EVENTS 'n HAPPENINS'

Beluthahatchee is the venue for a monthly concert series entitled "Second Sunday at Stetson’s." The concerts are sponsored by the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, The North Florida Folk Network (NFFN) and St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Department. Beluthahatchee was dedicated as the only National Literary Landmark honoring two writers. Stetson Kennedy’s friend and folksinger Woody Guthrie wrote his autobiography Seeds of Man there.

Music and performers for the monthly series will be in line with the causes of the Stetson Kennedy Foundation of human rights, social justice, environmental stewardship, and the preservation and growth of folk culture.

Space is limited and reservations are required. Call (904) 206-8304 and leave a voice message, a $10 donation is recommended. The park will open at 1 pm with tours of Stetson's house and museum before and after the concert. Park closes at 5 pm.

Welcome

With half a dozen Stetson Kennedy's, we can transform our society into one of truth, grace and beauty... Studs Terkel

Klan Docs Exposed
Klan Docs Unmasked!

The Stetson Kennedy Foundation has posted more on its website the Klan's secrets, collected by Kennedy during a lifetime exposing homegrown hate groups.

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ministry sermon
The Stetson Kennedy Foundation

The papers and writings of Stetson Kennedy, firebrand activist, writer, and folklorist of the American South, have been donated to the University of Florida by the Stetson Kennedy Trust Read More

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Kennedy Videos

From Drunk History to Soul of a People - Watch Laugh and Learn

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He ain't the worlds best writer, nor the worlds best speller but when he believes in somthin' he's the loudest yeller Woody Guthrie

1916 Jacksonville, a child was born that couldn't sit still.... Steve Blackwell

Stetson Kennedy b. 1916 Jacksonville Florida d. 2012 Fruit Cove Florida

Momma frequently offered me a dime if I would sit still for one minute. I never earned any Stetson


Born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1916, Stetson Kennedy’s heart always belonged to the palmettos and the people of his home state. Drawn to the complexities of what he witnessed in the South and the range of folks he met there, Stetson hunted down answers rather than shrugging at questions. As a teenager, he began gathering Southern white and African American folklore material while he worked for his father, a furniture merchant. .

He left the University of Florida in 1937 to join the WPA’s Florida Writers' Project, and at the age of 21 was put in charge of folklore, oral history, and ethnic studies. While he was with the WPA, he oversaw the work of African American writer Zora Neal Hurston, among others.

Around the end of World War II, Kennedy infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups. Kennedy made public the clandestine code words and details of Klan rituals, and even shared Klan secrets with writers of the Superman radio program, culminating in “The Clan of the Fiery Cross,” a series of episodes in which Superman battled the KKK—and won, of course. Kennedy realized that mockery could be a valuable weapon, and that reframing and retelling the story of the hate group was an important tool.

A founding member and past president of the Florida Folklore Society, Kennedy was a recipient of the Florida Folk Heritage Award and the Florida Governor's Heartland Award, and was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. In addition to his passion for folklore, Kennedy was friends with many literary giants including Erskine Caldwell, who eventually edited Kennedy's book on Floridian folklore, Palmetto Country. While living in Paris in the 1950s, Kennedy befriended Jean Paul Sartre, who published his Jim Crow Guide when no one in the U.S. would. Kennedy also maintained a lifelong friendship with musician Woody Guthrie, who wrote numerous songs while staying at Beluthahatchee, Kennedy's home in Fruit Cove, FL.

Kennedy is known for his books Southern Exposure, The Klan Unmasked (formerly, I Rode with the KKK), and his posthumous Grits and Grunts, among others. He has been discovered and rediscovered by authors, young scholars, academics, filmmakers, musicians and journalists alike. Up until his death in 2011, Kennedy continued to champion the human rights causes that drove his life of activism. His advice to young people was always to "Pick a cause and stick to it." The legacy of Stetson Kennedy lives on through his writings, Beluthahatchee Park, and the impact he made on all those who have benefitted from his brave heart, curious mind and sharp pen. His mind, we are reminded, remained razor sharp until the end. The attending physician at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where Stetson was rushed by ambulance, asked "Where are you Stetson"?. To which Stetson replied "planet Earth".

Books By Stetson

I write not for literary impact but for political impact. Stetson Kennedy

It's my belief that writers, like ordinary people, serve one of two purposes in life: either social or anti-social. I cannot see how a writer can be neutral Stetson Kennedy

'Stetson-isms'