Orange County honors Arthur ‘Pappy’ Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.

‘Pappy’ Kennedy was Orlando’s first African-American council member

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy prayer breakfast is typically held every year inside the First Baptist Church of Orlando, with hundreds of people in attendance. But organizers, including the YMCA of Central Florida, didn’t let COVID-19 cancel this year’s event.

Instead, a pre-recorded video was posted online so everyone can reflect on the lives and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy.

During the virtual event, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings spoke about how King and Kennedy paved the way for him. Demings grew up in Orlando and was 13 years old when Kennedy was elected Orlando’s first African-American commissioner in 1973.

“He was a man of great character, who broke the color barrier in this community for black elected officials. He was a leader (who) embraced the community and provided a voice for all residents he served,” Demings said.

The civil rights pioneer would be re-elected for another term in 1976, garnering 78% of the vote, the largest percentage in Orlando’s history.

“Once again reminding us of Dr. Kings words: That a world where people are judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin, is the kind of world that’s best for us all,” said Dr. Collin Outbridge, lead pastor of Nona Church and the keynote speaker for the 30th annual event.

“As we reflect on the lives of Pappy Kennedy and Dr. King, we can see some common things. They both faced great obstacles throughout their journey and yet, both remain dedicated to making the world a better place through public service,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

During the event, Dr. Olivia Allen Chaney was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Chaney is certified by The American Board of Pediatrics and is a member of The American Academy of Pediatrics. In 1978, Dr. Chaney became the first African American pediatrician to practice medicine in Central Florida.

The YMCA of Central Florida and Southwest Orlando Jaycees are continuing their tradition of offering a $1,500 Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy Scholarship to a local high school senior. The deadline to submit an application is February 15. The winner will be announced March 5.

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