Dick Gregory was far more than just a funny man. The activist was a comedian who was able to marry humor with messages of peace and equality. Gaining fame in the early 1960’s, he joined the Civil Rights movement in a time when domestic terrorism and hate crimes against African-Americans were constant. By aligning with individuals like Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the leaders of the Black Panther Party —among many others— his work not only opened doors from comics but made a safe space for his people.
Writer and social activist Dick Gregory and Civil Rights leader the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr holding the Merit Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Richmond, Virginia.
Comedian Dick Gregory, Ron Karenga, leader of the Black Nationalist Cultural Organization of the U.S., H. Rap Brown, national chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Ralph Featherstone of SNCC (left to right, front) hold a press conference.
Four of the chief delegates to the National Conference for New Politics hear addresses by another delegate during session here. (l. to r.) Dr. Benjamin Spock, prominent pediatrician; Rev. James Abernathy, Dick Gregory and Dr. Martin Luther King.
Activist Dick Gregory stands and looks upon a growing crowd of protestors gathered in Grant Park during the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, IL, 1968.
Robert Abbott Sengstacke
Civil rights leaders plan integration demonstrations throughout the United States during the coming year. Left to right, Lawrence Landry (SNIC-Chicago), Gloria Richardson, (Cambridge, MD), Comedian Dick Gregory, 'Brother' Malcolm X (New York City), and Stanley Branche (Chester). It was hinted that Washington, DC will be one of the primary demonstration sites.
Writer and social activist Dick Gregory wearing hat, speaking to the crowd during a Black Panther event, New Jersey, November 2, 1968.
Comedian and Activist Dick Gregory (L), US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)(C), and former Washington DC Mayor Marion Barry (R) share a few words on stage during the 40th Anniversary March honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 23 August 2003 on the steps of the Lincloln Memorial where Dr. King gave his 'I have a Dream' speech 40-years ago. A plaque unveiling ceremony and following march are part of a two-day 40th speech anniversary march on Washington, DC.
PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Actors Chris Tucker, Dick Gregory with Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC on January 20, 2013.
The Reverend Al Sharpton, left, and activist Dick Gregory attend a rally July 5, 2000 at the Lord & Taylor in Dearborn, MI. About 10,000 people gathered to protest the death of Frederick Finley, who died of suffocation while security guards had him in a choke hold after his family was accused of shoplifting.
Photo by Bill Pugliano/Liaison
Pres. Bill Clinton (L) laughing as comedian Dick Gregory (R) brandishes copy of TIME Man of Year Newt Gingrich issue, sitting with Coretta Scott King, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow at ceremony honoring the civil rights leader who was slain in 1968.