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dick gregory leaves big shoes to fill: his take on the u.s.’s racism & imperialism are as relevant as ever

August 21, 2017
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“Dick Gregory was the greatest, and he was the first. Somebody had to break down that door.” — Richard Pryor

On Saturday, the world lost one of its most profound—and hilarious—warriors for social justice. At 84, Dick Gregory had already changed the landscape of satirical comedy twice over (he notably took a near-two-decade hiatus, returning in 1993), with his bold stance against racism in the 60s making his name synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement.

Though an indisputable king of comedy, Gregory did not limit his activism to telling jokes. He once famously claimed that “humor can no more find the solution to race problems than it can cure cancer,” and went beyond comedy often to put his body on the line for his strong beliefs. In 1963, Gregory was arrested and beaten for participating in a protest for the right to vote in Birmingham, Alabama. Afterwards, he wrote, “It was just body pain, though. The Negro has a callus growing on his soul, and it’s getting harder and harder to hurt him there.”

As with the loss of any icon, Twitter quickly became a digital memorial under the hastag #RIPDickGregory. Check out some of the most resonant memories of the legend below:



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