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Sherie M. Randolph Talks Radical Black Feminist, Flo Kennedy

The Archives and The Toni Cade Bambara Scholars hosted Sherie M. Randolph, a feminist scholar-activist and associate professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor on Friday, Oct. 6 in the Spelman College Women's Research and Resource Center. Randolph visited the Center to present her biography on Flo Kennedy.


In Randolph's book, “Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical” she traces Kennedy's life from 1916-2000 in Black Power and feminist movements. "Rather than simply reacting to the predominantly white feminist movement, Kennedy brought the lessons of Black Power to white feminism and built bridges in the struggles against racism and sexism." She then goes on to narrate how Kennedy's upbringing, education at Columbia Law School and ability to understand how the media works led Kennedy to a be a successful advocate.


Following a brief discussion on the importance of Black Feminism, Randolph presented on the life and lasting legacy of Florynce Rae 'Flo' Kennedy. Affectionately known as, "Flo", Kennedy was an American lawyer, civil rights advocate and the country’s most well-known Black feminist during the late 1960s and 1970s. Kennedy was one of the founders of the National Organization for Women, a participant in the 1967 Atlantic City Miss America protest, and founded the National Black Feminist Organization in 1975.


Flo worked extremely hard, organizing and influencing others to build alliances to change the political environment. In fact, Jane Galvin-Lewis, Gloria Steinem and Ti-Grace Atkinson acknowledged and praised Kennedy for influencing a generation of women to be radical in political organizing. Despite her work in countless organizations, her Black feminist politics and practices were marginalized in the media to her being an angry black woman. She was faced with bigotry and harassed; however she brazenly advocated for oppressed people.


Dressed in coyote coats, cowboy hats and pink sunglasses, Kennedy made statements like, "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" in order to encourage people to be more than advocates, but be unafraid to be radical as we need to be as we all deserve to be treated equally.

In a discussion during the event, Spelman and Morehouse students stated what Black Feminism means to them. Students responses ranged from, " Black feminism is the voice of the black women and men mobilizing to end systems of power," "addressing the issues that directly affect us as black women," and "recognizing other intersections." Students also answered how they identify as a Black Feminist, including "spiritual, queer, and constantly changing," and "radical self loving, healing and affirming the best aspects of myself.'

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Danyelle Carter has always been excited about building beneficial relationships, sharing stories and managing her best self. She is an aspiring publicist majoring in Comparative Women's Studies at her dream school, the illustrious Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. She chose to continue her education at Spelman after graduating summa cum laude from Miami Dade College with a joint associate degree in Mass Communications and Journalism. Currently a junior at Spelman, Danyelle hopes to bring contemporary perspectives to commercial appeal by pursuing entrepreneurship of owning her own firm. If you ask her what her aspirations are, her eyes would light up, her smile would widen and she would squeal: "to be the Communicator-in-Chief of my own PR/Social Interaction agency!"
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