Stetson Kennedy and Environmental Stewardship

Material Information

Stetson Kennedy and Environmental Stewardship
Haily, Joshua
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Boxes ( jstor )
Death ( jstor )
Environmental conservation ( jstor )
Folk culture ( jstor )
Folklore ( jstor )
Humanity ( jstor )
Humans ( jstor )
Keys ( jstor )
Legacies ( jstor )
Nature ( jstor )
City of Palmetto ( local )


Stetson Kennedy was a twentieth-century folklorist, human rights activist, and environmental steward, who was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. Kennedy supported three main causes for most of his life: the preservation of traditional cultures, the protection of human rights, and the stewardship of nature. Although these causes appear to be vastly different, he perceived them as a single, interrelated cause. Scholars have previously examined his interest in folklore and his infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan during the mid—1940s while underestimating or completely overlooking his relationship with the natural world. This work is not a comprehensive biography, but rather an examination of his environmentalism for the purpose of understanding how his perception of the environment impacted his own life. It also highlights the mutual relationship between environmental stewardship, his examination of folklore, and his support of human rights. ( en )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Joshua Hailey. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text


Stetson Kennedy and Environmental Stewardship Josh Hailey


Acknowledgements I wish to express my sincere thanks to the following people who made this project possible: Dr. Steve Noll, Dr. Jessica Harland Jacobs, Ralph Pat rello, Karen Roumillat, Sandra Parks, Jim Cusick, Miche le Wilbanks, and the entire Special Area Studies Collections staff at the Univer sity of Florida.


Table of Contents .. Defending Nature: Environmental Activism ................... Bibliography


by our species of a right o f stewardship over the world of nature, if it is to have any validity whatever , must be predicated upon faithful fulfillment of the responsibilities of Stetson Kennedy , Afterword update , Palmetto Country , 2009


1 Discovering Nature: Childhood Near the beginning of the twentieth first century, on a warm summer morning in Fruit Cove, Florida, near Jacksonville, an aging man was performing his daily ritual. He stood in his cedar house with his forehead firmly pressed against the glass window the only thing separating him from Mother Nature. He longed to be outside under the radiant sun. On that morning, the man observed the stillness of the lake, and he identified several herons resting high above the murky w ater in rookeries that he had built. He watched them come and go in silence. Artifacts from his travels occupied most of the space in the small room where he was standing, windowsills. Before finally stepping outside onto the wooden deck, he moved away from the The man was a twentieth century author, activist, folklorist, and environmental steward. His name was Stetson Kennedy. 1 Throughout his life, Kennedy embodied the mutual relationship between humans and nature, proving that humans and the natural world are inseparable. Despite his lifelong connection with the environment, s cholars underestimate or completely overlook the insight he provided into the nature and instead focus on his examina tion of folklore and human rights activism. This is an examination of key moments environment provides insight into his life and legacy of folklore and human rights. His perception of the natural world not only defined his life and career but also exemplified the 1


2 timeless, reciprocal relationship between the promotion of human rights, preservation of folklore, and environmental stewardship. The environment was a v Jacks onville, Florida. From the time he could walk, he spent more time in the water than on land. He would later claim that he grew up in the river as opposed to on it. If he was not swimming in the river, then he was collecting plant and animal specimens n earby. As a self his adventures included imitating his hero Robin Hood by stealing plumbs from his rich neighbors . This particular game illustrated a bond between folktales, justice, and natur e: several passions that would shape his adult life. Even his favorite childhood books, Tarzan and Bomba the Jungle Boy , portrayed novels were about feral hum ans. Mirroring the characters in his favorite books, he often felt closer to nature than human society. 2 For Kennedy, the wilderness was more than a playground or a place to explore. It was a spiritual place. During the 1920s, prior to his teenage years , his family occasionally spent their summers in Hendersonville, North Carolina. During one particular stay, h e organized a group of ritual for initiation and 2 Stetson Kennedy, interview by Gary Mormino, January 23, 1986, transcript, box 6 labeled Interviews, 1 3 , Stetson Kennedy Papers, Department of Special Area and S tudies Collections, Smathers Library, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida n.d., binder labeled Stetson Kennedy on Folk Culture, Stetson Kennedy Papers ; Sandra Parks, interview by the author , December 18, 2014.


