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$1,755
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The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, April 17 2015 8:00 PM UTC +00:00
Last updated April 19, 2015

Struggles to Victory - a book by Canaan Kennedy

At 17, Canaan Kennedy wanted to know how his grandparents and parents fulfilled their dreams. This book chronicles what he discovered.

Struggles to Victory - a book by Canaan Kennedy

At 17, Canaan Kennedy wanted to know how his grandparents and parents fulfilled their dreams. This book chronicles what he discovered.

$1,755
pledged of $15,000pledged of $15,000 goal
48
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, April 17 2015 8:00 PM UTC +00:00
Last updated April 19, 2015

About

“When they started getting letters from the governor’s office, former governors, prominent individuals, they realized that they had messed with the wrong black family.” -- Adam P. Kennedy, on the Arlington district attorney’s office after he was beaten by police

I’m Canaan Kennedy, 17 years old. I’ve written a book about racism in America and my family’s history of not only overcoming great adversity, but of cutting a path forward. I’m asking for your help with self-publication so that I can add my story—and my family’s story—to the canon of African American literature.

Who am I, and where am I going?

I’m the son of Adam P. Kennedy and Renee Kennedy. I am the grandson of Dr. Joseph Kennedy and Adrienne Kennedy. I’m also at a crossroads in my life, in the process of moving from teenager to man, in particular, a man of color in 21st century America. Having grown up mixed-race in an all-white community, I’m coming to grips with continued racism in this country and the events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York. Above all else, I’m understanding, appreciating, and integrating the power of my family’s history.

What happened to Michael Brown and Eric Garner are not isolated incidents. They’re all part of a long history of struggles, several steps forward for every step back, and I’m finding one thing of great importance: for every story of struggle, there are more of victory. My family is full of such stories. What challenges did we face? How did we successfully beat the odds? How did we prevail? Why can’t these positive stories trump the media stereotypes? What does it mean to be middle class, educated, and black in America?

These are all things I explore and present in my book, through interviews conducted with my family members and my own observations of how this has informed and will inform who I am. It’s my hope that these stories will serve a larger narrative of struggles leading to victory.

These are stories of victory - of my family

My father

Adam P. Kennedy
Adam P. Kennedy

 In January of 1991, just two months before Rodney King was captured on camera being attacked by Los Angeles police, my father was brutally beaten by a policeman in the driveway of my grandparents’ home in Arlington, Virginia. To make matters worse, my father was then charged with assaulting a police officer. Not only did he survive this attack; he was acquitted of all charges, won a civil suit against Arlington County, forced the Arlington County Police Department to stop using racially biased teaching manuals, co-wrote a play about the incident with my grandmother, and won the 1996 Obie Award for Best New American Play, Sleep Deprivation Chamber. That’s what I call victory! He’s also a television producer; his company R.A.V.E. created shows that have aired nationally on network television and PBS including Africa/USA: The Connection, The World Connection, and Phat Tracks. He’s also an historian and publisher.

My grandmother

Edward Albee, Adrienne Kennedy, and Sam Shepard
Edward Albee, Adrienne Kennedy, and Sam Shepard

Adrienne Kennedy has been a force in American theatre since the early 1960s, influencing generations of playwrights with her hauntingly fragmentary lyrical dramas. She was a key figure of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which included (among others) Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Lorraine Hansberry, and Maya Angelou. She is a three-time Obie-award winning playwright, including Funnyhouse of a Negro in 1964, June and Jean in Concert in 1996, and Sleep Deprivation Chamber in 1996. Among Kennedy's many honors are the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2003 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Lifetime Achievement. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Theatre for a New Audience. Kennedy was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Obies. She has been commissioned to write works for the Public Theater, Jerome Robbins, the Royal Court Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum, and Juilliard. In 1995-1996, the Signature Theatre Company dedicated its entire season to presenting her works. She became an honorary member of the Modern Language Association in 2005, and her work appears in the Norton Anthology of American Literature.

As a young girl she voraciously read books. Despite facing racism during her undergraduate years at The Ohio State University, she went on to experience not only her plays winning awards, but also being taught in universities all over the world. Kennedy has been a visiting professor at Yale University, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, and she ended her teaching career at Harvard University. Kennedy received an honorary doctorate from The Ohio State University in 2003 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of her graduation.

