Comedian and Civil Rights Icon Dick Gregory Dies at 84

The legendary comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory died Saturday at the age of 84.

Gregory’s son Christian announced the news on social media Saturday night.

“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, D.C.,” Christian Gregory wrote. “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

The news prompted mourning throughout the United States, an indication of Gregory’s far-reaching influence as a tireless advocate of racial justice.

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“He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live,” tweeted Rev. Jesse Jackson. “Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

In a statement following the news of Gregory’s death on Saturday, NAACP Board Chairman Leon W. Russell said “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.”

“We have lost one of the most important voices of social justice vigilance in the last fifty years,” Russell concluded. “His intellectual style of humor defied racist stereotypes, eschewed buffoonery, and provided white America rare insight into the unquestionable humanity of Black people.”

Watch Gregory’s 2002 appearance on Democracy Now!:

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