3 members carved hickory canes to symbol ize their comradery. He appeared to be seeking a holy place within the context of his imaginative game; in r eality, he had already found it. 3 Kennedy was not a religious person. But his connection with the natural world made him a profoundly spiritual pe rson . His father , George Kennedy, was a chairman of the board of deacons at a Baptist church in Jacksonville . On Sundays m the neighborhood children and brought them to Sunday school . Kennedy did not always go willingly . told his father. He would rather spend his Sunday mornings In high school, he and his friends forged the signature of their teachers using a rubberstamp, which resulted in less time inside in a classroom and more time outside in nature amongst the moss draped oaks, chuck widow, and croaking bullfrogs . After school , he drove around all of N ortheas t Florida in search of streams and lakes whe re he could fish for black bass. 4 zoology or forestry after high school. He collected numerous plant and animal specimens t As a Boy S cout, he He later claimed that he was the first Boy Scout in the state of Florida to receive that particular badge. One specific encounter with wildlife had a profound influence on the rest of his life. He kept rabbits and other rodents in small cages, but realiz ed that overcrowding damaged their 3 Stetson Kennedy, untitled m anusc ript, n.d., folder 7, box 5 labeled Perso nal Files, Awards and Honors, Stetson Kennedy Papers ; Stetson Kennedy, u ntitled manuscript, n.d., box labeled Naturalist Manif esto. Manuscript in 4 Studs Terkel, (New York: The New Press, 1995), 392; Stetson Kennedy, untitled manuscript, folder 7, box 5 labeled Personal File s, Awards and H onors, Stetson Kennedy Papers; Stetson Kennedy, White Boy, labeled Unpublished Works, Stets on Kennedy Papers, 5 .


4 emotional and physical health. The animals living in close proximity to one another exhibited signs of cannibalism and aggression, so he set them free. In contrast, the rabbits that he encountered in the wilderness ap peared to thrive. While reflecting on this experience as an adult, in a hutch He moved his specimens, including snakes, lizards, and frogs, into storage by the end of his senior year, symbolizing a difficult transition out of boyhood and into manhood. 5 re bu siness after high school. The Most furniture businesses in the area reclaimed their products tables, stoves, beds, chairs, cabinets, etc. without hesitation, but Ke man social service George Kennedy grew up on a cotton plantati on in Bullock County, Georgia. to He eventually moved to Jacksonville, got married, and started his own furniture business. Kennedy said that his father 6 ar a week policy, but he made exceptions for customers with no source of income. Some clients, however, stopped paying for the ir furniture altogether . Stetson Kennedy repossessed furniture from such customers. His job routi nely involved traveling on the back roads in rural communities to 5 White Boy Papers, 5; Stetso n Kennedy, untitled manuscript, n.d., f older 7, box 5 labeled Personal Files, Awards and Honors, Stetson Kennedy Papers; n.d., box labeled Naturalist 6 Studs Terkel, (New York: The New Press, 1995), 77 ; Ibid., 393 .


5 reclaim stoves, beds, and other pieces of furniture. The people who lived in these areas usually walked around bare footed, promoting the spread of hookworm, and since their houses had no electricity, kerosene lamps wer their speech, Kennedy wrote down notes on the speech of black and white customers . Working for his father was an important moment in his life, exposing him to both folklore and human int eractions with the environment. 7 traveled to south Florida near present day Miami finding skeeters and Nearly ten years after his initial Stetson. The landscape was not how Kennedy Sr. had remembered it. Now human made structures defined the landscape instead of n atural flora and fauna. In response to the seemingly humankind as a seriou s threat to Mother Nature but it certainly would not be the last. 8 7 Stetson Kennedy, Whit e Boy Papers, 5. 8 Stetson Kennedy, Palmetto Country (Cocoa: Flori da Historical Press, 2007), 354; Ibid.


