The man who is credited with breaking the color barrier for comedians, has died.
According to social media posts by his family, Dick Gregory died in Washington, DC. CNN reports, Gregory’s son, Christian wrote:
"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," Christian Gregory wrote. "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."
Tribute to Gregory poured in on Twitter:
Rev Jesse Jackson Sr-: "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." #RIP
TheKingCenter: "He provoked us to think and to change. And he made us laugh, too. Rest, our dear elder, #DickGregory."
Ava DuVernay: "You taught us and loved us. Thank you, #DickGregory."
rolandsmartin: "He taught us how to live, how to laugh, how to fight. He never surrendered."
Bill Cosby: "His comedy showed his education, intelligence, and was inclusive of humanitarianism along with great timing."
Roy Wood Jr- :"They ask me why I travel so much & I tell em, the fight 4 justice is out there, it aint at my house"-Dick Gregory."
John Legend: "Dick Gregory lived an amazing, revolutionary life. A groundbreaker in comedy and a voice for justice." RIP
After the Tonight Show appearance, Gregory noted that his salary jumped from $250 for seven nights of work (three shows a night) at the Playboy Club to $5,000 a night. "And the next year and a half, I made $3.9 million," he said. " (Hollywood Reporter)
Dick Gregory would go on to get deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement, with his comedy taking a back seat to his activism. He ran for Mayor of Chicago in 1967 against Richard Daley, and ran for President of the United States in 1968 as a write-in candidate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket.
Gregory opposed the Vietnam War. He made friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X; honored a request from Medgar Evers to speak at a voter registration rally in Jackson, Miss.; delivered food to NAACP offices in the South; marched in Selma, Ala.; got shot while trying to keep the peace during the 1965 Watts riots; was arrested in Washington for protesting Vietnam; performed benefit shows for the Congress of Racial Equality; and traveled to Tehran in 1980 to attempt to negotiate the hostages' release. (Hollywood Reporter)
In 2016, John Legend, produced an off-Broadway play Turn Me Loose, with Emmy-winning actor Joe Morton (Scandal), portraying Gregory. Dick Gregory leaves behind a wife, Lillian, whom he married in 1959. They had 11 children—including one who died at birth.