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February 20, 1981

Addressing a packed Chapel crowd as “the biggest bunch of dumb nuts on the face of the earth,” activist and comedian Dick Gregory delivered a 3-hour lecture as part of The First Annual Festival of Third World Arts and Culture at Vassar. Speaking on “Social Problems Anti-or Social” Gregory told the crowd, “they all just keep rippin’ you off and you don’t even know it.” “They,” reported Catherine Shumate ’81 in The Miscellany News, were “the social and political manipulators…. ‘It’s a handful of rich, rich elite aristocrats that determine your fate… Greedy old white men that pit white folks and black folks against each other and white folks and black folks [that] allow themselves to be powerless.’” “You’ll have a big job and not time enough,” Gregory told his audience, “You’ve got to get your act together because recess is just about over.”

A frequent visitor to the college, Dick Gregory first appeared at the Christmas House Party weekend in 1964, and he spoke again on campus in 1990 and 1999. Among the events in the month-long festival were an address by the Reverend Benjamin Chavis, a reading by poet Nikki Giovani and concerts by the Nana Dinizulu African Dance Company and the Boys Choir of Harlem.

The Miscellany News

The Years