6 Observing Nature: Rawlings, Key West, and the WPA Robert E. Lee High School in the spring of 1934. Later that year, he attended the University of Florida, where he audited a creative writing class taught by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. He never recalled taking a class taught by Rawlings despite the class appearing on his transcripts. Whereas the conten written work influenced his perception of the natural world. His first encounter with Rawlings was in the early 1930s before the publication of her first novel South Moon Under in 1933. She Ewell. In 1928, Rawlings left Rochester, New York, where she had been writing for the Rochester Journal, and moved to Florida with her husband Charles. She used her inheritance and savings to purchase a seventy two acre orange grove near Hawthorne, Florida. Her house, s ituated between Orange Lake and Lockloosa Lake on a hamlet named Cross Creek, was the namesake of her book Cross Creek published in 1942. Zora Neale Hurston, who would work with Kennedy during the late 1930s, was also a frequent visitor at Cross Creek. K ennedy was very familiar with Cross Creek. As a teenager, he frequently drove 9 Inspired by the flora and fauna near Cross Creek and the surrounding area, Kennedy wrote nature poems. Several of his poems and short stories were published in a variety of sources including the Florida Review . , her work According to Kennedy, Rawlings had 9 n.d., box labeled Naturalist Manifesto, 1. possession; Ibid.


7 From his of protecting it from human exploitation. He described Rawling s ot unlike that between a male and fem ale, parent and progeny. Although, mystical to us, it is one of He would maintain limited contact with his teacher in the recommended th The Yearling name. The position, however, was filled by the time he contacted the production compa ny. Two years later, he asked her to review his first book Palmetto Country , but she told him that she K e nnedy left the University of Florida after less than one year of With the next phase of his life relationship with the environment would never be the same. 10 In September 1935, trek south ended i n Key West. F ascinated by relationship between the inhabitants of the island and the environment, he witnessed firsthand the mutual relationship between humans and the natural world. variety of different cultures incl 10 n.d., box labeled Naturalist Manifesto, 7. possession; Ibid., Ibid.,8; Ibid., 7; Marjorie K. Rawlings to Stetson Kennedy, May 14, 1940, Stet son Kennedy Papers; Stetson Kennedy to Marjorie K. Rawlings, August 11, 1942, Stetson Kennedy Papers; Stetson Kennedy, n.d., binder labeled Stetson Kennedy on Folk Culture, Stetson Kennedy Papers .


8 together w cisterns, relied on locally caught fish for food, and made charcoal for fuel. He also saw tropical flora and fauna that could not be found in Jacksonville. He thought th at if the people in Key West could live sustainably and respect traditional cultures simultaneously, then people in America could do the same. 11 Kennedy arrived in Key West in the aftermath of the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane: one of the most intense storms in recorded history. The hurricane reached the mainland on September congregated in bars on Duval Street. A majority of the casualties caused by the storm were World War I veterans , hired by the federal government to build highways and bridges in the Keys. Members of the U.S. Coast Guard w ho surveyed the and 3 as unreachable. The storm also mode of transportation. Members of the Coast Guard s potted the train that was supposed to zones, inadequate publicizi ng of storm warnings, and lack of public instruction as to He was not the only person who considered the deaths of the FERA Report on the Florida t Hemingway, the famous author and Key West resident, sought to find out who was truly 11 Sandra Parks, in Stetson Kennedy, Grits & Grunts: Folkloric Key West (Sarasota: Pineapple Press Inc., 2008), 3 .


