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The Daily Tar Heel

Comedian Stirs Laughter, Thought

Gregory, who recently released his memoir, "Callous on My Soul," was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation.

He then garnered roaring laughter after opening his speech with a personal anecdote about an accidental energy boost.

"I just realized I popped my Viagra pill instead of my ginseng," Gregory said.

His visit was sponsored by The Sonja H. Stone Black Cultural Center and WNCU Jazz Radio 90.7.

The event was a fund-raiser for the cultural center, which is expected to break ground starting in April 2001.

Gregory began using his comedic skills during his military career in the 1950s.

After he was discharged from the military, he gained national attention while performing before a predominantly white audience at Chicago's Playboy Club in 1961.

Audiences have said Gregory is as much an activist as a comedian because of his talent for making people think as well as laugh.

After he achieved his success as a performer, Gregory made a move in American politics.

He unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Chicago in 1966 and for U.S. president in 1968.

Gregory also was active in civil rights and anti-apartheid movements.

"Integration is here, and somewhere - I don't know where - but a black woman done taught a white woman the grits recipe!" Gregory said.

Gregory gave many statistics in his performance, which contained information on such issues as teenage pregnancy and divorce rates.

He also attacked the topic of school violence.

"You can name a school the Devils, but you don't name it after Jesus," Gregory said. "Little kids are walking around wearing T-shirts with red devils with pitchforks."

Gregory also criticized American ethics by claiming that "we do stuff in this country that would make Hitler blush!"

Gregory has written many books on these moral issues such as his best-selling autobiography "Nigger," which was published in 1964.

He also has made several movie appearances including a spot in Panther, a film on the history of the Black Panthers Party.

During his performance, Gregory said people must be aware of political corruption and the deterioration of social values.

"When mothers are scared of children and blacks are scared of blacks, that's when you've gone beyond the point of no return," Gregory said.

"How long is it going to take for us to come together and realize what the system is all about?"

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