In the 1960s, Dick Gregory made history as he became one of the first African American comedians ever to perform comedy in white clubs, and the comedian and civil rights activist carried that legacy on for decades. Gregory even made segregation and racial injustice a part of his act, winning over white crowds after a fateful day in 1961 when he was asked to fill in for a white comedian at the prestigious Playboy Club in Chicago.
The legendary comedian and activist died on Saturday night in Washington. He was 84.
Gregory’s passing was announced on social media by his son Christian, who released a statement saying: “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.”
While Gregory was renown for his comedy, his activism is as much a part of his legacy as his ability to make people laugh. He was arrested several times in the ’60s for joining civil rights rallies, and he eventually wrote the book “Murder in Memphis” with Mark Lane an in-depth investigation into the assassination of Martin Luther King which questioned the FBI’s involvement in King’s murder.
The cause of Gregory’s death is unknown at this time.