Earlier this week we reported that he had been hospitalized in serious condition. Now, we must report that comedian/activist Dick Gregory has passed away Saturday night in Washington, D.C. at 84.
Richard Claxton “Dick” Gregory’s death was confirmed on his official social media accounts by his family.
“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.,” his son Christian Gregory wrote.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Gregory, memorialized him in a tweet:
“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.”
Gregory became the first black stand-up comic to break the color barrier in major nightclubs in the early 1960s, a decade in which he satirized segregation and race relations in his act and launched his lifetime commitment to civil rights and other social justice issues.
The former Southern Illinois University track star went on to become known as an author, lecturer, nutrition guru and self-described agitator who marched, ran and fasted to call attention to issues ranging from police brutality to world famine.
An invitation from civil rights leader Medgar Evers to speak at voter registration rallies in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 launched Gregory into what he called “the civil rights fight.”
He was frequently arrested for his activities in the ’60s, and once spent five days in jail in Birmingham, Ala. after joining demonstrators in 1963 at the request of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Gregory was also a writer known for the documentary “Joe Louis: America’s Hero… Betrayed.” Comedy Central named him #82 on the all time list of greatest stand-up comedians.
As we said at the top, Gregory had been hospitalized for an unknown but serious condition. He died from heart failure, according to a representative, reports TMZ.