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Fri, 09.10.1954

Randall Kennedy, Scholar, Lawyer, and Author born

Randall Kenedy

*Randall Kennedy was born on this date in 1954 in Columbia, South Carolina; he is a Black Law professor and author.

Randall LeRoy Kennedy is the middle child of Henry Kennedy Sr., a postal worker, and Rachel Kennedy, an elementary school teacher.  He has a brother, Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., United States District Court Judge for the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., and a sister Angela Kennedy, a lawyer in the Public Defender Service for D.C.

As a child, fleeing the abuses of Jim Crow, his family moved from South Carolina to Washington, D.C. Kennedy attended St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., Princeton University (A.B., 1977), University of Oxford (graduate studies, 1977–79), and Yale Law School (J.D., 1982). He was a Rhodes Scholar and served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the United States Court of Appeals from 1982–83 and for Justice Thurgood Marshall from 1983-84. He was admitted to the Washington, D.C. bar in 1983.

In 1986, Kennedy married Dr. Yvedt Matory, a cancer surgeon. They had three children: Rachel, Thaddeus, and Henry. Yvedt Matory died of complications arising from melanoma on April 15, 2005. In 1984 Kennedy joined the faculty at Harvard Law School, teaching courses on race relations law and freedom of expression. Kennedy first came to prominence as a legal-academic scholar and author when he began addressing affirmative action. In 1997, Kennedy published Race, Crime, and the Law, which received a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1998. In 2002, Kennedy published "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word." In Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption, published in 2003,

Kennedy attempts to bring greater understanding to the racial issues that continue to trouble American society.  He is known as a scholar who is unafraid of tackling difficult racial issues. He has written for academic and popular journals, published several books, and served on the editorial boards of the magazines American Prospect and The Nation. Kennedy has written extensively on interracial marriages, adoptions, and the relationship between race and crime. His views have won acclaim, but they have also courted controversy.

Through many speeches and lectures, Kennedy continues to promote debate on racial issues in the public arena. Kennedy noted that the relationship between white and Black America remains one of America's most perplexing problems. "Obviously, there are all sorts of ethnic, racial conflicts in American society, but there's one that is deeper than all the others, and that's white/black racial conflict."  Randall Kennedy currently serves as a Trustee of Princeton University.

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