Bill Cosby gets praise for social activism

Bill Cosby will be honoured by the city of Philadelphia for his work encouraging academic achievement and calling for accountability from black parents.

Bill Cosby will be honoured by the city of Philadelphia for his work encouraging academic achievement and calling for accountability from black parents.

He will be awarded the Marian Anderson Award, given to individuals who have helped change society through their art and the courage of their convictions.

He is the first Philadelphia native to win the award, named for the famed singer who used her art to promote social justice.

Past winners include Harry Belafonte, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Taylor and Gregory Peck.

Pamela Browner White, chair of the Anderson Award committee, paid tribute to Cosby's long career as a comedian, calling his role as Dr. Huxtable the "face and voice of the African-American middle-class family."

That role in The Cosby Show followed a career that included breaking racial barriers on TV with his role in I Spy and voicing the animated series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, based on his Philadelphia childhood.

She also expressed support for his sometimes controversial chastising of absentee black fathers.

"Bill Cosby, a man of strong values, has inspired thousands of young adults to achieve their dream of a college education," she said.

"Most recently, he has used his profile to raise the sensitive discussion of accountability within the African American community. We honour his courage to speak his mind and we honour his investment in a community that many have forgotten."

Cosby will be honoured April 6 at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.