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Dick Gregory Responds to Students Offended by Title of His Autobiography

(SaintIggy/CC BY-SA 4.0, modified from original.)

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

That’s among the messages civil rights activist, social critic, and comedian Dick Gregory is asking Seattle University students to consider after some of them called for one of the school’s deans to resign amid allegations she recommended Gregory’s autobiography, Nigger, by name.

In a column for Inside Higher Ed last week, Gregory criticized demands that Jodi Kelly, dean of the university’s Matteo Ricci College, resign because she said his book’s title aloud. Gregory explained why he didn’t think concern over his book title fit the bill:

I am not offended by Dean Kelly’s use of the word “nigger.” In fact, I am pleased that she has the foresight to want to give these young men and women the knowledge, insight and experience of a civil rights activist that might just help them understand life a little better. I am disappointed that they seemed to have stopped at the title instead of opening the book and reading its contents.

Gregory’s thoughtful response offers students powerful insights on the value of academic discourse, and should be read in full.

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