Remembering comedian and activist Dick Gregory

Dick Gregory’s son, Christian Gregory took to Instagram over the weekend to announce that his father, legendary comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory had passed away in Washington D.C. at the age of 84. Reports say that Gregory had been hospitalized for urinary tract infection at D.C.’s Sibley Memorial Hospital since August 9th. While announcing rescheduled tour dates for the end of the month, Gregory shared a few weeks ago that he would be back to the stage in no time. However his family announced that Mr. Gregory suffered a  “a bifurcated thoracic aortic aneurysm”.

Dick Gregory was born in St. Louis, MO and got his comedic start performing in talent shows in the Fifties while serving in the Army. From there he worked in a post office by day and performed to predominantly black audiences at night before Hugh Hefner gave him his first big break and invited him to fill in at Chicago’s playboy club in 1961. Hefner went on to sign him to a three-week contract and then a residency allowing Gregory to be one of the first black comedians to be accepted by white audiences at the time, despite the fact that his stand-up included “no-holds-barred” sets in which he mocked bigotry and racism. Gregory went on to be extremely active in the civil rights movement speaking in Selma, Alabama in 1963 days before the voter registration drive known as “Freedom Day”, and using his activism to bring awareness to issues such as the Vietnam War, economic reform and anti-drug issues. He also ran for a number of political offices and in 1978 joined feminist Gloria Steinem in the National ERA March for Ratification and Extension, a march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the United States Capitol on Women’s Equality Day. In addition Gregory has participated in hunger strikes to bring awareness to a variety of social issues and has authored a number of books including the autobiography, Ni**erFrom The Back of The Bus and No More Lies; The Myth and Reality of American History.

His son took to Instagram once more on Sunday morning to note the legacy his father left behind: