Alleged sexual predator Bill Cosby will not grace the new mural currently taking shape outside the original Ben’s Chili Bowl, a historic split that has paved the way for a new slate of heroes to be immortalized outside the iconic restaurant.
The embattled entertainer, one of only two people with lifetime passes to eat for free at the half-smoke haven (the other is President Barack Obama), has long been close with Ben’s founders, the Ali family. Cosby even made a personal appearance in early 2014 when the Alis opened their second location in neighboring Arlington, Va.
But the relationship has frayed in recent years as dozens of women stepped forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. All traces of the former TV star were removed last June from a visual display at the same Ben’s he helped inaugurate two years earlier.
As first reported by Washingtonian, the Ali family is moving forward with a fresh mural to replace the one that was painted over earlier this year. The living figures expected to stare back at passersby once the piece is completed include D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, comedian Dave Chappelle, actress Taraji P. Henson, actor Dick Gregory, singer Roberta Flack, rapper Wale, local TV news anchor Jim Vance, broadcaster Donnie Simpson, and radio personality Russ Parr. The mural will also honor late legends including abolitionist Harriet Tubman, boxer Muhammad Ali, D.C. “Mayor for Life” Marion Barry, the “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown, and musician Prince.
Cosby’s first jury trial is scheduled to begin Monday, June 5.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included erroneous information about Dick Gregory.