My impression of Dr. Randall Kennedy : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

In another post I shared about Dr. Kennedy coming to Bozeman, Montana.

I would like to share with the board my impression. I just returned home from hearing his lecture, I was unable to stay for the question and answer because neuropathy pain I have from Diabetes.

I did get to meet Dr. Kennedy and he, my daughter and I visited for a little while. I like him a great deal. We both are from Princeton, so that was great and he grew up in D.C and knew my daughter's alma mater American university.

He began his lecture by citing all the things I had shared in my other post, concern over the poster, would people use the word to excite violence, would the white supremacists feel they had permission to come and try to take over. He acknowledged that he understood those concerns and hope there would be an opportunity to discuss them. He is from south carolina, and spoke about how black people had been treated in the south and the degradation that had occured and is still occuring. He talked about names we had been called such as boy and why Blacks resented that word.

Then he talked about the N'Word, and the power of the word for blacks and how some are using it in pop culture.

It is evident that Dr. Kennedy is proud to be black, and has not forgotten his southern upbringing and he talked about the struggles of the civil rights movement.

He is fully aware of what could happen putting the N word on the table particularly in a state like Montana, and he took great care in making himself clear that the word has a lot of history and part of the history includes lynching.

We will watch and see what happens and Dr. Kennedy was very receptive to what I had to say and promised he would come back in the summer with his family.

The ballroom was packed and they had to open another ballroom.

Professor Dickens I did get him to give me his autograph for you. So, send me your address to my private email and I will mail it to you. I also told him you had a question for him and had emailed him. He said he is very good at responding to his email.

-- Anonymous, January 21, 2004


Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Be Blessed

-- Anonymous, January 21, 2004

Rev. Rogers -

You indicate that Professor Kennedy's lecture began by "citing all the things I had shared in my other post, concern over the poster, would people use the word to excite violence, would the white supremacists feel they had permission to come and try to take over". You also point out that Kennedy is proud to be black and has not forgotten his Southern upbrining. Given these observations, do you agree with prior posts about Kennedy being a "black conservative" and a "black racist"? A simple yes or no will suffice. Also, thanks for obtaining an unsolicited autograph for me but I'm not a Kennedy "groupie". We grew up in DC neighborhoods not far apart and he also has a brother who is a Federal judge. I do respect and admire Kennedy's cerebral understanding of Constitutional Law and his insightful intersection of civil rights law and economic policy. I have followed his career for over 15 years beginning with my own Harvard fellowship in 1987 when he was on the law faculty. Now if Jayne Kennedy, Oprah, Halle Berry or Beyonce` was giving the lecture at MSU, then, I would indeed be interested in receiving an autograph and a giant-sized personalized picture :-) QED

-- Anonymous, January 22, 2004

One of the things I want to make clear that I stated in my original post is my concern for the safety of black athletes, black families and others in our community because of the discussion of the book with the N'Word in it's title.

That concern is not gone. Dr. Kennedy has gone home, we still have to wait to see what will happen. My prayers are that nothing will happen, but past history suggests that will not be true.

We are still dealing with white supremacist groups in our surrounding communities. There is a large aryan nation cell in a neighboring town, where several of my members live, I worry about them also for they are proud to be a.m.e. and love sharing what the ame church has done for them. This also makes them targets.

Again my focus is on my community, and the students on campus, I ask for prayer and I thank those of you who have written me privately from across the country to say you understand the concern and are praying. God bless you.

-- Anonymous, January 22, 2004

OK, well I suppose my question will not get answered. I have clearly understood your concerns, from the beggining, about the safety issues for black atheletes, black families and other community members raised by the title of Kennedy's inflammatory book title. I don't understand why this has to be re-emphasized especially since my question is only remotely related to your response.

After I taught my last class (which ended 6:15PM EST) I drove home and attempted to find an article on the online version of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle about the Kennedy lecture. Much to my surprise and chagrin the online version of your local paper did not have a link to the event for January 22, 2004. Somewhat disappointed and puzzled I called the newsroom of the Daily Chronicle and spoke with a reporter and he explained to me that the paper was unable to include coverage in its online version due to the lateness of the event on last night. I found the explanation somewhat surprising because today's technology enable any reporter to "make deadlines" with the ease of laptops and a click of the mouse. Nonetheless, I thanked the gentleman for his help in clarifying the issue for me. He assured me that tomorrow's online version will have an article for all to view. QED

-- Anonymous, January 22, 2004

I am truly flattered that you and Rev. Paris, have called my little town of Bozeman, Montana this week. I had to laugh that you would go to these lengths, I am still laughing as I type this.

