King Re-enactor Has Eyes on Prize 

A man who's spent a quarter-century portraying Martin Luther King Jr. has a new dream: playing the role of politician for real.

More specifically, Tony Cosby wants to unseat Frank J. Thornton on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors.

"You never see him in the community," Cosby says of Thornton. "I think that the county needs some more fire, man."

Cosby, who has a degree in theater, has for 25 years been on a mission to educate and inspire others through his re-enactments of King's speeches. Last summer, he was one half of "The Meeting," an imagined conversation between King and Malcolm X. On Sunday, he played to an audience of hundreds at Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Church Hill, as part of the festivities for African-American history month.

Lately, he's started worrying about his community, he says — about its relationship with police, about the troubled Seven Gables apartment complex, about missed opportunities with Fairfield Commons.

During such conversations with his friends, he says, they threw him a challenge: "Why you rolling with this King thing? Why not just throw your hat into the ring?"

It didn't hurt that he recently encountered political firebrand Barack Obama. "I met with Obama — just for a brief moment — in Washington," Cosby says. "And I was inspired by his energy."

Cosby acknowledges that he has little experience on the political stage. Even his mother recently asked, "What do you know about politics?"

"I said, 'Well, George doesn't know about politics — he's president. But he's got a great cabinet."

That's what he plans to do, he says — gather a committee, a cabinet, advisers. He must file by June 12 for the Nov. 6 election.

"At first it was just a joke," he says. "Now it's starting to kinda seem like it's possible." S

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