Back in the 1970s, as The New York Times lagged behind different papers in hiring reporters and editors of coloration, Paul Delaney, the primary Black reporter employed in the newspaper’s Washington bureau, was amongst these serving to to recruit nonwhite journalists.

He was on project in New Orleans in 1973 when he bumped into a Black tv reporter, who advised him that her twin sister, who labored as a reality checker for Playboy journal in Chicago, was keen to maneuver to a day by day paper. The subsequent time Mr. Delaney was in Chicago, he regarded her up.

And that was how Shawn G. Kennedy got here to work at The Times, taking a route as random as any in that period, earlier than organizations just like the National Association of Black Journalists have been fashioned to assist set up the recruitment of journalists.

Ms. Kennedy, who labored at The Times for 23 years, died on April 5 at the house of her sister, Royal Kennedy Rodgers, in San Francisco. She was 73 and lived in New Orleans. Ms. Rodgers mentioned the trigger was breast most cancers.

Ms. Kennedy started her profession at The Times as a trainee in the Washington bureau in 1975 as a part of a program to domesticate minority journalists.

Max Frankel, who was the Washington bureau chief from 1968 to 1972, and who later turned govt editor, had recruited Mr. Delaney from The Washington Star. Then, as Mr. Frankel wrote in his memoir, “The Times of My Life and My Life with The Times” (1999), “We decided we had an obligation not just to raid other staffs but to open a path into our business for promising youngsters.”

The Times created that path by hiring folks of coloration in the bureau as information assistants. Through an settlement with the reporters’ union, Mr. Frankel mentioned, the bureau used them as reporters whereas paying them clerical wages; in trade, the bureau promised to sponsor them for reporting jobs in New York in the event that they met Times requirements. One of the bureau’s editors, Bob Phelps, helped them by taking their work residence and marking it up as a trainer would.

Ms. Kennedy made the lower. “She was in the vanguard,” Mr. Delaney mentioned in an interview. “Having her succeed and join the staff attracted a lot of other minorities to the program.”

At the time, folks of coloration at the paper have been comparatively uncommon; extra lately they made up about 26 p.c of the newsroom (9 p.c are Black) and 32 p.c of the corporate as a entire, and The Times has established a fellowship program that draws a nice variety of journalists of coloration.

In New York, Ms. Kennedy labored on the Metro Desk and was promoted to Long Island bureau chief. She then sought and was given the job of actual property author.

“She loved real estate,” Lena Williams, one other Black reporter who labored at The Times and was a shut buddy of Ms. Kennedy’s, mentioned. “She was one of the first to see gentrification in Crown Heights and Harlem. She was writing real estate stories and turning them into lifestyle stories.”

Her dream past that, Ms. Williams mentioned, was to work for the Styles part. Ms. Kennedy was an achieved prepare dinner and educated about vogue, inside design and structure. She was upset when she was advised that she was “not ready” for Styles, Ms. Williams mentioned, although she sometimes freelanced for the part anyway.

Mr. Delaney mentioned that “you’re not ready” was a widespread rationalization when a Black reporter was denied a transfer. “That was the kind of stuff we faced all the time,” he mentioned. “That’s what we had to overcome.”

Credit…by way of Royal Rodgers

Shawn Graves Kennedy was born on June 8, 1947, in Chicago. Her father, Lt. Col. James Vincent Kennedy, was one of many Tuskegee Airmen, the all-Black corps of elite pilots; he accomplished his coaching too late to see fight in World War II however turned a profession Air Force officer and flew missions in Korea and Vietnam. He acquired levels in electrical engineering and labored on the Apollo house program.

Her mom, Shirley (Graves) Kennedy, went again to high school after her kids had grown and earned her bachelor’s and grasp’s levels in African-American research and her doctorate in political science. She then taught Black research at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

With Mr. Kennedy in the navy, the household lived on air bases around the globe. The dad and mom have been intensely in present occasions and favored to learn, and their kids adopted the identical habits. Royal Rodgers mentioned that whereas dwelling in Tokyo and having no tv there, she and Shawn “devoured” American magazines. Shawn went to Ohio University in Athens however left for Playboy earlier than graduating.

She married Harold Brown, an funding supervisor, in 1997 and left The Times shortly thereafter. They moved to Sacramento and Washington, D.C., earlier than settling in New Orleans.

“New Orleans was her big second act,” her sister mentioned. Ms. Kennedy and Mr. Brown have been already concerned in financial growth there earlier than Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, and afterward they devoted themselves much more to rebuilding town. After Mr. Brown died in 2013, Ms. Kennedy continued lots of his initiatives.

One challenge of which Ms. Kennedy was particularly proud was overseeing the conversion of the historic St. Rosa de Lima church into a middle for a Waldorf faculty, a efficiency house and a enterprise incubator.

In addition to her sister, she is survived by two brothers, Kevin and Colin; a stepson, David Brown; and one step-grandson.



Source link