9 to property. But veterans, especially the bonus marching variety of veterans, are not property. Conservative estimates place the death toll at over four hundred people and over half of the death toll included veterans enrolled in the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The deaths of the veterans led Kenn edy to believe that the Labor Day Hurricane He came to the conclusion that while people can reduce the danger of hurricanes , nothing can prevent shaped the natural wo rld, nature impacted human life. 12 The Labor Day hurricane interrupted plans to transform Key West into a tourist destination. In 1934 , one year before the hurricane, rida. David Sholtz, the Governor of Florida, then gave the island to the U. S. Federal Government, which placed it under the watch of Julius F. Stone and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. Efforts to renovate the island included roughly four th ousand volunteers who pledged countless hours of labor for public improvements. Kennedy participated in the island wide cleanup, collecting seaweed on the beaches. He considered the collection of seaweed steady work because the tide was constantly litter ing the beach with debris. Other FERA projects included the construction of recreational facilities, including parks, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, beach cabanas, and hotels. ht that tourism could benefit people and the environment in some situations, but he claimed that it devastated Key West. In the words of historian Gary 12 Stetson Kennedy, Grits & Grunts: Folkloric K ey West (Sarasota: Pinea pple Press Inc., 2008), 108 ; Ibid., 109; Stetson Kennedy, Palmetto Country (Cocoa: The Florida Historical Society Press, 2009, 1942) , 38 ; Ibid., 47; Ernest New Masses, September 17, 1935, 9, accessed October 2014, NewMasses 1935sep17 00009 American Red Cross South Florida Region , accessed October 2014 , remembering the 1935 labor day hurricane.html ; Stetson Kennedy, Palmetto Country , 42; Ibid.


10 dialectic upon Florida: the more people that come to enjoy lakes, river, and beaches, the less appealing Although Mormino was referring to the tourism industry on the Florida mainland, his words applied to the impact of tourism on Key West during the mid 1930s. 13 The including the island s first settlers. Kennedy claimed that ounds in the Other jobs related to the fishing industry included commercial fishing, selling bait, and peddling seafood. He believed that occupations possessed a cultural significance as well. In twentieth centur assumption that l ocals live d in harmony with large sea turtle population. The turtling industry, including the making and canning of turtle soup, boomed in the 1930s. As the demand for turtle soup and other related products increased, the sea turtle population decreased . inexhau stible, but of course it has been proven otherwise to the determinant of the The decline of the sea turtle population was certainly not the first time that humans exploited the natural world in the name of profit. By the l ate nineteenth century, hunters had nearly eliminated the bison population from the Great Plains. 13 Stetson Kennedy, Grits & Grunts: Folkloric Key West (Sarasota: Pineap ple Press Inc., 2008), 42; Ibid ; Gary Mormino, Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams (Gainesville: University of Florida Press), 119.


11 willingness to exploit the natural world for profit. When humans profited at the expense of the environment, Kennedy noticed. 14 Kennedy spent most of his time in Key West observing the local way of life, collecting folklore material, and recording oral histories . The work of local artist named Mario Sanchez Sanchez lived across the street from Kennedy on the corner of Duval and Louisa Street. Born in 1908, Sanchez grew up on the streets of Key West. During the mid 1930s, he started making replica fishes out of carved wood. He sold his art at local stores anywhere from a dollar and fifty cents to three dollars. Hi s mother in law suggested that he stop making fish and start painting street scenes that highlighted li fe on the island. A local shop owner bought his first street scene Locals appreciated Nature played an important role in his art. Sometimes he portrayed nature as a silent observer, such as billowy white clouds high above the street or crisscrossing palm trees standing silently in the background. Other times nature was an active partici pant including cows idling in the street to recor d life on the island, Kennedy used both the spoken and written word. 15 When Kennedy submitted an excerpt from an oral history to Direction Magazine , which Isleño 14 Stetson Kennedy, Grits & Grunts: Folkloric Key West (Sarasota: Pineapple Press Inc., 2008), 21; Ibid.; Ibid, 22; Ibid., 27; Ted Steinberg, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 128. 15 Stetson Kennedy, Gri ts & Grunts: Folkloric Key West , 99.


12 in 1921. Cabeza, a World War I veteran originally from Canary Islands, owned a small coffee ee. Isleño was determined to fight back against the Klan after his near death experience. Mere days after the attack, he managed to exact revenge killing one Klan member before military personnel apprehended him during a shootout. A couple of hours late r, a mob of Klansmen removed Isleño from his cell and roped him to a car dragging him through the streets. body hanging from a light pole to warn 16 The death of Isleño became an important p art of Key West folklore. Locals attributed the that Is claiming that the site of his hanging was where the blight originated. The story involving d him to write folklore, human rights, and nature . 17 In 1937, Frances recommended Kennedy to Corita Dogget Corse, director of folklore at the Works Progress Adminis Corse hired Kennedy, at the age of twenty one , based on 16 Stetson Kennedy, Grits & Grunts: Folkloric Key West (Sarasota: Pineapple Press Inc., 2008), 87 ; Ibid., 88; Ibid., 89 17 Ibid., 86.


