Florynce Kennedy

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (February 11, 1916 – December 22, 2000), was a U.S. lawyer, activist, civil rights advocate, and feminist. Florynce Rae Kennedy was born in Kansas City to an African American family. Her father Wiley Kennedy was a Pullman porter, and later had a taxi business. The second of her parents' five daughters, she had a happy childhood, full of support from her parents, despite experiencing poverty in the Depression and racism in her mostly white neighborhood. She later commented, “My parents gave us a fantastic sense of security and worth. By the time the bigots got around to telling us that we were nobody, we already knew we were somebody.” Kennedy graduated top of her class at Lincoln high-school, after which she worked many jobs including owning a hat shop and operating elevators. After the death of her mother Zella in 1942, Flo (as she was called) left Kansas for New York, moving to an apartment in Harlem with her sister Grayce. Of the move to New York she commented, "I really didn’t come here to go to school, but the schools were here, so I went." In 1942 she began classes at Columbia University. She majored in pre-law.

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