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Venerable activist Dick Gregory offers words of wisdom

‘Library of Black radical thought’ shared insights 

on sundry topics during his recent visit


By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

Dick Gregory first started out as a comedian while serving in the military in the mid-1950s and had become one of the nation’s most popular Black comics — the first to regularly appear on television’s The Tonight Show — before turning to social activism at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. He ran for U.S. president as a write-in candidate in 1968 and has demonstrated over many human rights issues, including the first of several hunger strikes in 1980 when he tried to help negotiate the U.S. hostages’ release in Iran. A cancer survivor, the 82-year-old Gregory spoke at the University of Minnesota during a Twin Cities visit in late October. Following are excerpts of his remarks during a panel discussion held at the school’s Humphrey Center and a short, exclusive MSR interview. “I hear people say if you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book,” said Gregory half joking, drawing on his comedic roots to make a point. Continue Reading →

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The torch has been passed

The passing of Chokwe Lumumba, William Worthy, Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, Elombe Braath, Sam Greenlee and Vincent Harding in the last few months marks a turning of the page for Black people in this country. If you don’t know the history and the accomplishment of these great people, each having contributed a unique page to the struggle of the former slave to be seen simply as human and be afforded the rights and dignity of human beings, then get to know them. They were all activists in their own right: a novelist, a theologian and liberationist, a warrior poet, an anti-imperialist radical journalist, a staunch pan-Africanist, a poet laureate and a ground-breaking politician. They have left a gaping hole. Their legacies await fulfilling. Continue Reading →

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You can always do the right thing


As we enter the season when folks think about peace and goodwill toward all, I am struck by the many times folks have an opportunity to make a difference to actually change things — or at least make a dent in injustice — but when they are confronted with the opportunity, they pass. Everyone on some level, I believe, knows that we live in a society and in a world that is desperately in need of change. Our society in particular is clearly in need of more love and concern and compassion. Most people want to see their neighbors do well. I think it’s safe to say that most folks think that people should be able to eat, have clean drinking water, shelter, clothing and work that provides a sufficient living as well as dignity. Continue Reading →

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