GOV. ROBERT F. KENNON KENNON 2

Submitted by Jason Lumpkin

Sesquicentennial History of Minden 1836 to 1986

Submitted by Ann Mays Harlan

This article might be of interest to the Minden Memories readers. It is from the Internet encyclopedia called Wikipedia. It has a lot of information about Minden.

         Submitted by BIlly Hathorn

Robert F. Kennon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

Robert Floyd Kennon (August 12, 1902 - January 11, 1988) was the Democratic governor of the state of Louisiana, from 1952-1956.

After the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Kennon said that the Louisiana state legislature would provide a public school system "which will include segregation in fact." Kennon also ordered the enforcement of laws relating to segregation. Desegregation, however, began under Kennon's successor, Earl Kemp Long, but was not completed in Louisiana until the fall of 1970.

On numerous occasions, the conservative Kennon backed Republican candidates for President, such as Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, and Gerald Ford.

After his term ended in 1956, Kennon unsuccessfully attempted to run for Governor again in 1963. In the Democratic primary, he ran fourth and was eliminated from a runoff between Public Service Commissioner John McKeithen of Columbia and the more liberal contender, former New Orleans Mayor deLesseps Story Morrison. McKeithen won the runoff and the ensuing general election. Kennon did not endorse either primary candidate, but his nephew, Edward Kennon, a future public service commissioner from Minden, stumped for the Catholic Morrison, known by the nickname "Chep," much to the consternation of many of his uncle's conservative and Protestant supporters in north Louisiana.

 

Early life and education

Kennon was the fifth child of Floyd and Annie Laura Bopp Kennon. An avid Boy Scout, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout. He grew up in Minden, Louisiana, (Webster Parish) and graduated from Minden High School in 1919. He told classmates, many of them skeptical, that he would one day be the governor of Louisiana. After high school, he attended LSU, where he received many honors. At the end of his freshman year, he received an award for the best academic record. He was captain of his company in ROTC, as well as the vice president of the Interfraternity Council. He also partcipated in debate team and wrote for the school paper. He earned his first letter playing center for the LSU football team. He helped organize LSU's tennis team and was one of the first two people to letter in tennis at LSU. He graduated from LSU in June 1923.

Kennon graduated from LSU Law School in June 1925. In July 1925, he passed the bar exam at the age of 22. By the time he was 23, he had successfully challenged the incumbent Minden mayor, Connell Fort, making him the youngest mayor in the United States. Although his term was considered to be successful, he did not seek reelection. He was a commander in the National Guard during his stint as mayor.

Early Political Career

In 1930, he won the election for District Attorney for the 26th Judicial District and would serve for 11 years. He also married Eugenia Sentell that year. Eugenia was a graduate of Louisiana Tech and taught home economics. More importantly, she was a wonderful hostess and was able to cultivate several friendships that would later play key roles in her husband's race for Governor.

During his time as the D.A., he chose not to seek indictments for several high profile cases, even though there was enough evidence to support the indictments. He was very popular with many citizens of Webster Parish and North Louisiana. During this time, he had also attained the rank of Lt. Colonel in the National Guard, making him one of the highest ranked officers. He was active with the Masonic Lodge and was named Most Worshipful Grand Master of Louisiana Masons in 1936.

Kennon took advantage of his growing circle of influential friends and ran for the Justice of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1940. He almost won a victory in the primary, but he was just shy of it with 46 percent of the vote. In the run off, his opponent was the incumbent Judge Harmon C. Drew, a fellow citizen of Minden. He was a powerful opponent, and the Drew family has often held judicial positions in North Louisiana for 150 years. The race was close, with quite a bit of mud slinging. Kennon won by a margin of 9,000 votes, but he did not carry his home parish (Webster) or Bossier Parish.

The seat would not become vacant until 1942. As an active member of the National Guard, he was called to duty in 1941. Although Kennon did not see active combat, he did not return home from World War II until May 1945. Judge Drew served as justice until Kennon returned to claim his seat in 1945.

When U.S. Senator John Overton died in office, a special election was called. Kennon's opponent, Russell B. Long of the Huey Long family was not quite 30, still too young to take office at the time the election. It was a close election, but Kennon ultimately lost by about 11,000 votes. However, since the race was so close, many of the anti-Long faction began to consider Kennon as a possible candidate for governor.

He therefore ran for governor in the 1951 Democratic primary and won the party nomination over Judge Carlos Spaht of Baton Rouge, who had the backing of the Long organizers Spaht's running-mate for lieutenant governor was a future governor, John McKeithen. Kennon trounced Republican Harrison Bagwell, a token opponent, in the 1952 general election.

As governor, Kennon was remember for bringing voting machines to all precincts to replace paper ballots still used in some rural parishes.

Compliments of Jason Lumpkin

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Newspaper articles  & Inauguration articles compliments of Neil Baker, Class of 1956

The Inauguration Continues for Gov. Robert Kennon and Lt. Governor C. F. Barnham

                               

               

              Gov. Robert Kennon     and     Lt. Gov. C. E. Barham

SEE PAGE 6 - MINDEN HIGH SCHOOL BAND BELOW

  PAGE 6  Minden Band, LA. National Guard (Minden, La.) 3045

  Governor Elect Robert Kennon

Ruston High School  Band  (Float) & La. Tech , Lincoln Parish and Ouachita Parish

Union Parish was not represented

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