Gregory campaigned for black civil rights, including acceptance of homosexuality within African American churches.

Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory died yesterday (19 August) in Washington.

Gregory’s son, Christian, posted the announcement of his death on Facebook. He wrote: ‘It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC.

‘The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time,’ he said.

Gregory was one of the first black comedians to bring racially-charged comedy to white audiences in America.

His first big break was an appearance on the Tonight Show in 1962.

He agreed to go on the show if he could sit down with host Jack Paar afterwards. Prior to this ultimatum, African American performers would have to leave the set immediately after performing.

He protested the Vietnam War, staged hunger strikes and was once locked up for a night in jail with Bernie Sanders after protesting segregation in Chicago.

Gregory once said he would like to be remembered as a turtle: ‘Hard on the outside, soft on the inside and willing to stick your neck out.’

Dick Gregory: ‘I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that’

He also never shied away from controversial topics, including homosexuality within African American Christianity.

In 2012, he spoke on Barack Obama supporting same-sex marriage. He said: ”So [earlier this year] when there was all this emphasis on how black Christians were condemning President Obama for supporting same-sex marriage, I was thinking, “But it’s [homosexuality] in the book y’all read!”

‘I’ve been going to black churches all my life, and in every church, everybody knew who the gay preachers were and which members of the congregation were gay.

He added: ‘So I’m like, “Why, all at a sudden, are you condemning homosexuality, like you didn’t know what was going on under your noses all that time?”‘

He also famously said: ‘I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that.’

Tributes poured in for the hilarious comedian, including Whoopi Goldberg, Keith Boykin, RuPaul and Deray McKesson.

This article was originally published on Gay Star News. Read the original article.