Bill Cosby urged people in Baltimore to empower themselves and nurture their children, but during his visit Thursday he avoided the scolding tone that has drawn criticism from some black leaders.

Cosby urged parents to keep their children close. "Your children got no business going to the street for love. There's no love out there," Cosby told the crowd during a city-organized block party. "All that's out there is lost young men looking for love."

Cosby says people in Baltimore need to empower themselves by taking advantage of the educational opportunities that lead to well-paying jobs.

The legendary comedian and advocate for education addressed a few hundred people Thursday in the struggling Park Heights neighborhood.

Cosby shared the stage with Carolane Williams, president of Baltimore City Community College. They promoted community college as a viable path away from poverty and crime.

Cosby's remarks were mostly positive and free from admonishment. He punctuated his message with the Sly and the Family Stone song "You Can Make It if You Try."

The block party was organized to promote Operation PROTECT, a city program in which disadvantaged neighborhoods are flooded for a period of several weeks with city services and increased police patrols. Mayor Sheila Dixon said the point of the program is to familiarize residents with the many services available to them. But, she said, taking advantage of those services is a matter of "personal responsibility" — a message that resonated with Cosby.