Florence Kennedy

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Florence Kennedy

Florynce Rae "Flo" Kennedy was born in Kansas City, Mo., on February 11, 1916. She was a lawyer, activist, civil rights advocate, lecturer, writer and feminist. She loved being outrageous and was known for her lively outspokenness. Kennedy died on December 21, 2000, at the age of 84.[1]


Daughter of a Pullman porter, Kennedy graduated from Columbia Law School in 1951. She handled the estates of jazz artists Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday. She was an early member of the National Organization for Women. In 1971 she founded the Feminist Party, which nominated Shirley Chisholm for president. She also helped found the Women's Political Caucus and participated in the 1967 Atlantic City Miss America protest. She founded the National Black Feminist Organization in 1975.

Kennedy used what is now called "intersectionality" as her approach to activism. Sherie Randolph, in her biography of the radical activist, quotes Flo saying: "My main message is that we have a pathologically, institutionally racist, sexist, classist society." And, she continued, "techniques that are used don't only damage black people, but they also damage women, gay people, ex-prison inmates, prostitutes, children, old people, handicapped people, native Americans. And that if we can begin to analyze the pathology of oppression...we would learn a lot about how to deal with it."[2]


Among her writings, Kennedy contributed the piece "Institutionalized oppression vs. the female" to the 1970 anthology Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From The Women's Liberation Movement, edited by Robin Morgan. In 1976, Kennedy wrote an autobiography, Color Me Flo: My Hard Life and Good Times. She also collaborated with William Francis Pepper on the book Sex Discrimination in Employment: An Analysis and Guide for Practitioner and Student.

In 2015 the University of North Carolina Press released Florynce "Flo" Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical, by Sherie Randolph. [3]


In 1981 Mark Loo, a Chinese-American member of the Communist Workers Party[4] , his party comrade Rodney Johnson, and unionist David Boyd were charged with the attempted bombing of the National Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, California. The trio were represented by lawyer Leonard Weinglass.

Defending the NASSCO 3, soon became a major cause for the Communist Workers Party.[5]

A cocktail party in support of the NASSCO3, was held at Ramsey Clark's house in New York on July 10. Sponsors of the event included Haywood Burns, Abe Feinglass, Juan Gonzalez, William Kunstler, Stewart Kwoh, Manning Marable, Margaret Ratner, Abbott Simon, Frances Borden Hubbard, Flo Kennedy, and Ramsey Clark.[6]