Tag: Dick Gregory

R.I.P. Dick Gregory, 84, Groundbreaking Comedian, Civil Rights Activist and Nutrition Guru

Dick Gregory (photo via hollywoodreporter.com)

by Dennis McLellan via latimes.com

Dick Gregory, who became the first black stand-up comic to break the color barrier in major nightclubs in the early 1960s, a decade in which he satirized segregation and race relations in his act and launched his lifetime commitment to civil rights and other social justice issues, died Saturday. He was 84.

His death was confirmed on his official social media accounts by his family. “It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC.,” his son Christian Gregory wrote. Even before the confirmation from the family, Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Gregory’s, had memorialized him in a tweet: “He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

In a life that began in poverty in St. Louis during the Depression, the former Southern Illinois University track star became known as an author, lecturer, nutrition guru and self-described agitator who marched, ran and fasted to call attention to issues ranging from police brutality to world famine. An invitation from civil rights leader Medgar Evers to speak at voter registration rallies in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 launched Gregory into what he called “the civil rights fight.” He was frequently arrested for his activities in the ’60s, and once spent five days in jail in Birmingham, Ala. after joining demonstrators in 1963 at the request of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Gregory, who was shot in the leg while trying to help defuse the Watts riots in 1965, made a failed run for mayor of Chicago as a write-in candidate in 1967. A year later, he ran for president as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, a splinter group of the Peace and Freedom Party. Hunter S. Thompson was one of his most vocal supporters.

In the late ’60s, Gregory began going on 40-day fasts to protest the Vietnam War. In 1980, impatient with President Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis, he flew to Iran and began a fast, had a “ceremonial visit” with revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and met with the revolutionary students inside the embassy. After four and a half months in Iran, his weight down to 106 pounds, he returned home.

Dick Gregory runs for President (photo via latimes.com)

But before Dick Gregory the activist, there was Dick Gregory the groundbreaking comedian. He was a struggling 28-year-old stand-up comic in Chicago who had launched his career in small black clubs when he received a life-changing, last-minute phone call from his agent in January 1961: The prestigious Playboy Club in Chicago needed someone to fill in for comedian Irwin Corey on Sunday night. Gregory was so broke he had to borrow a quarter from his landlord for bus fare downtown. Never mind that his audience turned out to be a convention of white frozen-food-industry executives from the South.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Gregory said, coolly eyeing the audience. “I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent 20 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.’ ”Despite having to deal with what he later described as “dirty, little, insulting statements” from some members of the audience, the heckling soon stopped as Gregory won them over with his provocatively funny but nonbelligerent satirical humor.

“Segregation is not all bad,” he said on stage. “Have you ever heard of a wreck where the people on the back of the bus got hurt?” What was supposed to be a 55-minute show, Gregory later recalled, went on for about an hour and 40 minutes. And by the time he walked off stage, the audience gave him a thundering ovation. He did so well, he was booked at the club for two weeks and then held over for several more.

To read full article, go to: Dick Gregory, who rose from poverty to become a groundbreaking comedian and civil rights activist, dies at 84 – LA Times

Comedian and Activist Dick Gregory to be Honored with Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

dick gregory (walk of fame)The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has announced that comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory will be honored with the 2,542nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday, February 2, 2015.

The star in the category of Live Theatre/Performance will be dedicated at 1650 Vine Street near Hollywood & Vine.

“We are proud to honor Dick Gregory with a star on the Walk of Fame during Black History month. He has given so much to the world with his wisdom through his work in entertainment,” stated Leron Gubler, President of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and emcee of the ceremonies.

The star ceremony will be streamed live exclusively on www.walkoffame.com

The day after the ceremony the celebration will continue with the Dick Gregory & Friends All Star Tribute and Toast on Tuesday, February 3, at 8:00 p.m. at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, 1615 N. Vine Street in Hollywood.

Richard Claxton Gregory aka Dick Gregory is a comedian, civil rights activist, author, recording artist, actor, philosopher and anti-drug crusader. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gregory, 82, began his career as a comedian while serving in the military in the mid-1950s. He was drafted in 1954 while attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. After being discharged in 1956, with a desire to perform comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago.

Gregory attributes the launch of his career to Hugh Hefner, who watched him perform at Herman Roberts Show Bar. Hefner hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club as a replacement for comedian Professor Irwin Corey.

By 1962, Gregory had become a nationally-known headline performer, selling out nightclubs, making numerous national television appearances, and recording popular comedy albums. Gregory, whose style was detached, ironic, and satirical, gained the attention of audiences with his political and controversial stand up acts. By being both outspoken and provocative, he became a household name and opened many doors for Black entertainers.

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Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Announces a Month-Long Celebration Honoring Civil Rights Legends

Oprah Winfrey and

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network recently announced a month-long celebration in January honoring civil rights legends who paved the way as we approach the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The network will air the star-studded television event Oprah Winfrey Presents: Legends Who Paved The Way (Sunday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT) where Oprah Winfrey hosts a gala of events honoring some of the legendary men and extraordinary women of the civil rights movement, the arts and entertainment who made history and redefined what was possible for us all. Honorees include Ambassador Andrew Young, Berry Gordy, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Diane Nash, Dick Gregory, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Juanita Jones Abernathy, Julian Bond, Marian Wright Edelman, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.

