Stetson Kennedy to be honored on 85th birthday
September/October 2001

The Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice is holding a celebration to honor author, activist, and folk hero Stetson Kennedy on Saturday, October 6th, from 2-8pm at the Peace Education Center of the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice Teaching Farm in Hampton, Florida.

Stetson Kennedy was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1916. As a teenager he began collecting Cracker and African-American folksay material while he was collecting "dollar down and dollar a week" accounts for his father, a furniture merchant. He left the University of Florida in 1937 to join the WPA Florida Writers' Project, and at the age of 21, was put in charge of folklore, oral history, and ethnic studies.

Kennedy's first book, Palmetto Country, appeared in 1942 as a volume in the American Folkways Series. Folklorist Alan Lomax has said of it, "I very much doubt that a better book about Florida folklife will ever be written." To which Woody Guthrie added, "gives me a better trip and taste and look and feel for Florida than I got in the forty-seven states I've actually been in body and tramped in boot."

In the aftermath of WWII Kennedy infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan and other racist/terrorist groups and subsequently authored a number of books dealing with human rights, including The Klan Unmasked, Southern Exposure, Jim Crow Guide, and After Appomattox: How the South Won the War, some of which have been widely translated into foreign languages.

A founding member and past president of the Florida Folklore Society, Kennedy is a recipient of the Florida Folk Heritage Award and the Florida Governor's Heartland Award.

Special guest attendees at the celebration will include Folk musicologist Alan Lomax and his daughter Anna, (Alan was designated a "National Treasure" By The Library Of Congress); Woody Guthrie's daughter Nora and her husband (public radio producer); Florida folk singers Frank & Anna Thomas (who will perform their Ballad of Stetson Kennedy) and others.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the Stetson Kennedy Celebration and Fundraiser, contact the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice at PO Box 336, Graham, Florida 32042 (352) 468-3295

email: Requested donation is on a sliding scale, $10-100.

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