Posted by toni-s on:
The UCSB Center for Black Studies has made a film about Santa Barbara's own Shirley Kennedy.
I met Shirley at a "Not In Our Town" meeting many years ago, at San Marcos High School, a meeting held in response to a racial incident in which one student drew a noose on the notebook of a black student while she was away from her desk. Shirley was in good form as always, organizing, making it very clear how and why that kind of action was not acceptable. She and other concerned people organized a committee of parents and other community members to visit the school administration to express their concern and disapproval over what had occurred and to let the school know that they needed to respond to this incident and not just "let it pass."
Later, I met her again at a community event and asked about the class she was teaching next. She invited me to sit in, and I spent the rest of the quarter being inspired by her lectures and by the material. The class, in the Black Studies Department was about the "can-do", and "uplift power" of African-American women in the history of the United States, and was called "Women, Power and Politics."
At the end of the quarter I noticed a small article in the newspaper about Shirley and an organization she had helped found, Building Bridges. They were working to bring an exhibit of the slave ship Henrietta Marie to the children and community of Santa Barbara. I went to her UCSB office and told her I wanted to help out. She asked me "what can you do?", and I said that I wasn't sure I had anything worthwhile to offer but my time. She said that was "nonsense! .. "how about writing grants?" I had never done a grant, but she was so sure that I could do it, and so positive, that I agreed and that was exactly what I did. If I got discouraged or fainthearted, I thought about Shirley and her energy and her spirit and I would just go on. If ever there was anyone that I would have done almost anything to avoid disappointing and to earn her approval it was "Our Lady Of Perpetual Reform", Shirley Kennedy.
The film is being premiered on April 7, 2009 at the UCSB Multi-Cultural Center, at 4:00 p.m. Community members are invited and encouraged to attend. There will be a second showing on April 23, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at the Faulkner Gallery at the Downtown Library. It is a beautiful tribute to Shirley Kennedy and to her powerful spirit.
Click here for the YouTube Trailer of the film.