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110 Dick Gregory Quotes to Bring Rights Into the Forefront

Let’s start here.

And don’t forget to check out these and .

1. “The only good thing about the good old days is they’re gone.”

2. “Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said, ‘that’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’”

3. “I never learned hate at home or shame. I had to go to school for that.” 

4. “Love is very dangerous if you just have love and don’t have the ability to be lovable.”

5. “I waited at the counter of a white restaurant for eleven years. When they finally integrated, they didn’t have what I wanted.”

6. “When you have and no father, God kind of sits in. It’s not enough, but it helps.”

7. “I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.”

8. “Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter, but are quickly forgotten.”

9. “Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.”

10. “Riches do not delight us so much with their possession, as torment us with their loss.”

11. “I’m not a comic. I’m a humorist.”

12. “I wouldn’t mind paying taxes, if I knew they were going to a friendly country.”

13. “America will tolerate the taking of a human life without giving it a second thought. But don’t misuse a household pet.”

14. “One of the things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people.”

15. “Just being a Negro doesn’t qualify you to understand the race situation any more than being sick makes you an expert on medicine.”

Related:

16. “I was more interested in how my career could help the movement.”

17. “Once I realized the value of making people laugh, I got very good at it. Fast.”

18. “There’s a God force inside of you that gives you a will to live.”

19. “I am a soldier. And my life has been a soldier’s life.”

20. “Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and vicious taking of life.”

21. “My belief is, you know, certain things have to be explained that’s never been explained.”

22. “Poor is a state of mind you never grow out of, but being broke is just a temporary condition.”

23. “That’s all comedy is, really—putting a rhythm to the talk you hear on the street.”

24. “If you take 12 waters from the coconut—not the ones you buy in the store, although that’s good—but the fresh coconuts, the little brown ones with the three eyes, if you take 12 of those within 24 hours, your blood will go back to the way it was when you were born.”

25. “Every holiday on the calendar, I check in a hotel and fast—I don’t eat, I don’t drink, I don’t talk.”

26. “Because I’m a Civil Rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike.”

27. “Coconut milk is the only thing on this planet that comes identically to mother’s milk.”

28. “The FBI and the CIA are probably the two most evil entities that ever existed in the history of the planet.”

29. “The most difficult thing to get people to do is to accept the obvious.”

30. “After a while—I got a reputation as a funny man. And then I started to turn the jokes on them.”

31. “No kid in the world, no woman in the world should ever raise a hand against a no-good daddy. That’s already been taken care of: ‘A Man Who Destroys His Own Home Shall Inherit the Wind.’”

32. “People with high blood pressure, diabetes—those are conditions brought about by lifestyle. If you change the lifestyle, those conditions will leave.”

33. “Fear and God do not occupy the same space.”

34. “There is a limit on how much information you can keep bottled up.”

35. “If all you can do is judge a person by their appearance because you don’t have the spirit to judge someone from within, you’re in trouble.”

36. “To me, seeing a really great comedian is a bit like watching a musician or a poet.”

37. “Everything we do we should look at in terms of millions of people who can’t afford it.”

38. “It’s cool to be healthy.”

39. “Dear Momma, wherever you are, if ever you hear the word ‘nigger’ again, remember they are advertising my book.”

40. “Revolution ain’t nothing but an extent of evolution; evolution is a fact of nature. So when old folks tell me that they don’t understand hip hop and the music is too loud, well I guess it means you’re not supposed to be in there.”

41. “If democracy is such a good thing, let’s have more of it.”

42. “When you’ve got something really good, you don’t have to force it on people. They will steal it!”

43. “Education means to bring out wisdom. Indoctrination means to push in knowledge.”

44. “Life isn’t a race. It’s a relay.”

45. “Truth is the baby of the world. It never gets old.”

46. “You know why Madison Avenue advertising has never done well in Harlem? We’re the only ones who know what it means to be Brand X.”

47. “I used to get letters saying, ‘I didn’t know black children and white children were the same.’”

48. “I never thought I’d see the day that I would see white folks as frightened, or more so than black folks was during the civil rights movement when we were in Mississippi.”

