Write me in! by Dick Gregory
My last book report for the week is a special one. Today being the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech, and that dream has definitely turned into a nightmare. This is something Dr. King also had the prophetic foresight to say in one of his last interviews before his assassination. With 2020 being an election year and one of the most polarizing in history, I had to go in my library and allow my close mentor and very special ancestor to speak to me once again. Yes, Mr. Dick Gregory! Did y’all know that in 1968 the Great Dick Gregory actually ran for President and wrote a book about it?! Talk about a man with great vision and courage! Many of you may not know this but for several years before his passing the honorable Dick Gregory was a real jegna, friend and personal teacher. I recall one of my greatest memories of he and I walking through Washington DC all the way up to the front gates of the Whitehouse and him saying we gotta get Trump out of there. “All that money and that Motherfucker living in government housing!” That’s the type of sense of humor and genius Mr. Gregory possessed. His entire life he fought for civil rights, human rights and justice for all through his career in the public eye. He would tell me, “Don’t give a fuck about with any of these motherfuckers say, just because you love them, don’t mean they gonna love you.” His message resonates with me now more than ever, especially when he would say, “Just do your work under the Universal God and the Universal Law will handle everything else.” Mr. Gregory’s wisdom replays for me daily, in our many meetings that we would record, for times like this and the several books he gave and referred to me. Specifically this one, “WRITE ME IN” written by the great ancestor himself MR. DICK GREGORY in 1968. The first words he wrote in the book was his powerful and poignant dedication. Mr. Gregory dedicates it to “all the Democrats and Republicans in this country, who have created the atmosphere which makes this book necessary!” The year 2020 is very similar to 1968, a year of uncertainty, heartbreak pain, and ultimately perseverance. 1968 was an Olympic year where the famous fist of medalist Tommy Smith and John Carlos reigned in the air for Black people which ironically feels similar to the NBA boycott we witnessed this week. This was also the same year where Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King we’re assassinated. The lost of the nonviolent King was the the tipping point for America, and the next day the nation erupted in violence. Riots, looting and pain just like we are experiencing today. So in Mr. Gregory’s emotional introduction he gives the reader some insight on why he chose to run for President in a year where he had lost a dear friend and a global leader. “It is difficult for me to offer visions of a political platform so soon after the assassination of my friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His death exposes America as the violent nation it is. People the world over have seen the undeniable truth about life in America. Yet America is ironically honored in the eyes of a grateful world for having been the birthplace for such a man as Dr. King. It seems unbelievable that such a violent nation could have sired the worlds greatest apostle of peace, love and brotherhood. America’s obsession with violence was exemplified by the events immediately following Dr. Kings death. The President of the United States was unable to attend his funeral because he had to meet with his Generals and talk about killing people in Vietnam.”
While reading this book I couldn’t help but think of my friend and brother Kanye West who has been in the middle of a political storm with his own Presidential Campaign for 2020. People have been calling him everything except a child of God. A distraction, a tool for Trump, a coon, and Stephanie Mills even through me in the party of insults by calling us both “Paid Slaves”. Ouch! One thing my ancestor Dick Gregory taught me is to never speak negatively of another black person in public and allow the media to make us appear to be divided. “Disagree at home, but once we leave the house we are united!” Mr Gregory would drop these gems on me constantly and this book was filled with them and even more comedic anecdotes. In 1968 many thought his whole campaign was a joke or some kind marketing tool for his popularity, similar to how many feel about Kanye. Dick Gregory during his campaign even printed an estimated million 1 dollar bills with his face on the money! Hilarious I know, but he was very serious about his race for the Presidency which you will find in the reading. Mr. Gregory’s campaign was based squarely around his People and his opposition to the Vietnam War, but was more broadly an attempt to critique the limitations of the two-party system and the deeply rooted links between corruption, political power, and American capitalism. But as usual the media attacked him and called Mr. Gregory all kinds of names such as a “racist black power candidate” and even referred to his candidacy as “un-American in concept.” That didn’t stop Mr. Gregory one bit. He was willing to solely kick start the revolution, which he teaches in the book. “Revolutionary action does not require an army of support. Spontaneous action involves larger numbers of people than Calculated revolution.” Calculated indeed, Mr. Gregory and his campaign garnered an enthusiastic following among college students and of course the Black community. As an important early case study in Black celebrity activism, Mr. Gregory’s presidential run paved the way for Black celebrity Activism for people like myself and Kanye West. I actually shared this book with my friend Kanye when he just recently appeared on my Cannons Class podcast. I found many similarities between Dick Gregory’s 1968 presidential run and Kanye’s 2020, when spoke with Kanye I saw the same love and sincerity for people and humanity that Mr. Dick Gregory possessed. Though many thoughts in the book range from radical to outdated, this book is an open minded approach that we all could learn from whether you are a member of the Republican Party, the Democratic Party or Kanye’s “Birthday Party”. One quote from the book that I shared with my brother Kanye was, “To be forced to select between party dominated choices is to have no real choice at all” So as the 2020 election approaches, whatever choice you make, it’s all your own but I encourage everyone to educate yourself, specifically on policies and not just popularity or propaganda. Amazing Read and Amazing Man! Rest In Peace to the wonderful Dick Gregory!