Kennedy Center Honors Latest To Be Rescinded In Wake Of Bill Cosby’s Conviction

Matt RourkeAP Images

For Bill Cosby, the guilty verdict during his retrial for aggravated indecent assault has led to many honors being rescinded, including being removed from the Television Academy’s hall of fame and losing honorary degrees from Yale and Temple universities.

Now, the latest organization to rescind honors is The Kennedy Center, which was first opened in 1971 and was originally called the National Cultural Center. Due to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Congress dedicated the center to the late president as a “living memorial.” Since then, it’s been called the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kennedy Center had bestowed the Kennedy Center Honors to Cosby in 1998, and later the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2009. The honors are given to people who have become “known to and loved by the world because of their complete originality and bold genius…They are creators of the highest order,” according to the Chairman, David M. Rubenstein. Previous honorees include Lionel Richie and LL COOL J.

Unfortunately for Cosby, his guilty verdict has made him an unacceptable figure in the eyes of the center and its mission. The official statement described their reasoning behind the decision.

“As a result of Mr. Cosby’s recent criminal conviction, the Board concluded that his actions have overshadowed the very career accomplishments these distinctions from the Kennedy Center intend to recognize.”

Cosby has yet to be sentenced for his crimes, but faces up to 30 years in prison. Some wonder if Cosby will actually spend any time in prison, whereas others are certain he will serve time behind bars.

This isn’t the first round of honors that Cosby has lost. In 2015, when dozens of women came forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault, several universities revoked Cosby’s honorary degrees. These universities included Brown, University of San Francisco, and Marquette, according to the New York Times. However, that still left Cosby with a large number of degrees. Many universities said that they would not revoke Cosby’s degree, because their school had policies against it.

However, for a prestigious school like Yale University, the decision to revoke Cosby’s honorary degree was a must, even though it had never done so before in the school’s 300-year history, detailed NPR. Other universities may follow in Yale’s path if their board of directors decide that Cosby’s verdict is too burdensome and negative to be associated with their institution.