Kennedy appeared with Leymah Gbowee, one of the 2009 recipients of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation "Profile in Courage" award.
Kennedy and Gbowee spoke with Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
"We started the award to really honor the virtue that my father most admired in public life, and with the idea that, by celebrating courageous elected officials, appointed officials and now, citizen activists, that hopefully, it would encourage others," Kennedy told Smith.
Gbowee received the award for her activism with the women in Liberia to end civil war.
"Just sitting and looking at the award for me is a call to action," Gbowee said, "a call that, even though Liberia is at peace, until the rest of Africa enjoying the sameness of peace, I can't retire."
Gbowee, who is featured in the award-winning documentary, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell", worked with women -- both Muslim and Christian -- to end the years of civil war under the Charles Taylor regime. Throngs of Liberian women demonstrated in the streets, wearing white T-shirts and promoting peace. Their efforts culminated in the exile of Charles Taylor and the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female head of state.
Smith asked Gbowee how she summoned the courage.
"Sometimes in life, you have a tough decision to make," she said, "especially when you've been pushed so far back that you have two options: Either you fight back or you allow yourself to be pushed through a wall and the women of Liberia, including myself, decided that we would fight back."
"But the courage," she added, "was waking up every morning and seeing that the future of our children was bleak, and we had to do something and secure their futures."
Kennedy also talked politics with Smith. Kennedy said she learned a lot during her unsuccessful effort to replace Sen. Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, which ended in January after learning she wasn't going to be picked by New York's governor.
"It was really fascinating, and actually, in many ways a wonderful experience for me," Kennedy said. "That may come as a surprise to you, but I think in our family, we've always been taught and learned and seen that there's so many ways to serve."