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The Birmingham story personal comment by Dick Gregory recorded exclusively by WRVA are from the pulpit of the Saint John Church in Birmingham. Comedian Dick Gregory speaks to an overflow crowd of more than 2000 negroes active in the Birmingham movement. Five days earlier Mr. Gregory was arrested for parading without a permit when he led negro schoolchildren in a segregation protest march on Birmingham city hall that day. Some eight hundred fifty persons most of them children were arrested and jailed. Continuing protest demonstrations the biggest in this nation's history led to further mass arrests in all three thousand two hundred demonstrators were arrested. Now Mr. Gregory on the next night following his release from Birmingham Jail on three hundred dollars bail bond is introduced to this overcapacity crowd. But let me present to you our good friend in the Senate a freedom fighter from Chicago to Greg ill. PHIL.
Thank you very much and. They want. That. Prison. People ask me when I went back to Chicago last night this is. How it goes in Birmingham. Taken it what did they. Act like what they look like I said met the plane at our motel at. 11 And I want to thank you Phil.. Yeah. So I know what you mean when you refer to the good old days and I had one guy's one of the good old days he said to be 15 U.S.. As a baby and I bet only synonymy did in 15 years. Thank you. Yeah.
Yeah so many girls in jail oh today I was there when you looked out the window. The one I'm walking around free we was a tourist. Thank you. About Chicago last night. Guys why would you describe the prison scene as a baby would just thank you have. How they were. So. You know really. When you stop to. Think about it that. First couple days they taste bad and look bad and that that was the sign. That they got so good a third day. Of God rest.
Her soul. Sure. It was you know really I don't mind going to jail myself. I didn't take to see Martin Luther King. But for. Various reasons one when the final day get here he's going to have a hard time trying to explain to the boss upstairs I spent more time in jail and he did in the pulpit. You have. To read the paper she called the jail Good Friday. I said that's good. And I was granting hope when they put him in Good Friday had checked back that he's designing my dog. Yes you got a lot of people with. You for. I don't know how much faith you have newspapers but I read an article in the paper a couple days
ago where. The Russians did you see this make they gave a lot of space where the Russians claim that they found Hitler's here. Yeah. Well I want to tell you that's not true. You want to find Hitler's here just look right up on the shelf was thank God. The to. Be honest with Yeah I don't know why you calling. This a. Couple of tips is over.
Think about it. I guess when you look around it. Look like I'm doing all right. I read the paper not to. Pick the first astronaut. Is so much pressure has been put in these guys just reach back and try to pass. Through a. Lot of people was happy that they had first to be honest which is not because. We got a. Service. But they jumped on the back of the bus to. The was the top. Yeah that's my son. Now I know what he's getting at and took him in a volunteer and for that they are not even ready
for a negro astronaut. You never know dehydrated feet and. I never would. Have said. That. As one job I just think that. Just my luck they put me one in rockets and blast it all. We are some way. Up to maybe twenty fifty. One thousand live. Look at me and say I don't want you. Or I have to cook. So I don't know when you stop and think about it. We all confuse I'm very confused. Mary. A wife can't cook. IT'S NOT FUNNY HOW.
Cool it. Was. And you know raising kids today is such a difficult test. These kids are so clever they so help. My son Robert to me not too long or so that if. I don't run away from home. Call me OK. In. I remember when I was a kid I don't know I found the same thing as a father you don't give me a nickel I'm leavin home. Has a son I'm not going to give you one penny and take your brothers with you. The right. Now remember when I was a kid. If my parents wanted to punish me it was simple to tell me get upstairs the room which was a heck of a punishment was one in the upstate. I just found some not too long ago I didn't know. You don't walk into a kid's room anymore. You have to knock first. My daughter told me I'm three years old that writes.
What he writes I mean that in jail. You don't know how fortunate you. Are ruled by yourself or bad by itself. As I learned do you realize when I was three years old so many of us slept in the same bed together. If I went to the washroom in the middle of the night I have a bookmark so I would move forward. Yeah she said daddy aren't you happy you're living with us now you have. Let me tell you about this daughter. There's Christmas Eve night walking to my daughter's room as in Michelle tonight's Christmas Eve as level 33 years old go to bed get ready for sound quality sound leaves out. As what we're you mean you don't believe in Santa Claus and I'm picking up the tab. So that I don't care what you picking up I don't believe in Santa Claus they whine. Because you know down going well and no white man coming in the neighborhood after midnight was much too happy.
So you see. We have problems. I like to say it's. Been a pleasure. Being here. A lot of people wonder. Why. Would I make a decision to go to Greenwood Mississippi. Why would I make a decision on the Birmingham. When I lay in my bed at night. Bank of America had to go tonight. I didn't want to go to any other world. I'm willing to go. Away from my loved ones and my friends and take a chance on a life to guarantee some foreigner that I've never met. Equal rights and dignity I must be.
But you know it's such a funny thing. How. The American mind work and this is white and Negro alike. Have many on both sides will say let it go down to the club this is the one I need. But the amazing thing if I had decided to quit showbusiness. And join the Peace Corps. And go to South Vietnam. Nobody said anything. About. This. When you decide to help us. You get a complaint. You people here stock. A lot of most beautiful people alive in the world today. The only person this number one country in the world.
