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Dick Gregory is keynote speaker for King Celebration

COLUMBUS – Human rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory will join the Ohio State University community in celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thursday (1/10) at 7 p.m. at Hitchcock Hall, 2070 Neil Ave. Gregory will deliver the keynote address for the 36th annual celebration that will also feature the Ohio State African American Voices Gospel Choir. The event is free and open to the public.

“We wanted to have someone who embodied the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Lawrence Williamson, director of The Frank W. Hale, Jr. Black Cultural Center. “While the event has featured many outstanding speakers over the years, bringing Dick Gregory to The Ohio State University will be one of our high points. We hope this choice will really resonate with people.”

Gregory emerged on the national comedy scene in the early 1960s and used his social satire to change the way society perceived African Americans. Inspired by the work of King, he used his celebrity status to fight racial and social injustices, and co-authored Zorro: The Murder of Martin Luther King Jr., published in 1977.

Gregory's political concerns have since broadened on a global scale to include issues such as violence, world hunger, capital punishment, drug abuse and poor health care. An outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, CIA and the FBI, he has initiated more than 100 hunger fasts for social causes over the years.

The event is one of several that will culminate on the official day of remembrance on Jan. 21.