Soul of RVA: The life and legacy of Richmond’s ‘Dr. King,’ Tony Cosby

HENRICO COUNTY, Virginia (WRIC) – Tony Cosby was a beacon of hope for Central Virginia for more than three decades.

The actor and playwright, who lives in Henrico, was primarily known for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. known.

“He didn’t look like him, but if you close your eyes you wouldn’t know it wasn’t Martin Luther King,” Cosby’s daughter Kristin Cosby told 8News.

Cosby’s family say his love for theater began in elementary school and the iconic role began when he toured with a theater company.

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“He took on an appearance at Theater IV and, to my knowledge, they were traveling and there he was put in the role of Dr. King introduced, ”said Cosby. “They were doing some kind of production and he was Dr from there kind of took it off.”

The response from the community grew and Cosby became known for the role. Year after year he spoke in churches, colleges, and at ceremonies for Black History Month.

“He lived it, he breathed it,” said Cosby. “It wasn’t just about going to that one church or that one place, it was something he lived and breathed every day.”

Many compare him to the real Dr. King.

“It wasn’t the podium for her,” she said. “They thought he was Dr. King. He gave autographs. Have a limousine pick him up. They never called him Tony, they called him Dr. King. “

Cosby said belief was a great motivator for her father. He also founded his own company, Theater and Company.

“There is no time when I don’t remember reading his Bible or preparing for a show,” Cosby said. “Make sure he’s in a good place to give his all. He prayed about it, read his Bible, kept working on it, and memorizing it. Something happened when he took that stage – he would just come to life. Faith sure kept him going, but then people. The community.”

Cosby died on August 23, 2021 at the age of 66.

Cosby also made history on the football field as the first African American quarterback to start highland Springs High School. (Source: Kristin Cosby)

His daughter says he is already on the way to inspire a new generation of theater enthusiasts with his grandchildren.

“When he came to visit and I came home, they always had an idea – something I had to see, something he taught them that day,” Cosby explained.

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His family says they want to remember not only his life, but the impression he made on the Richmond Ward.

“Everyone knows him as Dr. King. Tony Cosby … Dr. King, ”said Cosby.

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