May 8, 2021

Florida Icon

Icon: Stetson Kennedy

Writer, human rights crusader, folklorist. Deceased August 27, 2011, age of 94.

Amy Keller | 7/1/2006
The years in which I infiltrated the Klan was in part during WWII. The Klan was afraid to operate under its old name ... so the Klan adopted all kinds of front names, and in Virginia, for example, it called itself the American Service Patrol and in Georgia things like the Sons of Dixie. And here in Florida, the Confederate Underground. And I infiltrated all those things.

Stetson Kennedy
Stetson Kennedy [Photo: Kelly LaDuke]
It was not just black-white relations that bothered me, but poverty and malnutrition. Florida and the whole South was listed on all the maps as a hunger area of the world, and you could see kids bowlegged for life because they hadn't had any calcium in their diet. And as a teenager, I was seeing sights like mothers giving their newborn infant to the family dog to suckle because she didn't have any milk, either breast or bottled or canned. And that's a pretty traumatic experience for a teenager. It's sort of food for thought, you might say.

It's been a hand-to-mouth career, and I don't recommend it when I'm talking to university and high school students. I'm quick to tell them I don't recommend that sort of ... crusading journalism. There's no money in it.

My first wife, I married a girl from Key West, Edith. Edith Ogden. Edith Ogden-Aguilar ... she was always begging me to please write just one best seller. And then go back to world-saving.

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