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Stetson Kennedy
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    (October 15, 1916-August 27, 2011)
    Born in Jacksonville, Florida
    Birth name was William Stetson Kennedy
    Folklorist, author and civil rights activist
    Founding member of the Florida Folklore Society
    Infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups during the 1940s
    Provided information about KKK rituals to the writers of the Superman radio series for the 16-episode 'Clan of the Fiery Cross' story arc (1946)
    Wrote 'Palmetto County' (1942), 'Southern Exposure' (1946), 'The Klan Unmasked' (1954), 'The Jim Crow Guide to the USA' (1959), 'South Florida Folklife' (1994) and 'After Appomattox: How the South Won the War' (1995)
    He said, 'I’ll leave it to the historians to decide how many times I’ve been married,' but admitted it was more than five.
    He ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign for governor of Florida (1952).
    He embellished events in 'The Klan Unmasked.' (For example, he claimed that when he appeared as a witness at the trial of several members of the white supremacist Columbians, one of them tried to stab him in the throat -- a detail oddly missing from all newspaper accounts of the trial.)
    Some of the most dramatic events in the book (such as the KKK murdering a black cab driver for having a white passenger) were actually witnessed by other undercover agents.
    Even some of his defenders said he should have clarified his actual role when 'The Klan Unmasked' was republished in the 90s.
    During the Depression, he collected oral histories in Florida with Zora Neal Hurston.
    The Library of Congress called him 'one of the pioneer folklore collectors during the first half of the 20th century.'
    When he ran for governor, Woody Guthrie wrote his campaign song.
    During the campaign, his pro-integration stance got his house firebombed.
    He helped draft the brief used by the state of Georgia to revoke the KKK's national corporate charter (1947).
    He said he had to write 'The Klan Unmasked' as a first-person thriller in order to get it published. ('I wanted to show what was happening at the time. Who gives a damn how it was written?')
    Georgia Assistant Attorney General Daniel Duke said about exposing the Klan, 'Stetson didn't do it all, but he did plenty.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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