Dick Gregory Dies at 84
Legendary Civil Rights activist Dick Gregory died on Saturday afternoon. Gregory's family confirmed via Instagram, with the following post:
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 family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time. More details will be released over the next few days - Christian Gregory
Gregory was known largely for his comedy. But his dogged activism is what made him beloved. Gregory pursued justice and equity and was unafraid to speak truth to power. Gregory's was not a voice that could be silenced with intimidation.
After being drafted in 1954, Gregory served for two years in the U.S. Army. While in the service, Gregory honed his craft and performed in various shows for other service members. In 1964, Gregory's autobiography Nigger was published. More than seven million copies have sold since its initial publication.
In addition to his Civil Rights activism, world hunger became another issue he provided a leading voice later in life. Gregory found new energy in devoting his life to vegetarianism. This was a stark change from his days as an obese, heavy drinking, chain smoker. Like his commitment to activism, Gregory completely committed to Dick Gregory Health Enterprises Inc. Unfortunately, due to conflicts with business partners, the company was shuttered soon after launching.
In discussing the title to his book "Callus On My Soul," Gregory started with an anecdote describing his observation of older men wearing holes into the shoe from the inside caused by calluses on their feet. After, Gregory offered the following explanation:
"There's a universal god force that says, 'you can't rub me like this without me reacting.' I'm saying to America that we have a callus around our soul...There's nothing that I can do in my automobile, I'm so busy I can't stop for gas. When it runs out, it stops. And I think in America, noone in this history of this planet have made the progress that we African Americans have made in a 30-year period.."