Community remembers activist, first school board chairman Laken Cosby Jr.



Posted on June 15, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 16 at 12:02 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Laken Cosby Jr. rose from poverty to become the first African-American chairman of the Jefferson County School board.

Those who knew him describe Cosby as quiet and methodical in his fight for equality.

Seeing an African-American man run a school board meeting may not sound like too big of a deal today but in 1988, Cosby became Louisville’s first school board chairman.

“You vote for the person. And he was such a wonderful person and wonderful leader. It was just normal that he would be that person,” Carol Ann Haddad, current school board member and colleague of Cosby said. “When I was coming up, a black man on the school board was not easy.”

Cosby also served three terms on the Kentucky Board of Education and worked as a pastor.

“He didn’t say a lot, but he sure was thoughtful and he would talk with you and listen to you,” Haddad said.

Cosby focused on Jefferson County’s busing system and integrating schools. He also was an advocate for African-Americans to be represented on certain committees.

His quiet voice came from a powerful, local place and many believe he laid important groundwork for other civil rights leaders to move forward.

“Whenever there was something going on in the community that was positive, he was involved in it,” local radio host Rick Howland said.

Mr. Cosby's son, Kevin, is also very involved in the community and is a pastor at St. Stephen Baptist Church.

Cosby's funeral is scheduled to take place Monday at St. Stephen Baptist Church. The family requests in lieu of flowers for donations to be made to Simmons College of Kentucky.