Comedian, civil rights activist Dick Gregory dies

Political activist Dick Gregory talk with the press in Springfield , May 24, 1982. Gregory entered his third day of a five-day total fast with no food or water. He joined seven women who are fasting on water only in protest of Illinois' failure to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. The women entered their seventh day of fasting, vowing to keep it up until the passage of E.R.A by the Illinois legislature. (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dick Gregory, who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84.

Gregory’s son, Christian, told The Associated Press his father died late Saturday in Washington, D.C. after being hospitalized for about a week. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection.

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 who deftly commented upon racial divisions at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

He also ran for president in 1968 as the Peace and Freedom party candidate.

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