And tomorrow, I will direct the editor of the Bozeman Chronicle to your post so he can smile, he is a dear friend of mine, his name is Bill Wilke.

For those of you who know nothing about Bozeman, Montana we are a small town of 30,000 people in the south central part of Montana. It is beautiful The town is 99 percent white. And a great town.

Now for those who would like to call a newspaper or look a story that is important, I ask everyone to pray for the people in Haiti, and to look up the Port-au-Prince newspaper on line. People are being murdered daily.

Bill thanks for the chuckle! Gee, I guess you have a lot of time on your hands, you and rev. Paris are so funny.

-- Anonymous, January 22, 2004

In my above post I suggested that we read the newspaper in Port-au- prince for their is terrible civil unrest in the country of Haiti, the people and are ame churches need our prayers and support.

I am including a link when you get to the page it will be in french at the top of the page there is a red box in english, click on that and it will be translated.

Here is the link thank you everyone

-- Anonymous, January 22, 2004

Rev. Rogers -

I don't understand your semi-sarcastic resposne about "going to these lengths"? It was your last comment on the night of the event which prompted me to seek the story online. On January 21, 2004 you stated "I am sure the event will be covered in the Bozeman, Chronicle. tomorrow." Well, that is precisely what I did after I concluded my work day. When I arrive home from work I check my email and BB messages from groups like AME Today. When I noticed you chose not to respond to a direct question I posed, I decided to follow up on your suggestion that the story will be covered by the BOozeman CHronicle, which I found out otherwise did not happen. What is so time consuming about surfing the 'Net and placing a phone call? By my conservative estimations both of these acts combined take less than 2-3 minutes. I didn't find the information on the website so I invested a few minutes and asked someone in the newsroom where I can be directed since I may have overlooked the article. I didn't know that in this era of near-instant communications, an event which takes place, even in a small town like Bozeman, requires two days before it is published on a newspaper's website. I've contacted out-of-town newspapers before so this is nothing new for me. I'm always glad to provide a little levity but your evasive replies are actually more amusing :-) QED

-- Anonymous, January 23, 2004


I went back and re-read the discussion that followed from Denise's original post. In all of my reading I never saw where she dealt with Mr. Kennedy's conservatism or racism. Other posters did indeed call him a racist but Rev. Rogers' issue was with the safety and harrassment in a city that is overwhelmingly white and in an area with a reputation for racial intolerance.

I don't think you received an answer because his conservatism was not her issue. Having read and listened to many public intellectuals especially Michael Eric Dyson and bell hooks, being controversial is a requirement. However when the controversy is taken to places like Bozeman, MT what is the responsibility of the intellectual with regard to safety issues they may present? I understand that dialogue is very important, and perhaps Dr. Kennedy raises significant issues in his discussion of the word, but most people will never hear his discussion, or read his work. But they will see the poster and hear the sound bite and feel it is now okay to use the N-word and that can have tragic consequences.

-- Anonymous, January 23, 2004

Harold -

If you re-read Rev. Rogers' opening paragraph to the related thread posted Jan 17, '04, about the 4th or 5th sentence she opines, "He is black and conservative". I never indicated she called him a "black racist", that invective originated with Jazzman and I asked him in a separate note the rationale for that opinion (which I might add has also not been met with an answer as well). In my reply later that same day (1/17) I suggested that Kennedy would take issue with the alleged conservative mantra because of his past association with Thurgood Marshall and his legal critique of racial profiling. One does not land a prestigius clerkship with one of the most celebrated liberal Supreme Court Justices (next to Justice William Brennan) being "black and conservative". In addition, Kennedy currently supports an amicus curiae brief before the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals which seeks the Harvard Law School to ban military recruiters access to their law graduates. The latter action is not only discriminatory but a clear violation of civil liberties. No conservative that I know openly opposses the military's right to recruit college students.

I believe that Kennedy was unfairly maligned simply because of a book which he wrote. I understand the point about "safety" and am not hard of hearing about the implications of racial tensions in isolated rural communities. I happen to live in the Deep South and know about this personally. However, conclusions were being made without any prior personal knowledge or association about the author. This is why the proverbial statement, not judging a book by its cover, teaches us to resist making premature conclusions in the absence of all the facts. The wisdom of this statement holds true for BB chit- chat of this variety and especially for academic research. If someone refuses to respond to a question I ask that is his or her perogative. It's typically not the norm to not respond because the foundation of communication is an exchange of ideas and clarity in expressing those ideas. In many instances a 'no response' to an interrogatory can be interpreted as a 'response'. I'll check with the Bozeman Chronicle today to read about the event. QED

-- Anonymous, January 23, 2004

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