Last week, Howard University was floundering after the dean of its College of Fine Arts (and former Cosby Show actress) Phylicia Rashad publicly celebrated Bill Cosby’s release from prison. Cosby has been accused of sexual assault and rape by more than 60 women, and his release was due to a legal technicality. Much of the media coverage noting Rashad’s support for Cosby included that Howard itself has a checkered history of addressing on-campus sexual assaults, and the university and Rashad were forced to quickly apologize. The Independence Day long weekend could not come fast enough.
This week, the conversation has shifted. Howard announced this morning that it has hired embattled University of North Carolina journalist/professor Nikole Hannah-Jones following her well-documented tenure dispute, as well as the journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. Over the course of one long weekend, Howard changed the conversation and recast itself from villain to hero.