Friends of the late stand-up comedian Dick Gregory, who died of heart failure in Washington, D.C. at the age of 84, are remembering him as more than just an entertainer.

Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles released a statement mourning the entertainer over the weekend.

“Today, I join the world in mourning the passing of my dear friend, Dick Gregory, whom I truly admired and loved. I consider Dick to be one of the most brilliant and transformative comedians the world has ever seen,” she wrote. “Dick was unafraid to confront racism and bigotry in his performances which helped shine a light on the injustices African-Americans faced in this country, particularly in the Jim Crow South, and he is revered for breaking down barriers that prevented African-American comedians from entertaining all- white audiences, paving the way for African-American comics today.

…I am so grateful for all of the precious memories that we have shared over the past years, especially a few months ago when I joined him in our hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, where at 84 years of age, he captivated a packed audience with his one of a kind wit, charm, and humor. Dick will certainly be missed, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this rough time.”

In addition to his comedy, Gregory, who died Saturday, was a prominent activist, participating in the civil rights movement and protests against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He engaged in more than 60 fasts on behalf of various causes, including one in Iran in an effort to free the hostages held in the U.S. Embassy.

He ran for president in 1968 as the candidate of the Freedom and Peace Party, receiving 47,149 votes.

Gregory also authored several books, including two autobiographies and “Code Name Zorro: The Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.”

Gregory fans can leave flowers or other offerings at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1650 Vine St.

Gregory received his star in 2015. At the ceremony, he thanked Hugh Hefner for booking him to perform at Chicago’s Playboy Club in 1961, which he credited for  making stand-up comedy a popular form of entertainment.

Gregory went on to make sold-out nightclub performances, national television appearances and recording comedy albums in the early 1960s.


–City News Service

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