Baltimore—The NAACP mourns the death of
comedic legend and civil rights icon Dick Gregory, who passed away today
at age 84. Gregory broke down the barriers of segregation in
American comedy and entertainment, and consistently lent his celebrity
status to the ongoing fight for civil rights.
The author of numerous books, comedy and
spoken word albums, Gregory recently released a new book, “Defining Moments in
Black History: Reading Between the Lies.” Noted as an independent researcher
and scholar of a variety of unorthodox knowledge, he segued from his position
as one of the nation’s leading comics, to a civil rights activist after friend
and former NAACP Mississippi state field secretary Medgar Evers was
assassinated in 1963 by a white supremacist.
“Dick Gregory was an activist and creative
genius who knew the struggle for liberation could only take flight if prominent
individuals like himself leveraged their considerable influence, and
joined the masses on the front lines of the dismantling of Jim Crow,” said
NAACP Board Chairman Leon W. Russell. “We have lost one of the most
important voices of social justice vigilance in the last fifty years. His
intellectual style of humor defied racist stereotypes, eschewed buffoonery
and provided white America rare insight into the unquestionable humanity
of Black people,” added Russell.
Gregory would frequently march along
side the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and considered
late Muslim leader Malcolm X a friend. Later in his career,
he would spend time on Radio One’s WOL-AM in Washington, DC with media
magnate and good friend Cathy Hughes, providing analysis of the Black
struggle, and advocating African American
economic self-help, health and nutrition.
“Our brother in the struggle, Dick Gregory
will be sorely missed,” said NAACP interim President Derrick Johnson. “He,
along with people like Harry Belafonte and Paul Robeson pioneered the
use of celebrity as tool to push for social justice. Our community and nation owes a great debt to him for his decades of work to