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The Legendary Stand-Up Comedian And Civil Rights Activist Dick Gregory Has Died

Celebrated stand-up comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory died at the age of 84.

Details of his death are unknown. His official Instagram account announced his death today saying more details will be released soon. Before he died, Gregory was still actively touring.

He kicked off his comedy career doing stand up after leaving the military in the 1950s.

 

He moved to Chicago to pursue a career in comedy and became part of a new generation of black comedians that included Nipsey Russell, Bill Cosby, and Godfrey Cambridge.

 His comedy was of a satirical and audacious comedy style. He landed his big break when he caught Hugh Hefners attention while performing at the Roberts Shaw Club. He was then asked to play a gig at the Playboy Club in downtown Chicago.

Gregory was invited to perform on The Tonight Starring Jack Paar — but he responded to the invite by saying he wouldn’t go on unless he was able to sit on the couch after his routine. He became the first black performer invited to sit and talk with the host on air after his performance.

Gregory wasn’t only a brilliant stand-up he was known to be very active in the civil rights movement. He felt very strongly about the Vietnam War, economic reform, and anti-drug issues.

 

Using his comedy he became friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Medgar Evers invited him to speak a voter registration rally in Jackson, Mississippi.

 

He didn’t stop there and stayed current with todays world to have his say.  He would often post on social media to not only continue his comedy hustle, but also his activism. In one specific post, he goes on to talk about his experience in the civil rights movement and how it still rings true today, saying “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

He appeared in comedy variety show Wonder Showzen and episodes of Reno 911! and the movie The Hot Chick. In 2016, Emmy-winning Scandal actor Joe Morton played Gregory in the off-Broadway play Turn Me Loose which was produced by John Legend.

Gregory was married to his wife Lillian, who he wed in 1959. They had 11 children together.

 

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