Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

One of the pleasures of completing this book is that I now have an opportunity to express my deep gratitude to all those who helped make it possible.
I first must thank the feminists whose vision and dedication inspired the history the book recounts. I am especially grateful to Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Florence Rice, Ti-Grace Atkinson, Cynthia Epstein, Gloria Steinem,...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-9

In 1976, at the age of sixty, black feminist radical Florynce “Flo” Kennedy stood at a podium in front of college students wearing her signature uniform— a cowboy hat and a T-shirt that read “Year of the Woman!,” her fingernails painted bright red—bellowing numerous curse words to punctuate her point that for all oppressed people, power rested in their ability...

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1 Political in the Sense That We Never Took Any Shit: Family and the Roots of Black Feminist Radicalism, 1916–1942

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pp. 10-29

Florynce Kennedy was a small child when a group of armed white men paid a visit to her family’s home in Kansas City, Missouri, around 1919. The American Neighbors Delegation, as Flo later dubbed it mockingly, told her mother, Zella, that “we weren’t wanted and that we’d better leave.” They “indicated that they didn’t want to have to hurt anybody,” but if the Kennedy family did not move from the home they owned, the group of men...

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2 Similarities of the Societal Position of Women and Negroes: Education and Protest in New York City, 1943–1948

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pp. 30-47

By the summer of 1943, Florynce Kennedy had recovered enough from her back injury to take a vacation in New York City. Her sister Grayce had recently married and moved to Harlem to be closer to her husband, a soldier stationed in Virginia. As Zella had done on her trip to California almost two decades earlier, Flo originally planned only a brief stay. Once she began to explore the city, however, she did not want to leave. She was no doubt...

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3 All Men and Flo: Struggling to Survive as an Attorney, 1948–1960

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pp. 48-70

Florynce Kennedy received a letter from Columbia Law School in the spring of 1948, describing how her application had been rejected. Having earned excellent grades as an undergraduate, she was surprised by the law school’s refusal to offer her admission. Determined to find out the reason for this decision, she requested a meeting with the dean; the assistant...

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4 The Fight Is One That Must Be Continued: In the Courtroom, in the Press, and in Political Organizations, 1961–1965

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pp. 71-97

A year after Don Wilkes left their law firm, Florynce Kennedy was still gasping for air and trying to keep her practice afloat. His embezzlement and abrupt departure left her stunned, both emotionally and financially, and forced her to take stock of her commitment to practicing law. Kennedy’s problems were compounded when David Fields, her remaining...

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5 Black Power May Be the Only Hope America Has: Black Power, Feminism, and the New Left, 1966–1967

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pp. 98-126

On July 29, 1966, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee chairman Stokely Carmichael held a press conference in Washington, D.C., to announce the first National Black Power Conference. Their main objective was to create a forum in which black men and women from diverse political perspectives could...

Illustrations

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pp. 127-136

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6 Absorbed Her Wisdom and Her Wit: Creating the Women’s Liberation Movement, 1967–1968

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pp. 137-151

Inspired by her experience at the New Politics Conference, Ti-Grace Atkinson wanted to connect the National Organization for Women to the Black Power movement and to implement Flo Kennedy’s theory of feminist politics. Atkinson wondered how feminists could adapt Black Power strategies to create a liberation movement of their own. How could feminism...

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7 I Was the Force of Them: Leading the Women’s Liberation Movement, 1968–1969

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pp. 152-167

Florynce Kennedy was instrumental in mentoring young white women in the National Organization for Women and other feminist organizations and played a crucial role in building the feminist movement, especially in organizing the important early protests that drew media attention and new participants. By the fall of 1968, the feminist movement had captured...

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8 Not to Rely Completely on the Courts: Black Feminist Leadership in the Reproductive Rights Battles, 1969–1971

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pp. 168-185

On January 14, 15, and 23, 1970, dozens of women packed the thirteenth floor of the federal courthouse in Manhattan to testify about traumatic personal experiences with illegal abortion. During these daylong depositions, women became the expert witnesses in a case seeking to repeal restrictive abortion laws in the state of New York. The women detailed incidents of rape at the hands of sham abortionists, botched procedures...

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9 Form It! Call a Meeting!: Building a Black Feminist Movement, 1971–1980

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pp. 186-214

Shirley Chisholm, a black feminist and congressional representative from Brooklyn, informally announced on October 3, 1971, during a Southern Christian Leadership Conference event in Chicago, that she would seek the presidency of the United States. Chisholm explained to the audience that “we are tired of tokenism and look-how-far-we-have-comism” that had led to government complacency instead of changing unequal and discriminatory...

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Epilogue: Until We Catch Up: The Struggle Continues

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pp. 215-226

In July 1977, 60 Minutes aired a segment featuring Florynce Kennedy that included part of a speech she gave to college students, her favorite audience. Standing at the podium dressed in her trademark hat and sporting bright nails and long false eyelashes, Kennedy responded to the backlash against affirmative action for African Americans, women, and other...

Notes

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pp. 227-272

Bibliography

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pp. 273-300

Index

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pp. 301-313