Best known perhaps for his years of work reviving and celebrating the life and legacy of Harry T. Burleigh, Rev. Charles Kennedy, Jr. (1950-2009) was born in Puerto Rico. He graduated from East High School, attended Penn State-Behrend, and earned his degree from Scaritt College for Christian Workers in Nashville, Tennessee. Rev. Kennedy was ordained as an Elder in the Church of God in Christ and he and his wife Cynthia (Buzza) served as missionaries in Belize and Mississippi before returning to Erie. Reverend Kennedy served the Erie community as teacher, minister, musician, singer, director, and life coach.
In 1991, under the auspices of Mercyhurst College where he was then teaching, Reverend Kennedy founded the Harry T. Burleigh Society. One of the first projects of the organization was a campaign to “Bring Harry Home,” to have the remains of Harry T. Burleigh returned to Erie. Supported by Burleigh’s son Dr. Harry T. Burleigh II, that successful effort culminated with a celebratory reinternment at Erie Cemetery. In addition, Reverend Kennedy wrote and performed a one-man show about Burleigh’s life, performed in venues throughout the U.S. and overseas. He also performed artist-in-residence programs at schools, and conducted “Quiet Hero” programs that recognized (among others) heroes of the Underground Railroad.