49. “You know, I always say white is not a color, white is an attitude, and if you haven’t got trillions of dollars in the bank that you don’t need, you can’t be white.”

50. “Being white is a job in America. You take that away, you better get the soldiers out.”

51. “When I go through the airport and see white women walking through the airport barefooted, like athlete’s feet don’t exist, there’s something wrong.”

52. “If it wasn’t for Abe Lincoln, I’d still be on the open market.”

53. “When I was a boy, I was taught never to use insulting expressions like, ‘I’ve been gypped or, he welshed on the deal.’”

54. “Where else in the world but America, could I have lived in the worst neighborhoods, attended the worst schools, rode in the back of the bus, and get paid $5,000 a week just for talking about it?”

55. “It was an unwritten law that black comics were not permitted to work white nightclubs.”

56. “I’m non-violent, but I’m damned if I’ll preach non-violence to a man whose five-year-old has got her head busted open by a brick.”

57. “I hope that America is willing to take this shoe of racism off and deal with racism and deal with sexism.”

58. “They gave me the key to the city—and then they changed all the locks.”

59. “Do you realize that when you identify with anything other than yourself, first as an individual, you have a cheap way out a lot of your own shortcomings?”

60. “I am so sick and tired of seeing a black person shot in the back, shot dead, followed by people saying, ‘Not all cops are bad.’”

61. “The United States is the most dishonest, ungodly, unspiritual nation that ever existed in the history of the planet.”

62. “The only person on the planet saying derogatory things about his woman is the Black man.”

63. “Some kind of way, we have to say enough is enough.”

64. “Whenever the dollar is held supreme and capitalistic interests dominate, a higher value will always be placed upon property rights than upon human rights.”

65. “My and I went to jail in Selma. The difference when I was back there recently? White folks? No. Black folks who were not scared. I was behind the president this time. When I was a little boy and ran around with trifling dudes, I was the only one scared of dogs. And I was bitten 14 times! Dogs smell scared. And that’s the same thing with people. 50 years ago they smelled fear. There was no fear this time.”

66. “What happens to Black folks today, happens to White folks tomorrow.”

67. “America is concerned more with the possibility of moon folks than the reality of hungry poor folks.”

68. “Why are black folks singing Amazing Grace which is a song about a white slaver’s conversion?”

69. “ taught us all nonviolence. I was told to extend nonviolence to the mother and her calf.”

70. “No being should be killed. No being should be unloved.”

71. “Dogs are great assets to candidates, and the feeling seems to be that if a dog loves the candidate, he can’t be all that bad.”

72. “You got to die of something because if you die of nothing, they won’t pay your insurance.”

73. “I would never teach a child of mine to be kind to a cop who would shoot you in the back of the head. I would never have that conversation because children don’t hear what you mean, they hear what you say.”

74. “Pets are found to suffer from all the ailments known to humans.”

75. “If you can justify killing to eat meat, you can justify the conditions of the ghetto. I cannot justify either one.”

76. “Race baiters and discriminators may go underground, but they never move out of town.”

77. “Civil rights—what black folks are given in the U.S. on the installment plan, as in civil-rights bills. Not to be confused with human rights, which are the dignity, stature, humanity, respect, and freedom belonging to all people by right of their birth.”

78. “What price would God demand from the churches for having the audacity to lighten the color of his son’s skin, and straighten out his nappy hair?”

79. “If I had to write down the most important people in the history of this planet, number one would be .”

80. “White folks are the luckiest people. Finally, a Black president and he’s a behaved one—went to the best schools, best colleges, never raises his voice. I ran for president in 1968. I tell audiences if I won, I would have dug up the Rose Garden and planted watermelon!”

81. “When I lost my rifle, the Army charged me 85 dollars. That is why in the Navy the Captain goes down with the ship.”

82. “Black Americans are the only people in history who are for education instead of liberation. wasn’t beating up on British for the right to open a college! The line isn’t, ‘Give me education or give me death.’”

83. “I would have painted the White House black. I would have!”

84. “Black conservatives have a right to exist, but why would I want to walk around with a swastika on my shirt after the way Hitler done messed it up?”

