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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Says D.C. and the Nation Have Lost a Pathbreaking Satirist and Civil Rights Pioneer with the Passing of Dick Gregory

Aug 20, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today expressed her deepest condolences to the family of Dick Gregory, a close friend who passed away last evening.

“With the passing of Dick Gregory, the civil rights movement has lost a pioneering activist, the District of Columbia has lost a champion of home rule and local autonomy, America has lost a satirist who made us face the nation’s original sin by making racism look absurd—and I have lost a friend.

“In many ways, Dick Gregory adopted D.C. as a hometown and died here yesterday.  Among the photographs hanging in my office depicting D.C.’s movement toward equality is one that shows an unmistakable young Dick Gregory leading a march of D.C. residents for home rule.

“Dick Gregory made even those who thought there was nothing funny about racism laugh out loud.  He was not only one of the first celebrities to lend his name to the burgeoning civil rights movement, he dived in head first and was arrested throughout the South alongside young activists. Dick Gregory became one of the first African American comics to enjoy crossover appeal to blacks and whites alike, and he did so despite the racial content of his humor.  It took special brilliance to both write and deliver some of the best lines about American life and to do so using humor in the midst of the social upheaval of the 20th century civil rights movement.”

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