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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  August 21, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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08/21/17 08/21/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> when you stop and think about, we got to change the books which are sexist and racist. give me a break. columbus discovered america? everybody knows that punk got lost. amy: the pioneering comedian and civil rights activist dick gregory has died at the age of 84. we will look at his remarkable life from being the first african-american comedian to sit on the couch of "the tonight show," to his decades long commitment to the civil rights movement. in 1960 three, he was jailed and beaten by birmingham police for
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parading without a permit. >> at the height of the civil rights movement, i was frightened. they got i went anyway. at that time, i do not understand that fear and god do not occupy the same space. non-fear that the the king and that nonviolent movement have, i was able to lose mine. amy: dick gregory also ran for president against richard nixon. he engaged in countless hunger strikes over the past five decades. today, on democracy now!, dick gregory over the decades in his own words. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. massive protests against white supremacy spread across the united states over the weekend, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets from coast to coast to condemn violent
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white nationalist groups and to call for the removal of confederate monuments and other statues memorializing slavery and racism. in downtown boston, 40,000 people poured into the streets around the boston common to protest a planned so-called free speech rally by white nationalists. the flood of counter protesters so overwhelmed the white nationalist rally, that aerial photos show only a handful of the extremists even showed up, and that they spent the day huddled in a gazebo on the boston common. this is one of the 40,000 antiracist counterprotesters. >> there are so many groups that are marginalized in our community. people of color, women, people many gender expressions. i think we need to stand together and say that is not ok. as a country, we have a right to free speech. that is why we exist as a country. i don't think that should go
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away. but there's a difference to me with hateful speech and free speech. a lot of what the separatists are saying is hateful. i don't think there is a place for that in our country. i think we are based on love as a country. amy: president trump first condemned the 40,000 people marching against white supremacy in boston, tweeting -- "looks like many anti-police agitators in boston. police are looking tough and smart! thank you." trump then twice attempted to tweet something positive about the protests, but both times had to delete his tweets after "heel" as an obey recover," as an tweeting -- "our country has been divided for decades. sometimes you need protest in order to heel, & we will heel, & be stronger than ever before." trump finally spelled the whole tweet correctly on the third try. many commented that trump's error was a curious slip, given that former secretary of state hillary clinton had famously
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used the word "heel" -- spelled h-e-e-l -- in her now infamous 1996 comments in which she called black youth super-predators and said "we have to bring them to heel." tens of thousands more protesters took to the streets of other u.s. cities over the weekend, a week after one person was killed and dozens more wounded by white supremacists and neo-nazis at a protest in charlottesville, virginia, over the plan to remove of a statue of confederate general robert e. lee. on saturday, thousands rallied at city hall in dallas, texas, to call for the removal of the city's three confederate monuments. overnight on friday, someone spray painted the word "nazis" onto the dallas statue of confederate general robert e. lee. thousands more marched saturday in new orleans to demand the removal of confederate monuments, while hundreds gathered to protest white supremacy in houston, memphis, atlanta, laguna beach, california, and durham, north carolina. this is north carolina naacp president william barber. >> you can't just denounce what
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happened in charlottesville. you have got to denounce what happened before charlottesville that made the people emboldened enough to go to charlottesville. amy: in virginia, residents are demanding the name of confederate general stonewall jackson be removed from a high school in prince william county. this is ryan sawyers of the prince william county school board. >> to me, it is for a simple. at guy that gave his life quite literally to the enslavement of arrays to prevent up from all sorts of things, including in education. shou not have a hool named after him amy: you can go to democracynow.o to hear the voices of the great, great-grandsons of stonewall jackson who have called for the removal of the confederate monument honoring the great-great-grandfather in richmond. in new york city, members of the group black youth project 100 rallied on friday to demand the removal of a statue of james
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marion sims, a white doctor who is known as the father of gynecology after he experimented on enslaved black women without using anesthesia in order to develop his surgical techniques. activists are calling for the statue to be removed and replaced by one of three women -- anarcha, betsey and lucy -- who were forced to suffer sims' medical experiments. thousands also protested against white supremacists and neo-nazis at multiple international rallies over the weekend. in berlin, germany, more than 1000 anti-fascists faced off against a much smaller crowd of neo-nazis. this is counter-protester anja herbig. i am here today to honor my grandfather who died in a confrontation camp. he was german and taken for not throwing a blind jewish woman out of a bunker during in a rate and lost his life for that. i'm here today in remembrance of my grandfather. amy: in vancouver, canada, thousands more gathered outside city hall on saturday to counter a group of anti-immigrant
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protesters. hundreds more gathered in quebec city to protest against a rally by far-right-wing extremists. president trump's chief strategist steven bannon has left the white house and rejoined the far-right-wing website breitbart news as the executive chairman. breitbart has been described as an online haven for white nationalists, which frequently publishes far-right-wing and white nationalist propaganda. bannon has been one of trump's closest and most trusted advisers. after departing the white house, he said -- "in many ways i think i can be more effective fighting from the outside for the agenda president trump ran on. and anyone who stands in our way, we will go to war with." in an interview with the weekly standard, bannon also said he feels "jacked up" now that he's returned to breitbart, saying -- "i've got my hands back on my weapons. someone said, 'it's bannon the barbarian.' i am definitely going to crush the opposition." he also said -- "the trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over."
