Bill Cosby’s Picture Erased From Ben’s Chili Bowl Mural

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A mainstay in the African-American community has changed its mural and taken Bill Cosby—the man who put it on the map—off of it.

Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant in Washington, D.C., a onetime hole in the wall made famous for its hot smokes and chili, once exhibited a barrage of famous African Americans on its side wall, including former President Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali, Prince, Harriet Tubman, and local celebrities Taraji P. Henson and rapper Wale.


Cosby’s image, however, is no longer there.

“It’s kind of shocking to see Bill Cosby is down after he’s been here so long,” local resident Vivian Staine told reporters.


The Guardian reports that Cosby has been a regular customer since the 1950s. A historical information sign outside the restaurant states: “Thanks in part to the patronage of entertainer Bill Cosby, Ben’s has become a national landmark.”

Cosby was part of an original mural of stars put up in 2012. On June 17, the once-beloved entertainer had a mistrial declared in his sexual assault trial regarding a now former Temple University employee.


This week, in a ceremony featuring local comedian Dave Chappelle, Ben’s unveiled a new expanded mural, minus one person.

Owner Virginia Ali, 83, says that the restaurant recently ran a poll on who should be included, and the Obamas came in first and second place, while Cosby did not place in the top 16.


Referring to the allegations against him, she said: “That’s not the man I knew. It’s one of those ‘He said, she said’ things, and there’s no point getting into it because I wasn’t there. I feel badly for everyone involved.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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Angela Helm

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.