University of Pittsburgh
January 28, 2002


Contact:  412-624-4147

January 29, 2002

PITTSBURGH—Comedian, political activist, and nutritionist Dick Gregory will give a free speech titled "The World According to Dick Gregory: An Evening of Humanity and Humor" at 8 p.m. Feb. 7 in the University of Pittsburgh William Pitt Union Assembly Room in Oakland. The talk is sponsored by Pitt's Black Action Society in celebration of Black History Month.

Gregory became involved in social causes while attending Sumner High School in St. Louis, Mo., where he led a protest march against school segregation. His performance in track and field sports at Sumner earned him an athletic scholarship in 1951 to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In 1953, he left college to join the Army, where he discovered his talent for comedy by performing routines in military shows. Gregory commenced his professional career in 1958, and in 1961 he became the first black comedian to work in white night clubs and to appear on national television.

His increasing fame caught the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who urged him to become more involved in the civil rights movement. Gregory began using his worldwide acclaim for comedy as a way to advocate for human rights. He performed benefit shows for the Congress of Racial Equality and the NAACP. Following Gandhi's example, he has fasted more than 100 times to bring attention to such issues as drug addiction, the Vietnam War, and segregation in Chicago. And he has camped out in dealer-ridden public parks as part of a community action approach to eliminating drugs.

Gregory ran for president in 1968 as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party. He also is the author of several books, including "Nigger: An Autobiography," "Up from Nigger," "No More Lies," "The Myth and Reality of American History," and, with Mark Lane, "Code Name Zorro: The Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr."