The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Wednesday, Jan. 20, 1999


'60s activist still a controversial voice

By Pam Mansell
Herald Staff Writer

If you lived in the 1960s, you probably remember Dick Gregory. He's they guy who gave up a promising career as a comedian to become a civil rights activist, marching alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and defying death more than once in the racial battle zones across the southern United States.

More recently, his anti-drug crusades and his advocacy of good nutrition have added to his portfolio of causes to benefit his race in particular and mankind in general.

But that isn't the whole of the man. More than 400 people listened Tuesday night as Gregory gave a nearly two-hour speech at Slippery Rock University in which he covered a wide range of subjects. Gregory's appearance was part of the university's celebration of Martin Luther King Day.

Some would say Gregory's either a lone, sane voice in a world run by very evil people, or he's a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

For example, Gregory claimed these as facts:

Gregory called those "fact" part of the "games, games, games" he sees everywhere. "This is what happens in your free, democratic society," he said over and over, hammering home his theme that Americans are kidding themselves if they think they actually have a voice in voting, if they think they're getting the truth from the media, if they think there is anyone other than a few "thugs" running the show. "You're naive if you think you're so secure and so safe," Gregory warned.

"What a wonderful time I had with Martin," Gregory said. One of King's strengths, Gregory said was, "He never had one conversation with black folks and another for white folks."

Gregory said he was in Atlanta on Monday, where he visited King's tomb and said a "thank-you prayer" that he had grown up in this country and been able to know Mr. King.

Despite his grim view of America's "free, democratic society," Gregory said the situation in the United States is "not beyond the point of no return."

"If it were, I wouldn't be here," he said.

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Updated Jan. 20, 1999
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