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Biographical Details of Leadership
Contemporary Lens on Black Leadership
Historical Focus on Race
Dick Gregory's career spanned more than half a century. He began performing comedy while in the U.S. Army in the mid 1950s. Through the use of irony and satire, he held up a lens to American society and its racial stereotypes, using comedy and social action to address injustice and discrimination in American society. A performance in 1961 at the Chicago Playboy Club launched his national reputation; within a year, he played to sold-out audiences in nightclubs and became a popular television comedian. He broke barriers for black entertainers in America.
Throughout the 1960s, he drew attention to issues of poverty and racial segregation throughout the South, often using his personal resources to do so. He was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and by SNCC activists and he participated in SNCC voter registration drives. He spoke out strongly against the war in Vietnam, fasting over sixty times to draw attention to international abuses there are elsewhere throughout the world. Gregory ran for political offices in the late 1960s, including that of the presidency as a write-in candidate. His activism continues and is focused on issues of conspiracy, nutrition, and medical practices.
Gregory is the author of Nigger, published in 1963 as his first autobiography. The book was a best seller and has since sold more than seven million copies. He published a second autobiography, Callus on My Soul, in 1998. In addition, Gregory authored several other books that focus on political conspiracy.
He released a ”State of the Union Address” on the Internet in April of 2013.
Dick Gregory died on August 19, 2017.