After a week long battle in which he was fighting for his life in a Washington, D.C. hospital, comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory died late Saturday at the age of 84.
His son, Christian, told The Associated Press that his father had endured a severe bacterial infection.
Gregory became famous in the early 1960s after being one of the first black comedians to attract mostly white audiences.
Gregory grew up in the slums of St. Louis, Missouri where he enjoyed running track. He was so good, that he received a scholarship to run track in college. But he real passion was comedy.
He become an admired satirist who cleverly commented upon racial divisions at the beginning of the civil rights movement. Over the course of time, as Gregory’s profile got bigger, he found himself more of a social activist who often used comedy and humor to fight for equality.
He later sought political office but ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago in 1966, and even made a bid for US president in 1968, collecting only 200,000 votes as a candidate on the Peace and Freedom party line.
In the late 1960’s, Gregory befriended John Lennon and joined in the singing of Lennon and Yoko Ono’s anti-war anthem “Give Peace a Chance” during their “bed-in” for peace in a Montreal hotel room.
In recent years, Gregory preached the virtues of prayer, non-violence, vegetarianism and raw food diets. He remained in the comedy game until this month.
About a week ago on social media, he talked about the violence in Charlottesville, Va., saying, “We have so much work still to be done.”
Gregrory is survived by his wife Lillian and 10 children.
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