R.I.P., Dick Gregory

Dick Gregory, activist and comedian.

Back in 1978, as a young reporter at what then was called the Gazette Telegraph in Bibleburg, I spoke with two people who could not have been more different — David Duke and Dick Gregory.

Duke was all PR and puffery, arguing that integration wasn’t “bringing peace and harmony to America, it’s accomplishing the complete opposite.” He described his button-down version of the Ku Klux Klan as “a white counterpart of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,” and crowed about “a surge of interest and membership in the organization.”

Gregory, as you might expect, approached civil rights from an entirely different angle, knowing a line of horseshit when he smelled it. It was a product he did not carry and would not distribute.

“As long as we have racism and sexism, we are a nation divided,” he said during a speech at the Fort Carson Field House, where he received a standing ovation before heading downtown for another talk at The Colorado College.

“If I walk about for a week with a pile of horse manure in my pocket, ready to throw on you, then whose pocket stinks for a week?” he asked. “And if I walk around with hate in my brain, what is that going to do with my brain?”

Pockets full of horseshit and brains full of hate. Nearly four decades down the road we’re still covering the same old ground. Sisyphus is all like, “Damn, y’all really like rolling that rock, huh?”

• Update: Rolling Stone‘s obit is a good bit more, uh, colorful, than the one in The New York Times.

• Update the Second: Holy shit, now Jerry Lewis has left the building.

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10 Responses to “R.I.P., Dick Gregory”

  1. Charley Auer Says:

    A good comedian and person.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Maybe bullshit and hate would be more accurate for what we see today. He held up the mirror and made us laugh at our own stupidity. That takes talent and courage. Another good one returns to the source.
    On a side note, can you imagine trying to pick between Pryor and Carlin for the first spot on the list of the top 50 stand up comedians? That would give me a giant brain cramp and serious analysis paralysis.

  3. larry brown Says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting him at a rally in the late 60’s. He will be missed.

  4. Dale Says:

    I read about Dick Gregory in 1966 or 1967 high school (probably in Playboy or Esquire) saw him in person when I was in college in the early seventies. It seemed back then, that he could win people over with humor.

    He was able to make you laugh, and then tell you a truth that you didn’t want to acknowledge.

    These days, in this political climate, humor doesn’t count for much even if it comforts us. Seems like the brown shirts are proudly running around.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The line between reality and satire has been blurred beyond recognition. And we’ve all settled into our own warring camps, with our own house comedians.

      I’m not sure anyone working today compares with the great satirists. But being a geezer, I’d say that, wouldn’t I? “These kids today, goddamnit. …”

  5. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Jerry Lewis was 91! Were did the time go? Now I feel old, well older anyway.

  6. Herb in NH Says:

    Saw Dick Gregory in ’63/’64 in Cambridge (MIT). In a Q&A some dweeb asked him about the reality of the… er, myth, er, um you know, about the size of black men’s, well, er, you know….Gregory answered: “If there was any truth to that, they’d have to make special Jockey shorts for us.” End of dweeb.

    Man told the truth.

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