Bill Cosby is a man of many “firsts.” Cosby was the first Black comedian to conquer white American audiences. He was the first African- American to take a starring role in a network television series in the 1960s, “I Spy”; and the first to star in and produce a #1 TV show in the 1980s, “The Cosby Show.” He became the first successful Black “pitchman” for American consumer products too, from Jell-O to Kodak to Coca-Cola. Bill Cosby both defined and defied what it meant to “cross over.” On the one hand, Cosby was undeniably the first Black celebrity to transcend race — he wasn’t America’s top Black TV star; he was America’s top TV star, period. On the other, Cosby’s mainstreaming was controversial. To some critics, Cosby’s refusal to “deal with racial issues” in his work was a dereliction of duty. But Cosby, even more than Oprah Winfrey, was the foremost archetype for the racially transcendent ascendance of Barack Obama, now the 44th President of the United States.
VIDEO: Bill Cosby talking about dentists during a famous stand-up routine.