Sad news rippled through the show business community earlier today (August 20th) as the news was made official that comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory had passed away at the age of 84. A noted stand-up who got his big break as a fill-in for Irwin Corey at the Playboy Club in Chicago, Gregory went on to find success not only as someone who made American audiences laugh for decades, but also as a champion for those who felt marginalized by rights issues and lack of government acceptance or response. He was an outspoken advocate for civil right in America during the 1960's and also lent his voice to the movement against the Vietnam War. Hip-hop artists, including Chance the Rapper, took to Twitter to express their sadness at the icon's passing.
RIP to the dude who always did right by his people, Mr. Dick Gregory. He made bravery, integrity and consciousness cool. And funny.— Lil Chano From 79th (@chancetherapper) August 20, 2017
Dick Gregory lived an amazing, revolutionary life. A groundbreaker in comedy and a voice for justice. RIP— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 20, 2017
Known for satirizing the United States' racial divide in his act, Gregory was revered by many in the comedy community who say him as not only an influence but a friend as well.
I consider myself fortunate to have met and been friends with my childhood idols @therealdickgregory had never been anything but encouraging and supportive . He was the comedian who fought for equality , I remember a joke of his I heard ( he walked into a diner and sat down .. the waiter says " we don't serve black people " Dick Gregory said " good cause I don't eat black people ! #chingon #godbless you Mr Gregory , Sir you leave comedy better than you found it @comedygetdown @comedygetdownbet @comedyhype @cedtheentertainer @realdlhughley @eddiegriffin @arseniohall #chingonreconizeschingon 👌🏽
Dick Gregory tearing it up at the State of the Black Union in 2008. Wait 'til you hit the 9:05 mark. WOW. https://t.co/tWhPKIcI9h— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 20, 2017
That was all for you tonight @IAmDickGregory— Rob Schneider (@RobSchneider) August 20, 2017
Thank you for a lifetime of tolerance, courage, hope, laughter and love.
YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE
Other celebrities from the worlds of film, politics and even science also made sure their tributes to the late comedian were heard on social media.
RIP Dick Gregory, A 5 Star General in The War for Human Rights!! Glad to have been in your sphere.— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) August 20, 2017
Comedian Dick Gregory always told it like it is. Our laughter was fuel to fight for justice in an unjust world. RIP 1932-2017 pic.twitter.com/wpbdEkvny1— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 20, 2017
White lady: We don't serve colored people here.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 20, 2017
Dick Gregory: I don't eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.
RIP Mr. Gregory😰 pic.twitter.com/t8dnuRJhBC
Dick Gregory is even more powerful and engaging now..Can you hear him? "Stay woke" in his spirit learn the 84 chapters!— Paul Mooney (@PaulEalyMooney) August 20, 2017
Dick Gregory was such a powerful opponent against systematic racism, J. Edgar Hoover once ordered the FBI to use the mafia to murder him pic.twitter.com/wgC23z9mJp— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) August 20, 2017
Gregory's son was the one who broke the news on social media earlier this morning, asking the public to respect his family's privacy while also thanking everyone who had shown their support on social media and otherwise. No details about the man's cause of death or his health status at the time of his passing were available at the time of publication, but what we do know is that Gregory was hospitalized not long ago, which forced the cancellation of a booking he had in Atlanta.