This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.
Dick Gregory is an African American comedian, political activist, humanitarian, and nutritional consultant. His political comedy was groundbreaking for its take on race relations and other social injustices during the civil rights movements of the 1960s. He first became interested in comedy during his time in the military, and then moved to Chicago to continue his career. Performing for primarily black audiences while working day shifts at the post office, Gregory made a name for himself through his satirical political and social criticism. In 1961, he was hired at the Playboy Club at the request of Hugh Hefner, propelling him into the national spotlight. At the height of his career, Gregory out-earned the likes of Frank Sinatra, used his celebrity and close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr. to focus national attention on the injustices of segregation, marched with Gloria Steinem in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, and went on a hunger strike during the Iran hostage crisis.
This 1968 text, Write Me In!, marked Gregory’s very serious foray into political office. He ran for president as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, and received 1.5 million votes. Considering Hubert Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon by some 510,000 votes, Gregory had a massive impact on the election. The book outlines his political platform, with heavy focus on racism in America, the war in Vietnam, corporate greed, foreign policy, and civic duty, just to name a few. Interspersed are “humor interludes,” reminding the reader of the comedic talent which launched Gregory into the national spotlight to begin with.
At the age of 83, Gregory still regularly performs and participates in social activism. A Kickstarter funded documentary on his life is expected in the Spring of 2017. Find him on Twitter @IAmDickGregory.
To learn more, Write Me In! can be found in Widener’s collection: New York: Bantam Books, 1968.
Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.