Civil rights activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

  • Comedian and activist Dick Gregory participates in a demonstration at the Sudanese Embassy on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 in Washington. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the Darfur region of Sudan, where Arab militiamen have launched a campaign to force black Africans from their homes. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    Comedian and activist Dick Gregory participates in a demonstration at the Sudanese Embassy on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 in Washington. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the Darfur region of Sudan, where Arab militiamen have launched a campaign to force black Africans from their homes. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

  • Director and producer Michael Schultz, left, talks with activist and comedian Dick Gregory, right, during a press reception prior to the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters 21st Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, Friday, March 11, 2005. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Director and producer Michael Schultz, left, talks with activist and comedian Dick Gregory, right, during a press reception prior to the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters 21st Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, Friday, March 11, 2005. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Activist and comedian Dick Gregory speaks to attendees gathered at the St. Paul United Methodist Church in Dallas, Monday, Dec. 19, 2005. Gregory addressed the case of Thomas Miller-El, who remains jailed in Dallas pending a hearing on a new trial in the 1986 robbery and slaying of an Irving, Texas, motel clerk. The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned his capital murder conviction and death sentence, citing racial bias in selection of his jury. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    Activist and comedian Dick Gregory speaks to attendees gathered at the St. Paul United Methodist Church in Dallas, Monday, Dec. 19, 2005. Gregory addressed the case of Thomas Miller-El, who remains jailed in Dallas pending a hearing on a new trial in the 1986 robbery and slaying of an Irving, Texas, motel clerk. The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned his capital murder conviction and death sentence, citing racial bias in selection of his jury. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Activist and comedian Dick Gregory gestures as he speaks to a attendees gathered at the St. Paul United Methodist Church in Dallas, Monday, Dec. 19, 2005. Gregory addressed the case of Thomas Miller-El, who remains jailed in Dallas pending a hearing on a new trial in the 1986 robbery and slaying of an Irving, Texas, motel clerk. The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned his capital murder conviction and death sentence, citing racial bias in selection of his jury. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    Activist and comedian Dick Gregory gestures as he speaks to a attendees gathered at the St. Paul United Methodist Church in Dallas, Monday, Dec. 19, 2005. Gregory addressed the case of Thomas Miller-El, who remains jailed in Dallas pending a hearing on a new trial in the 1986 robbery and slaying of an Irving, Texas, motel clerk. The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned his capital murder conviction and death sentence, citing racial bias in selection of his jury. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Comedian Dick Gregory poses for a portrait during the “Audacity Of Hope Ball” January 17, 2009 in Washington, DC. The “Audacity Of Hope Ball” is one of several pre-Inauguration events being held around the DC area. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

    Comedian Dick Gregory poses for a portrait during the “Audacity Of Hope Ball” January 17, 2009 in Washington, DC. The “Audacity Of Hope Ball” is one of several pre-Inauguration events being held around the DC area. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

  • Activist and comedian Dick Gregory speaks to attendees gathered at the St. Paul United Methodist Church in Dallas, Monday, Dec. 19, 2005. Gregory addressed the case of Thomas Miller-El, who remains jailed in Dallas pending a hearing on a new trial in the 1986 robbery and slaying of an Irving, Texas, motel clerk. The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned his capital murder conviction and death sentence, citing racial bias in selection of his jury. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    Activist and comedian Dick Gregory speaks to attendees gathered at the St. Paul United Methodist Church in Dallas, Monday, Dec. 19, 2005. Gregory addressed the case of Thomas Miller-El, who remains jailed in Dallas pending a hearing on a new trial in the 1986 robbery and slaying of an Irving, Texas, motel clerk. The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned his capital murder conviction and death sentence, citing racial bias in selection of his jury. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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By DAISY NGUYEN

LOS ANGELES — Dick Gregory, who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84.
Gregory’s son, Christian, told The Associated Press his father died late Saturday in Washington, D.C. after being hospitalized for about a week. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection.
Gregory was one of the first black comedians to find mainstream success with white audiences in the early 1960s. He rose from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to become a celebrated satirist who deftly commented upon racial divisions at the dawn of the civil rights movement.
He also ran for president in 1968 as the Peace and Freedom party candidate.

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