Sunday, August 28, 2011
Stetson Kennedy dies
William Stetson Kennedy, whose radical opposition to Jim Crow racial segregation made him a pariah in his hometown early in life and an honored elder statesman late in life, died at 9:25 a.m. Saturday at Baptist Medical Center South. He was 94.
"Stetson Kennedy was a walking around reminder of the principle ... that people's basic decency outweighed the customs, laws, misconceptions and violence of racism," Mr. Kennedy's wife, Sandra Parks, wrote in a statement. "Although millions of white Southerners were uneasy about segregation, Stetson was among the few who took the risks of direct action against it."....
A good deal of the material he gathered ended up in Palmetto Country, which was part of the American Folkways Series edited by Erskine Caldwell. Many people consider it Mr. Kennedy's finest book.
"I think it set the stage for a lot of other folklore books for the general public," said Peggy Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, who wrote her doctoral dissertation on Mr. Kennedy.
In 2003, the Friends of Libraries USA designated Beluthahatchee the nation's 63rd Literary Landmark.
The final draft of Woody Guthrie's autobiography, Seeds of Man, Guthrie composed more than 80 songs while in residence at Beluthahatchee, almost all of which had to do with the “sense of place”, and human rights issues inspired by Kennedy’s writings. The 2003 nomination by the Florida Center for the Book and the Council for Florida Libraries the Friends of Libraries – USA designated Beluthahatchee a Literary Landmark (No. 83 in the National Register). An additional marker, in Kennedy’s name, was also approved, to be erected following his demise.