13 Within a year, he commanded the unit on folklore, oral history, and social ethnic studies. He moved back to Jacksonville, where he order to complete the hiring process . He said, you had no job, no money, no property, no He earned thirty seven dollars and fifty cents every two weeks as a junior interviewer. Kennedy and his staff gather ed folklore from 1937 to 1942 and during that time he provided his team with instruc tions for collecting material in the field before embarking on the five year treasure hunt. He said, geography, climate, flora, fauna, peoples, and occ prior exper iences, including his time in Key West, helped him perceive the connecti ons between folklore and nature. 18 Zora Neale Hurston, a black writer and folklorist from Eatonville, Florida , joined the Florida W The relationshi p between Kennedy and Hurston exemplified the prevail ing perceptions of race in the late 1930s. A white man seen working with a black woman was a violation of racial boundaries in the South, so they primarily communicated by mail, only working together in person on rare instances. One of those infrequent occasions involved visiting a turpentine camp in West Florida. By the early nineteenth century, the turpentine industry expanded to include small farmers and planters, making it an importan t part of the S Pine derived resources ranked third in exports from the South by the mid nineteenth century. After the Civil War, Florida became infamous for its turpentine camps , which producers preferred over 18 n.d., binder labeled Stetson Kennedy on Folk Culture, Stetson Kennedy Papers ; Studs Terkel, (New York: The New Press, 1995), 394; possession; Stetson Kenned y, interview by Gary Mormino, January 23, 1986, transcript, box labeled Interviews, 13 , Stetson Kennedy Papers.


14 traditional plantations. Turpentine laborers lived and worked close to nature. In the words of [black turpentine workers] aligned Consequently, Kennedy and his team collected folklore that exemplified the mutual relationship between humans and the natural world. 19 During his time with the WPA, Kennedy and his team visited t he Aycock a nd Lindsey turpentine plant: one of the largest turpentine camps in Florida, a mile and a half northwest of C ross City in Dixie County. WPA p hotographer Robert Cook described the cou nty as Cook said, great rough uncouth men, the cattle and pigs that halt traffic in the heart of to wn Kennedy and he turpentine industry would change after observing the workers. 20 The turpentine industry was labor intensive only trailing cotton and timber industries in the number of workers employed be tween 1880 and 1900. Every turpentine worker had a a crew could easily pour it int o a still. According to Cook, the workers, usually immersed in ntine industry Workers lived in turpentine to twenty miles from the nearest highway, in an inaccessible spot to be reached by a company The secluded camps made escaping them difficult. Runaways always risked being seen by the sh eriff or members of the Ku Klux Klan. Some workers risked their lives to escape horrendous living conditions. 19 Dianne Glave and Mark Stoll, To Love the Wind and the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History , (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), 53 ; Ibid., 58 . 20 Department of Special Area and Studies Collections, Smathers Library, University of F lorida, Gainesville, Flor ida, 2 ; Ibid., 3; Dianne Glave and Mark Stoll, To Love the Wind and the Rain , 53.


