Devin Boyle is sick of looking at Bill Cosby‘s giant, painted face.”When I moved [to D.C.] I was confronted with it every day walking down U Street,” Boyle says. She’s talking, of course, about the painting of Cosby plastered on the mural that adorns the side of Ben’s Chili Bowl. Since allegations of rape and sexual assault of more than 50 women by Cosby became public over the past year, the once-adored comedian has been facing a whole heap of backlash: He lost sponsorship deals, had The Cosby Show pulled from syndication, was dropped from his talent agency, and even had honorary degrees rescinded from numerous universities.
But the one place that has yet to condemn Cosby: Ben’s Chili Bowl. In fact, the comedian is still one of only two people (the other being President Barack Obama) who eat free at the restaurant. And the restaurant’s side façade still proudly displays Cosby alongside Obama and go-go legend Chuck Brown. But last week, Boyle and Patricia Potter—both D.C. residents—launched a petition asking that Ben’s Chili Bowl replace Cosby with a new mural that that will instead celebrate women.
She says she’s sent multiple emails to the Ali family, but has yet to hear back. “I’m hoping this petition will get enough attention that they’ll agree to meet with us,” Boyle tells Arts Desk. Arts Desk reached out to Ben’s Chili Bowl for comment and will update if we hear back.
Though the petition is asking for a new mural “that celebrates women and their accomplishments,” Boyle hasn’t yet thought of which women should be represent on the mural. “My hope is that we can do a collaboration among D.C. artists—most of which would be African-American women—and put together a proposal to present [to the Ali] family,” Boyle says.
In the meantime, the City Paper has some suggestions for some rad D.C. women in the entertainment business who would be a good fit to replace Cosby on Ben’s Chili Bowl’s mural:
Though she hasn’t been that active in recent years (her last album, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple), was released in 2011, “Case of the Ex” is still a national treasure.
Taraji P. Henson
Number of Academy Awards Taraji P. Henson has been nominated for: 1. Number of Academy Awards Bill Cosby has been nominated for: 0.
Perhaps the finest journalist bred in D.C.
Born and raised in D.C., this actress, singer, and dancer is the first Hispanic woman and the first Latino American to receive a Kennedy Center Honor. Badass.
Because Poussey is the best character on Orange Is The New Black.
Top photo by thisisbossi via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo of Mýa by Glenn Francis of www.PacificProDigital.com, photo of Taraji P. Hensen by The Heart Truthvia Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0, photo of Connie Chung by Phil Konstantin, photo of Chita Rivera by Sarah_Ackerman via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0, Samira Wiley photo via Netflix