From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dick Gregory: Keeping the faith

(Dick Gregory in 1965)
Not much is written about Dick Gregory’s religion, but plenty has been written about his faithful activities.

It all began with a “Ha Ha,” rather than with an “Aha.”  Gregory’s wellsprings of laughing-Buddha humor have been making otherwise bitter pills go down easy for decades.  In fact,  Wikipedia reports that “his social satire changed the way white Americans perceived African American comedians since he first performed in public.”

BG (before Gregory), black comedy was all about the minstrel tradition.  Imagine the revolutionary surprise when Gregory ignored all that and began offering such social commentary as this:  Segregation is not all bad.  Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in back
of the bus got hurt?  It’s no wonder that Hugh Hefner recognized his huge talent after hearing him perform at the Roberts Show Bar in Chicago.

Comedy, however, has become just one part of Gregory’s overall social contributions.  He has also been involved in the civil rights movement, anti-war activism, anti-drug stances, hunger strikes, economic justice, feminism, anti-apartheid work, hostage releases, and inquiries into the truth about the assassinations of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.  In addition to all this, he has been a dedicated vegetarian and advocate of natural-health methods.

In Wil Haygood’s article The Pain and Passion of Dick Gregory, Haygood reports that Dick Gregory once ran for mayor of Chicago.  “Some folks laughed.”  Then Gregory made a run for the White House.  Perhaps folks back then laughed even harder.  However, Gregory’s response was this:  For a little white child sitting at home watching a black man say,“I’m a presidential candidate and this is why I think you should vote for me,” well, it plants a seed...


Copyright October 12, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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