Quotes From Florynce Kennedy, Black Feminist Activist

Author, Attorney, and Activist (1916-2000)

Florynce Kennedy close up black and white photograph.

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Florynce Kennedy, African-American feminist activist, daughter of a Pullman porter, graduated from Columbia Law School in 1951. She handled the estates of Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday. She was also known as a social activist, a feminist who was one of the founders of the National Organization for Women and a participant in the 1967 Atlantic City Miss America protest. She founded the National Black Feminist Organization in 1975 and published her autobiography in 1976.

Motivational

"The biggest sin is sitting on your ass."

"Don't agonize, organize."

"When you want to get to the suites, start in the streets."

"Freedom is like taking a bath: You got to keep doing it every day."

On Flo Kennedy

"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."

"Our parents had us so convinced we were precious that by the time I found out I was nothing, it was already too late — I knew I was something."

Women and Men

"If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."

"There are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina. All other jobs should be open to everybody."

On Being an Activist

"Countermovements among racists and sexists and Nazifiers are just as relentless as dirt on a coffee table...Every housewife knows that if you don't sooner or later dust...the whole place will be dirty again."

"You've got to rattle your cage door. You've got to let them know that you're in there and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you'll sure have a lot more fun."

"Grass-roots organizing is like climbing into bed with a malaria patient in order to show how much you love him or her, then catching malaria yourself. I say if you want to kill poverty, go to Wall Street and kick — or disrupt."

Funny Lines

"Are you the alternative?" (In response to a heckler asking if she was a lesbian)

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

"Why would you lock yourself in the bathroom just because you have to go three times a day?" (About marriage; her husband, Charles Dye, died a few years after their 1957 marriage)

Sources

Barcella, Laura. "Fight Like a Girl." Zest Books, March 8, 2016.

Burstein, Patricia. "Lawyer Flo Kennedy Enjoys Her Reputation as Radicalism's Rudest Mouth." People magazine, April 14, 1975.

Joyner, Marsha. "Florynce Kennedy (1916 — 2000)." Civil Rights Movement Veterans, 2004.

"Kennedy, Florynce 1916–2000." Encyclopedia.com, Thomson Gale, 2005.

Martin, Douglas. "Flo Kennedy, Feminist, Civil Rights Advocate and Flamboyant Gadfly, Is Dead at 84." The New York Times, December 23, 2000.

Steinem, Gloria. "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq." Ms. Magazine, August 19, 2011.

Woo, Elaine. "Florynce Kennedy; Irreverent Activist for Equal Rights." Los Angeles Times, December 28, 2000.