Lenny's Legacy: Kitty Bruce
Under the display labeled “Family” in the Brandeis University Archives, an abundance of black and white family photos gaze up at the viewer. In some of the photos, Kitty Bruce, daughter of Lenny Bruce, is only a toddler. “I am extremely relieved and very proud that the archives have found a home at Brandeis,” Kitty Bruce wrote in an email interview with the Justice. She hopes that scholars, fans, students, lawmakers and educators from all over the world will utilize the archives to learn from the extensive achievements Lenny Bruce accomplished in his lifetime. One of the most important legacies Lenny Bruce leaves behind is, of course, his fight for First Amendment rights.
“With regard to the subject of political correctness, all I can say is that people are so politically correct that they have become incorrect. Words are not the problem. It’s the deeds behind the words, that’s the real issue. My father always said, ‘It’s the suppression of the word that gives it the power.’” Kitty Bruce said when asked to reflect on the current political climate of free speech. Lenny Bruce’s work advocating for free speech also makes Brandeis a well suited home for his archives. “To my understanding Louis Brandeis came up against some very heavy opposition in his day and continued to accomplish many ‘firsts,’” Kitty Bruce said.
Her father unquestionably was able to do the same, despite legal struggles and his own battles with drug addiction. In 2008, 42 years after the death of her father, Kitty Bruce founded the Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation. “[I] will continue to work for The Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation in my father’s honor,” Kitty Bruce said. The Foundation provides scholarships to those who are in need of treatment for drug addiction and alcoholism. Kitty Bruce works closely with treatment programs and is working to ensure the long term success of the Foundation’s beneficiaries. “Reflecting on my father’s career his accomplishments and achievements I would have to say I am very proud to be his daughter,” Kitty Bruce concluded.