Thursday, February 11, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday to Radical Feminist Flo Kennedy!!!

book cover image is from here

With a debt of gratitude to Sherie M. Randolph, below are snippets from two websites honoring Florynce Kennedy, who would have turned 100 today. When herstory is written by whites or men, Black women get marginalised or left out as central figures. Flo Kennedy was a central figure in radical feminism in the 1970s. First up, from Solidarity:

The Lasting Legacy of Florynce Kennedy, Black Feminist Fighter

— Sherie M. Randolph

SEVERAL DECADES AFTER the 1960s political upheavals, very few people recognize the name of the Black feminist lawyer and activist Florynce “Flo” Kennedy (1916-2000). However, during the late 1960s and 1970s Kennedy was the country’s most well-known Black feminist. When reporting on the emergence of the women’s movement, the media covered her early membership in the National Organization for Women (NOW), her leadership of countless guerilla theatre protests and her work as a lawyer helping to repeal New York’s restrictive abortion laws. Indeed, Black feminist Jane Galvin-Lewis and white feminists Gloria Steinem and Ti-Grace Atkinson credit Kennedy with helping to educate a generation of young women about feminism in particular and radical political organizing more generally.

Yet Kennedy’s activism is marginalized or completely erased from most histories of “second wave” feminism. Those rare references to Kennedy usually highlight her as one of the few Black women in the women’s movement. Kennedy is a significant exemplar of the exclusion of key Black feminist organizers from most feminist scholarship on the movement: the erasure of her critical role speaks to the ways in which feminist literature has failed to see Black women as progenitors of contemporary feminism.

In response to such historical effacement, this article resurrects Kennedy’s political contribution to sixties radicalism and uncovers a Black feminist politics and practice that was not only connected to the mainstream feminist movement but was also closely allied to the Black Power struggle. It challenges previously held rigid dichotomies between the Black Power and women’s movements and illuminates the centrality of Black feminism and Flo Kennedy to both movements.

Kennedy asserted that she could “understand feminism [and sexism] better because of the discrimination against Black people.” Her work in Black movements reveals the Black Power movement as a significant force in shaping contemporary feminist struggles.

Earlier feminist movement scholarship ignores or undervalues the connections between Black Power and feminist struggles. Studies of independent Black feminists and the predominantly white feminist movements cite the increased masculinity that kept feminism and Black Power divided. They are not wrong to do so, but positioning Black Power as primarily an antagonistic influence misses what the movement might tell us about how both Black and white feminists understood liberation and revolution.

For the rest of this post, please visit *here* at Solidarity.

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What follows next is from Colorlines:

Happy 100th Birthday to the Notable, Quotable Black Feminist Flo Kennedy!

Razor-tongued Black feminist lawyer and activist Florynce "Flo" Kennedy would have turned 100 years old today. To celebrate, we offer you some of her powerful, witty and sometimes profane words.

Sherie M. Randolph  FEB 11, 2016 12:33PM EST

Photo: Bettye Lane
Florynce "Flo" Kennedy speaks at a protest to exonerate a Black victim of attempted rape, Joann Little on July 12, 1975. In 1972, Little, 20, fled her jail cell in Beaufort, North Carolina, after killing the White deputy sheriff who tried to rape her. Little used the jailer’s ice-pick against him and she was placed on trial for murder.  

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy, the charismatic feminist and Black Power activist and lawyer, was born 100 years ago today (February 11). While she is most often remembered as one of the few Black women who worked in the mostly White feminist movement of the 1960s and '70s, Kennedy's influence also flowed from her work within the New Left, Black Power, Civil Rights and autonomous Black Feminist movements.

For the rest of this post, please visit *here* at Colorlines.

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Finally, to read so much more about Flo Kennedy, please read Sherie's new book:

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical 

Please visit *here* to purchase the book from Charis Books and More, an independent feminist bookstore--for less money than

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