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Obit Dick Gregory
FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2016 file photo, long time civil rights activist, writer, social critic, and comedian Dick Gregory, talks to the crowd at the 16th annual Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival, MLK Leadership Luncheon, at the University Area Community Development Center, in Tampa, Fla. Gregory, the comedian and activist and who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84. Gregory died late Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Washington, D.C. after being hospitalized for about a week, his son Christian Gregory told The Associated Press. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection. (Scott Keeler /Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory has died


Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory died late Saturday in Washington, D.C. at the age of 84.

Gregory had been in the hospital for about a week, suffering from a severe bacterial infection. Gregory's family confirmed the news of his passing on Instagram.

"The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time," his son, Christian Gregory, wrote on Instagram.

Gregory rose to fame in the early 1960s, becoming one of the first black comedians to perform in front of white audiences on television.

"Where else in the world but America," he joked, "could I have lived in the worst neighborhoods, attended the worst schools, rode in the back of the bus, and get paid $5,000 a week just for talking about it?"

That sharp commentary eventually led him into civil rights activism. Gregory was an opponent of the Vietnam War, marched in Selma, Alabama for voting rights and made friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Beyond that, Gregory also ran for political office, running unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago in 1966 and U.S. president in 1968.

Politicians and celebrities, among others, celebrated Gregory's life and memory on social media.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted, "Dick Gregory's unflinching honesty & courage, inspired us to fight, live, laugh & love despite it all."

A tweet from comedian Whoopi Goldberg said, "Dick Gregory has passed away, Condolences to his family and to us who won't have his insight 2 lean on R.I.P"

Gregory is survived by his wife, Lillian, and 10 children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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