Famed comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory died Saturday at the age of 84, according to a family statement posted to his official social media accounts.

“It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC,” his son Christian Gregory said in an issued statement. “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Gregory’s legacy dates back to 1961 when he was handpicked by Hugh Hefner to work at the Chicago Playboy Club. His ironic and satirical wit set a profound precedent in black comedy after he replaced white comedian Irwin Corey at the club, becoming a part of a new generation of black comics including Nipsey Russell, Bill Cosby and Godfrey Cambridge.

He was a prominent figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, a fierce feminist and, by the 1980s, a health advocate who had developed his “Bahamian Diet Nutritional Drink.”

With a lengthy history in civil rights and nutrition, Gregory is revered as one of the greatest black figures and comics of all time.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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