On January 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Oprah sits down for a special episode of her popular series Oprah Prime celebrating the life of Dr. King and the Selma marches 50 years later. The episode features an in-depth conversation with the star of the upcoming film Selma, acclaimed actor David Oyelowo who portrays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with the film’s award-winning director Ava DuVernay. The episode will also feature stories of those who were impacted by the march and their reflections today on that time in American history.

The month of special programming begins on New Year’s Day as NBC News correspondent Tamron Hall hosts Race on The Oprah Winfrey Show with Tamron Hall (Thursday, January 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT) which highlights those trailblazing Oprah show episodes that elicited shocking audience responses and sparked opportunities for growth towards greater connection, empathy and healing.

Other special programming airing throughout the month include special episodes of Oprah: Where Are They Now? (Thursday, January 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT) which spotlights memorable civil rights newsmakers and Oprah’s Master Class (Sunday, January 4 at 10 p.m. ET/PT) featuring powerful firsthand accounts from iconic “masters” such as Berry Gordy, Cicely Tyson, Dr. Maya Angelou, Diahann Carroll and many more.

In addition, the world television premiere of the OWN original documentary Light Girls will air on Monday, January 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT featuring an in-depth look into colorism and the untold stories of lighter-skinned women around the globe. The documentary features interviews with notable celebrities including Russell Simmons, Soledad O’Brien, Diahann Carroll, india.arie, Iyanla Vanzant, Michaela Angela Davis, Kym Whitley, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and more.

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Documentary “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown” Debuts Tonight on HBO

“Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown,” a documentary by Alex Gibney, is being shown Monday on HBO. (Credit: Walter Iooss Jr./Getty Images)

There is one interview I remember from my early days as a reporter, and I often recite a line from it because it’s the best answer I’ve ever gotten and ever will get. Naturally, it came from James Brown.

It was in 1989, when he was in prison for, among other things, capping a long bout of partying with a high-speed chase through Georgia and South Carolina that ended only after police officers shot out his tires.

I was a Time magazine reporter, and he was working in the prison cafeteria. The warden let me wave through a window at Brown as he wiped down tables in a cook’s white coat and cap, embellished by purple wraparound sunglasses and matching scarf. Brown was allowed to speak by phone.

I didn’t even know where to begin, so I asked how he was feeling.  “I’m well rested now,” he said, and waited a beat. “But I miss being tired.”

That reply is almost reason enough for watching “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown,” an HBO documentary directed by Alex Gibney. But there are plenty of others. This is a smart, informative and compassionate look at the artist known as the Godfather of Soul, whose music changed America.

“Mr. Dynamite” is an informative and compassionate look at James Brown, whose R&B, soul and funk altered American music. CreditEmilio Grossi/HBO

Brown, who died in 2006, was a fascinating figure. Just this year, he inspired a biographical movie, “Get On Up,” with Chadwick Boseman as Brown, and there have been a steady stream of biographies, including two memoirs that he wrote with co-authors.

He was a magnetic, kinetic master of R&B, soul and funk, with roots in gospel and big-band music. He was a beloved performer and an often terrible boss and violent husband. (His third wife, Adrienne Lois Rodriguez, told me he once laid out her mink coat on the bed and then shot it.) He played an important role at critical moments in the civil rights movement and also shocked his fans by supporting Richard M. Nixon in 1972.

Of course, there is also the music.  The film opens with Brown sweating through a muscle T-shirt and chanting the opening words of “Soul Power” to a frenzied audience at the Olympia in Paris in 1971.

The narrative threads his scratch-poor boyhood dancing for nickels in the segregated South to his lasting influence on rock, hip-hop and rap. The film doesn’t dwell on his sad last days, but it does address his many contradictions — personal, musical and political. All of it is set to the beat of his music, which gets the last word.

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Dick Gregory To Receive Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Dick Gregory

Legendary comedian-actor-activist Dick Gregory will receive a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year, reports Variety.com.

The Walk of Fame Selection Committee announced the list of 30 honorees—which also includes iconic R&B group Kool & The Gang and super-producer Pharrell Williams last week.

“We know that the new selections represent the best of the entertainment industry and will be a great addition to the Walk of Fame for both the Hollywood community and fans from around the world who visit Hollywood every year,” Maureen Schultz, Chair of the Walk of Fame selection committee, said in a statement.

Will Farrell, Melissa McCarthy, Jennifer Garner, Peter Jackson, Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Rudd, Christoph Waltz, James L. Brooks, Ken Ehrlich, Bobby Flay, Seth MacFarlane, Julianna Margulies, Chris O’Donnell, Jim Parsons, Amy Poehler, Kelly Ripa, Sofia Vergara, Lukasz ‘Dr. Luke’ Gottwald, Pitbull, Al Schmitt, Raymond Chandler, Bob Kane and Larry Elder round out the diverse and sure to debated over list.

Of the 30 ceremonies planned for the recipients, approximately 24 of them will be broadcasted to a worldwide audience.

article via newsone.com