Hip Hop Mourns The Loss Of Groundbreaking Comedian & Civil Rights Activist Dick Gregory
Washington, D.C. – Trailblazing comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory has passed away at the age 84. His son, Christian Gregory, posted the news to his father’s Facebook account on Saturday night (August 19). Although details are scarce, earlier this week, the elder Gregory had been hospitalized in Washington, D.C., which is where his earthly journey ended. The cause death was reportedly heart failure.
“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 wrote. “The family appreciates the outpouring 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.”
On Thursday (August 17), his family was optimistic he’d be going home. Christian took to Instagram to fer more insight into the situation and ask for “healing.”
“In advanced age a simple cold or a simple infection could be catastrophic,” the caption read. “At soon to be chronologically 85, my father’s true age far exceeds that. A life well-lived but heavily sacrificed, has definitively taken its toll. Laughter is truly good medicine. I’ve watched my father for a lifetime heal the world. Today he is need your healing.”
Sadly, he didn’t pull through.
Born in 1934, the Midwest native moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he started doing stand-up comedy in segregated comedy clubs. In 1961, he got his big break when he was asked to fill in for white comedian Pr. Irwin Corey at Chicago’s Playboy Club, becoming the first African-American comedian to perform in a white comedy club.
In 1962, he was asked to perform stand-up on The Tonight Show, but the former high school track star said he wouldn’t do it unless he could have a sit-down interview with host Jack Paar after his routine, something a black performer had never done. His wish was granted and his career exploded with success as a result.
During a time when America appears more divided than ever, the loss is particularly pround. HipHopDX reached out to several members the Hip Hop community to get their thoughts on Mr. Gregory’s legacy, including A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, MC Lyte, Bun B, Chuck D, Just Blaze, Nick Grant and Styles P.
Just Blaze: “I didn’t understand his significance until I was much older, but he influenced one the greatest rap records all time. I just happened to have a part in it.”
David Banner: “Mr. Gregory was one the greats he can not be replaced. I don’t know what to say. Damn!”
Chuck D: “Dick Gregory! Came to my U Adelphi in 1984. Turned me out in speech. Did events with him. Fixed my sprained ankle. My Dad last words to me was about him.”
Nick Grant: “A necessary voice for people color. A very righteous person in which I learned a lot from through interviews and comedy. He gave a different perspective to very significant situations. He will truly be missed.”
Q-Tip: “RIP to the master teacher, the sage satirist that is Dick Gregory. Your art and introspection remains untethered. May your transition be light and wonderful. Thank you.”
Styles P: “Long live the legend. He may not be with us in the physical anymore, but energy never dies. The laughter and knowledge he delivered will be forever embedded in us.”
MC Lyte: “There was, is and never will be another like Mr. Dick Gregory. He was a courageous freedom fighter who held the torch for many generations, providing light and insight into the history this nation. He was absolutely fearless in his mission to inform and educate us all as he continued to fight for equality for all mankind. He was a source truth and I am deeply saddened by his passing. Mr. Gregory will forever be missed.”
Bun B: “Today is a sad day in the world. We’ve lost a warrior, teacher, gentleman, spokesman and life long fighter for the common good mankind. In this time racial division and separatist movement, we need the Dick Gregorys the world to show us how love and compassion rules over all. He will be missed.”