SIU mourns death of alum and comedian Dick Gregory

Before becoming known for his jokes, Dick Gregory was known for his running.

We told you about Gregory’s death Saturday. Gregory was a comedian and used his words to tackle racism, bigotry, and social injustice. He was one of the first black comedians to successfully and gain white audiences in the 1960s. He also participated in the civil rights movement with and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, and President John F. Kennedy.

Before all of that though, he grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. The school posted a news release this morning describing Gregory as a young track star. School leaders say Gregory came to SIU Carbondale on a track scholarship. He was a nationally recognized athlete and in 1953 became the first black student-athlete named outstanding athlete of the year. The school adds Gregory also worked to help Carbondale toward integration.

SIU Carbondale says Gregory was a member of the SIU Alumni Association. The university also made him a distinguished alumnus in 2009.

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