Civil Rights activist, comedian and social critic – Dick Gregory, (Richard Claxton Gregory) died in August and the widely held belief was that he had died from heart failure, at 84. Christian Gregory (one of Dick Gregory`s eleven children) decided to redirect focus on the real cause of his father`s death.
DICK GREGORY`S SON, CHRISTIAN GREGORY – DISCUSSING HIS FATHER`S LEGACY
Christian Gregory posted this on his Instagram account;
“It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC,” the post reads. “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”
Christian said, his father died as a result of his blood vessels being damaged from a long history of hunger strikes – as a vehicle to spotlight Civil Rights, African – American culture, Racism and Vegetarianism. In an attempt to support his vegetarianism and belief in good health and raw foods, he developed a diet drink called, “Bahamian Nutritional Diet Drink”.
DICK GREGORY, TEACHING MOHAMMED ALI HEALTH TIPS IN 1971
GREGORY – ADVERTISING HIS HEALTH Y BAHAMIAN DIET, IN 1993
In the 60s, Dick Gregory was a very driven Civil Rights Activist. He was a major figure in the Civil Rights movement and frequently marched besides Martin Luther King. Gregory always protested the Vietnam War and racial injustice. As a result, he was arrested on multiple occasions – which forced him to go on several hunger strikes. He was one of the first black comedians to gain widespread popularity and acceptance, while performing for white audiences.
DICK GREGORY, GETTING ARRESTED IN SELMA, ALABAMA IN 1965
DICK GREGORY AND OTHER CIVIL RIGHTS`LEADERS, SITTING NEXT TO DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., AT A RALLY
GREGORY IN 1977, OUTSIDE THE SOUTH AFRICAN EMBASSY WHILE PICKETING AGAINST APARTHEID
Gregory was among the generation of black comedians such as Godfrey Cambridge, Nipsey Russel and Bill Cosby who broke away from the stereotypical black characters. He primarily focused on current and world affairs and is also remembered for one of his many Civil Rights infused jokes, with a glaring touch of sarcasm.
He was once quoted when he said;
“Segregation is not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?”
While attending the University of Southern Illinois on a track and field scholarship, Gregory was drafted into the United States Army for two years, beginning in 1954. While in the army, he started his comedic career and entered and won various talent contests. In the 1960s, Mr. Gregory started and failed at several businesses. He worked as a United States Postal worker while establishing a career as a comedian and Civil Rights` leader.
IN 1968, DICK GREGORY RAN FOR PRESIDENT – UNDER THE FREEDOM AND PEACE PARTY
Gregory was performing for an all white audience when he was by Hugh Hefner. He has credited the launch of his career to Hugh Hefner. Dick Gregory was given an opportunity to launch career at the Playboy Club by Hefner when he replaced comedian, Irwin Corey.
Gregory, who always found humor in the Civil Rights struggle, used this as part of his material, the night he met Hugh Hefner.
DICK GREGORY – DURING HIS HUGH HEFNER COMEDY CENTRAL ROAST IN 2001
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent twenty years there one night.
Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant and this white waitress came up to me and said, “We don’t serve colored people here.” I said, “That’s all right. I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.”
Then these three white boys came up to me and said, “Boy, we’re giving you fair warning. Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you.” So I put down my knife and fork, I picked up that chicken and I kissed it. Then I said, “Line up, boys!”
GREGORY SHOWCASES HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN, IN 1971
Gregory met and married Lillian Smith in 1959. They had 11 children, including Richard Jr., who died two months after he was born. In 1999, he was diagnosed with Lymphoma and treated the cancer into remission with herbs, vitamins and exercise.
Reverend Jesse Jackson tweeted:
He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already. #RIP
Reverend Al Sharpton said;
I’ve known Dick Gregory since I was 16 years old. A true, committed, and consistent freedom fighter. May he Rest In Peace.
Cicely Tyson said;
“Humanity has lost a giant. RIP my dear friend”
Fellow comedians, politicians, Civil Rights` leaders, several celebrities, friends and family members, mourn Gregory`s death. He is survived by his wife of 58 years – Lillian Gregory and their ten children.