Funeral arrangements pending for Civil Rights Attorney Lawrence E. Kennon

Attorney Lawrence E. Kennon

By Chinta Strausberg

Funeral arrangements are pending for Attorney Lawrence E. Kennon, 91, who died Saturday at the University of Chicago Hospital after suffering from a stroke he had last Thursday, September 10, his sister, Bernadine Kennon, confirmed late Monday night.

Kennon was born on Chicago’s South Side to a family of seven children. The first born, he graduated from Crane Technical High School and later from DePaul University, where he received his law degree.

From 1963 to 1965, Kennon served in the U.S. Army. He was also a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney. “I feel very badly about his death,” his sister said. “It was so sudden, so unexpected. The circle has been broken again.”

Kennon’s death also shocked a close friend, Attorney Andre Grant, who said that most of Kennon’s 60 years of practicing law was dedicated solely to serving the Black community.

Grant, who has been practicing law for 28 years, had been mentored by Kennon for years. He said Kennon had been retired for more than 15 years from the Powers and Dixon law firm.

“Larry is at least two generations before me,” Grant said. “He gave his life defending and being an advocate for our community. He also represented organizations such as the NAACP,” said Grant.

“He represented the Black Panther Party, the African American Police League, and he fought cases involving the late Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge,” who was accused of torturing Black men while they were in police custody.

Grant continued: “Larry used his license and skills to fight for our people. He did this in the 1950s and 1960s, when Black lawyers were unknown. He has been a great mentor to me and to hundreds of other lawyers. His death is truly a great loss, but it is also a great trial because of the legacy that he left—a legacy of fighting and advocacy and justice for our people.”

Grant noted Kennon’s style of practice: “Larry is actually from that Thurgood Marshall generation, where he was taught that as a lawyer, you’re either a social engineer or you’re a parasite. He believed that the Black lawyer’s responsibility was to be an advocate and practice for the Black community, and he did it his entire life.”

“Larry was so committed to that belief that he refused to be a judge. He said too many of our lawyers become judges, and we need advocates. He was a lifelong member of the Cook County Bar Association and the National Bar Association. Larry did it all. We owe Larry a great debt of gratitude,” Grant concluded.

Attorney Kennon leaves to mourn two brothers, Addison Kennon, Jr., and Howard Kennon; a sister, Bernadine Kennon; and a host of friends and relatives.

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