The guilty verdict in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case has provoked hundreds of strong reactions across the country, and now Cosby's wife has explained how she feels. In a Facebook post, Camille Cosby compared Bill Cosby to Emmett Till, a black teen who was lynched in the 1950s after a white woman falsely claimed that he had whistled at her and made advances toward her.
The Facebook post is titled "Official Statement From Camille O. Cosby," and it begins with a discussion of the Constitution and how, through dozens of amendments over the years, it finally guaranteed full rights to all citizens, not only white men. She then makes the claim that her husband's case was unfair because of the media's involvement.
"Bill Cosby was labelled as guilty because the media and accusers said so... period," Cosby wrote on Facebook. "And the media ensured the dissemination of that propaganda by establishing barricades preventing the dissemination of the truth in violation of the protections of the First Amendment. Are the media now the people’s judges and juries?"
She then went on to claim Cosby's accusers had committed the same sort of perjury as Carolyn Bryant, the white woman whose false claim ended up robbing Till of his young life, according to Biography.com.
"Since when are all accusers truthful? History disproves that...for example, Emmett Till’s accuser immediately comes to mind," Cosby wrote. "In 1955, she testified before a jury of white men in a Mississippi courtroom that a 14-year-old African American boy had sexually assaulted her, only to later admit several decades later in 2008 that her testimony was false."
Cosby has the general story of Emmett Till correct. According to History.com, Till, a black teenager from Chicago, visited family in Mississippi, and while he was there, he allegedly flirted with a white woman, Bryant, at a grocery store. Later, Bryant told her husband, Roy Bryant, that Till had physically assaulted her. Roy Bryant then went with his brother-in-law to the house where Till was staying, and then the two of them kidnapped and brutally murdered Till. When the two men later went on trial for Till's murder, an entirely white jury quickly declared that they weren't guilty, despite witnesses claiming that they had indeed killed Till.
Decades later, though, historian and author of The Blood of Emmett Till Timothy Tyson said that Carolyn Bryant, now Carolyn Bryant Donham, had admitted to him that her claims about Till were a lie, according to The New York Times.
“She said that wasn’t true, but that she honestly doesn’t remember exactly what did happen,” Tyson said in a 2017 interview, the Times writes. Tyson also said that Donham told him, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
The tragedy of Till's case was a galvanizing influence for the civil rights movement, and its importance for American history means that people will not fail to notice when Cosby makes the claim that her husband has been treated similarly. Far from resting on a single claim, though, 58 women have claimed that Bill Cosby sexually harassed or assaulted them, according to a list put together by Slate. Many of them told similar stories about how Cosby had allegedly brought them back to his room, drugged them, and then sexually assaulted them. In a 2005 deposition, Cosby admitted that he acquired sedatives to give women in order to have sex with them. While not all members of the Cosby jury have spoken publicly about their decision, the one who has told ABC's Good Morning America that Cosby's own words in the deposition had been a main convincing factor for him.
Emmett Till did not have the opportunity to defend himself, in a court of law or otherwise. Cosby, on the other hand, will have an opportunity to appeal his conviction, and Camille Cosby has made it clear that she will be standing by her husband's side the whole way.