment on social or political issues.

“I think that too many of us have fear. That’s why we’re mute,” Mills said of artists who don’t speak up about social issues. “I think we’ve been politically correct so much that we’re not correct. She added, “They say whatever they want to say about us, call us all kinds of names … but you have to stand for something.”

Since her initial tweets, Rashad has confirmed in an email that she will undergo training that “reinforces University’s protocol and conduct” and to also “become a stronger ally to sexual assault survivors.”

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