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bannon's departure came after a series of meetings last week with billionaire funder robert mercer, who funds breitbart and funded trump's campaign. bannon met with mercer on wednesday in long island and trump met with mercer on friday. he was dining with him in bedminster. bannon departed the white house friday. later that day, billionaire investor carl icahn also left his role as regulatory adviser to president trump just before "the new yorker" published an article headlined "carl icahn's failed raid on washington." iconsticle detailed conflict of interest including heavy loving for real change of blending ethanol into gasoline, a role which expect -- affects the texas-based petroleum refining company. bannon and icahn's departures are only the latest in a series of ousters and resignations of top trump officials, including two communications directors -- mike dubke and anthony
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scaramucci -- press secretary sean spicer, national security adviser michael flynn, deputy national security adviser k t mcfarland, chief of staff reice priebus, deputy chief of staff katie walsh, and five other high level officials. trump also fired fbi director james comey and acting attorney general sally yates. trump is now also facing pressure to oust his senior policy adviser stephen miller and national security aide sebastian gorka over their ties to white nationalists and extremist views. the entire president's committee on the arts and humanities resigned on friday, becoming the first entire presidential committee to resign in protest. in their resignation letter, the artists spoke out against trump's failure to quickly condemn the deadly white supremacist violence in charlottesville, writing -- "the administration's refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish america ill."
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they also called on trump to step down. the first letter of each paragraph of the letter spells out the word "resist." the united states and south korea have launched massive military drills in the korean peninsula amid rising tensions between the u.s. and north korea. more than 17,000 u.s. troops and 50,000 south korean troops will participate in the military drills. soldiers from australia, britain, and canada will also take part. the military drills come after president trump threatened to attack north korea with fire and fury, and members of the trump administration continue to make the case for a pre-emptive military strike against north korea. president trump is slated to announce an update on the u.s. military strategy in afghanistan and south asia during a televised address at 9:00 p.m. eastern standard time tonight. the announcement comes after trump gathered with his top military advisers at camp david
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in maryland on friday. the trump administration has been sharply divided on the u.s. strategy in afghanistan. trump's top generals have been pressing trump to deploy thousands more u.s. troops, while former white house chief strategist steven bannon and other members of the administration had been pushing to privatize the u.s. war. this plan now seems less likely after bannon's departure from the white house. former blackwater founder erik prince, who has been proposing the privatization plan, was barred from friday's trip to camp david. in iraq, the u.s.-backed iraqi military has launched a new campaign to seize control of the city of tal afar from isis. tal afar, which sits about 50 miles west of mosul, is one of the last major cities in iraq under isis control. the u.s. military is supporting the battle with a bombing campaign. the new offensive comes after as many as 40,000 civilians were killed during the nine-month battle to seize control of mosul.
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can u.s. -- 10 u.s. navy sailors are missing and five were injured after the uss john mccain guided missile destroyer collided with an oil tanker near singapore this morning. it's the second time this summer that a navy ship has collided with another vessel at sea. in june, seven u.s. sailors died after the uss fitzgerald collided with a container ship south of japan. when president trump was returning to the white house, he was asked about the collision. "too bad,responded too bad." in the philippines, protests are growing against president rodrigo duterte's so-called war on drugs, which has killed more than 12,500 people over the last year. there are three separate demonstrations scheduled for today to protest the death of 17-year-old high school student kian delos santos, who was one of 80 people killed in drug raids last week alone.
