*It’s been a long time coming but Dick Gregory finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
When asked why it took so long for the recognition, Gregory jokingly told Variety, “You know damn good and well why it took so long. I’ve been a bad boy.”
Gregory receiving his star on Monday (Feb. 2), comes amid years of making fans laugh as well as taking a stand against injustice and racism. Variety notes that the 82-year-old entertainer/activist almost gave up standup comedy to devote himself fully to being an activist. Prior to that, it was athletics that was on the chopping block as Gregory transitioned out of being a track-and-field star to making people laugh through a career in show business.
“I used to be an athlete, and I didn’t know there was a better feeling that a human being could feel, until I became a name in the entertainment field,” he says. “And I didn’t know there was a feeling any better than that until I got hooked up with the civil-rights movement.”
Gregory is noted for breaking the color barrier in standup as he performed in front of white audiences in 1961 at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club in Chicago. Remembering the impact of his time at the Playboy Club, Gregory Hefner recognition for enabling him to open the doors for future black comedians.
“It’s such a sad thing that Hefner will never get his due for what he did,” Gregory says. “When you think about all the black comics, the Richard Pryors, the Paul Mooneys, they’ve always been here. But white folks weren’t exposed to them until this fragile white guy who smoked a pipe and looked like Popeye put us onstage.”
With his transition into activism, Gregory often took a stand for racial equality, women’s rights and environmentalism, among other issues. Coming from the civil rights movement Gregory knows very well how things were back in the day and has nothing but praise for the Oscar nominated film “Selma” while shrugging off criticism of its portrayal of former president Lyndon B. Johnson.
“When they made ‘Cleopatra,’ all black folks knew that Cleopatra was a black Egyptian woman. But when they used Liz Taylor, we didn’t complain — because that’s Hollywood,” Gregory stated.
“(‘Selma’) will still be relevant 10,000 years from now, because it shows history. If you go to India today and ask about Martin Luther King, they’ll tell you who he was, but they don’t know what he actually did. Because of this movie, people will start doing the research, kids who aren’t even born yet.”
To see Gregory’s Walk of Fame ceremony, check out the video below.