The Impact And Importance Of Maverick Comedian Dick Gregory , Dead At 84
Dick Gregory was a comedian and a political activist. He used his humor to point out racism, inequality and did it with biting sarcasm and down and dirty wit. In 1975 be broke the color barrier on The Jack Parr Tonight Show by becoming the first black comic to sit on the couch and talk with Jack Parr. Merely taking a seat on a couch may not sound so important, but remember, it wasn’t until Rosa Parks sat on a bus in 1955 that the right of blacks to sit among whites had even been established. In those times where racism has once again reared its ugly head with pride and violence, his accomplishments in making us sit up and take notice with an in your face snarky comedic attitude should be noted on his passing this week at the age of 84. Many years later, when reflecting on his appearance on the Jack Parr show, he made this comment; “Never before had white America let a black person stand flat-footed and talk to white folks. You could dance and you could stop in between the dance and tell how tired your feet is. Or Sammy (Davis) could stop in between and tell a joke. But you could not walk out and talk to white America.” Notably, when Gregory was first invited to appear on the show by Parr’s producer, he declined. It wasn’t until Parr himself called and assured Gregory that he could sit down that he accepted the invitation.
Dick Gregory was part of a renegade group of comedians that included George Carlin, Richard Pryor and the Smothers Brothers that called out hypocrisy and injustice and standing in one’s truth as a humorist. They were all fearless, and none more so than Gregory, who confronted racism head-on without apology and with great insight. He called his autobiography, written during the civil right movement, “Nigger.” His reason: “Remember, whenever you hear the word they are advertising my book.” His take on baseball: “It’s a great sport for my people. It’s the only time a Negro can shake a stick at a white man and not cause a riot.” On income tax: “I wouldn’t mind paying it, if I knew it was going to a friendly country.” On the difference between the North and South: “For a black man, there’s no difference. In the South, they don’t mind how close I get, as long as I don’t get too big. In the North, they don’t mind how big I get, as long as I don’t get too close.”
In 1968, when segregationist George Wallace ran for president, Gregory decided to run against him and received close to 50,000 write-in votes. Wallace, a racist, received nearly 10 million votes and carried five southern states. Gregory continued to speak-out and in 1989 told CBS’s Ed Bradley, “I chose to be an agitator. The next time you put your underwear in the washing machine, take the agitator out, and all you’re going to end up with are some dirty, wet drawers.” These comedians known as agitator-comedians spoke truth, made people laugh and challenged their audiences along the way. By that standard, no one was better at it than Dick Gregory to make you feel uncomfortable and laughing about it at the same time.
They Say Humor Is The Healing Catalyst For All Forgiveness Of Wrong Doing…You Did Good Mr. Gregory!
Susan Z’s Conclusion:
For those who were old enough to be aware of the civil rights movement, we can applaud of how far we have come but it is obvious from the last year, we still have a long way to go.
Pulling the rug out from under you and bringing the house down. I would say that would be a good definition of the power of Gregory’s humor.
King of Pentacles:
A successful man that money and possessions mean a great deal to him. I feel this was Gregory’s attitude about the have’s and have not’s and the big gap between….even more so now than then.
Five of Wands:
Argumentative energy both inside and outward. I believe Gregory’s in your face humor made lots of people angry, not wanting to hear the truth from a man of color but it also represents the anger he held within himself of the injustices he was determined to change.
Susan Z Rich is an emotional addiction counselor, spiritual intuitive and holistic therapist. She counsels others to see life in a more positive way and teaches personal accountability for life choices. She is also the author of several children’s books and Soul Windows…Secrets From The Divine. (life cycles) Learn more at her website: www.szrwhitewings.com