Remembering Dick Gregory: When Jokes About Black People Stopped Being Funny
The late, great Comedian, activist and author Dick Gregory began his career as a stand up comic while serving in the military in the mid 1950s. After being drafted in 1954, he served in the army for a year and a half at Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Lee in Virginia and Ft. After being discharged in 1956 he returned to the university but did not receive a degree. With a desire to perform comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago.
From there Gregory performed in night club after night club before being noticed by Hugh Hefner. Hugh offered him a job which added to him becoming more of a household name in comedy at the time.
Many say that Gregory’s activism started with his style of comedy. Gregory’s comedy focused on current events and politics. But it was then that some of the funny one liners about the state of Black America weren’t as funny as it used to be. In 1984 he founded Health Enterprises, Inc., a company that distributed weight loss products. With this company, Gregory made efforts to improve the life expectancy of African Americans, which he believes is being hindered by poor nutrition and drug and alcohol abuse.
In 1985 Gregory introduced the “Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet”, a powdered diet mix. He launched the weight-loss powder at the Whole Life Expo in Boston under the slogan “It’s cool to be healthy”. The diet mix, drunk three times a day, was said to provide rapid weight loss. Gregory received a multi-million dollar distribution contract to retail the diet.
In 2001, Dick Gregory was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He refused traditional medical treatment – chemotherapy –and with the assistance of some of the finest minds in alternative medicine, put together a regimen of a variety of diet, vitamins, exercise, and modern devices not even known to the public, which ultimately resulted in his reversing the trend of the Cancer to the point where today his body shows no sign of cancer and is cancer free.
Gregory journey to stop eating meat came long before, beginning in the South during the late 1950’s. “I became a vegetarian after I saw a Mississippi sheriff kick my wife when she was nine months’ pregnant,” he says. “I had to convince myself that the reason I did nothing was that I was non-violent. I was scared. But afterwards I decided that if I wouldn’t hit a man who kicked my pregnant wife, I couldn’t participate in the destruction of any animal that never harmed me. That’s when…