"Flo" Kennedy - a noted Black Feminist Woman - (a book review)


FLORYNCE “FLO” KENNEDY: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical – by: Sherie M Randolph, tells a most interesting, important story of the importance of intersectionality and a Black woman, unknown to many, who greatly influenced our country, particularly in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

My country ‘tis of thee

Sour land of bigotry

Of thee I sing

Land of Indian massacre

Land of Black slavery

Land of hypocrisy

Of thee I sing (16)  (p.218)

Kennedy was brash, in-your-face, and not scared of offending others.   She pushed white men to listen to her as both a lawyer, a “pushy woman”, and perhaps worst, as a Black Woman, debating issues, and refusing to be silenced.   Among white feminists, she pushed racism, the immorality of the Vietnam War, classism and more.   Within Black Power circles, she brought Ti Grace Atkinson, a white woman, who they tried to expel because of her race.   

Kennedy refused to dress “respectably”, with both long, bright red finger-nails, as well as “masculine” pants, hats, and general attire.   She was often a “token” – a Black  woman lawyer,  among upper-class white male lawyers and  an early pusher of ideas upon N.O.W. not allowing them to remain in their comfort zone of upper-middle class, heterosexual, white women.

To the people who worked with and learned from Florynce “Flo” Kennedy, she was a teacher, a catalyst, a lawyer, a cheerleader, a bridge to other organizers and to expansive and broad concepts, an exacting critic, a complex thinker, and a sharp leader who animated political engagement and made political organizing less intimidating, and far more appealing.  Kennedy had the rare ability to pivot from playful to serious, to reframe quotidian details as profound revelations, and to generate insightful metaphors. (p.225)

Though Kennedy has often been ignored and forgotten, unlike, for example, her fellow Black lawyer compatriot, Pauli Murray, she is well worth getting to know!



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