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This update features six new biographies in celebration of Black History Month. It includes rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley; feminist lawyer and activist Flo Kennedy; transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson; gender defying blues singer and pianist Gladys Bentley; Lerone Bennett, Jr., who led Ebony magazine during the civil rights movement; and James Saules, a sailor whose life likely inspired Oregon’s 1844 racial exclusion law.
Florynce “Flo” Kennedy (1916–2000) described herself as “too erratic to lead and too undisciplined to follow.” She was a pivotal and wide-reaching figure, building bridges between the civil rights, Black Power, feminist, anti-war, and reproductive rights movements that helped define the 20th century. She skilfully used the media to spread her message, writing a weekly column and hosting a radio and television show. She was also a lawyer and defended a number of Black Power activists, including H. Rap Brown, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur and Afeni Shakur.