The items in this online exhibition evoke the stories of American women through the ages.
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Flo Kennedy’s brown suede cowboy hat, and a photo of her wearing it, ca. 1974

Photos by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute

Photos by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute


The feminist, activist, and self-described “badass” Florynce Kennedy (1916–2000) graduated from Columbia Law School in 1951, the only African American woman in the class. After a few years of practicing law—during which she represented the estates of the jazz legends Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker and defended members of the Black Panther Party—Kennedy became a full-time activist. Flamboyant, media-savvy, and dubbed “radicalism’s rudest mouth” by the press, Kennedy fought for civil, women’s, and abortion rights and gained notoriety while protesting the Miss America Pageant and organizing a “pee-in” in Harvard Yard to protest the lack of toilets for women.

Kennedy was often photographed wearing one of her famous cowboy hats, a signature look for an iconic personality.

Florynce Kennedy Papers, Schlesinger Library

Catalog record:


Learn more:

See the Schlesinger Library's research guide to women in the legal profession.

Learn more about Flo Kennedy.

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Heather Min