today: Dick Gregory
Richard Claxton “Dick” Gregory (born on October 12, 1932 in St. Louis, Missouri) is an American comedian, social activist, social critic, writer, and entrepreneur.
Gregory is an influential American comic who has used his performance skills to convey to both white and black audiences his political message on civil rights. His social satire changed the way white Americans perceived African American comedians since he first performed in public.
Influenced to stand up for civil rights by his early surroundings of poverty and violence, Gregory was one of the first comedians to successfully perform for both black and white audiences.
After completing military service, he performed as a comedian in small, primarily black nightclubs while working for the United States Postal Service during the daytime. In 1961, while working at the Black-owned Roberts Show Bar in Chicago, he was hired by Hugh Hefner to work at the Chicago Playboy Club after Hefner heard him perform the following material before a largely-white audience:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent twenty years there one night.
Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant and this white waitress came up to me and said, “We don’t serve colored people here.” I said, “That’s all right. I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.”
Then these three white boys came up to me and said, “Boy, we’re giving you fair warning’. Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you”. So I put down my knife and fork, I picked up that chicken and I kissed it. Then I said, “Line up, boys!”.
This routine caused a direct request from publisher Hugh Hefner and he was booked as a replacement for the white comedian Professor Irwin Corey. Until then Gregory had worked mostly at small clubs with predominantly black audiences.
Active in the civil rights movement, he came to Selma, Alabama and spoke for two hours on a public platform two days before the voter registration drive known as “Freedom Day” (October 7, 1963).
Dick Gregory’s first TV appearance was on the late night Jack Paar Show. He soon began appearing nationally and on television and his 1964 autobiography, nigger, has sold ten million copies. At the same time, he became more involved in struggles for civil rights, activism against the Vietnam War, economic reform, anti-drug issues, conspiracy theories, and others. As a part of his activism, he went on several hunger strikes. Gregory began his political career by running against Richard J. Daley for the mayoralty of Chicago in 1967. Though he did not emerge victorious, this would not prove to be the end of Dick Gregory’s dalliances with electoral politics.
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Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell
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