15 Owners of turpentine camps exploited nature for profit while denying the rights of their workers. s turpentine camps shed a different light on the relations hip between humans and nature. During the early 1950s , Kennedy stood before a United Nations Forced Labor Committee in Geneva, Switzerland to testify against peonage labor in the United States . His experiences in turpentine camps provide d insight into the relationship between folklore, human rights, and the natural world. Enveloped by nature, turpentine laborers made up songs and stories to describe the world in which they worked and lived while changing the environment for profit. 21 ederal massive contradiction involving another federal relief program. Termed by historian Dave Roosevelt wanted to create the CCC for the purpose of made a bill to create the CCC. If a man was single, unemployed, American, and between the ages of eighteen and twenty five, then he was eligible to join. Less than a m onth later , the requirements changed making Native Americans and World War I vet erans eligible to join the program . 22 The corps operated under the assumption that humans should use nature in the wisest and efficient ways possible. This way of thinking a bout nature was especially evident in the construction of state parks. The CCC built the first seven state parks in Florida. The corps 21 Zora Neale Hurston Papers, 4 ; Ibid., 5; Diane Glave and Mark Stoll, To Love the Wind and the R ain , 53 ; Ibid., 57; Pete Daniel, The Shadow of Slavery: Peonage in the South, 1901 1969 , (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990), 187, accessed March 2015, age+labor+gene va&source=bl&ots= O4V2W3Pk2&sig=wDA3qcgMgsoUaBO5Tz_Bd2C71qw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yM4dVbDXCbD fsATJuoDgDw&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=kennedy&f=false . 22 Jack E. Davis and Raymond Arsenault, ed., Paradise Lost?: The Environmental History of Florida (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2005), 93 ; Ibid., 94.


16 improved the natural world before doing any else. Enrollees referred to this first step as a meant clearing the land of certain plants and animals includin g catfish, turtles, and snakes. 23 While the C The WPA Guide to Florida . Ironically, both organizations fell under the umbrella of the New Deal but interacted with na ture in very different ways. More specifically, whereas the palmetto was a nuisance to CCC workers, 24 e completion of his first published book Palmetto Country Palmetto Country WPA. According to Kennedy, Palmetto Country as a place include d Florida, parts of south Georgia, and Alabama. In his b ook, he depicted not only how humans shaped Palmetto Country but also how it changed the lives of the people who lived there. He claimed that re its natural resources. Climate, soil, minerals, water these are the things that pr By examining the mutual relationship between humans and the environment through the lens of folklore, he managed to once again weave th ree seemingly different parts as one seamless whole. 25 23 Jack E. Davis and Raymond Arsenault, ed., Paradise Lost?: The Environmental History of Florida (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2005), 97 ; Ibid., 99; Ibid., 100. 24 Jack E. Davis and Raymond Arsenault, ed., Paradise Lost ? , 99 ; Stetson Kennedy, Palmetto Country (Cocoa: The Florida Historical Society Press, 2009, 1942), 1. 25 n.d., box labeled Naturalist Manifesto, 7 . p ossession; n.d., binder labeled Stetson Kennedy on Folk Culture, Stetson Kennedy Papers ; Stetson Kennedy, Palmetto Country, 26 .


17 graduated high school in 1934 until the publication of Palmetto Country in 1942, and the people he met along the way Rawlings, Sanchez, Hurston, and others had a profound influence on his own perception of the environment. In 1935, as he wandered down Duval Street for the first time watching the inhabitants of Key West start to recover from a destructive force of nature, the Civilian Conservation Corps was transforming previously untouched land into a their version of remained unclea r. But that was about to change.


18 Experiencing Nature: Beluthahatchee Beluthahatchee was more than a place for Stetson Kennedy to live . It was visible evidence that human s can live in harmony with nature. Located on the Bartram Trail Scenic Highway in Fruit Cove, Florida, approximately halfway between St. Augustine and Jacksonville, multiple influences including African American folklore and Seminole Miccosukeen dialect: a subtle yet profound reminder of the connection between worker from his time spent work with the natural world and the interconnectedness of the causes that he pursued for most of his life the preservation of folklore, promotion of human rights, and stewardship of nature. 26 Kennedy was not the first environmentally conscious person to sp end time in Northeast Florida. Instead he was one of many people who either observed or wrote about that part of named after the eighteenth century naturalist, William Bartram. Born on April 20, 1739, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, William Bartram was the son of the renowned botanist, John pe rception of nature. As a child, William Bartram traveled with his father on work related expeditions, which typically involved scientific inquiry into the natural world. In 1773, he 26 The Stetson Kennedy Foundation (Fruit Cove, Jacksonville, Florida), 2006, Interview c. 2003 Stetson Kennedy Papers.


19 embarked on his own three year journey through Florida, Georgia, and Ala bama. In 1791, he published an account of his trek, including his observations of the natural world, in Travels . He sociable. The simple and necessary calls of n ature, being satisfied. We were altogether as His observations of the natural world not only exemplified his own romanticized view of nature but also the positive emotional benefits of spend ing time in nature. The natural world that Ba rtram observed in the late eighteenth century appeared much different than the natural world that Kennedy experienced; c enturies. 27 In 1868, forty to a homestead in Mandarin, Florida on the banks of the St. Johns River. Stowe lived in Mandarin from 1868 to 1883 in close proximity to an area that Kennedy would la ter call home. In contrast to Kennedy, she was not a lifelong Floridian. Born in Litchfield Connecticut on June 14, 1811, In 1852, she completed her most famous and influential n ovel, . After moving to Florida, s he then wrote Palmetto Leaves Palmetto Leaves Palmetto Country seem quite similar . The content of both works also shared similarities. Stowe and Kennedy wit nessed the negative effects of human development on the environment. On a trip to Enterprise, Florida, roughly one hundred and thirty miles south of her home in Mandarin, Stowe ks are 27 The Florida Reader: Visions of Paradise from 1530 to the Present (Sarasota: Pineapple Press, 1991), 53 .


20 Visual appeal was not the sole focus of her observations. She also d escribed purposeless maimi ng and killing of [alligators and birds] Although Kennedy criticized the effects of tourism on Florida in Palmetto Country , Pal metto Leaves intrigued tourists so much that she became a highlight of steamboat trips on the St. Johns and Ocklawaha River s . On a round trip from Jacksonville to Mandarin, tourists paid seventy five cents hoping to see her writing on her f ront porch. Stowe and Kennedy not only shared similar understandings of natural Florida , but also a passion for writing about human rights. Stowe supported the abolition of slavery and Kennedy promoted equal rights for everyone. ork defined the link between human s and the environment in Northeast Florida during the eighteenth and nineteenth 28 , found what he thought was a piece of paradise while hu nting on the e ast bank of Gopher Island, a quarter mile from the St. Johns River. His desire to create a private retreat motivated him to purchase the land. He gradually acquired fifty acres of this land at two hundred dollars per acre. An old Greyhound bus, which springs from his furniture store, were the only traces of human life on the property. Before hi s death, he divided his property for his five children, but out of the five children only Stetson was so Stetson bought his 28 The Florida Reader : Visions of Paradise from 1530 to the Present (Sa rasota: Pineapple Press, 1991), 140; Harriet Beecher Stowe, Pa lmetto Leaves , (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1873), 255 , accessed October 12, 2014, ei=QhkcVdr6I6S_sQS15ILQDg&ved= 0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false ) ; Ibid., 261; Bill Belleville, River , (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000), 173 .


21 e despite having very little money in 1958. Kennedy ultimately wanted to create a working d a shared habitat for humans and Mother Earth. He envisioned a community that would live in Estates , which became known as Lake Dwellers . When He would then spend the with a machete and chainsaw. After a long day of clearing tress, he would muster enough strength to crawl back to his car. By 1972, Kennedy and his t hen wife Joyce Ann were living in a small cedar home that overlooke d the eighteen acre lake, which h e helped create . 29 that never succeeded. One scheme involved mak and taxidermy eyes. Although he never sold any critters, they implied that the natural world was alive. During the late 1970s , h featured white sand and a chain that supposedly kept alligators away (or at least put swimmers minds at ease). For twenty five cents a person, locals could swim in the lake. His business schemes at Beluthahatchee usually involved the environment ctive, protecting the harmonious relationship between humankind and na ture at Beluthahatchee was 29 Kennedy Pape n.d., recorded interview, Stetson Kennedy Paper s ; Lou Salome, Concert to raise money Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Florida), Mar. 12, 2003, Folio Weekly , March 4, 2003, box titled Articles about Stetson Kennedy 2000 (cont.) to 2009, Stetson Kennedy Papers.


