H.B. and Rosa Kennedy 

Bearden biographical
401 S. Graham St.
H.B. and Rosa Kennedy’s home was not only Romare Bearden’s birthplace, but a touchstone throughout his entire life. H. B. and Rosa were born in South Carolina in 1845 and 1847, respectively. Given the time of their births, it is likely that they were born into slavery and were certainly witnesses to the Emancipation. They married in 1863 and had their only child, Rosa Catherine, Bearden's grandmother, in 1865. During this time, the Kennedys worked as servants of Dr. Joseph Wilson, father of future U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. They moved to Charlotte sometime in the 1870s, where Henry's business savvy raised the family to upper-middle class prominence. The Kennedys were a part of a larger trend of rural-to-urban migration within the South that doubled Charlotte's African American population during a period of great opportunity and prosperity from 1880 to 1920.

Rosa and H.B. Kennedy on the front porch of their home, c. 1920
© Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


Above left: Bearden's sketch of his great-grandfather's property. 1985. Pen and ink on graph paper.
© Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Above right: Romare with H. R. and Rosa Kennedy and his grandmother Rosa Catherine (Cattie) Bearden, 1912.
© Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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Works Cited:

Schwartzman, Myron. Romare Bearden: His Life and Art. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1990. Print.