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meanwhile, on sunday, mourners wore t-shirts reading "kill drugs, not people" as they carried the coffin of leover miranda to a cemetery in manila. this is his mother, elvira miranda. >> my son was screaming uncle mother!" then i heard gunshot after gunshot. i said, "my son! my son!" didn't they know my son had mental health issues? amy: in the democratic republic of congo, more than 200 people have been killed by a massive mudslide triggered by heavy rainfall. most of the victims are from a small fishing village in the congo's northeast. in pakistan, the parliament is poised to pass a landmark law outlawing discrimination and violence against transgender people and ensuring full rights for people of all gender identities. the legislation has the support of all major political parties
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in pakistan. in hong kong, more than 20,000 people took to the streets on sunday to protest the jailing of three student leaders of the pro-democracy occupy movement, who organized large protests in 2014 calling on china to allow free elections in hong kong. this is activist joseph cheng. >> it is obvious that dissatisfaction and anger in society have been growing. and i am sure the hong kong government will eventually pay its price. people are now casting doubt on the very last killer of the political system -- pilar of the political system. amy: pioneering comedian and civil rights activist dick gregory has died at the age of 84. in the early 1960's gregory became one of the most popular comedians in the country and paving the way for generations
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of african-american comedians . after headlines, we will play ips of dick gregory speaking in his own words about comedy, activism, race in america, and his long struggle for social justice. and today, a total eclipse will be visible from coast to coast across the continental united states for the first time in 99 years. total eclipses are rare celestial events in which the moon moves privately between the earth and the sun. for more than an hour today, the eclipse will be visible from portland, oregon come to the coast of south carolina. thousands of people are flocking to areas across the u.s. to get the best view of the event. although people should not look directly at the sun without special glasses. the next solar eclipse visible in the continental u.s. will be in seven years in 2024. and those are some of the
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headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. today, a special broadcast. we remember the pioneering comedian and civil rights activist dick gregory. he died on saturday in washington, d.c., at the age of 84. in the early 1960's dick gregory became one of the most popular comedians in the country and paved the way for generations of african-american comedians from bill cosby and richard pryor to chris rock and dave chappelle. on sunday, chris rock wrote on instagram -- "we lost a king. there will never be another. read his books, look him up. you won't be disappointed. unfortunately, the america that produced dick gregory still exists." dick gregory was the first african-american comedian to sit on the couch of "the tonight show" then hosted by jack parr. but as his popularity grew, so
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did his activism. he was jailed and beaten by birmingham police for parading without a permit in 1963. he took a bullet in the knee while trying to calm a crowd during the watts riots in 1965. that same year he spoke at one of the first major teach-ins on the vietnam war. it was at the university of california, berkeley. >> as far as war, as far as the way that radical group will say -- there just holding this meeting because they want to duck the draft. there will always think of little petty things to say. but i tell you one thing, i and not against armies as long as the armies is going to come in after the tornado and help clean up. i'm not against the army of the type of army that is going to go around the world and distribute food to everyone. d.c. hiring negro
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and standing up and saying "he " and a meccat loves that he is going to send me over to kill somebody? nonviolence to me means that i'm not supposed to hit american white, but nonviolence means death by put me on its payroll, but i will never put death on my payroll. two years later in 1967, dick gregory ran for mayor of chicago against the infamous richard daley. he was a close friend of martin luther king, jr., and in 1968 he ran for president against richard nixon. i knew 18 months ago i was a presidential candidate as a write-in because i feel the two-party system is obsolete. the two-party system is so corrupt that it cannot stop the problems confronting the masses of the people in this country. amy: dick gregory, by his
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account pulled, an astonishing 1.5 million votes, but the official tally put him at 47,000 votes. and that was as a write-in candidate. during that campaign, dick gregory was arrested by u.s. treasury agents for printing and distributing fake american currency with his picture on the bills as campaign literature. he also became well-known for his hunger strikes for justice. in 1967, he weighed more than 280 pounds and smoked and drank heavily. then he began a public fast, starting thanksgiving day, to protest the war in vietnam. 40 days later, he broke his fast with a hearty glass of fruit juice. he weighed 97 pounds. in the summer of 1968, he fasted for 45 days as a show of solidarity with native americans. the following summer, he did another 45 days of fast in
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protest of de facto segregation in the chicago public schools. in 1970, gregory went 81 days to bring attention to the narcotics problem in america. beginning in 1971, he went nearly three years without solid foods, again, to protest the war. during that stretch, he ran 900 miles from chicago to washington, d.c. during the iran hostage crisis, dick gregory traveled to tehran in an effort to free the hostages and he traveled to the north of ireland to advise hunger-striking ira prisoners. in his campaign against hunger, he traveled to ethiopia more than 10 times. more recently, his face appeared in newspapers across the country for his community action approach to investigate allegations behind the cia's connection with drugs in the african american community. he camped out in dealer-ridden public parks and rallied community leaders to shut down head shops. he protested at cia headquarters and was arrested.
