Jane Kennedy is a name not immediately familiar to a lot of people, and only a bit more familiar to people who remember the Vietnam War era and the Protest movements which sprung up because of it. But she was a vital and notable figure in the anti-war movement as someone who did what they did out of a sense of moral values, and a basic enduring love for the human race and who wanted to make a difference.
Since today is International Women’s Day, and we’re looking at those women who have made a difference, and are continuing to make a difference, I ran across this 1975 interview/documentary with Jane Kennedy from CBC Radio in Canada, and felt it would be a perfect addition to the growing list of women who have made a difference and whose contributions have shaped our history and culture.
Kennedy was a nurse and educator who, in her 40s became swept up in the activism which surrounded the Vietnam War and the growing voices of dissent against our involvement in it. Lending her nursing skills to the front lines of protest during those often violent days, Kennedy went on to become more involved, taking “direct action”; first by breaking into Dow Corning‘s Napalm producing Plant in Midland Michigan and destroying magnetic tapes containing manufacturing data. And a week later was involved in the destruction of Records at an Indianapolis Draft Board. Both events got her prison sentences; one in Michigan for a year from the Dow-Corning incident and the other, two years later for another year at the Women’s Federal Penitentiary in Alderson, West Virginia. And to quote Harriet Gross in her biography of Jane Kennedy:
“Jane’s story begins in the early sixties in Chicago. She had come to enter graduate school at the University of Chicago in nursing. She left graduate school before complete the degree to accept a position on the nursing faculty of Loyola University, also in Chicago. Previous, after completing Master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, she had stayed on on as a member of their nursing faculty and then had taught at the university of Kentucky where she helped organize a new school of nursing It was while she was teaching at Loyola that a friend’s recounting of his experiences with cvili rights protest in the South prompted her to think about her own beliefs and the commitment they implied”.
Here is that CBC Radio interview with Jane Kennedy, as it was broadcast in 1975, shortly before her second prison stay.