Remembering Comedian and Activist Dick Gregory (1932-2017)

Dick Gregory died this past Sunday at the age of 84. In 1961, he became the first black comedian in the United States to achieve crossover success with white audiences. After three years as the emcee at the black-owned Roberts Show Club in Chicago, Hugh Hefner hired Gregory as a last-minute sub at the Playboy Club, propelling him into the national spotlight.

From the start of his career, Dick Gregory was active in the civil rights movement. He used his platform to raise up unheard voices, challenge the status quo, and stand up to the United States government. He was a true champion against racism and militarism.

Tom Weinberg says: “I knew and respected ‘Greg’ for more than 40 years, professionally and personally. He was never afraid to tell it straight. He used humor to make fundamental points about the powerful and our society. There will never be another Dick Gregory. Deep and lasting sympathy to his wife Lillian and their nine surviving sons and daughters. He was on the road doing appearances until last week so it was a shock.”

This clip, taken from footage of an anti-nuclear rally in Washington D.C. in 1979, features Dick Gregory speaking on the the threat posed by nuclear power and radiation.

Additional footage of Dick Gregory can be found elsewhere in the Media Burn Archive, showcasing his involvement with protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention, a conversation about those protests, and an interview about nuclear disarmament.

 

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