- Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame
Richard Gregory
Richard Claxton
"Dick" Gregory
1932 - present

Comedian Dick Gregory has garnered praise and criticism as a social satarist, author, a political and human rights advocate as well as an advocate for healthy living. Social justice was always important to Gregory. While a student at Sumner High School in St. Louis (1946-50), he led a March protesting segregated schools. He was arrested for Civil disorder during a 1963 civil rights demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama and later led southern marchers for SNCC, the NAACP and the SCLC. He also joined demonstrators of the Chicago Congress On Racial Equality (CORE) protesting de facto school desegregation, nearly two years before the Movement officially went to the North. During the Freedom Summer of 1964, He bravely accompanied civil rights leader James Farmer to Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of slain civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman. Gregory also spoke out against American involvement in the Vietnam War. His personal investigation into the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired him to write the book Code Name "Zorro" (1978).

Gregory briefly attended Southern Illinois University on a track scholarship, and then was drafted into the military in 1954. Though he returned to college for a short time after his military discharge, he decided to make comedy his focus. Supporting himself with a "day job" at the post office. His career began to skyrocket in the early 1960s. Gregory broke with the minstrel tradition of comedy of many previous black performers. His detached, ironic and satircal brand of humor focused on current events, especially racial issues. The satirist introduced the Dick Gregory Diet in the 1980s. The popular diet consists of uncooked, raw fruits and vegetables.

Gregory's first book Nigger: An Autobiography (1964) has sold in excess of seven million copies. His other books include: From the Back of the Bus (1966); Write me in! (1968); Dick Gregory's Political Premier (1972); Dick Gregory's Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin' With Mother Nature! (1983); No More Lies (1993); Callus on My Soul : A Memoir (2003). Gregory and his wife, Lil, have ten children. The family resides in Plymouth, Massachusetts.