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Sa'iyda Shabazz
August 20, 2017 11:48 am

Comedian and well known civil rights activist Dick Gregory has passed away. While he made a name for himself as a comedian in the late 1950s, most of us know him as an inspirational activist fighting for equality. Gregory was 84 and had fallen ill a few days ago, and last night, his son Christian made the announcement of his death via social media. Gregory remains one of the first Black comedians who became popular with white audiences. His comedy residency at the Chicago Playboy Lounge in Chicago gave him a media platform, including Time magazine.

Celebrities and politicians alike are paying their respects to Dick Gregory.

While he was in the Army in the early 1950s, Gregory became popular. And that’s where his popularity as a comedian began. Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Lounge gave Gregory the boost to the top. Dick Gregory’s brand of comedy is often a satirical take on race, and having the ear of white audiences was critical to his success. After making a name for himself in comedy, he became an activist — but his activism and his comedy were synonymous. He always encouraged looking at race through satire. More often than not, it made race palatable to white audiences.

His son’s tribute to him on Instagram is incredibly powerful.

It goes without saying that Dick Gregory is a major influence on comedy and activism.

With the announcement of his passing, many people have taken to social media to honor his legacy. “I’ve watched my father for a lifetime heal the world,” Dick Gregory’s son Christian Gregory wrote after his father fell ill. Because of his commitment to activism but also comedy, he has fans across the board. Adds Neil Degrasse Tyson, “Our laughter was fuel to fight for justice in an unjust world.” And because he was active until his death, his fans know no age. He will be greatly missed. Rest in power, Dick Gregory.

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