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328 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 21 halftones, notes, bibl., index

Gender and American Culture

ISBN  978-1-4696-2391-7
Published: October 2015

Florynce “Flo” Kennedy

The Life of a Black Feminist Radical

By Sherie M. Randolph

Awards & Distinctions

Honorable Mention, 2016 Darlene Clark Hine Award, Organization of American Historians

Often photographed in a cowboy hat with her middle finger held defiantly in the air, Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916–2000) left a vibrant legacy as a leader of the Black Power and feminist movements. In the first biography of Kennedy, Sherie M. Randolph traces the life and political influence of this strikingly bold and controversial radical activist. 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. Randolph narrates Kennedy’s progressive upbringing, her pathbreaking graduation from Columbia Law School, and her long career as a media-savvy activist, showing how Kennedy rose to founding roles in organizations such as the National Black Feminist Organization and the National Organization for Women, allying herself with both white and black activists such as Adam Clayton Powell, H. Rap Brown, Betty Friedan, and Shirley Chisholm.

Making use of an extensive and previously uncollected archive, Randolph demonstrates profound connections within the histories of the new left, civil rights, Black Power, and feminism, showing that black feminism was pivotal in shaping postwar U.S. liberation movements.

About the Author

Sherie M. Randolph is associate professor of history and African American Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


“Successfully recounts Kennedy’s dynamic life: bursting with stories of rebellion and triumph, with a backdrop of historical context and, always, a hint of mystery.”

"A valuable account of this lesser-known, entirely remarkable woman."
--Los Angeles Times

“[A] stirring biography. . . . This important book is the story, as Randolph handily tells it, of an extremely brave woman who used the courts as well as the media and worked with a multitude of groups to build and maintain coalitions and create lasting change.”
--Library Journal, starred review

“A fitting, overdue tribute to an unapologetic firebrand and tireless advocate that time almost forgot.”
--Kam Williams, syndicated critic

“Breaks new ground [as the] first full-length biography of black feminist radical Florynce ‘Flo’ Kennedy. . . . Significantly expands the historical scholarship. Highly recommended.”

“Randolph . . . has done an important service for anyone who cares about fashioning a complete and complex record of post-World War II feminist activism”
--Women’s Review of Books

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