NAACP hon­or­ing lo­cal civil rights ad­vo­cate Kennedy

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL - By Dan Nakaso dnakaso@starad­ver­

Faye Kennedy, who helped push to rec­og­nize Martin Luther King Jr. Day across the is­lands and worked to pro­claim that Fe­bru­ary be rec­og­nized as Black His­tory Month, among other achieve­ments, is sched­uled to be hon­ored to­day with the NAACP’s Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice

Award for Life­time Achieve­ment at Dole Can­nery’s Po­maikai Ball­rooms.

Kennedy, 86, is be­ing rec­og­nized for decades of pub­lic ser­vice in Hawaii that in­cludes stints on more than a dozen boards and com­mis­sions, in­clud­ing the Hawaii Civil Rights Com­mis­sion, Honolulu County Com­mit­tee on the Sta­tus of Women, ACLU of Hawaii and Hawaii Friends of Civil Rights.

“The his­tory of the last 50 years for civil rights in Hawaii could not be ac­cu­rately recorded if it did not in­clude the sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions of Faye Kennedy,” said Alphonso Braggs, pres­i­dent of the Hawaii branch of the NAACP and a mem­ber of the na­tional board of di­rec­tors for Amer­ica’s old­est civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“She is part and par­cel the rea­son we have a Martin Luther King hol­i­day,” Braggs said. “When it came to same­sex mar­riage, when it came to im­mi­gra­tion laws and ad­vo­cacy, whether it has been women’s rights … there has not been any­thing too small (for Kennedy) to make Hawaii, and thereby Amer­ica, a bet­ter place for all.”

Kennedy called the award “very sig­nif­i­cant and very heart­warm­ing.”

“It’s a great honor,” she said. “I’ve al­ways been mul­ti­cul­tural and mul­ti­eth­nic, and ba­si­cally my work has been done with women and dif­fer­ent groups who have been dis­en­fran­chised. So when I get rec­og­nized by the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity, it shows that my peers re­spect me and ap­pre­ci­ate the work that

I’ve done.”

Kennedy was born in Kansas City, Mo., one of five sis­ters, and worked as a so­cial worker for the New York state Divi­sion of Pa­role in the 1960s and 1970s.

She wrote a thriller called “Good­bye, Diane,” mod­eled along the lines of the in­fa­mous 1973 “Good­bar” mur­der of a New York school­teacher.

In 1978 Kennedy moved to Oahu and be­gan push­ing for a statewide Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which be­came re­al­ity in 1988 and will be marked Mon­day.

She said a book is be­ing writ­ten about her and two of her late sis­ters: Joy Kennedy-Banks, a model and song­writer who wrote the book “The Neu­rotic Wo­man’s Guide to Non-Ful­fill­ment,” and Flo­rynce Kennedy, a New York civil rights at­tor­ney who wrote an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy ti­tled “Color Me Flo: My Hard Life and Good Times.”

“We were three sis­ters who were fa­mous be­cause we all wrote books,” Faye Kennedy said. “The New York Post called us ‘the other Kennedys,’ or ‘the black Bronte sis­ters.’”

In 1977 The New York Times pro­filed the sis­ters and in­ter­viewed them at Joy’s home in Or­ange, N.J., which the sis­ters called “the Kennedy com­pound.”

De­spite a body of work that spans decades, Kennedy promised that her ac­cep­tance speech to­day will be brief.

“I will be speak­ing ex­tem­po­ra­ne­ously, for the most part, and try not to take my­self se­ri­ously,” she said.

Other awards that will be pre­sented to­day in­clude schol­ar­ships and the NAACP Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ship Award to Al­pha Kappa Al­pha Soror­ity Inc., Lambda Chi Omega Chap­ter; and a spe­cial com­mu­nity ser­vice award to the late Ron­ald Wil­liams-Lopez, who pub­lished the Hawaii Black Busi­ness Jour­nal and launched the mag­a­zines Afro-Hawaii, Afro-Filipino Hawaii, Latin Hawaii and Ma­hogany.

The Hawaii branch of the NAACP is sched­uled to hold its 15th an­nual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Gala and din­ner at 6 p.m.

The cost is $75.


Faye Kennedy:

She pushed for a statewide hol­i­day rec­og­niz­ing Martin Luther King Jr.

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