USA Today Comic trailblazer and civil rights activist Dick Gregory died this weekend at 84. Gregory was one of the first black comedians to find mainstream success with white audiences in the early 1960s. He rose from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to become a celebrated satirist. He released wildly successfulcomedy records like In Living Black and White and Dick Gregory Talks Turkey and became the first black comedian to appear on the couch on Jack Paar’s Tonight Show after he finished his set. Some of his most classic lines include a bit about a restaurant waitress in the South telling him that they “don’t serve colored people here.” His reply: “That’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Just bring me a whole fried chicken.”
The comedian was also well-known for his deep commitment to civil rights and social justice issues around the world. He was arrested dozens of times for taking part in peaceful protests in the South. He also later went on dozens of hunger strikes to protest various causes, including the Vietnam War, the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment, apartheid in South Africa and Native American rights.