I’m currently reflecting on the loss of Dick Gregory, who was 84.
While much of the media will spend the day filling your ears with love-in stories about how much of a good comedian he was — a point I can definitely nod my head to — you likely won’t hear much about the context in which Gregory framed his humor.
During a talk on the Washington DC-based Carl Nelson radio show, Gregory expressed a full awareness of humor’s limits:
We didn’t laugh Hitler out of existence. And the day we find a cure for cancer, it won’t be through jokes. It will be through hard and sincere work.
“Hard” because that’s what struggles require: hard work.
“Sincere” because not everyone — regardless of skin color — who chants “Black Lives Matter” will really mean it.
But Gregory understood the importance of humor. On the same show, he mentioned how laughter helps people to take a “five-minute break” from the madness that can sometimes smother us.
Of the many lessons Gregory left behind, two of them are at the top of my mind.
One is his admonishment to honor black heritage (“[The slave-masters] thought they were stealing workers, and they were stealing scientists.”)
The other is to never accept the surface narrative — the true story lies deeper.
Searching deeper for the truth is what my blog attempts to do. in some ways, you could say Gregory’s curiosity is one of the inspirations behind mental interest.
This is not to say Gregory always shared spot-on prognostications. For example, Herman Cain didn’t become president of the United States, all due praises. Then again, even a political candidate’s certain destiny can be derailed by mucus mindedness:
Still, Gregory’s advice to relentlessly chase the truth remains important.
One of the most powerful tributes you can make to Gregory’s Legacy is to read.
And to question.
And question some more.
Rest in Love Elder Gregory …