SIUC honors Dick Gregory as leader in civil rights and on the track
Richard “Dick” Gregory was remembered recently at his alma mater, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC), as a prominent civil rights activist and comedian.
Gregory, who died on Aug. 19 at age 84, chose to attend SIUC out of 100 schools that offered him athletic scholarships for his track prowess, according to a press release. Gregory became a nationally recognized athlete, excelling in the mile and half-mile races and leading SIUC’s cross-country and track teams in 1953.
SIUC also credited Gregory with promoting integration in Carbondale and said he was the first black student-athlete to receive the school’s outstanding athlete of the year award. Gregory was a lifetime member of the school’s alumni association.
Gregory became a prominent figure in the civil rights movement after leaving SIUC, working alongside Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and many other politicians, performers and activists.
His career spanned a wide range of professions and titles, including author, activist, philosopher, comedian, actor, recording artist, nutritionist and anti-drug campaigner.