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Dick Gregory, civil rights activist and comedic legend, dies at 84

21 August, 2017, 06:06 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Dick Gregory

Dick Gregory, the trailblazing comedian and prominent civil rights activist, died at a Washington, D.C. hospital on Saturday at the age of 84.

Undeterred, Gregory participated in hunger strikes to draw attention to injustices both in his native America and the world at large.

Gregory made great strides in entertainment for the Black community in the '60s and beyond.

Comedian Dick Gregory receives his star on Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California February 2, 2015. "Somebody had to break down that door".

Tributes poured in Saturday night and Sunday morning from the worlds of entertainment, politics, activism and beyond. He even got shot while trying to keep the peace during the 1965 Watts riots. Still, he entered the race for US president a year later. "And I hung up, and I started crying, and I'm explaining it to my wife, and then the phone ring again - it's Jack Parr", Gregory said.

In 1968, Gregory ran for U.S. president with the Peace and Freedom Party, receiving 47,000 votes and losing to Richard Nixon.

Gregory has also authored a number of books, including the controversially titled 1964 release, Nigger: An Autobiography , 1971's No More Lies: The Myth and the Reality of American History, 1973's Dick Gregory's Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin' With Nature and the 2000 memoir Callus on My Soul.

Gregory's death was confirmed by his family in an Instagram post. "When he got that chance he rose to it magnificently".

He was born Richard Claxton Gregory in 1932 and raised by a single mother of six. My father transitioned encircled by his family in love.

He attended Sumner High School, then won a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University, where he ran the half-mile and received the school's outstanding athlete award.

His first break was replacing another comic one night at the Playboy Club in Chicago in 1961. "It wasn't a law, it was an unwritten law until Hugh Hefner broke that law with me".

He was invited to perform on the Tonight Show in 1962 and became the first black performer invited to sit and talk with the host on air after his performance.

Some of his most classic lines include a bit about a restaurant waitress in the South telling him that they "don't serve colored people here". From a stint headlining at Chicago's famed Playboy Club to comedy albums and frequent television appearances, Gregory was a fearless and ferociously amusing observer of the country's racial divide, famously quipping, "I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark".

Over the years, Gregory became devoted to health and fitness, adopting a vegetarian diet and completing long runs in a continuation of his favored sport from his teen days. A vegetarian, he designed nutrition programs for John Lennon, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jackson.

His gig as Corey's replacement was successful.


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