Kennedy is located in southeastern Lamar County in the northwestern part of the state. It has a mayor/city council form of government.
The town of Kennedy was originally known as Crossroads, but the name was changed when the Georgia Pacific Railway built a station on land donated by local physician William H. Kennedy in the 1880s. The arrival of the railroad turned Kennedy into a boom town, and settlers and new businesses steadily streamed into the area over the next decade. The area’s economy was driven by the cotton industry, and gins and warehouses were constructed to handle the cotton coming in from the surrounding farms. By the early 1890s, 3,600 bales of cotton were shipped from Kennedy each year.
By the late 1880s, the town had several general stores, a drugstore, a blacksmith, a jeweler, lumber dealers, and two hotels. The town’s first newspaper began publication in 1890, and the town built a jail in 1891. Kennedy incorporated in 1895. As other communities in Lamar County began to exceed Kennedy in growth, many small businesses were unable to compete and were forced to close down. Factories gradually supplanted cotton farming as the main source of employment in the area. Kennedy High School opened in 1927 and was attended by several generations of townspeople, but burned in 1984 and was not replaced; students now attend Lamar County schools.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Kennedy recorded a population of 406. Of that number, 84.5 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 17.2 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 13.1 percent as African American, and 2.5 percent as two or more races. The town’s median household income was $42,875, and the per capita income was $26,829.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Kennedy was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Manufacturing (45.8 percent)
- Educational services, and health care and social assistance (23.5 percent)
- Construction (10.2 percent)
- Retail trade (10.2 percent)
- Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (4.8 percent)
- Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (3.0 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (1.2 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing and utilities (1.2 percent)
Students in Kennedy attend Lamar County schools; no public schools are located within the town limits.
Kennedy is bisected by State Highway 96 running northeast-southwest. County Highway 49 also runs through town south-northwest. The Luxapallila Valley Railroad, a subsidiary of the Genesee & Wyoming Railroad, operates a line between Belk, Fayette County, and Columbus, Mississippi, that runs through Kennedy.
Acee, Joe G. A History of Lamar County. 3rd ed. Vernon, Ala.: The Lamar Democrat, 1976.
Lamar County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Lamar County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.