Teaching Students About Jayne Kennedy

In a world where visibility and representation matter more than ever, it’s crucial for educators to incorporate lessons about influential figures from underrepresented backgrounds into their curricula. One such figure worth exploring is Jayne Kennedy, an African American actress, model, television personality, and sportscaster who broke barriers in the entertainment industry. This article aims to provide educators with tips and ideas on how to effectively teach students about Jayne Kennedy’s life, accomplishments, and lasting impact.

Background Information: Who is Jayne Kennedy?

Born in Washington D.C. in 1951, Jayne Harrison Kennedy rose to fame as one of the first African American women to grace the silver screen and television as an actress and sports broadcaster. With her groundbreaking career that spanned several decades from the 1970s to the present, Kennedy challenged stereotypes and paved the way for future generations of Black women in the media industry.

Incorporating Jayne Kennedy’s Story into Lesson Plans

1. Begin with a multimedia presentation: Include photos, videos, and audio clips showcasing highlights from Kennedy’s career. This will provide students with a visual understanding of her accomplishments in acting, modeling, and broadcasting.

2. Discuss the historical context of her accomplishments: To help students grasp the significance of Kennedy’s achievements fully, explain how she broke barriers by becoming one of the first African American women to work as a sportscaster on national television (NFL Today show) during a time when women in broadcasting were rare – let alone Black women.

3. Study her filmography and career milestones: Provide students with a list of film and television credits featuring Jayne Kennedy. Discuss her roles and what made them unique or groundbreaking at the time.

4. Analyze interviews and speeches: Show students clips or transcripts of interviews with Kennedy discussing her experiences in the entertainment industry, including the challenges she faced as an African American woman. Allow students to share their thoughts on her perspectives, relate them to current events, and discuss how far society has come or still needs to go regarding representation and equality in media.

5. Celebrate her achievements: Highlight her various accolades, such as induction into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and receiving the NAACP’s Image Award for her work on television. This will inform students of the significance of Kennedy’s influence on Hollywood and other industries.

6. Create projects related to Jayne Kennedy’s impact: Encourage students to research other African American women in broadcasting, acting, or sports journalism. This will help them see how Kennedy’s legacy lives on through those who have followed in her footsteps.


Teaching students about Jayne Kennedy provides a crucial opportunity to present a positive example of a trailblazing African American woman who succeeded in a male-dominated industry despite numerous barriers. By incorporating her story into your curriculum, you can inspire students to learn more about powerful individuals from different backgrounds and foster discussions on representation, perseverance, and overcoming adversity in all aspects of life.

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