"It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC," reads the statement. "The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time. More details will be released over the next few days - Christian Gregory."
On Aug. 17, Christian shared an update on his father's health, writing that Gregory remained hospitalized "with a serious but stable medical condition."
"After feeling ill last Wednesday (August 9th) Mr. Gregory was taken to the hospital," Christian shared on Facebook. "He was evaluated, treated and released. Showing only minimal improvement we returned him to the hospital Saturday (August 12) he was evaluated and admitted. Balancing a fine line between privacy and his friends and fans (who are his extended family) right to know. We have and will always gladly and freely share this gift with the world."
"When it comes to sickness and disease one's age is highly significant. There is no such thing as a 'simple' condition," he continued. "In advanced age a simple cold or a simple infection could be catastrophic. At soon to be chronologically 85, my father's true age far exceeds that. A life well-lived but heavily sacrificed, has definitively taken its toll. Laughter is truly good medicine. I've watched my father for a lifetime heal the world. Today he is in need of your healing. We are truly grateful for the phenomenal care he has been receiving. My family and I remain thankful for all of the prayers, positive thoughts, messages and good energy."
Gregory, born Oct. 12, 1932, appeared in many late-night TV shows in the '60s and '70s and was a civil rights activist for most of his life. One of his big breaks came in 1960 when Hugh Hefner invited him to perform at the Playboy Lounge in Chicago.
Throughout his career, the comedian tried to include powerful statements about segregation and discrimination in his work, releasing popular spoken word albums such as, In Living Black andWhite, Talks Turkey, So You See … We All Have Problems and The Two Sides of Dick Gregory.
Most recently, he released the book, Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies, writing on how communities should band together to end police brutality.