Dick Gregory would have been the man who is Barack Obama – the first African-American president of the United States of America. History reports that he ran for President of the United States in 1968, after running for mayor of Chicago the year before, but was defeated by Richard Daley. Just as Daley kept Gregory from becoming mayor of Chicago, it is believed that Gregory’s participation in the 1968 presidential election made it impossible for Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic Party candidate, to defeat his Republican counterpart, Richard Nixon.
Dick, who was a written candidate under the Freedom and Peace Party, gave priority in his election campaign to issues that dominated public discourse. These included the Vietnam War, unemployment/economic reforms and, of course, the rights of African Americans. At one point during the election campaign, the federal government-backed Gregory because of the dollar bills printed with his picture that was put into circulation. While the notes did not get him into serious trouble, they did bring him the enormous attention and publicity he needed for his campaign.
In the end, Gregory didn’t come anywhere near his goal of becoming president; however, he collected enough votes that inspired many to crush Hubert Humphrey’s ambitions as president. Moreover, it is a widely held belief that his candidacy for president added him to the main list of Richard Nixon’s enemies.
Regardless, Dick Gregory is best known for combining comedy and civil rights activism. The Afro-American comedian pioneered stand-up comedy and used it as a means of sparking civil rights movements and countering social ills such as racism. You will easily encounter Dick if you describe him as a social critic and political activist. But beyond that, the man has written a whole series of books and portrayed various characters in a handful of films.
Most recently, he played Dan Coleman in The Leisure Seeker (2017). You can also find him as a toilet attendant in the comedy The Hot Chick from 2002 and as a civil rights marcher in ABC Stage 67.
Dick Gregory Wiki, Is He Dead?
Dick Gregory is often described as a stand-up comedy legend who found his humor in civil rights and social activism, but he’s not anymore. He died on August 19, 2017, at the age of 84. His son, Christian Gregory, announced his death the next day on Facebook. Although it is known that Gregory was once diagnosed with lymphoma, he died of congestive heart failure. His cancer reportedly went into remission after he refused chemotherapy and opted for a strict diet to manage the disease. It is said that the congestive heart failure that caused his death was caused by a severe bacterial infection.
Gregory was born Richard Claxton Gregory on October 12, 1932, in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up wondering why his father, Presley Gregory, had to leave him and his siblings and why his mother, Lucille, could only work as a maid to provide for the family. Poverty made him curious. It was easy for Gregory to see that so many things were wrong with society. This led him to devote his life to addressing social ills and fighting for civil rights.
In high school, Dick was good at running. So he won a running scholarship that gave him the chance to attend the University of Southern Illinois. He was still excellent at running, but later (1956) left school because he studied less and ran more. This happened after he returned to the University when he was discharged by the United States Army; he had already been drafted in 1954. With the army, Gregory began stand-up comedy.
When he left Southern Illinois University behind, Dick decided to pursue a career as a comedian. He moved to Chicago, where he struggled until he was hired by Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, to replace another comedian at the Chicago Playboy Club. Eventually, he became one of the best of his kind.
Increasing fame and the much-earned money he made for the suppression of poverty gave Dick the audacity to lead a more meaningful campaign against racism and all the things he felt were wrong in society. His political activism brought him many problems, but he never gave in.
Dick Gregory’s Wife, Children, Family
Dick has a big family. At his death, he left his wife Lillian Gregory and 10 children, three sons and seven daughters. The Comedian and his wife gave birth to 11 children. One of them, a son named Richard Jr. died as an infant. He was only two months old at the time of death.
It is believed that Gregory met his wife while working as a secretary in a club in Chicago. They grew to love each other and decided to become life partners. As such, they married in 1959, and although Dick would not allow anyone to talk to him about his family and the dangers of an absent father (his career and activism almost always kept him away from his family), he praised Lillian specifically for taking good care of her children and giving him the time he needed to do his job.
Other Interesting Facts about Dick Gregory
We have gone through his beginnings, his career, and his private life; we have also spoken about his departure and the cause of his death. What have we missed? Below are some brief facts about Dick Gregory.
- Gregory was the second child of his parent’s six children.
- He was racially attacked when he was 9 for touching a white woman’s leg. It wasn’t intentional, Dick was polishing her shoes.
- He was friends with other popular human rights activists like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
- Dick severely agitated against the Vietnam war, he hated it.
- He was physically abused, shot and even jailed for his activism.
- Gregory ran for Mayor of Chicago and President of the United States respectively in 1967 and 1968.
- Dick is regarded as one of the best stand-up comedians of all time and a conspiracy theorist because of a good number of the books he published.
- He founded Health Enterprises, Inc. hoping to improve the life expectancy of blacks.
- Once a heavy drinker and chain-smoker, he refused to perform in clubs where smoking and drinking were allowed.
- He has a star at St. Louis Walk of Fame