Stetson Kennedy, Florida's last living link to the WPA Federal Writers' Project, died Saturday, August 27, at the age of 94. He had studied at the University of Florida in a class taught by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and served the Roosevelt-era project as writer and editor of Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State, still regarded as a milestone portrait of the state. At the age of 21, Kennedy was hired as director of the folklore division, in which role he "supervised" and collaborated with Zora Neale Hurston, another unemployed and little-known writer who had just published Their Eyes Were Watching God.
He later continued to write and publish work as a Florida folklorist and civil rights activist. His books included Palmetto Country, published in the American Folklore Series edited by Erskine Cladwell in 1942, and the important civil rights book I Rode with the Ku Klux Klan (also re-published as The Klan Unmasked) in 1954.
He was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2005.
Stetson Kennedy photo by Ivy Bigbee courtesy of Florida Artists Hall of Fame website, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.