Sunday, August 28, 2011

stetson kennedy rip...,

Video - Audio overview of the late great Stetson Kennedy.

LATimes | Author and folklorist Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s and delivered a major blow by exposing 'all their secret handshakes, passwords and how silly they were,' one scholar says.

Author and folklorist Stetson Kennedy, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan six decades ago and exposed its secrets but decades later was criticized for appearing to exaggerate his exploits, died Saturday at a medical center near St. Augustine, Fla. He was 94.

The death was announced on his website.

In his 1954 book "I Rode With the Ku Klux Klan," Kennedy wrote that he gained entrance to the Klan by posing as an encyclopedia salesman and using the name of an uncle who was a Klan member. The book was rereleased in 1990 as "The Klan Unmasked."

"Exposing their folklore — all their secret handshakes, passwords and how silly they were, dressing up in white sheets" was one of the strongest blows delivered to the Klan, Peggy Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, told the Associated Press in 2007.

"If they weren't so violent, they would be silly," said Bulger, who wrote her doctoral thesis on Kennedy's work as a folklorist.

After a back injury kept him out of the military during World War II, Kennedy began crusading against what he called "homegrown racial terrorists." He served as director of fact-finding for the southeastern office of the Anti-Defamation League and as director of the Anti-Nazi League of New York.

With evidence salvaged from the grand dragon's wastebasket, he enabled the Internal Revenue Service to press for collection of an outstanding $685,000 tax lien from the Klan in 1944 and he helped draft the brief used by the state of Georgia to revoke the Klan's national corporate charter in 1947. He also testified in other Klan-related cases.

In the late 1940s, Kennedy exposed the Klan's secrets on the national stage through the "Superman" radio series, which used information he provided in episodes titled "Clan of the Fiery Cross."


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