That know where he's going. And have a purpose is the southern neighbor. And when you break through and get your freedom and your dignity. Then we have. A lawful break to get our freedom and dignity. Because I know it we've always been able to use the South as a garbage can. When you make these white folks put it on this garbage can down here we will have a backyard in it. It. Was going to. Be. Next Sputnik. One of the greatest problems the Negro has in America today. We have never been able to image. The man downtown has always been. He's always told us all these poems that. He's always told us a need to know his
place. Because we knew our place he would never put on them signs of. Steel. Anything we know are please let one of us get $2 uptight on our agreement and 50 says and I pack it in we keep the hinges on them doors downtown don't. Thank God we've never been able to control our image. He's always telling us about a negro crime rate. To the extent that you have decided to believe. This is the bad part about not being able to control your image. I've always done what negro crime rate. Look at. We're not raping 3 year old kids. When put daughter sticks of dynamite mothers love kids in blue on an airplane is out the sky. And I don't care what they say about us we've never minced anybody.
So what negro crime rate if you want to see a true negro crime rate watch television. Look at all in gangsta movies and that was the US. Because now you can look at TV Week in week out and look at all those doctor series ever on television you'd be led to believe in it will never get sick. For some reason. Not being able to control my image. Has made us almost ashamed of us. Because anything he decides to tell us about us we believe it. And become ashamed of. Negro crime rate Sure lot of us get arrested. Why. Your answers right up in the street every day. You got a Southerner on the police department. That is probably the lowest form of man walking the earth today.
He is a man I. Didn't like in the first place. Now he got a good point. What is your crime rate supposed to look like. They got to the point where it made you ashamed of relief. To Susans you on a DC. I was on relief twenty years back. One funny but what a shame because they gave my dad the type of job he deserved to have. We would have needed no relief. Feel free any day this white man not only in the South but in America give us parent housing fair jobs equal schooling the other things the Constitution thing we supposed to have. We will relieve him of relief. Feel free. But until. They roll around let him pay his dues. For him. Oh Checky much body study. When you read a lot here a
lot about Negro Women religion. Oh this really makes you shake. Time you pick up one in newspapers one day magazines reading about Negro Women will the German kids check the article out and see who wrote it. Some chick living in a neighborhood where they got abortion credit cards. Never been able to control him or. Talked about or. Talked about a half a hundred years now we've been trying to straighten out. We had naturally. Every time you look around a switchblade. Which. Is a man don't
have to misusing the word. And I want to talk about my switchblade. And how no one knew who in America to manufacture switchblade Nagel's tell me something talk about I guess. But. You made a lot of mistakes and you older people been able to figure out the mistakes he made I think people would have is a long time ago. If he made. Mistakes. This man got over him didn't even know how to work segregation. Didn't even know how prejudice worked. He does not want to try and say we got was the niggas last tried me messed up. Cause any clown knows if you want to segregate somebody and keep them down forever. You put them up front. They made a great mistake of putting us in the back we've been watching them for three hundred
eleven. It was a big mistake. I mean. We know how dirty they get their underwear because we wash them. They don't even know we wear them and. They made a couple mistakes. It's beginning to catch up with him. And one of the biggest mistakes they make. Is that Whitely. Once they think rightly. And they don't understand why we will. It's their fault. Buffalo's can't attack muffins when I won in white lady so we feel we need a white need to get rid of it. Every edge of the moon is advertising catalyze with the emblems and no we don't get one name
cause. Every time I go to the movie our little chocolate drops in and out of my clothes thing. Show me one in my place. Every time I look at Miss America RKC know my wings. Show me one in widely. So what am I supposed to want. But I'll make a deal with the good white brother. Yep if you let me turn on television and see some women advertising some of them products we use so much. If you let me go to the movie and see some of my folks and some of them good see. If you let me turn on television and see stem the losses on Miss America to make it look. Any time you see me with a white woman I'm holding out for the police. You're. Completely.
And totally. Being here. I don't know how many of you. Listen and. If something ever happens and you have to do it again. The only thing we have left. That's going to save this whole country. And eventually the world. Is Us. He taught us on a day I honestly thought God had worked himself. That none of that white man downtown that. We just have to teach him how to act.
You don't know how to be fact. You don't know we've never complained if he was fact keep me a second class citizen. Just don't make me pay first class taxes. Send me to the worst schools in America if you must want to go around town to apply for a job don't give me the same as you get I wipe off. When I would teach you not to be fat. And the only thing we had to do it. Is ourselves. This is it. This is all we have. Yeah all. The poli us. All now the double. Yellow Taxi the day the family turned water almost in the summer time and make us hot. But they did. What these white folk drawing really us. Is a terrific amount of police beat our way. That I have witnessed down here. What they
fail to realize. When you let a man be in the knoll and aim it at us. Feeling that same way. You. Know these are the problems we have. Again I am as far away from you. As Delta. Anytime and you probably. Will be back. Thank you very much. Personal comments by comedian Dick Gregory speaking from the pulpit of the St. John Church in Birmingham Alabama following his release from Birmingham jail. Mr. Gregory's comments were recorded exclusively by W. IVR the FM station of the Riverside Church in the city of New York. This is the educational radio network.
The preceding program was made available to disdain by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is B end ybe Radio Network.
The Birmingham Story: Personal Comment by Dick Gregory
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Comedian / political activist Dick Gregory appearing before a church in Birmingham, Alabama, following his release from police custody in May, 1963. Exclusive recording by WRVR New York. Civil rights movement documentary.
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Social Issues
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Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
Speaker: Gregory, Dick
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University of Maryland
Identifier: cpb-aacip-bd50043579e (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:23:28
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Chicago: “The Birmingham Story: Personal Comment by Dick Gregory,” 1963-05-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023,
MLA: “The Birmingham Story: Personal Comment by Dick Gregory.” 1963-05-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <>.
APA: The Birmingham Story: Personal Comment by Dick Gregory. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from