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Dick Gregory, civil rights activist and comedian, has died

GOODBYE: Dick Gregory at a tribute to late film critic Roger Ebert in Chicago, 2013

DURING THE early hours of this morning, the family of treasured American comedian, activist and politico Dick Gregory confirmed that he had died in a Washington DC hospital - the reason for his death has not been shared as yet.

Gregory was 84 years old.

Taking to Instagram to share the news, son Christian posted:

"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 bereaved Gregory junior went on to say that the family "appreciates the outpouring of support and love" and would prefer that they be left alone to grieve "during this very difficult time".


GOOD TIMES: Dick Gregory, left, with Rob Schneider at the premiere of film The Hot Chick in LA, 2002

Gregory came to the fore in the 1960s as a comedian who included a light-hearted approach to dealing with serious topics such as racism and broke segregational barriers as one of the first black stand-ups to regularly entertain white audiences.

As well as winning fans over with his jokes, Gregory led hunger strikes and campaigns against injustices including the Vietnam war. Gregory ran for president as a member of the Freedom and Peace Party in 1968.

WATCH DICK GREGORY'S INTERVIEW ABOUT HIS BID FOR PRESIDENCY IN 1968, BELOW: (credit: Ball State University Libraries/YouTube)

Many took to social media to express their sympathies, including Samuel L. Jackson, who Tweeted:

"RIP Dick Gregory, A 5 Star General in The War for Human Rights!! Glad to have been in your sphere."

New York Times best-selling author and TV presenter Iyanla Vanzant posted:

"My Dear, Dear Mentor, Teacher, Supportive Dick Gregory, I will always remember and live what you gave me and taught me Soar High Baba! Ache!"

Essence magazine announced the news "with heavy hearts".

Gregory leaves behind wife Lillian and 11 children.

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