AUTHENTICITY.Are you living truthfully? Is your essential Self shining through every day or trying desperately to break through from an inner cage?
Many of us hide our light - by trying to be someone else. We don't speak up. We go along with the crowd. It takes years of coaching and therapy to peel away the layers of duplicity. We seek to be what society wants us to be - not realizing that the potency of our power lies in our level of authenticity. I would like to dedicate this month's Power Living® column to my Dad, Dr. James Scott Kennedy, who died at our family home on July 28, 2005 at 12 noon at the age of 83 years old.
My whole business is built on helping people find themselves. In writing the obituary with my Mom, it dawned on me that Dad would not need my services. Dad was 100% authentic, 100% of the time... a little eccentric, always original. That was his greatest gift to the world. "No double-layered human being here" as he wrote in Africa is a Woman. He let his light shine.
Dad always spoke his mind. If he had something to say, he would tell you directly to your face. He's the only person I know who - when a dog barked at him, he would bark back... and scare the dog! He kept us on our toes. Sometimes, we didn't know what he was going to do in a given moment. Other times he was very predictable in his encouragement and love. As a writer, producer and composer, Dad epitomized pure creativity - always with a pen and paper in hand in case a thought, song, or poem came to mind. He honored his inspirations by instantly writing them down. Although he was covered by the media through the years and taught many famous students - from tennis great Althea Gibson to movie star Denzel Washington, he was not thinking about the money his work would generate - he was simply being a divine conduit.
"Every day ask yourself the three Core Questions: Who Am I? Where Am I? What Must I Do To Be Me?"
-- Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy
As a philosopher, he would talk about "specificity" and ask his children to ponder three questions that would drive us crazy: Who am I? Where am I? What must I do to be me? It took me almost dying to finally understand the depth of those very specific words - questions which now form the basis of the Power Living® Practice. By honoring these questions every day, Dad led a full life... in fact he truly lived all the days of his life.
Be yourself. This is often easier said than done. Spend time exploring your core. Every day ask yourself those three questions: Who Am I? Where Am I? What Must I Do To Be Me? Don't worry about what other people think. Get rid of the "shoulds" and live from the heart.
Speak up. Many of us hide our light by being quiet when we should speak. Let people know what is on your mind. Don't be cruel, but always seek to be truthful. When you ask for what you want, don't be surprised when you actually receive it!
Be specific. Become a master of your Self. Be specific in your thoughts, words and actions. The Universe will manifest what you project... for good or bad!
Honor your inspirations. Keep a journal with you. When an inspiration comes to you, write it down immediately to capture it in its purest form. Respect yourself as a creative being - creating a life that is uniquely yours.
Live ALL the days of your life. Take time to literally smell the roses. Seek to be Present with each moment. Share the gift of your Self with others. And most of all say thanks.
Today, I offer my true Self to the world. I seek to be 100% authentic, 100% of the time. I spend quiet time understanding the yearnings of my heart. I do something every day to bring joy to my life and the lives of others. I understand that I am a unique being. I share my uniqueness with the world by creating instead of imitating. By being specific in my thoughts, words and actions, I am the master of my Self and manifest what I need to achieve my divine Purpose.
Dr. James Scott Kennedy was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on December 8, 1921 to the late Cara Atkins and Leon Kennedy. His parents moved to Franklin, Ohio when he was very young because his mother had the dream of all of her children going to OhioStateUniversity. Her dream was fulfilled beyond her expectations with all of her sons and daughters receiving higher degrees.
Dr. Kennedy was an innovative trailblazer with many historical "firsts." He was a creator, not an imitator, speaking out for human rights and dignity for all people around the world. His lifelong personal quest has been for better communications - through both the written and spoken word. For more than five decades, Dr. Kennedy worked on five continents introducing new and positive concepts of people through theatre, television, radio, academia and the pulpit. He became Professor at BrooklynCollege in 1959 and remained there until his retirement at which time he was named Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts. He had also been a Professor at FordhamUniversity at LincolnCenter in New York and the United StatesInternationalUniversity in Nairobi and London during the summer months. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and several other organizations.
Dr. Kennedy's journey in life led him to many places - always pioneering a way for others. After graduating from FranklinHigh School with honors, he joined his older brother Leon (now deceased) in the CCC camp. There he had his first boxing match and gained skills which he used later as a welterweight boxer to pay for his college education at New York University. He fought over 40 professional fights. While at NYU in the 1940s, he lived at the historical Harlem YMCA and earned extra money as a manager at the famed nightclub, Smalls Paradise. One of the original spoken word artists, he could often be found reciting Shakespeare to jazz at a club in the Village.
He started his studies at Howard University and received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from New York University, with further advanced studies at the Universities of London, Heidelberg and Paris. He was an actor, director, writer, producer, composer, and playwright for stage, television and movies. He produced over 100 plays around the world. Some of his works include the first book ever written on African theatre entitled IN SEARCH OF AFRICAN THEATRE (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973). Plays and songs include Commitment to a Dream, The Rivers of the Black Man, The Kind is Dead, Don't Say No, So Much to Live For, Guard Your Heart, African People Suite, Every Man Is My Brother and Gospel Suite for Dr. Martin Luther King.
