Civil Rights Icon Dick Gregory Has Died

The legendary activist and comedian passed away in Washington, D.C.

August 20, 2017
Civil Rights Icon Dick Gregory Has Died Dick Gregory performing on stage in 1962.   Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images

Dick Gregory has passed away from an undisclosed illness in Washington, D.C. One of his children confirmed the news in a heartbreaking statement on Instagram. Earlier this week, a post on Gregory's Facebook revealed that the 84-year-old had been hospitalized for "a serious but stable medical condition," but his family expected him to be released soon.


Gregory was a famous stand-up comedian who became a prominent figure during the Civil Rights movement for his satirist routines that tied in social and political commentary. Throughout the 1960s, he participated in several sit-in demonstrations at non-integrated restaurants. Even though he was earning a good living from booking gigs at clubs across the country, he often traded the opportunity to perform for protests and marches. These events often ended in his arrest which involved spending many nights in jail.

In 1968, he ran a campaign for President of the United States as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party. During the era of the Vietnam War, the activist took it upon himself to fast multiple times. Gregory would go on to become a published author with a series of books under his name as well as an entrepreneur when he founded Health Enterprises Inc. back in 1984.

As I approach my 85th revolution around the sun this year, I wonder why has it been so difficult for humankind to be kind. So difficult to be loving and lovable. For my militant brothers and sisters, please don't misconstrue loving and lovable to be weak or submissive. Love will always be triumphant over hate. I know I will not be here forever, nor do I desire to be. I have seen progress like most cannot appreciate because they were not there to bear witness. I dedicated my life to the movement. By doing so, I never thought I'd still be here. So many of my friends are not here. They were cut down by a system of hatred and evil. If they were here, they'd see the progress that I see. The reality is far from perfect, but profoundly better than what daily reality was for my generation. Young folks if you are wise you would talk less and spend more time listening to the elders who saw evil up front and personal everyday. #howlong I've been asking this question for over 40 years! How long before we realize our Universal God given potential? We have made immeasurable progress that cannot be debated. That said, we still have a long way to go. I have no desire to see this all the way through, the dreams I dreamed about 60 years ago have definitively been realized. To the young folks of all ethnicities I say #staywoke not as a catchphrase but as a lifestyle. Most of the things that are killing us are in our minds and our daily routines. The way we think, the "food" we eat and the water we drink or so often don't drink. While so many go out and protest the small evils, the big evils are ever present and welcomed into our homes. From the top to bottom of my heart I say #staywoke  Love you to life, DIck Gregory

A post shared by Dick Gregory (@therealdickgregory) on

In 1999, Gregory was diagnosed with lymphoma, but the cancer reportedly went into remission despite the fact that he refused to partake in chemotherapy. Learn more about Gregory's groundbreaking legacy here. Some of his peers have expressed their grief on social media which can be read, below.

Thumbnail image via Harry Dempster/Stringer.

Civil Rights Icon Dick Gregory Has Died