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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Congresswoman Waters Mourns the Passing of Comedic Icon and Activist Dick Gregory

August 20, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Waters Mourns the Passing of Comedic Icon and Activist Dick Gregory

LOS ANGELES – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement upon the passing of Dick Gregory:

“Today, I join the world in mourning the passing of my dear friend, Dick Gregory, whom I truly admired and loved. I consider Dick to be one of the most brilliant and transformative comedians the world has ever seen. Dick was unafraid to confront racism and bigotry in his performances which helped to shine a light on the injustices African Americans faced in this country, particularly in the Jim Crow South, and he is revered for breaking down barriers that prevented African American comedians from entertaining all white audiences, paving the way for African American comics today.

“Beyond his genius on stage, Dick was a champion for equality, often risking his own career, health, freedom, and, at times, his life in order to fight injustice and oppression. He was a prominent figure during the Civil Rights Movement, who despite his own fame, would cancel shows and risk millions of dollars to join marches, sit-ins, and other peaceful demonstrations across the country with other leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney M. Young, Jr., and Rev. Jesse Jackson. However, Dick’s activism was not limited to the Civil Rights era; he was a lifelong activist, who also fought against apartheid in South Africa, the Vietnam War, police brutality, misogyny, and abuses against Native Americans. Furthermore, his intellectual curiosity inspired him to write numerous books and to vigorously research health and nutrition, which he and I spent countless hours discussing.

“Most importantly, however, I knew Dick to be a family man who was a devoted husband to his wife of more than fifty years, Mrs. Lillian Gregory, and a loving father to his surviving 10 children whom he encouraged and supported in their individual lives and careers.  

“Dick will forever be remembered by fans all over the world for his talent, intellect, and unwavering commitment to justice. However, to me he was more than a world renown comedian and activist – he was my brother. I am so grateful for all of the precious memories that we have shared over the past years, especially a few months ago when I joined him in our hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, where at 84 years of age, he captivated a packed audience with his one of a kind wit, charm, and humor. Dick will certainly be missed, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this rough time.”