"Dick Gregory was a free man. He was free in word, in thought and in deed," said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Bowser, along with other guests, spoke in front of a packed sanctuary at the City of Praise Family Ministries in Landover, MD. Hundreds were gathered to celebrate the life of Dick Gregory, who died last month at the age of 84.
"He's been a friend to a lot of us. But he was a mentor to me; like a father figure," said Martin Luther King, III. "Having lost my father at 10-years-old, not having an opportunity to have adult conversations but having the opportunity to have many with Dick Gregory."
"He [Dick Gregory] said I want to tell you about your dad. And I want to tell you the promise I made him. I'm your God Father. And I said what? I promised him I would protect you and I would help you move up in life," said Reena Evers, the daughter of civil rights activist, Medgar Evers.
Gregory's comedy captured audiences far and wide, but it was his activism that took center stage Saturday. He was an ardent opponent of social injustice and spoke out often on the injustices toward African Americans.
"Dick was out front on so many movements. You knew your struggle had arrived when Dick Gregory joined it," said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Those in the attendance expressed a sense of pride for Gregory's work, especially the people of DC where he lived.
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Mayor Bowser left the audience-rousing call to action; to continue his work and mission.
"Let us be challenged by his example and let all Washingtonians live up to what he did for us until we too can call ourselves free," she said.