Former Mayor David Dinkins remembered trailblazing comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory — who joined him on a trip to Germany in the 1980s honoring Nazi victims and protesting President Reagan.
“Not everybody understood that Dick Gregory was far more than a comedian,” Dinkins told the Daily News on Sunday. “This was seeing it up close.”
The comedy legend died Saturday at the age of 84.
Dinkins and Gregory, along with Amsterdam News publisher Bill Tatum, headed for Munich in 1985 with a group of Jewish organizations to protest Reagan’s controversial visit to a German military cemetery at Bitburg, where dozens of SS members were buried alongside nearly 2,000 German soldiers.
Celebrities mourn the loss of Dick Gregory
“I always admired him so much for his willingness to be there,” said the former mayor, who said Gregory viewed taking a stand for Holocaust victims as part of the civil rights struggle he was involved in for decades.
The group visited the gravesite of a group of young Germans who were executed for handing out leaflets opposing the Nazi regime.
“In that group were some Jews who had not set foot in Germany since ‘39 or ‘40,” Dinkins recalled. “We were the only three blacks in that group — Dick Gregory, Bill Tatum, and myself. It was a very moving experience.”
Gregory, who was known for mixing biting wit with commentary on the news of the day, died in Washington two days after his son said he was hospitalized with a serious but stable medical condition.
Dick Gregory, comedy legend and civil rights activist, dead at 84
“I was saddened by that of course, but at my age the first thing I do is look at the obits in the morning,” said Dinkins, 90. “Six o’clock in the morning — first thing I do.”
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