Monday, January 30, 2006

Stetson Kennedy - Update

An update on Stetson Kennedy.

Tonight's program, An Evening With Stetson Kennedy, focused not on Kennedy's books, but on his life. After listening to Peggy Bulger, Director of the American Folklife Center of The Library of Congress talk to Kennedy about his early years working as a writer for the WPA, collecting oral histories and ethnicity studies, and after watching radio legend Bob Edwards talk with Stetson about how he had escaped to France hoping to stop the nightmares he was having about being killed by the Klan, only to discover that French policemen wore white rain coats with capes that closely resembled Klan robes - after seeing pictures of Kennedy in the 1930s interviewing African-American singers, and in the 1940s with Langston Hughes - it was hard to see the relevance of finding fault with the way he wrote his story. His life far outweighs his books, and I can't help but question the motivations of those who would seek to diminish the man or his work at this late date. I suspect the sudden fame heaped upon The Smoking Gun has inspired others to seek fame at the expense of those more famous, without regard for their achievements.

Kamele Oupa Seane, the Director of the Intercultural Center for Peace at the University of North Florida read a letter tonight from Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu, in which Tutu accepted an invitation to serve on the board of the Stetson Kennedy Foundation. In the only comments all night that referenced Kennedy's books, or the new controversy, Seane said this, "Stetson, the world owes you a great debt, and we don't care how you wrote your book."

I agree.

Mark Pettus,
Monday, January 30, 2006

4 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger Erik Ivan James, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Shesawriter, Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins,

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at 2:48 PM Blogger Erik Ivan James said...

My first visit here. I found your last two posts (they were all I took the time to read), to be both enjoyable reads and educational.

at 6:14 PM Blogger Mark Pettus said...

So you're the one. I've either been away for too long or chose the wrong side of this argument, or both. My comment numbers are lagging, big time.

Thanks for stopping by.

at 10:08 PM Blogger Shesawriter said...


It's good to see you back! Where the heck have you been?


at 12:57 AM Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

I totally agree with you, Mark. Kennedy's life and all the good he's done far outweighs those who are trying to find fault in a work that was created more than 50 years ago.

Would these people be looking so closely and questioning the authenticity of his book if Kennedy were not still alive? I doubt it.

Next time you see Mr. Kennedy, give him the thumbs up for me for his bravery.


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