Of all the voices out there when civil rights and race issues were at the fore, Dick Gregory was too. He confronted when no one else dared. He said the words when no one else could. According to one Washington Post journalist, Gregory “broke the mold” by venturing into areas that often made folks wince, a far cry from the stereotyping slapstick others were doing. Gregory, in short, was real. He was also irreverent and broke those societal norms white America was expecting from “just another black comedian.”
But Dick Gregory was far from “just another” anything. He managed to do what no other could do before him: Whites were coming to see his shows, listening to him on the radio, listening for him whenever they were aware he was going to be performing. He was the satirist who began to wake a sleeping coast to coast America with his brand of humor and startling in your face truth. The New York Times quoted him saying, “Humor can no more find the solution to race problems than it can cure cancer,” and there was no mistaking how right he was about that.
Mixed race group of children carrying sign: “No Child is Free Until ALL are Free,” circa late 1950s
Of all the adjectives either newspaper used to describe Dick Gregory, perhaps the most apt is “principled.” As an activist, a comedian, even as a politician, Dick Gregory was able to drive his messages home in tangible ways. While he didn’t always win–as his political aspirations easily showed–he gave those hopes and dreams the proper effort. His Western 2nd quadrant below-the-horizon dominance, giving him the ability with that Mars-ruled Aries Ascendant.
Mars probably couldn’t be any better placed than where it sits in Leo in the 5th house of entertainment and creativity. Had Leo been at the MC instead, it’s possible the red planet could have been a bit too abrasive for comfort and Gregory might have been relegated to the black clubs and less recognition for his talents. But he, with his chart ruler in the 5th, was capable of offering an electric performance few were inclined to forget even when the jokes were stinging statements against the nation’s history of racism and segregation.
A number of things strike me as I consider his chart–from the mutual reception of Venus and Mercury that comprises the heartbeat of the chart to the startling Cardinal Grand Cross in angular houses: Uranus in the 12th within 5° of the Ascendant (I see that as a conjunction to the Ascendant, a point that March and McEvers would have respected, btw) opposes Gregory’s Libra Sun in the 6th house and Mercury in the 7th house. While the Sun is technically not in the 7th house, the luminaries (Sun and Moon) do use a wider orb. Again, I would consider the Sun in the 7th although I would also see its influence on the 6th as well. The Sun/Mercury-Uranus opposition doesn’t stop there, however. It squares 4th house Pluto in opposition to 10th house Saturn. As a side note, btw, I have to wonder whether Gregory suffered from any kind of depression in addition to that sarcastic brand of humor. On one hand, a Mercury-Uranus opposition tends to bestow the native with a rapidfire ability for ideas, brainstorming and quick wit while Mercury in 44-minute partile square to Saturn would add the satirical or highly serious edge to the native’s communication. And when we look at the midpoint of the Sun and Mercury at 24 Libra 12, it falls in a 46-minute partile square to Pluto!
Next, take notice of the 14-minute partile semisextile (30°) between Mars and Jupiter. The midpoint of this duo? 28 Leo 10, a 43-minute partile conjunction to tomorrow’s Solar Eclipse! And, of course, at the opposite end of the Solar Eclipse degree sits the Resonant Blooming Undecaquartisextile at 28 Aquarius 10, falling in the 11th house. This, I believe, is quite significant when you realize the 11th house is ruled by Uranus in the natural zodiacal chart–and that reminds me: Transiting Uranus yesterday was at 28 Aries 25.5 Rx, about 30.5-minutes in a partile opposition to natal Mercury! As an afterthought to this, btw, the next Solar Eclipse after tomorrow falls on the 15th of February 2018 at 27 Aquarius 08, forming a 1°02′ from a perfected conjunction to the Resonant Blooming Undecaquartisextile third point in Gregory’s chart.
The New York Times called him a “pioneering black satirist who transformed cool humor into a barbed force for civil rights…” I have to agree. But I also need to add how fitting then that Dick Gregory entered the Civil Rights foray, bringing it to the attention of the American public in the 1960s, joined the protests by 1962 and within a year was being arrested left and right. His name as a satirist and activist became a household word. And now, in the midst of the conversation on protests, race and white supremacy efforts, he has left. Such a departure seems to give him the final word again. Hopefully we can learn this time around.