In Memoriam: Annie Brown Kennedy

January 18, 2023
Annie Brown Kennedy

Annie Brown Kennedy, the first Black woman to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly and the second Black woman to gain a law license in North Carolina, died on Tuesday, Jan. 17. She was 98.

Her wake will take place at First Baptist Church on Highland Avenue in Winston-Salem on Tuesday, Jan. 24 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Her funeral service will take place at Wait Chapel, Wake Forest University on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. The family’s wishes regarding donations are at the end of this item.

Kennedy was a founder with her husband of the firm Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy, & Kennedy, LLP, the oldest law firm of Black attorneys in the state. She was a graduate of Spelman College and earned her law degree from Howard University School of Law.

“Annie Brown Kennedy was a force in the law,” said NCAJ President Valerie Johnson. “She became only the second Black woman licensed to practice law in North Carolina, and also will be remembered for her service to citizens of North Carolina and to her clients. Ms. Kennedy’s  accomplishments in government and in civil rights have established a legacy that will inspire generations to come.”

Gov. Jim Hunt, who appointed Kennedy to the N.C. House in 1979, described her as “a real pioneer.”

“She was a real scrapper when it came to getting opportunities for people,” Hunt told the Winston-Salem Journal. “She made no bones about that. I was real proud to have an opportunity to appoint her.”

After serving her appointed term, Kennedy was elected to the N.C. House in 1982 and went on to win six consecutive terms.

She was an NCAJ member for 29 years before her retirement. Her sons, Harold L. Kennedy III and Harvey L. Kennedy, are partners in the firm she founded and longtime NCAJ members. 

In 2020, NCAJ created an award in her name to recognize others who follow her example of commitment to acquiring full freedom for all citizens of North Carolina, active community service with a focus on the status and welfare of families and minority citizens and exceptional advocacy that protects individual liberties.

Find the Winston-Salem Journal story on her life here and listen to a Southern Oral History Project interview with Kennedy here.

From the Kennedy Family

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Harold and Annie Brown Kennedy Scholarship at Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C. and Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia (in memory of Annie Brown Kennedy).

Donations to Howard University School of Law

Online Visit to contribute via credit card or direct debit. 

Mail Gifts via check should be made out to “Howard University School of Law” with the Harold and Annie Brown Kennedy Scholarship in the memo line and mailed to:

Director of Development, School of Law
Development and Alumni Relations
Howard University
2900 Van Ness Street NW, Room 115 | Washington, District of Columbia 20008 

Donations can be made to Spelman College by sending a check to:

Spelman College
ATTN: Advancement Services
350 Spelman Lane
Box 1403
Atlanta, GA 30314

To make a gift in memory, you must write “In Memory of ANNIE BROWN KENNEDY ” on the memo line on the check.

Russell’s Funeral Home at 822 Carl Russell Ave., Winston-Salem, North Carolina is in charge of funeral arrangements.