Civil Rights activist and comic Dick Gregory is dead - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Civil Rights activist and comic Dick Gregory is dead

Legendary comedian and activist Dick Gregory passed away April 19. He was 84. Gregory had been hospitalized earlier this month from an unannounced medical condition. His Instagram account said more details will be released on his death.

He was married to Lillian who died in 1959. He had 11 children.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he start as a stand-up comedian while after serving in the military during the mid 1950s. He would eventually move to Chicago where he performed and joined a generation of black comedians that included Nipsey Russell, Bill Cosby, and Godfrey Cambridge, Flip Wilson.

Dick Gregory 1964 (Wikipedia)

Know for his blistering satirical comedy style, he pushed the envelope that hasn’t been seen since the days of Lenny Bruce. During the early days, he mostly performedin small black-owned clubs while still working as a postal worker.

Hugh Hefner caught his act  while  performing at the Roberts Shaw Club in 1961, and he then landed a gig at the Playboy Club in Chicago, where he performed for white audiences – a major achievement during those turbulent times. He was asked to perform on the Tonight Starring Jack Paar — but refused to go on unless he was able to sit on the couch after his routine. The producers allowed it and he became the first black performer invited to sit on the couch and talk with the host. Gregory had written several books, including in 1964 his critically acclaimed biography Nigger, which talked about growing up poor and the racism he endured. He also turned to acting, playing in his first feature, Sweet Love, Bitter, a story based on the life of Charlie “Bird” Parker But Gregory was more than a genius comic. He was a central part in the civil rights movement. Gregory was very active in the civil rights movement and protested against the Vietnam War, pushed for economic reform, and took a strong stand against anti-drug issues. He even ran for mayor of Chicago in 1967 but lost against the machine – Richard J. Daley.  He made an unsuccessful write-in bid to become president in 1968 as did other comics like Pat Paulson.

Dick Gregory 2015 (Wikipedia)

He was friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. and Medgar Evers, who invited him to speak a voter registration rally in Jackson, Mississippi. He worked for the NAACP, and marched in Selma and was shot during the 1965 Watts riots.

He used social media to continue to push for social justice and his words remain more relevant than ever today as the nation continues to struggle with racial tensions. He posted: “While so many go out and protest the small evils, the big evils are ever present and welcomed into our homes. From the top to bottom of my heart I say #staywoke”

As I approach my 85th revolution around the sun this year, I wonder why has it been so difficult for humankind to be kind. So difficult to be loving and lovable. For my militant brothers and sisters, please don’t misconstrue loving and lovable to be weak or submissive. Love will always be triumphant over hate. I know I will not be here forever, nor do I desire to be. I have seen progress like most cannot appreciate because they were not there to bear witness. I dedicated my life to the movement. By doing so, I never thought I’d still be here. So many of my friends are not here. They were cut down by a system of hatred and evil. If they were here, they’d see the progress that I see. The reality is far from perfect, but profoundly better than what daily reality was for my generation. Young folks if you are wise you would talk less and spend more time listening to the elders who saw evil up front and personal everyday. #howlong I’ve been asking this question for over 40 years! How long before we realize our Universal God given potential? We have made immeasurable progress that cannot be debated. That said, we still have a long way to go. I have no desire to see this all the way through, the dreams I dreamed about 60 years ago have definitively been realized. To the young folks of all ethnicities I say #staywoke not as a catchphrase but as a lifestyle. Most of the things that are killing us are in our minds and our daily routines. The way we think, the “food” we eat and the water we drink or so often don’t drink. While so many go out and protest the small evils, the big evils are ever present and welcomed into our homes. From the top to bottom of my heart I say #staywoke  Love you to life, DIck Gregory

A post shared by Dick Gregory (@therealdickgregory) on


About the author

Baltimore Post-Examiner Staff

Baltimore Post-Examiner is run by several journalists – some who worked at the Washington Post, Baltimore Examiner and other regional and national publications. It’s the Post-Examiner because we love the play on the word “Post” but we also are hoping to answer that question: What’s next after newspapers? We see a lot of websites come and go – and many simply are not making it for various reasons. We hope to break that cycle. Contact the author.
COMMENT POLICY

HOME / ABOUT / CONTACT / JOIN THE TEAM / TERMS OF SERVICE / PRIVACY POLICY / COMMENT POLICY