Acclaimed civil and human rights activist Dick Gregory will deliver the Black Arts & Sciences Festival Lecture as part of the Assembly Series at 11 a.m. Oct. 29 in Graham Chapel.
Gregory is known for his many achievements in the field of global human rights. Using unique means of nonviolent protest, he has mobilized support for many social injustices worldwide, including the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the African famine of the 1980s and, most recently, America’s war on drugs.
He has also authored 15 books on injustice and racism, including his best-selling autobiography, Nigger, and his most recent work, Callus On My Soul.
Gregory’s involvement in activism began at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where he rallied fellow students against inequality, leading a campaign to fund and build a new student union. After college, he began performing comedy, using society’s racial problems as fodder for jokes.
Despite his biting comic routines, his popularity rose, and he became the first African-American comedian to work in first-class white nightclubs. During the 1950s, he enjoyed widespread fame, and he is credited with creating many opportunities for African-American entertainers.
In the 1960s, Gregory was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement and worked alongside leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., who taught him how to further the idea of nonviolence.
Although his activism caused his entertainment career to suffer, Gregory continued to use his high profile to promote causes he believed in. He began fasting to draw attention to important social problems.
Gregory also developed the 4X Formula in 1974 to combat world hunger. This nutritional formula, designed to prove that starving people need nutrition more than just food to fill their stomachs, reduced the cost of rehabilitating a starving child in Ethiopia from $4 to 45 cents a day.
It was so effective that the Ethiopian government made the formula available in all of its rehabilitation centers.
Gregory’s lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call 935-4620 or go online to wupa.wustl.edu/assembly.