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throughout his life, dick gregory has been a target of fbi and police surveillance. and he was virtually banned from the entertainment arena for his political activism. when we come back from break, we will hear from dick gregory in his own words. dick gregory died at the age of 84 and washington, d.c. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "imagine" by john lennon partly inspired by dick gregory. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as we continue our special remembrance of the life of the legendary comedian and civil rights activist dick gregory, he died saturday at the age of 84 in washington, d.c. i spoke to dick gregory many times. we're going to go back first to 2002 when we were in our firehouse studio's in downtown manhattan. >> we think about what happened september 11 of last year, the number one problem confronting america, there is never another act of terrorism if this country stays as frightened as it is, cannot survive. i never understood what roosevelt said would he said "nothing to fear but fear itself." i been married for 43 years and the biggest wife i have with my wife scared. she can't handle that.
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when are we going to pay sears and roebuck? she acts like we got money. she said, who's going to pay for this? your mama. she said, they did it. final notice. final notice. thank out we won't be hearing from them no more. you don't have to worry. i have a brother that is so worried that he called together day, "they about to repossess my car. what must i do?" don't park in front of the house. don't worry. for those out there, those book collectors echo look, express and of those bill collectors that call you are prison inmates. i mean, i have a triple serial toler call me the other day embarrass me because i'm late paying the man marcus.
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i said, punk, you leave the jail and come get the money. another thing you have to stop doing, stop having more children like to the bill collectors. you go to the phone, tell them i'm not here. how do you tell a child to lie and then tell them "never lie to me." you go to the phone, "this is dick." they don't know what to do. they are trained for you saying you're not there. when you say you are there, they run back to the manual. what do you say? he comes back, "this is not you." i said, "boy come held are you?" "22 years." i says, "i've been owing this money for 38 years. what makes you think yo're going to collect it in your time?' then they bring that huge tease, psychologists, psychiatrists and the call goes "hi, there, guy. when can we expect payment?" "well, i'm not in control of your expectations. you can expect a payment all the time.ou stop letting fear
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interrupt them i mean fear. if you look at nbc, cbs, abc and the black community, black folks have looked at the news -- i know black folks that have not even got locks on their door. i got a cousin in kansas city, missouri, he had 27 locks on the door and doesn't have nothing in house. i said, boy, somebody broke in here, they would leave something. the house is so small, he stuck the key in the door one day and stabbed 12 people. they was in the backyard. when you stop and think about -- just think about this for a minute. i keep asking the black community, what do you mean by black on black crime? i tell white folks, get to listen to black folks because sometimes they say things that sound good, but they be talking about you all. like on black crime. they say, we are tired of black folk killing black folk. they said they were not tired of black folk killing, but black folks killing black folks. who would be left?
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if you go to china today, who do you think is killing chinese in china? if you go to italy to markham who do you think is killing italians in italy? you kill where you live. if 90% of all white folks that was murdered in america last year was murdered by white folk, they're not talking about white on white crime, why do we want to talk about black on black crime? like i said, you kill where you live. two black folks worried about black on black crime, join naacp, the urban league, push, sclc. get out here and work to integrate this country. i guarantee you, if i'm living in a white suburban neighborhood and somebody -- my old lady makes me mad enough to want to shoot some of the, i'm not going to drive imy car and drive back to the ghetto and shoot you. trust me. you kill where you live. a look at the statistics. 90% of all homicides in america is caused by friends or relatives. 96% of all homicides in america is caused from arguments, not breaking and entering.
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we don't need more lock salvador, we need locks on the attitude. when you look at fear -- i understand that because the height of the civil rights movement when i would go south, i mean, i was frightened. thank god i went anyway. at that time i did not understand that fear and god do not occupy the same space. thatecause of the non-fear the king and the nonviolent movement have, i was able to lose mine. so when you stop and think, i'm 70 years old. when was the youngster, we celebrated negro history week. now celebrate black my. tell me that is not progress. giving us a month. i'm in, i did not expect the 31 , but was wiped t with a la febary thi know, most of us don't like february, we don't even understand it. i'm in, what is a groundhog? february 2 of this year, i was in does a black dude said, today
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is groundhog day i said, backup, i don't play that. he said, what you mean you don't play groundhog? are you anti-american yu? as victim as me again. as it come today is groundhog day. what you think would happen to they of groundhog sees his shadow,oy? i said, six re wes of winter, sir. let's keep playing. suppose the groundhog don't come out the c5 black dude. do you know what that means? he got nervous. basketball,ks of chump. we moved from february 2 to figure 14. which is not just valentine's day, but saint. that is the only day on the calendar that is called "saint." uniformity people lie on that day? -- do you know how many people lie on that day? a i really person who sent
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letter to more than one person? never before in the history of this planet have anybody made the progress that african-americans have made in america, in spite of black folks and white folks being in the state of denial. lying to one another. but the progress. the next move is entrepreneurship. i was a the black folks are probably the fastest, most economical way to get into business, i would do like greeting cards. i do not want to sit on this show and lead america to believe that hallmark do not know how to make a greeting card. i don't think there is nobody on this planet they can make a greeting card like hallmark. but when you open it up and read it, they've never been able to capture that get a vibration. you have read it. i mean, do you love me or not? we just need some greeting cards with simple vibrations. "i ain't going to do a no more."
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"i know you're thinking, but she hit on the first." when you stop and think about fear and flying into new york to be on this show and to say thank to youryour effort staff for what you'll do across the country, i did go through some serious changes at the airport. i had some folks searching me yesterday that found something in my pocket i've been looking for for six months. let me just say this year. if you got any complaints about the airport, take that to white folks. 99.9%e airports white folks. if any of you have a complaint about greyhound, bring it to me. what you white folk need to do is go to greyhound and study us and study greyhound. we black folks would never tolerate a greyhound what white folks tolerate at the airport. i mean, more white folks die from heart attacks at the airport than in a heart
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hospital. why? because they make white folks walk 12 blocks to the plane. you think we would tolerate that? and then the airline lose your baggage. something happen really interesting and i have to give this to white folks and let them explain that to me. you go to the airport in the first thing they ask you, have these back in with you all day? if you was a terrorist, would you say no? did you pack them yourself? if you are a terrorist would you say, some just brought me these and i don't know with in it. i mean, what is that about? three weeks ago, big news all over the world -- the united states government and just implemented a new law starting this friday that everybody's bags have to go on the same plane with them. i thought my backs was always on the same plane with me. as a matter of fact, when they
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lose my back, they would act surprised. i'm looking at that circle go around and around and around and they're just laughing. and when you find out your bag is not there, you go in and this .ine is about 75 people long you finally get there and act like you did not have no bags. what is the description? that thing has not been updated since 1942. so you sit there. greyhound would never do that. first, when you get on the plane, you strap yourself in. they take off. they read the figure numeral regulations -- federal regulations and read the weather report. they say there is one of the a lot of triplets were doing here in memphis. if i don't like what i hear, what am i going to do, get off? greyhound has more respect. they would take before the train, the plane, the less leaves the terminal. m, doe is a hell of a stor you want to stay or get off?" they will announce all of that
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that got ripped off in memphis. there are no backs. i'm sitting next to this white dude is never been on before. excuse me, sir, what do we have to fill out. you have never been on greyhound? you nothing. greyhound, it just says "lost" they don't pretend. i just hope some kind of way when you stop and think about the fear that goes on -- and then what job young folks have to do. your older folks. i'm 70's old so i have been listening to older folk for a long time. sometimes we have to stop this craziness. you can be just as silly at 80 and 90 as you was at three years old. i hear some old folks this morning in new york looking at young folks on their way to school. they got these baggy pants on, shirttail hanging out, she's not type. this woman looked at me, don't know me, says, look? look at them.
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i said, you are in new york. go and find the mafia. they are dressed immaculate. you know what they pay for their clothes? they are tailor made there are immaculate. the dude laundering drug money, they live in million-dollar homes. maybe god is trying to tell us through our young folks that never again will you ever look at one of my creatures and judge them from without. you'll judge them from within. you look at the young folks. black woman, the other day, because i'm 70, try to relate, she said, "you know what? i don't know what is wrong with these youngsters today. when we were their age, we did not have to lock on doors." you didn't have nothing. are you serious? when you stop and think about, we got to change the books, the books are sexist and racist. give me a break. colonists discovered america? everybody know that punk got lost. where were the indians when he got here? trust me. if you can discover a country that is ari occupy -- i take it
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personal. i can go outside in the parking lot and discover your car with you in it. shut up and teach me thanks giving. let me say this. if you went home today and me and some black dudes had taken over your house, killed your animals, i mean, destroyed everything, killed everybody in the house and you come stick your key in the door and we open the door and say, "and what are you doing here, savage?" you say, "who are you?" settlers we destroy them and called in the savages and call us the settlers. we print that an hour history books. " dick gregory back in democracy now! in 2002 in our firehouse studio just blocks from ground zero come to your before the world trade center. dick gregory died saturday at the age of 84 and washington, d.c. don't go away.
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we will return to the interview in just a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "totally close of the heart score by bonnie tyler. a shout out to the international honors program ihp given rights program visiting as today. we are joined by scores of college students. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. continue our special remember it's today of legendary comedienne and civil rights activist dick gregory who also played a critical role in democracy now!'s history. we're going back to 2002 when i interviewed dick in our firehouse studios in downtown manhattan before we moved to our home in chelsea. we were just blocks from ground zero. i'm amy goodman joined by dick gregory. dick, thank you for making a possible four democracy now! to once again be broadcast on the whole pacifica network and all of the affiliates.
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you are breaking with the majority and saying yes to the show has really brought a new era for us. >> i'm just sorry this could not have happened earlier. let me tell you something. and go i should say dick is a new member of the pacifica national board. >> fear is a gift from god. fear is supposed to last a few minutes. fear will make you hear something annual run through a plate last window and will not get cut. fear is what xml or walk out into the garage and see this car has fallen off the stilts on the baby and she will pick that car up. that fear is supposed to last for a few minutes. when it last longer than a few minutes, and it destroys you eternally because you are on automatic pilot. let's go back to ground one september 11. when that happened, for the next six weeks, church attendance went up. let me tell you something very interesting. our call and drug consumption went down.
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huh? that on must defy us what you would think in times of crisis. fear will make you not want to drink. if somebody's chasing you and you are in our gallic, you will not slow up when you pass that liquor store. a funny thing happened after the seventh week. church attendance leveled off to where it was. cohol consumption as we talk right now is about 34% higher than it was before ground zero. what does this mean? it means get ready for battered wives. fourfore ground zero every seconds in america a woman got beat up by her boyfriend or husband -- not strangers, people she know -- the think about what happens now with the amount of and drug consumption out here. when you think about where this is going, watch and see what is going to happen with the increase of automobile patel of these. drunken driving. i mean, i don't think it is not active at the same guy ran up on
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the sidewalk and hit people twice. you do that when you're under the influence of drug and alcohol and you do that when you are under the stress of fear, not to use it as an excuse, but i'm saying america better get ready and understand what this whole fear thing. says is a legend that thousands of years ago, the intoe was supposed to go afghanistan. i'm sorry. that. that is the way the story goes. and kill 5000 people. the plague when in and 50,000 people died. so there was questioning the plague. they said, i thought you was going into baghdad and kill 5000 people. what happened that go he said, i just killed 5000. the rest died from fright. huh? when we think about the fear they go down, you don't ask questions. you don't ask serious questions.
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amy: you are listening to democracy now! resistance radio, i'm amy goodman. our guest is dick gregory. dick, you have been out there for many decades. you said you are 70 years old? >> yes. amy: you first started doing comedy. >> i first started doing comedy in 1957. at the time, i did not know that black comedians were not permitted to work white nightclubs. i started off in chicago. actually, in the military. i was in the army. i was just so outraged about what went on in the military, but i could get away with a lot of stuff because i was the third fastest half-mile or in the nation when i went into the military. i have hammer toes, so my ofitary records has no use lower extremities. i could never go into battle, just run. one day the colonel: is it, you
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really created a sister on this campus. we're either going to put you in jail or yet to be the funniest cat that exists. he said, i'm going to give you until tomorrow. tonight to thepx and you could only tell a show or you're going to jail. and i did. and i won. you don't have to be too funny are too smart to win a tell a show in the military. they're depressed. they got nothing to do. corny jokes. "i just got arrested this morning person aiding an officer. i slept until 12 noon." they just fall all out. give me a break. then i won the fifth army district division. then i kept winning. i ended up here in new jersey at the all army, and the winner got to go on "the ed sullivan show." i won. i did not get it because i was too political. how did i know i won? the comics told me. it was a blessing from god. i knew nothing about show business. in the army.punk
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just being funny and the army, it is typing a doctor in the army. so what? you can chop of people and kill them, they don't -- practice and army? consequently, i did not get on "the ed sullivan show." had i made it, i would not be here today because nobody could have told me that i wasn't good, that i wasn't funny. the fact that i did not make it on the show, i got out of the army, i went to chicago, i went into a black nightclub -- for the first time in my life. i was a strict athlete. i never had a trick. never stayed up late. i just lived and slept running track. i was the first black in america to win a long-distance cross-country at a time when many black folks was convinced that genetically we could just run the dashes. i wanted missouri state mild championship and the cross-country championship. i ran the fastest time in america almost to the high school world record, i did not
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get credit because it was an all negro meat. i hooked up with the naacp and we led demonstrations about the school systems, overcrowded conditions. in the process of that, they integrated -- when they found out what my protest was about, the integrated cross country that september and i begin the first black in the history of america to win a state cross country championship. my younger brother came through five years behind me and set the world record. he got credit for it. don't think what you do today, don't affect people coming behind you. , i going to this night club and i hear this black comic. wow. jesus christ. that is as close as you could come to pimping and not get arrested. you just walk out and start telling jokes. about 1500 people in that club shut up and listen to him. this is what i want to do. i go to a little night of on the south side of chicago called the esquire lunch.
