The trailblazing black comedian is being remembered both for his humor and his civil rights activism.
Richard Claxton "Dick" Gregory (October 12, 1932 – August 19, 2017) was an American civil rights activist, social critic, writer, entrepreneur, comedian, and actor. During the turbulent 1960s, Gregory became a pioneer in stand-up comedy for his "no-holds-barred" sets, in which he mocked bigotry and racism. He primarily performed at segregated clubs to black audiences until 1961, when he became the first black comedian to successfully cross over to white audiences, appearing on television and putting out comedy record albums.
Gregory was at the forefront of political activism in the 1960s, protesting the Vietnam War and racial injustice. He was arrested multiple times and went on a hunger strike. He later became a motivational speaker and author, primarily promoting spirituality.
In August 2017, Gregory died of heart failure at a Washington, D.C. hospital at age 84