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Dick Gregory Held in Chicago Prison

Aug. 17, 1963 - Dick Gregory, the Negro comedian, started work today as a reporter on the inmates’ newspaper in Chicago’s Bridewell Jail. He said he would stay in jail until his trial Sept. 24 on charges of disturbing the peace when he helped lead civil rights demonstrators on the city’s South Side last Monday. The 30-year-old entertainer could gain his release by signing a recognizance bond. He would not have to pay any bail. But in a statement issued through his wife Lillian, he said: “I’m not an entertainer first, nor am I an American first. First, above all else, I’m a Negro.” Mr. Gregory was initially put in isolation when he refused to take a clerical job in the jail records room because he was merely awaiting trial, not serving a sentence. Warden Arthur J. Ward conceded that Gregory was within his rights, but he ordered him separated from the other prisoners so he would not be “a bad example.” A sit-down strike by fellow prisoners helped obtain his release. Lillian Gregory, the comedian’s wife, said Gregory was passing up a $4,500-a-week appearance at a Los Angeles night spot to stay in jail. (Pictured below, Dr. Martin Luther King visits Mr. Gregory in jail).


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