Legendary comedian, educator and activist Bill Cosby left his stamp on Baltimore politics when he visited the city for a performance Jan 11. The 73-year-old icon has been vocal over the years about the importance of education and a firm family structure, beliefs he reiterated during his recent visit to the city.

“What happens in the home is what causes the behavior of the child outside,” he said at a brief media conference prior to his stand-up. It’s the mayor’s job to “let parents know how important their role is.”

He added that Baltimore, like all cities, has to address the “age old problem” of apathy, and the mayor must “challenge the people and make them think.”

“The way things get better is for people to rise up … they have to see clearly and I do believe they have to have leadership,” he said.

Cosby headlined a comedic performance, private dinner and VIP reception at the Tremont Grand on North Charles Street to help democratic candidate Otis Rolley raise funds for his mayoral bid. The two met through a mutual friend and Cosby said he believes in the 36-year-old city planner’s vision for Baltimore.

The veteran standup comedian said a true leader should be “willing to die for the people.” It’s not about taking a bullet, he said, but going against the grain.”If there’s a great deal of inertia and entropy in politics, it has to stop … It means going up against power structures that happen to be doing nothing but they keep winning because of the apathy.”

“His comedy and activism has always been about calling out the powers to be,” Rolley said of his high-profile supporter.

About 300 people showed up for the comedy performance at $75 a head. Civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill spoke at the event and former 92Q personality Marc Clarke served as emcee.

As a package, the stand-up, dinner and reception cost supporters $4,000.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake hosted a fundraiser at the Hippodrome the same night, rounding out the first two major funding events for the 2011 mayor’s race. She reportedly raised $600,000 during her affair.

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO