Dick Gregory, Comedian And Civil Rights Activist, Dies At 84

Dick Gregory, known for his sharp commentary on race relations during the 1960s civil rights movement, is considered a pioneer in using satire to address social issues. (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Dick Gregory, the comedian and civil rights crusader, died Saturday. He was 84.

His family announced the news on his public Facebook page.

"It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC," his son Christian Gregory said in the post. "The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time. More details will be released over the next few days."

According to The Associated Press, Gregory, who was recently in and out of the hospital, died following a severe bacterial infection. NPR has not independently confirmed the cause of death.

After falling ill earlier this month, he was readmitted to the hospital last Saturday, his son says in a Thursday Facebook post: He "remains hospitalized with a serious but stable medical condition. His prognosis is excellent and he should be released within the next few days."

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As News & Notes host Ed Gordon noted in a 2005 interview with the comedian, he's also an inspired health guru, who doled out advice to many for better living, including celebrities like Michael Jackson, who he advised during the singer's trial. The musician Questlove paid tribute to Gregory's healthful influence on Instagram, as "one of the first major black figures I saw advocating for a healthier lifestyle for black folks that were caught on unhealthy choices we've made in the name of cheaper survival options," he wrote.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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