MTSU alumna Linda Kennedy, one of the first five African-American students to attend Middle Tennessee State University in the 1960s, is being remembered as a lifelong K-12 educator and administrator who touched the lives of young people, colleagues and others.
Kennedy, a Murfreesboro resident who earned master’s and specialist in education degrees from the university, died Jan. 26 after a second bout with cancer. The Smyrna Middle School principal and former La Vergne High School principal was 65.
“Linda Kennedy was a trailblazer at MTSU and an inspiration to those who followed in her footsteps at our University,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “Her legacy at our university, as well as her distinguished service to the state of Tennessee and Rutherford County as a teacher and principal, will not be forgotten. We recognize and honor her achievements and mourn her passing.”
In 1963, Kennedy and four others were the first African Americans to attend MTSU, then called Middle Tennessee State College. This led to the university’s desegregation. MTSU’s Black Alumni Society commemorated this effort in 1992.
Kennedy left MTSU and later earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Central Arkansas. She later returned to MTSU, earning her graduate degrees in the early to mid-1990s.
She was married to Alex Kennedy. One of their four daughters, Toni Kennedy-Forbes, is also an MTSU alumna. Their other daughters include Tammy Kennedy Miller, Tonnya Kennedy Kohn and Taylor Kennedy. Survivors also include five grandchildren.