85. “I didn’t realize, when I decided to be a comic, that a Black person had never been allowed to stand flat-footed in America and talk to white folks. It never happened before.”

86. “Because you make me laugh, don’t make you a comic.”

87. “I won’t say I’m out of condition now, but I even puff going downstairs.”

88. “Once we used to have to crank up our cars, now you can pop it on from inside your house. Everything has changed except how we get freedom.”

89. “I believe young voters will either vote for Obama or not vote at all. So the problem is not Obama, the problem is the system. If you think about how messed up this country is, most folk really don’t have choices.”

90. “Let me tell you, never before in the history of this planet has anybody made the progress that African-Americans have made in a 30-year period, in spite of many black folks and white folks lying to one another.”

91. “In the South, they don’t mind how close I get, so long as I don’t get too big. In the North, they don’t mind how big I get, so long as I don’t get too close.”

92. “Black folks tell their kids they have to be twice as good as a white person? Well, if I tell a child of mine that or that they have to be careful, that this is what a cop would do if you do this, they think something is wrong with them. I tell them death is better.”

93. “In the United States, the Constitution is a health chart left by the Founding Fathers which shows whether or not the body politic is in good health. If the national body is found to be in poor health, the Founding Fathers also left a prescription for the restoration of health called the Declaration of Independence.”

94. “Eating liver out of a cow’s body is like eating the filter out of a car.”

95. “The jellybean-eating thug says that national defense is important, but national defense starts at home.”

96. “When I went South in the 1960s, I knew I could die. If I went down there and did what I did up in Chicago and made all of those hating White folks laugh, then I would have been defeated.”

97. “Baseball is very big with my people. It figures. It’s the only way we can get to shake a bat at a white man without starting a riot.”

98. “So why would I want to call myself a conservative after the way these White racist thugs have used that word to hide behind? They call themselves new Republicans.”

99. “When you shoot right and truth and justice down, the more right and truth and justice will rise up.”

100. “But what’s worse than that is the slaves who identified with their masters, as if the slaves’ value as human beings depended on what the masters were like. What they were like was evil!”

101. “Makes you wonder. When I left St. Louis, I was making five dollars a night. Now I’m getting $5,000 a week—for saying the same things out loud I used to say under my breath.”

102. “When you look at Hitler and those thugs, you can put Walmart right next to them.”

103. “Audiences feel no hatred from me because I’m not bitter.”

104. “America has the mightiest military on the planet, and they didn’t get there with entertainers.”

105. “A Klaner KKK is a cat who gets out of bed in the middle of the night and takes his sheet with him.”

106. “America is 5% of the world’s population and consumes 96% of the world’s hard drugs.”

107. “Don’t have a high school diploma? You’re in my Cabinet. Why? For 200 years, a lot of Cabinets have existed in our government. Powerful men. Well-educated. So let’s try something totally new.”

108. “I guess that makes me as white as you now, boy. I got your spit inside me.”

109. “Can you imagine what this old Negro had to go through? Can you imagine the day a Negro woman went to a black man and said, ‘Honey, I’m pregnant,’ and both of them fell on their knees and prayed that their baby would be born deformed? Can you imagine what this Negro went through, hoping his baby is born crippled? Because if he was born crippled, he would have less chance of being a slave and more chance of having freedom.”

110. “We have problems all over the world today, because men cease to be individuals. We like to identify with everything other than ourselves.”

111. ”Here’s how you can tell when you’re getting old. When someone compliments those beautiful alligator shoes you’re wearing and you’re barefooted.”

112. “I heard we’ve got lots of black astronauts. Saving them for the first spaceflight to the sun.”

113. “I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night.”

114. “Humor can no more find the solution to race problems than it can cure cancer.”

115. “I have no regrets.”

116. “President Khrushchev doesn’t really hate us—his interpreter does.”

117. “When I was a kid, you dropped something off the table, it never reached the floor.”

118. “We thought I was going to be a great athlete, and we were wrong, and I thought I was going to be a great entertainer, and that wasn’t it either. I’m going to be an American Citizen. First-class.”

