Merv Griffin and Dick Gregory

Merv Griffin and Dick Gregory on “The Merv Griffin Show” (1965)

*Just after the Watts riots in 1965, comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show” in what would become one of its most memorable episodes – not to mention a broadcast that if aired today, would be just as relevant.

The topic was race relations in America. The backdrop of Griffin’s hour-long episode was the civil unrest in Watts, sparked by an incident on August 11, 1965, when a young black man was pulled over and arrested by a white CHP officer for suspicion of DUI. A crowd of onlookers gathered, and long-simmering racial tension between police and the black community boiled over into a violent exchange, which in turn led to six days of violent rioting.

When the dust settled on August 17, protesters had overturned and burned vehicles; and grocery stores, liquor stores, department stores and pawnshops were looted, causing over $40 million in property damage. Thirty-four people had lost their lives.

On the “Merv Griffin” episode, (re-airing Nov. 9 at 10 p.m. on Sony’s digital cable network getTV), Gregory said it was important to first understand why animosity exists toward law enforcement within African American neighborhoods, and not simply point the finger at rioters.

“I would never go to my baby’s crib and say, ‘Quit crying!’ First, I would find out why she was crying, because kids do not cry for no reason at all,” Gregory said. “It’s the same thing about what’s happening in America today. These negroes aren’t throwing bricks just for the sake of throwing bricks.”

Watch a clip below:

Dick Gregory talks police brutality on “The Merv Griffin Show” (1965) from EURweb on Vimeo.

Dick Gregory’s 1965 interview on “The Merv Griffin Show” airs Monday, Nov 7, at 10 p.m. on getTV.

Click here to find out where getTV airs in your city.

judy garland lena horne

Lena Horne (L) and Judy Garland on “The Judy Garland Show”

getTV’s Monday Night Variety Block on Nov. 9 also features Lena Horne on “The Judy Garland Show” at 8 p.m., followed by Dionne Warwick’s 1969 special “Souled Out” at 9 and Warwick’s Performance on “The Merv Griffin Show” at 10.