Kennedy Promotions International, Inc.












A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

- Mohandas Gandhi

History in Africa

An over 50-year history on the continent of Africa.

The Kennedy Family has an over 50-year history of working around the world creating new institutions, promoting African and African-American culture, and introducing new concepts of people through all forms of communication – theatre, music, fashion, art, television, radio, print and academia.


After completing his Ph.D. from Columbia University, Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy went to Africa in 1958 to do research. When he returned to America, he shared his findings through conferences and writing. Under President John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver, he was instrumental in developing the Peace Corps in Africa as a Washington-based Director. Later he decided to go into the field and became Director in Sierra Leone. His work was so outstanding he was asked to become the Washington Director for the whole region of Southeast Asia. In 1970, he co-founded Africare and served as International Director until his retirement. Africare is a leader in development assistance and humanitarian aid to Africa, as well as the oldest and largest African-American led organization in the field. For four decades, the organization has moved through every imaginable terrain delivering over $1 billion in assistance to millions of beneficiaries impacting 36 countries Africa-wide. Their 200+ programs reach families and communities in every region of Sub-Saharan Africa.


Dr. James Scott Kennedy received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from New York University, with further advanced studies at the Universities of London, Heidelberg and Paris. In his early years of teaching, he was a professor at Prairie View A&M College and Texas College in Texas, Hampton Institute in Virginia and Morgan State College in Maryland. In the 1950s, he became a professor at Long Island University and a celebrated professor at the New School for Social Research. In 1959, he joined the faculty of Brooklyn College – The City University of New York where he became one of their most outstanding professors of Theatre Arts and Communications. In 1960, when the University of Enugu in the Eastern region of Nigeria was being built, Dr. James Scott Kennedy was invited to go there to help them put in courses. He and his wife, Janie Sykes-Kennedy, were packing to go and she found out she was expecting their first child. Although they decided not to go to Africa then, in 1966 they participated in the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal. By 1967, they were asked to work at the University of Ghana in the Institute of African Studies. While living on the African continent they were invited by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to participate in the 1969 First Pan African Cultural Festival in Algiers, Algeria. In 1973, Dr. Kennedy wrote In Search of African Theatre, the first book on African Theatre. Through the 1980s and into the 1990s, Dr. James Scott Kennedy taught at the United States International University (USIU) in Nairobi and London, and founded the Now Africa Theatre Company in Kenya. After almost 40 years, when Dr. Kennedy retired from Brooklyn College, he was named Professor Emeritus to honor his work.


Mary Kennedy Carter was an early pioneer in teacher training in Africa. She received a Bachelor of Science from Ohio State University in Elementary Education and History, and a Masters from Columbia University in Curriculum and Teaching, and Comparative Education. With her outstanding education, in 1963 she was invited to become a part of the Teachers for East Africa Program. She trained elementary and secondary school teachers at the Canon Lawrence Teachers College in Lira, Uganda, and created an in-service training program in reading methods for over 500 Ugandan teachers. She also supervised Peace Corps Student Teachers at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and was Assistant to their Director of Teacher Education in the East Africa Orientation Program. In addition, she did graduate work at University of London and post graduate at Makerere University in Uganda.


With a Masters in Education and Ph.D. in Psychology and Business Management, Dr. Lillian Kennedy Beam took on the job of building the United States International University in Africa in 1984. USIUA in Nairobi was founded in 1969 when it was granted a Presidential Charter by President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta making it the first and only secular university in East Africa. In 1970, USIUA began with five American students in a house in Parklands. When Dr. Kennedy Beam arrived, there were approximately 60 to 80 students and the classes were held at the New Mayfair Hotel. In seven years she took a school described as being "The Phoenix in the Ashes," purchased 20 acres of land in Kasarani with a view of Mount Kenya, and built a fully accredited American University with 14 buildings spread over five acres of the 20-acre campus. USIUA became the best and most prestigious private university in all of Africa. In 1992, Dr. Beam was named Kenya’s First Woman Vice-Chancellor to the President of Kenya, Daniel Arap Moi. In 1993 the library – a beautiful three story wood and stone building - was opened and dedicated as the Dr. Lillian Kennedy Beam Library. Today, over 2,500 students attend the University and obtain degrees recognized internationally. She officially left USIUA in 1994, but continued as an educational consultant. With her extensive knowledge of education and the region, she built smaller village schools throughout Kenya and a university in Burundi.


The Kennedy Family’s commitment to education started with Mary Atkins, who graduated from Knoxville College in the late 1800s. It continued with her son, James A. Atkins, who was a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet," advising on education. He was a pioneer in the school system in Colorado, writing The Age of Jim Crow (1964), and the widely-referenced book Human Relations in Colorado: 1858 - 1959 (1961). The family’s love for Africa began with Cara Atkins, mother of Leon Kennedy II, Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy, Dr. James Scott Kennedy, Dr. Lillian Kennedy Beam, Irene Williams and Mary Kennedy Carter.


James Scott Kennedy, Jr. and Sheila Kennedy went to school in Accra, Ghana. Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy was born there. All three have traveled extensively throughout Africa, and have performed/produced/directed theatrical productions with the Now Africa Theatre Company in Nairobi, Kenya. Janie Sykes-Kennedy and Teresa Kennedy were consultants for a music festival in Côte d'Ivoire. Teresa has also participated in multiple World Economic Forums on Africa in Cape Town and Tanzania. Daniel Marsh Kennedy - the youngest generation of the Kennedy Family - is half Liberian.