Harriett Kennedy was a pioneer throughout Guthrie’s path to integration

Harriett Kennedy was a pioneer throughout Guthrie’s path to integration

It was a beautiful day on March 30, 1917 in Birmingham, Alabama when Harriett made her entrance into this world. She was the ninth child of Willie and Estelle Evans in a family which would include 11 children. 

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Harriett’s mother died when she was just five years old. She was reared by Helen, her older sister. Their life was much less than luxurious.  Like many families back then, they had to work hard to make ends meet. By age 11, she helped with many cooking duties, and little did she know that this culinary training would one day be used to provide her with a very profitable living.

After working in various kitchens and cotton fields under the supervision of her “superiors”, she realized that her aspirations were so much greater than her current circumstances. She had to make a big move. Life for Harriett in the state of Oklahoma began in 1946 when she came to Oklahoma City to live near another sister, Ann Cole. It was not long before they made the move to Guthrie and made this town their home.

In the later months of 1947, the sisters opened a café in Guthrie, located at 220 S. Second Street. Although neither had any formal training in the field of business, they made it work. At the time, patrons were all Black due to segregation, and members of other races only saw the business in passing.

Four years later, Harriett decided to change her type of business and venture out on her own. She opened up a grocery store at 1022 E. Perkins. She graciously extended charge accounts when customers were in need.  Very few customers failed to pay their bills out of respect and gratitude for her efforts. The grocery store proved to be profitable, but Harriett’s ultimate dream was to own and operate a supper club.

She knew of the fabulous dining establishments of the South, and it was her dream to have a similar one. Choice steaks, delicious burgers, barbeque and seafood would bring customers of all races and creeds to the H&A Supper Club when it opened for business on October 18, 1959.

Harriett was a pioneer throughout Guthrie’s path to integration. She didn’t do it with protests or lawsuits, but through her integrity, savvy business sense, commitment to Guthrie’s African American community, and through serving what is often deemed as “The best steaks and ribs in Oklahoma”. And as you may know, her uncanny, witty sense of humor kept her customers coming for more!

She accepted Christ at an early age and was a faithful member of First Baptist Church on the corner of Broad and Springer for well over 69 years. She loved her church and served on the Usher Board and in the kitchen. She always encouraged her children and others to “Put the Lord first”.

Harriett concluded her journey in this life when the Lord called her home on June 11, 2015. She was preceded in death by her parents, all of her siblings, husband (Joseph W. Kennedy), the love of her life (William “Bill” Glover), and grand-daughter (Kim Kennedy).

She leaves to cherish her memory and legacy three children, Joseph E. Kennedy, Edward E. Glover (Cheryl), and Harriett A. Reaves (Eugene). She also leaves grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews and friends, including one special friend, Garland Chambers.

The family requests the wearing of white as they celebrate her life Saturday, June 20 at 11 a.m. at First Christian Church in Guthrie.

4 Responses to "Harriett Kennedy was a pioneer throughout Guthrie’s path to integration"

  1. Anna Hill   June 18, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Praying for the family…
    Those who bloom in the hearts of others never fade away… May you fine comfort and strength in your memories.

    Reply
  2. Kendell Young   June 19, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Prayers to the family

    Reply
  3. Karl Braggs   June 19, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    She taught us how to live and she did it with style. I will never forget the wisdom she taught us growing up. My heart is with the family. God bless.

    Reply
  4. Patricia Hamlin   June 21, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Praying for the family.. on behalf of the Hamlin family. Another Angel to watch over us now.

    Reply

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