Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies, aged 84

John Legend led the tributes to the trailblazing comedian, praising Gregory's "amazing, revolutionary life"

The comedian and prominent civil rights activist Dick Gregory has died, aged 84.

Gregory rose to fame in the 1960s, where he became known for attacking racism during his stand-up comedy routines. He was one of the first African-American comedians to regularly perform in front of white audiences, and became the first black performer to be interviewed on The Tonight Show.

The comedian was known for his no-holds-barred comedic style, with his jokes often satirising racism and civil injustice. One early joke of Gregory’s saw him mock the colour bar of the pre-civil rights era:

“Last time I was down [in the] South I walked into this restaurant and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve coloured people here.’ I said: ‘That’s all right. I don’t eat coloured people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.'”

Gregory utilised his fame to become a prominent civil rights activist, becoming friends with both Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, marching in Selma, and becoming a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War.

Gregory passed away yesterday (August 19) from an undisclosed illness at a hospital in Washington D.C. His son Christian confirmed the news in a tribute Instagram post, which you can see below.

John Legend led the tributes to Gregory, praising the comedian for leading “an amazing, revolutionary life.” See a selection of tributes to Gregory below.

Gregory is survived by his wife Lillian, who he married in 1959, and their 10 children.