Flo Kennedy, the feminist, Civil Rights advocate, lawyer, activist and all-around awesome human being, passed away more than 10 years ago, but time still hasn’t caught up to where she was when she left. One of those rare instances of a character and cause (or in her case, causes) coming together to leave critics perplexed and supporters stimulated, Flo kicked ass and took names, blazing trails in Black and women’s rights movements that might still be unpaved. She was brilliant, sure (they didn’t just hand out Columbia law degrees to Black women back in 1951, believe it or not) but she was also incredibly funny. Fact of the matter is, she might be remembered as much for her coined terminology, like “Jockocracy” and “Pentagonorrhea,” as for co-founding NOW, the largest feminist organization in the United States.
After watching the HBO documentary Gloria: In Her Own Words, Ms., the feminist magazine first published in 1972, decided to dig up an early article by the publication’s founder and film’s subject Gloria Steinem about the “infinitely quotable Flo.” Appropriately titled “The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.,” the piece details and praises her life and work before launching into enough quotes to keep your conversations jumping for weeks. They’re even organized by topic, so when you find yourself searching for just the right witticism to cement your argument on anything from the military to motherhood, you’re oh-so-conveniently covered.
We’ve got to be engaged and enraged if we want to make change happen, but Flo seemed to know that if we can’t laugh at the same time, we just might be hopeless.
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