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i pay the emcee to get me up. funny. god, am i funny. they hired me five dollars a night three nights a week. friday, saturday, and sunday. i come back the next week and nobody laughs. it is one thing when you come off the streets, like someone coming in here and your radio show they say, geez, were you good. try doing it every day. try getting the preparation and all of that, ok? i go back now and i'm not funny because everybody knows this is my job. before i was one of them sitting in the audience. but i was clever enough to say, "this nightclub, you could get them for free, bottle of beer costs $.35 and you could sit through three shows. so i was clever enough to know they did not come here to see me. they come to see the shape ants, which was called -- shake dance and the guitar player. the best guitar player in the
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midwest. i made a deal. i said, if you don't laugh at me, then you will not get liz the body beautiful and you will not get guitar red. to get what they wanted, they laughed. these black folks tolerated me when i wasn't funny. i developed a got so funny because of them, they pushed me all the way downtown to where i wasn't making five dollars a night but $5,000 a night where they could not afford to come see me. that is an awful thing that the people who you developed on his snout out of your reach. what happened is, i moved to the biggest black night club in the world, herman roberts. i am there -- well, they bring in semi-davis -- sammy davis and joe williams for friday and saturday. all of the white folks bought the tickets for the first show. they bring in new c russell. i've never heard of him. i'd never heard of any comics because i did not know anything about show business.
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one and raised in sales, the only nightclub was jazz clubs. clubs.honky-tonk no comics. they told me i did not have to work that weekend because nipsey russell. they got at enough courage to stand up and said to the people that ran the club for herman, you get nispy to stay here for the rest of the year. i have been the house, and now when you bring in the best show in town and everybody is going to be here, then i don't get showcased. they said, don't quit. you emcee the show, but comicer, nipsy is the . a comic tommy, you have two hours to be funny or two seconds, use it. and if you have never and victor lounge -- hugh have there and victor lounge. playboy lounge.
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they were geniuses. they saw me. i did not know. one day come at the playboy club, he refused to work seven days. because they saw me, they brought me in for the one day, for $50 -- i did not know there was that much money in the world. $50 for one night. i added that of times seven. i was not too firmly with downtown chicago was that i had no reason to go downtown. i know reason to go to downtown clubs. now i am going to the playboy club. i get on the bus and there is a blizzard. i do be there 8:00. i get off at the wrong stop. i am running to get there because this old cliche of black folks can't never be on time? i don't trust black folks to be on time. queen elizabeth on time. why you got to be on time? on timetary function because they want to kill summit or be willing to kill. consequently what happened is, i
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am running to get there and i see about eight blocks away this huge sign that says "playboy not club." i start running. i am slipping in the snow. know there and i don't that they found out this room had been rented out that night. there's no playboy customers there. a frozen food convention from the south. victorot know this, lounge the staining on the steps to tell me i don't have to work. you don't have to working to $50? i am in such images state trying to get there, i did not even hear him. i did not know who he was. i pushed him out, rented a room, walked up on stage at 8:00, and it 12:00 midnight, i was still there. out of0, hefner got
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bed and came over. amy: dick gregory telling us a little of his life story. we only have a few minutes and i do want to have you back, but i want to ask how you ever the comedy clubs to fasting against the war in vietnam, fighting segregation? >> i have always -- i want to southern illinois university down in carbondale. there was no more racist institution on the planet and there when i went there in 1952. i am not saying there weren't more racists, but black so could not get in. i was born in 1932. i go to college at 20. as racist as that school was, it was the first time i have been around white folks. -- white folks that i did not have to call mister or missus. it was the first time i was around white folks that had to call me by my name post up in st. louis, they call you boy, coon, a you, come here.
