Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Biggest Sin Is Sitting On Your Ass

Sweetie, if you're not living on the edge, then you're taking up space.

-Florynce Kennedy

Flo Kennedy was one of those women who was not well behaved and definitely made history. As in she made shit happen. Born in Kansas City in 1916 she came to New York and began pre-law at Columbia in 1942. When the dean told her that he couldn't admit her to the law school not because she was black but because she was a woman, well she had a little sit down with the dean and she told him "either way it seems the same to me" and then threatened to sue. They admitted her.

Florynce graduated in 1951 and opened her own law office. Along with her partner she managed Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker's estates. She went on to be very active in feminist and civil right activism. Flo founded the feminist party (which ran Shirley Chisholm for president), helped found the Women's Political Caucus and was an early member of the National Organization for Women. She toured with Gloria Steinem doing speaking engagements and when the two encountered annoying reporters wanting to know if they were lesbians Flo would always respond "Are you my alternative?".
Pro Choice activism was a huge part of her work and at one point she even filed tax evasion charges with the IRS agains the Catholic Church saying their pro-life campaign went against church/state separation.

In 1966 Florynce founded the Media Workshop to picket and lobby the media over the mis-representation of blacks in the media. She attended all three Black Power conferences and represented the Black Panthers.

One of my favorite of Flo's political actions was to protest the lack of female bathrooms at Harvard. She lead a mass urination on the grounds.
She also had occasional acting appearances in the cult indie movie Born in Flames and and the 1970 movie The Landlord.

In Flo's own words "I'm just a loud-mouthed middle-aged colored lady with a fused spine and three feet of intestines missing and a lot of people think I'm crazy. Maybe you do too, but I never stop to wonder why I'm not like other people. The mystery to me is why more people aren't like me."

To enjoy more of the flavor of Flo check out this video below. I really enjoy seeing a 75 year old throw around terms like "take names and kick ass" and "if its good and its fun, you do it".

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