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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dick Gregory, the pioneering black satirist who transformed cool humor into a barbed force for civil rights in the 1960s, then veered from his craft for a life devoted to protest and fasting in the name of assorted social causes, health regimens and conspiracy theories, died Saturday in Washington. He was 84.

Mr. Gregory's son, Christian Gregory, who announced his death on social media, said more details would be released in the coming days. Mr. Gregory had been admitted to a hospital on Aug. 12, his son said in an earlier Facebook post.

Early in his career Mr. Gregory insisted in interviews that his first order of business onstage was to get laughs, not to change how white America treated Negroes (the accepted word for African-Americans at the time). "Humor can no more find the solution to race problems than it can cure cancer," he said.

www.nytimes.com read more


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Thousands of demonstrators, emboldened and unnerved by the fatal eruption of violence in Virginia last weekend, surged into the nation's streets and parks on Saturday to denounce white supremacy and Nazism. The demonstrations were loud but broadly peaceful, even as tensions and worries coursed through protests that unfolded from Boston Common, the nation's oldest public park, to Hot Springs, Ark., and the bridges that cross the Willamette River in Portland, Ore. Other protests were expected on Saturday in Chicago, Dallas and Houston. Boston faced dueling demonstrations, but a rally to promote "free speech" was brief and unamplified. It was undercut by police planning and starved by an enormous buffer zone between protesters and their opponents, many of whom had feared that the rally would become a haven for neo-Nazis and white nationalists. read more


Arnold Schwarzenegger counts himself among those who were deeply disappointed by President Trump's statement that "both sides" were to blame for the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. And in a new video, the former Republican governor of California offers a pointed suggestion for what Trump should have said instead. "The only way to beat the loud and angry voices of hate is to meet them with louder and more reasonable voices. And that includes you, President Trump," Schwarzenegger says in the video, posted to ATTN's Facebook page Thursday. "In fact, as president of this great country, you have a moral responsibility to send an unequivocal message that you don't stand for hate and racism." read more


The mother of the woman killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend said she is not interested in hearing from the president because she believes he equated her daughter to white supremacists. "I'm not talking to the president now," Susan Bro said Friday on ABC's Good Morning America. "I'm sorry. After what he said about my child, and it's not that I saw somebody else's tweets about him. I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters like Ms. (Heather) Heyer with the KKK and the white supremacists." Bro said the White House attempted to reach her repeatedly during her daughter's Wednesday funeral. "At first I just missed his calls," she said. "The call -- the first call looked like actually came during the funeral. I didn't even see that message." read more


Friday, August 18, 2017

Former RNC spokesperson Cheri Jacobus: If there is truly "no place for white supremacists or Nazis" in American life, and specifically in the GOP, then why tacitly encourage it by doing nothing about it? Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were not defeated by furrowed brows and "strong words" denouncing his evil in carefully (and fearfully) crafted statements that avoided specifically using his name. The brave allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, provided salvation for those still alive in the concentration camps and exposed the greatest evil the world has ever known with the murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust by Nazis. They did not achieve this with carefully parsed written statements designed to merely check off a box without angering certain segments of a voting base. read more


Comments

"Some lines became classics, like the one about a restaurant waitress in the segregated South who told him, "We don't serve colored people here," to which Mr. Gregory replied: "That's all right, I don't eat colored people. Just bring me a whole fried chicken."

Lunch-counter sit-ins, central to the early civil rights protests, did not always work out as planned. "I sat in at a lunch counter for nine months," he said. "When they finally integrated, they didn't have what I wanted."

In 1962, Mr. Gregory joined a demonstration for black voting rights in Mississippi. That was a beginning. He threw himself into social activism body and soul, viewing it as a higher calling.

Arrests came by the dozens. In a Birmingham, Ala., jail in 1963, he wrote, he endured "the first really good beating I ever had in my life."

He added: "It was just body pain, though. The Negro has a callus growing on his soul, and it's getting harder and harder to hurt him there."

In 1965, he was shot in the leg (the wound was not grave) by a rioter as he tried to be a peacemaker during the Watts riots in Los Angeles.

Increasingly, he skipped club dates to march or to perform at benefits for civil rights groups. Club owners became reluctant to book him: Who knew if he might fly off to Alabama on a moment's notice? As the '60s wore on, the college lecture circuit became his principal forum.

"Against the advice of almost everyone, he decided to risk his career for civil rights," Gerald Nachman wrote in "Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s" (2003). Some pillars of the movement, like Whitney M. Young Jr., executive director of the National Urban League, who died in 1971, believed that Mr. Gregory was more valuable to their cause onstage than in the streets.

To which Mr. Gregory replied, "When America goes to war, she don't send her comedians."

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