Who is she?
Florynce Kennedy was an American lawyer, who was heavily involved in the civil rights and feminist movements, both as a protester and activist, and in the courts as a lawyer. She was known for her flamboyant outfits and sharp wit.
Florynce was one of the first black women to graduate from Columbia Law School (she was refused, but threatened a lawsuit, and was admitted), and went on to represent civil rights leaders and members of the Black Panthers.
She sued the Catholic Church in 1968 for interfering with women’s rights to abortion, and was one of the lawyers in the Abramowicz v. Lefkowitz case, which wanted to repeal New York’s strict abortion laws.
The case was one of the first to use women who had suffered from illegal abortions as expert witnesses – this tactic was later used in Roe v Wade, which went on to legalise abortion in the US.
She spoke with Gloria Steinem at US colleges, was an early member of the National Organisation for Women (NOW) and helped found the Feminist Party and Women’s Political Caucus.
Florynce also represented radical feminist Valerie Solanas, who was charged with the attempted murder of Andy Warhol. Early in her career, she also represented jazz musicians Billie Holliday and Charlie Parker.
She also famously led a mass urination at Harvard, protesting a lack of female bathrooms.
Why should we thank her?
Florynce dedicated her life to political activism (she famously said “if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up space”) and was relentless and fought in the courts and on the streets on all fronts. Her peers said that she gave women the courage to fight, and showed a generation of Americans the right way to live their lives and stand up for what was right.
“If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”