119. “It’s easier to gate-crash a party in heaven than it is to get into the White House.”

120. “I chose to be an agitator. And there’s one interesting thing about being an agitator, and I tell people, the next time you put your underwear in the washing machine, take the agitator out, and all you’re going to end up with is some dirty, wet drawers.”

121. “I go to Chinese Christian community. Jesus looks Chinese. I go to Japanese Christian community. Jesus looks Japanese. I go to Brazilian Christian community. Jesus looks Brazilian. How come in America Jesus looks white?”

122. “My mother was the sweetest lady who ever lived on this planet, but if you tried to tell her that Jesus wasn’t a Christian, she would stomp you to death.”

123. “Even though he understood the depths of racism and black oppression, Ali lived his life as a free man—a free loving and lovable man.”

124. “Love is man’s natural endowment, but he doesn’t know how to use it.”

125. “In America, with all of its evils and faults, you can still reach through the and see the sun. But we don’t know yet whether that sun is rising or setting for our country.”

126. “I don’t know why America always thinks she has to run all around the world forcing people to take our way of governance at the barrel of a gun.”

127. “When I tune into my beautiful self, I get happiness. Everything in the universe belongs to me.”

128. “Laughter is the best way to release tensions and fears.”

129. “Luck is opportunity meeting up with preparation. So you must prepare yourself to be lucky.”

130. “The free man is the man with no fears.”

131. “The world is fed by greed.”

132. “The funniest jokes you know aren’t from comics but relatives, friends—from your life. That’s the funniest stuff.”

133. “Home was a place to be only when all other places were closed.”

134. “Nature is not affected by finance. If someone offered you ten thousand dollars to let them touch your eyeball without blinking, you would never collect the money. At the very last moment, Nature would force you to . Nature will protect her own.”

135. “Humans were the only creatures in the world that ate their food cooked. You’d never find a Gorilla frying up some bananas for dinner or a lion charcoal-broiling a steak. Cats don’t often run to the oven with a mouse or bird they’ve captured, and a dog wouldn’t naturally prepare its rabbit dinner in a stew.”

136. “I went to Ethiopia, and it dawned on me that you can tell a starving, malnourished person because they’ve got a bloated belly and a bald head. And I realized that if you come through any American airport and see businessmen running through with bloated bellies and bald heads, that’s malnutrition, too.”

137. “In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it’s a sport.”

138. “You hear entertainers all the time, saying, ‘If I couldn’t get paid for this, I’d do it for free. When’s the last time you ever heard a business person say, ‘If I couldn’t get paid for being chairman of British Petroleum, I’d do it for free?’”

139. “If they took all the drugs, nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine off the market for six days, they’d have to bring out the tanks to control you.”

140. “He refuses to recognize the power of love because of his love of power.”

141. “I am really enjoying the new Martin Luther King Jr stamp—just think about all those white bigots, licking the backside of a black man.”

142. “We used to root for the Indians against the cavalry, because we didn’t think it was fair in the history books that when the cavalry won it was a great victory, and when the Indians won it was a massacre.”

143. “And we love to dance, especially that new one called the Civil War Twist. The Northern part of you stands still while the Southern part tries to secede.”

144. “I buy about $1,500 worth of papers every month. Not that I them. I’m looking for the crack in the fabric.”

145. “I tell people, ‘If you want to send a message to the White House, call my house.’”

146. “Now here’s what I’m saying: I’ve always believed that every other month we hear about compromisation of bank records, I think that’s the CIA and the FBI. Now let me tell you why I’m saying this. I don’t believe no insignificant pip-squeak is going to be able to pull this off month after month and we can’t find out what’s going on.”

147. “When I first broke through, there was only NBC, CBS and ABC, and they had news in the morning and in the evening—there wasn’t no 24-hour news.”

148. “I personally believe breatharianism to be the highest mode of human living breathing in pure air, absorbing the direct light and energies of the sun, bathing in pure water. I look at the obituaries every morning and ain’t nobody listed but you eaters.”

149. “Every door of racial prejudice I can kick down, is one less door that my children have to kick down.”

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