In a special broadcast today, Democracy Now! remembers legendary comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, who passed away on Saturday in Washington, D.C., at the age of 84. Gregory became one of the most popular comedians in the country, paving the way for generations of African-American comedians. On Sunday Chris Rock wrote on Instagram, “We lost a king. They’ll never be another. Read his books. Look him up you won’t be disappointed. Unfortunately the America that produced Dick Gregory still exists.”
Dick Gregory was the first African-American comedian to sit on the couch of The Tonight Show, then hosted by Jack Parr. As his popularity grew, so did his activism. In 1967, Dick Gregory ran for mayor of Chicago against the infamous Richard Daley. He was a close friend of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and in 1968 he ran for president against Richard Nixon. Dr. Greg Carr, chair of Afro-American Studies at Howard University and a friend of Gregory, described him as a perpetual student. “His intellectual capacity was honed to precision with a lifetime of deep study,” Carr told Diverse Magazine.
The show features Dick Gregory in his own words in our 2002 interview with the comedian in our old firehouse studio.