University of California, Santa Barbara Receives the Papers of Civil Rights Activist Shirley Kennedy

The University of California, Santa Barbara announced that it has acquired the papers of Shirley Graves Kennedy, a civil rights activist and former lecturer in the department of Black studies at the university. The papers were donated to the university by Kennedy’s family. They will be housed in the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives and will be available to researchers.

Henry T. Yang, chancellor of the University of California, Santa Barbara, stated that “it is a very special and meaningful honor for our campus to receive this extraordinary gift of the Shirley Kennedy Papers. Dr. Kennedy was a beloved member of our UC Santa Barbara family for more than three decades. She was a wonderful teacher and mentor who played a vital role in the establishment and growth of our Department of Black Studies. She was also a passionate advocate for social justice and civil rights. We remember her as a person of tremendous integrity and spirit. Whatever Shirley did, she poured her whole heart and intellect into it.”

Dr. Kennedy first came to the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a student in 1969. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science. After earning a Ph.D. in government at Claremont Graduate University, she began teaching at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1987 as a lecturer in Black studies. From 1996 to until her death 2003, Dr. Kennedy served as the cultural and community affairs coordinator for the Center for Black Studies Research at the university.

During her time at the university, Dr. Kennedy was active in civil rights activities in the local community.


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