"Mr. Speech" Coaching Althea Gibson
In his early years of teaching, he was a professor at PrairieViewA&MCollege and TexasCollege in Texas, Hampton Institute in Virginia and Morgan State College in Maryland. In the 1950's, he finally made the transition back to New York where he became a professor at Long IslandUniversity. Known as "Mr. Speech," he became a voice and speech coach to celebrities, including Althea Gibson who sang two of his songs on the Ed Sullivan show. As a celebrated professor at the NewSchool for Social Research, he was asked by the head of IBM to offer Leadership and Communication Training to executives, becoming a pioneer in this new field of Executive Leadership Training. In 1959 he took as his bride Janie Sykes and they founded one of the first multicultural theatre companies in New York City, The Scott Kennedy Players.
In the late 1960's, they lived in Africa, working at the University of Ghana and producing for the 1966 First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal, and the First Pan African Cultural Festival in Algiers, Algeria in 1969. In the 1970's, they were invited as Fulbright scholars by the Prime Minister of Australia to live in Adelaide and introduce new concepts of African-American and African people to that continent via academia, theater, radio and other art forms. The Kennedys were the first African-American family to live on the continent of Australia. They produced three plays for the Papau, New GuineaIndependence Arts Festival in 1973. Back in New York, Dr. Kennedy followed the path of his first love and became an ordained minister. In the 1980s, he was Minister of Arts, Culture and Communication at the St. PaulBaptistChurch in Harlem.
Mom & Dad Performing in Africa
Dad, Leon Kennedy & Smokey Robinson
Over the years, the Kennedys worked with and became friends with such greats as Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, Muhammad Ali, Smokey Robinson... among many other notables. Upon Dr. Kennedy's passing, the family received a call from The White House on behalf of President Bush and Laura Bush in celebration of a true American original.
Dr. Kennedy is survived by his bride of forty-six years, Janie Sykes-Kennedy; son, James Scott Kennedy, Jr.; daughters, Sheila Kennedy-Bryant and Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy; grandson, Daniel Marsh Kennedy; brother, Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy; sisters, Dr. Lillian Beam, Irene Williams, Mary Carter; nephews, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Douglas Williams, Esq., Gregory Williams, Phillip Williams, Joseph Kennedy Jr., Adam Kennedy, Keith Carter, Donald Carter Jr., Loudon Beam, James Beam, Dr. David Beam, Robert Beam; nieces Marsha Williams, Esq., Dr. Susan Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Beam; numerous grand-nephews and grand-nieces; and many students and friends.
With this, please join me in honoring Dr. James Scott Kennedy... a father, a husband, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a great-uncle, a professor, a poet, a prizefighter, a preacher, a playwright, a composer, a veteran, an activist, a longshoreman, a friend, a great man...100% authentic, 100% of the time. We thank you for shining your light on everyone with whom you came in contact. We love you. Although we will miss your earthly presence, your spirit is here and lives on in everything - in your family, your students, friends, and everyone we will touch with our words. So, as they say in yoga "Jai," which means victory... victory to the light in you Dad - a light that will shine forever.
"For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep." - Acts 13:36
Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy is President of Power Living Enterprises, Inc. and Founder of PWR Brokers Incorporated. A former vice president at MTV Networks, she has a Ph.D. in World Religions, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and certifications in Holistic Health, Yoga and Fitness. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 212-901-6913.
Power Living® Column Vol. 52.05, originally pubished August 2005 as a special edition. Terri Kennedy has written over 70 "The Power of..." columns that are available for syndication. Call 212-901-6913 for more information.
Family services were held on August 1, 2005 in St. Albans, New York, with a military interment ceremony at CalvertonNationalCemetery. Dr. Kennedy's nephew, Leon Isaac Kennedy served as minister. Those wishing to pay tribute to the pioneering life, legacy and life-sustaining work of Dr. James Scott Kennedy can make a contribution to the Dr. James Scott Kennedy Scholarship Fund. The fund will be established at one of the colleges, or universities, where Professor Kennedy taught over the course of his career. All funds contributed to the fund will go towards the establishment of the Dr. James Scott Kennedy Scholars for Communications and Theatre, an annual scholarship award to deserving youth who, in the spirit of Dr. Kennedy, pursue a career in communications and theatre with a focus on improving the state of Africa and the world. At present, for those wishing to make a contribution in his memory should write checks payable to the "Dr. James Scott Kennedy Scholarship Fund," c/o of the John & Sheila Kennedy Bryant Family Foundation, 8306 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 815, Beverly Hills, California90211. Once the fund is established at its "home" college or university an announcement will be sent to current and future donors, directing them to send future contributions to this new address. The family will make all decisions on scholarship recipients annually.