Comedian, Activist Dick Gregory to Speak at Soul Food Dinner
February 5, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Join Illinois Wesleyan University in welcoming the multi-talented
Dick Gregory to the annual Soul Food Dinner on Sunday, Feb. 15.
The dinner will be held at center court in the Hansen Student Center (300 E. Beecher
St., Bloomington) at 5:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., Gregory will deliver his speech, “The
World According to Dick Gregory: An Evening of Humor and Humanity.”
Press availability with Gregory is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Senate meeting
room on the second floor of the Hansen Student Center.
Tickets for the dinner are $10, and can be purchased at the bookstore in the Hansen
Student Center. IWU students can use their meal exchange privileges. Sponsored by
the Illinois Wesleyan Student Senate, the keynote speech is free and open to the public.
Throughout his life, Gregory has taken on many titles: comedian, civil rights activist,
author, philosopher, actor, nutritionist, recording artist, anti-drug advocate and
cancer survivor. However, he is best known for his social satire and comedy, which
he first performed while serving in the army in the 1950s. Upon moving to Chicago
to pursue a professional career in comedy, Gregory and contemporaries such as Bill
Cosby, Godfrey Cambridge and Nipsey Russell avoided performing minstrel comedy, which
pokes fun at stereotypes of African Americans. Their redirection of the comedy scene
left white audiences with a new perception of African-American comedians.
As an activist during the Civil Rights Movement, Gregory used his public image to
bring awareness to social issues like segregation and disfranchisement by participating
in sit-ins and promoting voter registration in African-American communities. Gregory’s
status and activism placed him among the ranks of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm
X and Medgar Evers. His nonviolent commitment to the causes of the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference (SCLC) often landed him in jail.
Since that time, Gregory has worked to end such issues as world hunger, drug abuse,
crime and war. His support and participation have taken the forms of marches, parades
and over 100 spells of fasting.
Additionally, Gregory has created several organizations dedicated to improving his
biggest social concerns. In 1984, Gregory founded Health Enterprises, Inc., which
distributed weight-loss products, and three years later he developed the Slim-Safe
Bahamian Diet. In 1992, Gregory launched the “Campaign for Human Dignity,” which
is a program that seeks to fight crime in his hometown of St. Louis.
The recipient of numerous awards, Gregory was honored for service to the community
and world at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2000 before host
Bill Cosby and guests Coretta Scott King, Stevie Wonder, Les Brown and others. Gregory’s
other accomplishments include selling over seven million copies of his 1963 autobiography
and seeing its sequel become a best-seller shortly after its release. His one-man
comedy show “Dick Gregory Live!” began in 1996 and was welcomed with high praise on
For additional information, contact Brittany A. Powell at email@example.com
Contact: Nicole Travis ’11, (309) 556-3181