Embattled comedian Bill Cosby on Tuesday paid homage to Dick Gregory, who died late last month in D.C.
Cosby, whose retrial in a sexual assault case in Pennsylvania has been pushed back until next spring, called Gregory a hero in a written tribute titled “What Is an Unacknowledged Hero?”
“An Unacknowledged Hero is a ‘First Responder’ who makes sacrifices for causes that benefit the greater good of people in need. A person of this nature always fights for the people,” Cosby wrote.
The comic legend’s tribute, in its entirety:
“Dick Gregory is a true Unacknowledged Hero! He sacrificed his career and his reputation to fight for ALL people! His passion for helping others began in 1961. His life defined a humanitarian. When he saw the crisis of World Hunger, he didn’t run from the problem, he decided to run for the problem — running 1,000 miles — 50 miles a day from Chicago to Washington, DC and then 3,300 miles — 50 miles a day from Los Angeles to New York.
“When Ethiopian children were dying of starvation, Dick responded by sending truckloads of food. An American can understand and believe World Hunger, but would one believe hunger in the United States of America?
“People going hungry in the United States of America? Impossible! Well, Unacknowledged Hero, Dick Gregory, shipped 10,000 pounds of navy beans to the hungry people in Marks, Mississippi, USA.
“When our young men were dying daily in Vietnam, Dick fasted, demonstrated and gave up his body to bring the nation’s attention to that crisis.
“His actions woke up a nation and they responded with protest marches, with celebrities speaking out against the war, and with a President finally being pressured to end it. When it came to civil rights issues, this hero reacted with the same vigilance.
“They say Unacknowledged Heroes put their own lives on the line — to ensure the safety of others. That’s exactly what Dick Gregory did time after time — like Birmingham, Alabama ‘I got the worst beating of my life in that jail.’
“Or, when he demonstrated in Olympia, Washington with the Nisqually Indians and ended up serving 45 days in the Olympia, Washington state prison. When American citizens were being held as hostages in Iran, Dick didn’t make speeches about it; he didn’t shake his head and say that’s too bad; he didn’t pressure President Carter to do something — he put his life on the line by traveling to Iran, where he fasted for four and a half months on behalf of those hostages.
“During the Watts riot, he was there, in the action, and got a bullet in his leg to prove it (It was labeled as Friendly Fire….but, what is that?). When there was the danger that the Equal Rights Act would not be extended to women, he marched with true feminists for that cause.
“Now think about it. In all those crises and causes, and I didn’t name them all here, Dick Gregory never asked for anything. He didn’t ask for a dime, he never asked for sympathy, he didn’t even ask for recognition.
“That is what being a real Unacknowledged Hero is all about. It is the responsibility of each of us to pay homage to those heroes and heroines. It is our duty to ensure that legacies, such as Dick Gregory’s, are not forgotten and remain on the list of topics; when discussing the pacesetters of humanitarian efforts. He was not an Imposter. He is an angel; as a matter of fact his wife, Lillian, is an angel and their children are angels. Their young children would answer the phone to people saying, they were going to bomb the house; and the children would say, “thank you” and then hang up.
“Dick knew that what he believed in was correct and if it meant losing it all, he was prepared. He was a warrior — a sound and passionate Unacknowledged HERO.
“Dick literally gave his life away — his glamorous lifestyle, his mega earnings, everything he had for humanity. There’s an old gospel song that goes, ‘I give myself away so God can use me.’
“God used Dick in some magnificent ways — and now it’s our turn to give back to his legacy — to his wife, Lillian and his ten children who shared him with the world.
“So, I’m asking you to join me in thanking him for being an Unacknowledged Hero for Humanity, and thanking his family for so unselfishly sharing Dick Gregory with the world. Let’s all acknowledge his sacrifice, and donate to the legacy and the family of this great man at www.DickGregoryTribute.com.”