My grandfather

Dr. Joseph Kennedy and Nelson Mandela
Dr. Joseph Kennedy and Nelson Mandela

Dr. Joseph Kennedy was only the second black American to get a PhD in social psychology from Columbia University when he graduated in 1958. He was a professor of psychology at Hunter College of CUNY and Prairie View A&M College in Texas.

One of six children growing up in a mostly white Ohio community, his mother and father encouraged him to dream. Because of his parents’ teachings on Africa he developed a deep interest, traveling there with his own family in the early 1960s. He was the first black American to be Peace Corps Director for the East Asia and Pacific Region.

In 1971, he co-founded Africare, a leading non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to improving the quality of life of the people in Africa and strengthening relations between American blacks and Africans. His writings on Africa and African development have appeared in the New York Times Magazine and Washington Post. He has traveled to 100 countries.

About me

Canaan Kennedy
Canaan Kennedy

I’m a senior in high school in Virginia. In the past year I’ve produced a short movie and conducted a survey on racial relationships at my school. I’ve also conducted several interviews with my family about their work and views on the world, which is what you’re now helping bring to life in the form of this book. I’m interested in media journalism, which I hope to pursue in college. One of my role models is Fareed Zakaria. I’m also a member of the Model UN and Forensics Club at my school, I enjoy lectures on literature, and I’m an avid football fan.

Help us continue to make history

We need funds to:

  • hire an editor

  • hire a graphic designer

  • pay for publicity and marketing

  • handle travel costs

  • manage taxes and accounting

  • cover everything else needed to successfully publish this book

Any funds over and above our goal amount will go toward college expenses. I’m well on my way to realizing my dream of not only becoming a published author, but also an established journalist.


Please donate whatever you can, and please spread the word. I’d also like to hear your stories of struggle that led to victory: whenever and wherever you get the word out, use the hashtag #StrugglesToVictory. Thank you so much!

Risks and challenges

Even once we secure funding for publishing this book, we'll need to get the word out and make sure as many people as possible hear about it. With the help of word of mouth, a good publicist, and a strong and committed team who'll continue to support each phase of the publishing journey, we'll meet the challenges head-on.

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Support

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    We’ll give you a shout-out on social media and thank you for being a "Struggles to Victory" supporter! (Note: all reward levels will receive this perk.)

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    You’ll receive an electronic copy of the completed book, before it hits any online distribution channels.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Receive a copy, signed by Adam P. Kennedy, of his Obie-Award-winning collaboration with Adrienne Kennedy, "Sleep Deprivation Chamber". "In SLEEP DEPRIVATION CHAMBER, which Ms. Kennedy wrote with her son, Adam, the location of what the author once called the 'funnyhouse of a Negro' has shifted from a haunted interior landscape to a world that is crushingly real…This is the stuff of nightmares from which a person can never wake up completely." —NY Times

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Receive a copy of "Mom, How Did You Meet the Beatles?", signed by Adam P. Kennedy. A mother separated from her husband moves to London in the mid-1960s, hoping to meet John Lennon’s publisher. The story includes encounters with notables from the social and artistic elite such as Laurence Olivier, James Earl Jones, James Baldwin, and of course, The Beatles. Based on the real-life experiences of Adrienne Kennedy.

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    Receive a mention in the "Struggles to Victory" acknowledgments. This is our special thanks to you!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Although we’ll be publishing mostly via online distribution channels, there will be limited editions of the printed text. Anyone who digs this deep will get a hard copy of the completed book by Canaan Kennedy. Get this now before he becomes a renowned journalist.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    For this amount, we’ll send you your choice of one of Adrienne Kennedy’s plays, signed by the playwright.

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    Power up your computer – Adam P. Kennedy and Canaan Kennedy will have a video chat with you for half an hour. Ask them anything, from questions about their work to, well, anything. Chats limited to half an hour.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    You’ll have an extremely rare opportunity to speak with Adrienne Kennedy by phone. Calls are limited to half an hour. We’ll collect your questions and send them to Adrienne prior to your conversation. This is an extraordinary chance for you to talk with a legend of American theatre, from her home to yours.

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Funding period

- (30 days)