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The Stetson Kennedy Papers

The Papers of Stetson Kennedy, firebrand activist, writer and folklorist of the American South, were officially dedicated at the University of Florida on October 22, 2013.

Kennedy, best known for exposés on the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, attended the University of Florida in 1935 but chaffed at the demands of college classes. Instead, he joined the ranks of the Federal Writers Project, then preparing the American Guide Series on Florida. As a member of the FWP he worked with Zora Neale Hurston and Alan Lomax, learned the art of oral history, and began to speak out against the Jim Crow culture of racial discrimination.

In a life that spanned almost a century, and a writing career of some 80 years, Stetson Kennedy (1916-2011) epitomized the energy and drive of American social activism. He infiltrated the Georgia Klan in 1945-1946 and traveled to Cold War Europe in 1952 to speak against forced labor and racial violence in the U.S. His writings and advocacy for social justice brought him into contact with Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Richard Wright, Woody and Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Studs Terkel, Erskine Caldwell and Florida freedom fighters Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore.

Many of his books have become classics, including Palmetto Country (1942), his anthology of Florida folk culture, and his three works targeting racial discrimination, Southern Exposure (1946), The Klan Unmasked (1954), and The Jim Crow Guide to the U.S.A. (1956). He was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2005.

Design by Amanda Beyer-Purvis with text by James Cusick.