15 quotes on life, race, and being Black in America by Dick Gregory


Comedian and Civil Rights activist Dick Gregory has left us with a vast amount of knowledge and humor. He touched the lives of many, great and small, and social media is full of tributes bearing #DickGregory.

Gregory’s observations on life as well as race relations in America are timeless. Here are 15 of his most famous quotes:

  1. It was an unwritten law that black comics were not permitted to work white nightclubs. You could sing and you could dance, but you couldn’t stand flat-footed and talk; that was a no-no.
  2. Once I realized the value of making people laugh, I got very good at it. Fast.
  3. I never learned hate at home or shame. I had to go to school for that.
  4. I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.
  5. I am really enjoying the new Martin Luther King Jr., stamp – just think about all those white bigots, licking the backside of a black man.
  6. In America, with all of its evils and faults, you can still reach through the forest and see the sun. But we don’t know yet whether that sun is rising or setting for our country.
  7. Just being a Negro doesn’t qualify you to understand the race situation any more than being sick makes you an expert on medicine.
  8. We used to root for the Indians against the cavalry because we didn’t think it was fair in the history books that when the cavalry won it was a great victory, and when the Indians won it was a massacre.
  9. People with high blood pressure, diabetes – those are conditions brought about by life style. If you change the life style, those conditions will leave.
  10. If it wasn’t for Abe Lincoln, I’d still be on the open market.
  11. Now here’s what I’m saying: I’ve always believed that every other month we hear about the compromise of bank records, I think that’s the CIA and the FBI. Now let me tell you why I’m saying this. I don’t believe no insignificant pip-squeak is going to be able to pull this off month after month and we can’t find out what’s going on.
  12. And we love to dance, especially that new one called the Civil War Twist. The Northern part of you stands still while the Southern part tries to secede.
  13. When I go through the airport and see white women walking through the airport barefooted, like athlete’s feet don’t exist, there’s something wrong.
  14. America will tolerate the taking of a human life without giving it a second thought. But don’t misuse a household pet.
  15. I waited at the counter of a white restaurant for eleven years. When they finally integrated, they didn’t have what I wanted.
Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.

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