WASHINGTON — People gathered outside of The Howard Theatre in D.C. Sunday morning to celebrate the life of comedy legend and civil rights activist Dick Gregory.
Gregory died in August at 84-years-old.
“[In] 1963, he had the top comedy album,” said Gregory’s son, Yohance Gregory. He added that in 1961, his father was the top performing comedian in the country. Yohance is one of 10 children.
Gregory’s younger brother Ron Gregory said his older brother knew he had people’s attention because they wanted to come see him perform. He said that Gregory used his fame as an entertainer and comedian to inform others about social injustices.
“His fight for human rights, human justice, was not for just one group of people but everybody,” said Ron.
Ron said that his brother was about 17-years-old when he dedicated his life to this cause, saying, “I look at things and they don’t seem to be the way they should. And I’m gonna devote my life for the change.”
Ron said that’s exactly what his brother did for about 70 years.
“The fight for human rights is not a spectator sport,” Ron said, expounding on what his brother taught him. “You can’t sit back and see what other people do and hope it’ll get changed. It’s a participatory situation, everyone has to join in.”
The Sunday morning event was followed by a New Orleans-style parade from The Howard Theatre to Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street Northwest, honoring the D.C. legend.
Gregory performed at The Howard Theatre numerous times and his likeness is on the mural outside of Ben’s Chili Bowl.