Florynce Kennedy Quotes

Florynce Kennedy (1916 - 2000)

Florynce Kennedy
Florynce Kennedy. Underwood Archives / Archive Photos / Getty Images

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.

Selected Florynce Kennedy Quotations

• The biggest sin is sitting on your ass.

• Don't agonize, organize.

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

• 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.

• 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.

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

• 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.

• 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.

• The whole concept of authority is what I think Women's Lib and Black liberation is about. The reason I have a pathological attitude toward authority, is because my parents did not establish their own authority, and did not require us to see the government, our teachers, or any of these people as unquestionable authority.

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

• 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.

• 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)

About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.