Stetson Kennedy (1916-2011) was an author, folklorist, environmentalist, labor activist, and human rights advocate known for his infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan during the 1940s. He authored eight books, including Palmetto Country, Southern Exposure, and The Klan Unmasked. He became one of the country's pioneering folklorists while working for the WPA Florida Writers' Project, and at the age of 21, was put in charge of folklore, oral history, and ethnic studies.
After World War II, Kennedy infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan and exposed their secrets, helping Georgia authorities revoke the Klan's corporate charter. He also supplied Klan secrets to the writers of the Superman radio program which resulted in a series of four episodes in which Superman battled the KKK.
In addition to his passion for folklore, Kennedy counted as close friends famous writers and musicians, including Erskine Caldwell, Jean Paul Sartre and Woody Guthrie.
Until the very last days of his life, Kennedy continued to champion the causes that drove his decades of activism. His advice to young people was always to "pick a cause and stick to it." Kennedy's legacy lives on through his writings, Beluthahatchee Park, and the remarkable impact he made on all those who knew him.
Georgia State University Library's Southern Labor Archives' digitized collection of Stetson Kennedy papers reflect his life and work, particularly in the areas of labor and civil rights. For further research, consult the guide to the Stetson Kennedy papers at Georgia State University Library. the Stetson Kennedy research guide, and the Stetson Kennedy Official Website.
The biographical information above was taken from the Stetson Kennedy Official Website and modified; a more complete biography can be found there.
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