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i'm with white folk that have to call me did a great. i'm with white folks that i can called betty ordinary and don't have to say "mister." i heard the president on freshman orientation day, the first time where i had been where a powerful white men is talking to me from a frilly standpoint. saw werepeople i people in authority. i heard what more say, i don't care what kind of grades you make, if you don't understand god, you are a failure. i walked out of there is changed person. black women can live in the dormitory. black fraternities. we changed it. we organized and busted that school. i can sit here today and say siu was the first major school that had a black athletic director. it was the first major school that had a black vice president.
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as we sit here now, the president of the whole systems blackack.siu has 16% folk. that was the seed planet. when martin luther king called and said, comes out of the only thing that changed for me was i was not afraid. do you know what it is like to have a track partner that is white? we had the conference meet at siu. i won. on my part alone, we won it. everybody got the jacket and the ring. we had more points, but just on mine alone, we won. i'm walking down the streets in carbon out and suvs white dudes on the track team in this bar and restaurant that i cannot go in. i picked up a brick and threw it through the window to get their attention. remember me? that we integrated the movies and the whole town and
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carbondale with all of the problems america have is one of the few towns that is bearable. it would change all the way of black folks coming by and would lock the town down and finish doing the rest. so i went south for fred. i figure today and say, thank god i was afraid, but it went anyway. when my fear left, it had nothing to do with the white folks, who you knew would kill you and had something to do with the black folks. us saw the hoses falling on will stop what you did not see is the line kept moving. i saw a four-year-old child has me from the pressure of those. before i forget get my thoughts together, i see a white nun that the hose sweeps past me, then an old black woman got her cane flew past first post up and then that night i'm in jail with 3000 people and we have taken over the jail. i see a four-year-old boy. i realized how my children are at home secure.
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i said, what are you doing here? dum."id, i'm here for "tee he cannot even say "freedom." that is when i lost my fear. god said, i want to take you off that stage you are on and viewing audience where you can really see your self. i have not been the same ever since. amy: do you think there is progress in this country? >> never before in the history of this planet have anybody made a progress that african-americans have made in a 30 year period, in spite of black folk and white folk to nine. the number one problem we're denying, police brutality. is it worse today than 50 years ago? nope. what has changed? my mindset. the things i would have tolerated 50 years ago, i won't tolerate. what makes it so bad, if i'm in mississippi and thekl say "an nigger come here." and is take out a gun
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the with him. if a cop come your me, i have to stop. if you've will not a gun, i cannot take it. they have a power over me. and yet one america, many folks in the black community, and then me say this, colin powell is the strongestf human beings on the planet because he is secretary of state. colin powell was in new york. i will say this twice. if colin powell was in new york and his best friend was hit by a car and they called him and taken to columbia presbyterian winston, gets an elevator, comes downstairs to find out a black man cannot get a cap in new york today. if you starts jogging, 9:00 at night from starts jogging, praying his best friend is alive, these racist white cops turn the corner and see a nigger running, that'll all see colin powell, they say "stop, nigger." he is dead in america doesn't
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was to be outraged. amy: legendary comedian and civil rights activist dick gregory on democracy now! in figure 2002, just months after we first went on television. we had been on radio for six years. dick gregory died at 84 on saturday. i last interviewed him in 2016, just days after the death of his close friend and fellow vietnam war resistor headway boxing champ of the world muhammad ali. >> so friday, i'm starting to fast to think ali. i might go 10 years. i don't know. i've not made up my mind. but i am not going to eat no more food after i leave the funeral. it might be 10 years, mib for the rest of my life. i don't know. that is the effect he had on me. i am out here. i know what people do with
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money. i know the parties they go to. i know how they sit back and talk all of these talk. wife. to him and his 25 years. the glory days was gone, she is picking him up. carrying him. so when i went by to see him last year, i said, can you remember? she said, i don't think so. i said, i will ask him. i owe you money. he said, no, no. i said, you is sick. amy: that was dick gregory last year in 2016. the legendary comedian, civil rights activist died saturday at the age of 84 in washington, d.c. last night at a performance at radio city music hall, dave chapelle ended his show like calling dick gregory a giant and saying he would not be here
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today if gregory had not been there before him.
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