"Once I accept injustice, I become injustice. For example, paper mills give off a terrible stench. But the people who work there don't smell it. Remember, Dr. King was assassinated when he went to work for garbage collectors. To help them as workers to enforce their rights. They couldn't smell the stench of the garbage all around them anymore. They were used to it. They would eat their lunch out of a brown bag sitting on the garbage truck. One day, a worker was sitting inside the back of the truck on top of the garbage, and got crushed to death because no one knew he was there." Dick Gregory.
Noting the passing of comedian and activist Dick Gregory.
For a funny guy, a man who made audiences laugh out loud, he could also make a person uncomfortable. Soul searching does that.
"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." At the Playboy Club, Chicago, 1961.
Gregory was one of a number of breakthrough black comics in the 1960s, men who used quick wit to help the medicine go down. America was being reminded, sometimes forcefully, that there was a lot of work to be done if she was to mean what she said about equality, freedom and justice. Gregory led from the front, paying the price - literally - in blood. He spent time in jail, mostly for standing up for the things other Americans take for granted.
It isn't easy, hearing that the comfortable world around you is not open to others merely because of their skin color. Today was a new day - what were you doing to fight injustice? It was a message we in the awakening 1960s didn't always accept. We didn't always laugh.
It wasn't just about race for him. Wherever he found a cause, he found his voice. He was a feminist, an animal rights champion, and something of a truther. His health food gig was unconventional, mostly liquid. He was still on the road, still appearing, when a simple medical issue took him at 84. As doctors fought for his life, he promised his audiences he'd be back. He had an opinion about events in Charlottesville. He wanted to share them.