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Famed D.C. mural replaces Bill Cosby with Dave Chappelle, Taraji P. Henson and Obamas

This Ben's Chili Bowl mural featuring comedian Bill Cosby, photographed in 2016, has been removed from the wall of the Washington, D.C., eatery and replaced with images of Barack and Michelle Obama. (Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images)
This Ben's Chili Bowl mural featuring comedian Bill Cosby, photographed in 2016, has been removed from the wall of the Washington, D.C., eatery and replaced with images of Barack and Michelle Obama. (Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images)

A high-profile mural in Washington, D.C., has been updated to replace comedian Bill Cosby's visage with those of Barack and Michelle Obama as well as actress and D.C. native Taraji P. Henson, athlete Muhammad Ali, comedian Dave Chappelle and several others.

Local muralist Aniekan Udofia has been seen sketching the likenesses of 16 local and historical African American icons in the U Street Corridor on the side of the decades-old Ben's Chili Bowl restaurant, which commissioned the original mural back in 2012.

The disgraced Cosby was unceremoniously removed from the original piece back in January when Ben's owners decided the mural needed a refresh, according to the Washington Post.

Cosby has had a long history with the famed restaurant and often attended its events. The Emmy-winning comic, who is accused of numerous incidents of sexual assault and whose sole criminal case ended in a mistrial last week, was replaced with temporary images of Washington Wizards' John Wall and Bradley Beal in April. (A separate mural of Cosby in Philadelphia was also painted over in the wake of the allegations.)

The restaurant opened voting to the public to decide on six new faces, the landmark eatery said. Cosby's likeness had been accompanied by those of former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, DJ Donnie Simpson and guitarist Chuck Brown, but he was the only figure not to return to the refreshed piece. The Obamas were moved to the corner of real estate Cosby's image once occupied.

In addition to Henson, Ali and Chappelle, the colorful mural also features musical luminaries Prince and Roberta Flack, rapper Wale, radio DJ Russ Parr, abolitionist Harriet Tubman and other figures with local ties, including activist-comedian Dick Gregory, TV anchor Jim Vance, former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Chappelle attended the unveiling on Wednesday, along with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Gregory, Vance and Norton, according to the local NBC affiliate.

"I just wanna say this is one of the best honors I've ever gotten in my career," Chappelle said. "I'm honored to be home and this means an enormous amount to me and my family. I'm very proud of it."

Virginia Ali, who runs Ben's Chili Bowl with her family, told the Post in January that those depicted on the wall should have made an impact on not only on the country, but the D.C. community.

A staffer for Murals DC, a local body devoted to graffiti prevention, told the City Paper that the mural will stay in place for at least the next five years.

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