Civil rights activist, author, comedian and actor Dick Gregory died tonight, August 19th, in Washington, D.C. The Associated Press reports he had been hospitalized for about a week with a severe bacterial infection. His family announced his death on Instagram.
Gregory was one of the first black comedians to find success with mainstream audiences in the 1960s, mixing humor with hard truths about racism.
As a civil rights activist, he marched in Selma, Alabama, and was friends with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medger Evans.
His activism continued throughout his life. He participated in protests against the war in Vietnam, rallied for Native American and women’s rights, and joined hunger strikes in support of Black Lives Matter. He also published multiple books on racism and on comedy.
Gregory ran for mayor of Chicago in 1967, and for President in 1968 as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace party, a spinoff of the Peace and Freedom party. This landed him on President Richard Nixon’s master list of political opponents.
Gregory was 84, but still very active, performing standup comedy at various locations earlier this month. On the first of August, Variety published a guest column he’d written, titled “Fight Police Brutality With Your Wallet.”
Gregory’s newest book, “Defining Moments In Black History: Reading Between The Lies” is scheduled for publication on September 19th.