22 more important than making money, 30 Kennedy maintained a close relationship with the wildlife at Beluthahatchee. He was . Anna Maria Vasquez, an artist and friend of Kennedy, said that spe most frequent visitors. Kennedy routinely fed the stoic white bird for roughly fifteen years. It ter his living room, stare at the television, and patiently wait for Kennedy to wake up from an afternoon nap. For many residence. Other wildlife at Beluthah atchee included ospreys, eagles, otters, wood ducks, exist and accommodate one an to animals. He could distinguish birds of the same r hearing did not influence his perception of nature. Moreover, he assigned human characteristics to the birds, such as a mother taking care of her babies. The film Winged Migration evoked a rare emotional response from Kennedy. His then wife, Sandra Par during their marriage . The film documented the migratory patterns of birds over the course of 30 Sandra Parks, interview by the author, August 18, 2014. R Buster still active at 90 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), 2006, Stetson Kennedy Papers.


23 several years. Kennedy identified with the birds as they faced human made obstacles on their journey. In short, t he grandeur of the natural world moved him. 31 During the middle of his life , Kennedy did not appear to be concerned with the environment al issues . After infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, he spent time in New York and then in Europe. Folksinger, activist Woody Guthrie found out about Kennedy after reading Palmetto Country . Guthrie called Kennedy from a Jacksonville Greyhound station. When Kennedy arrived at the station to pick Guthrie up, he was allegedly wearing five shirts. Guthri e visited Beluthahatchee four to five times over the course of his life, writing more than eighty songs there. e also commented on the environment at me the sexiest He not only completed his autobiography Seeds of Man at Beluthahatchee but The final me, but you know you never will ever March 23, 2003, The Friends of Libraries U.S.A. designated Beluthahatchee as a literary en work. On November 16, 2014, three years after designation honored Kenn 31 Florida Times Union (Jacksonville, Florida), Feb ruary 2, 2005, Stetson Kennedy Papers; The Stetson Kennedy Foundation, The Stetson Kennedy Foundation Florida Times Union (Jacksonville, Florida), Mar ch 13 , 2003, Stetson Kennedy Papers; Sandra Parks, interview by the author, August 18, 2014. R


24 public and guests toured his house throughout the afternoon. Most of the ceremony, however, revolved aro specifically folk music. 32 rception of the environment had a tremendous influence on Beluthahatchee, his home would not be the same if not for his passion for folklore and traditional He cl more specifically folk music, could not only entertain but also educate an audience on important issues. His personal enjoyment of folk music seemed to increase as he got older. Amy Carol Webb, one of Fellow Man and Mother Earth award, wrote folk songs In 2001 , h er song exploit the environment on t he natural world. Florida means oceans Florida means clouds It means vast tourist crowds And anywhere a hoard of humans goes Our Mother suffers in the wake As we feed our endless appetites We take and take and take W poetic summar Palmetto Country . 33 32 Stetson Kennedy, interview by Karen Feagins, WJCT , DVD, No. 77, Stetson Kennedy Papers; Woody Guthrie, Tourist Development Council, City of Jacksonville , (Fruit Cove, Jacksonville, Florida, 2003), informational brochure.


25 During his time at Beluthahatchee, Kennedy promot ed environmental stewardship in the way he lived and maintained the property. Nevertheless, his actions occasionally contradicted his message. The lake on the property was human first dam, Kennedy replaced the h uman made structure multiple times after severe storms caused it to break. included provisions designed to protect the land, such as the cutting down of trees and the use of pe sticides and fertilizers, and if the deed included restrictions, whether or not he enforced them. He also installed human made contraptions, including rookeries for birds. When all of these s eemingly minor contradictions wer e taken into account, Belutha hatchee begins to resemble a more traditional subdivision as opposed to an eco friendly habitat. He was aware of his actions Although he occasionally shaped the natural world to fit his vision of paradise, his actions should not diminish his accomplishments in the name of environmentalism. 34 Wanting to preserve both the physical and symbolic aspects of his home, Kennedy began t o consid er the future of Beluthahatchee as he grew older. He hoped that it would remain a place defined by freedom, culture, and environmental stewardship even after his death. In 2005, St. land acquisition program granted him Life Estate, so he could still come and go as he pleased. In April 2006, Kennedy moved to St. Augustine, Florida to live with his then wife Sandra Parks, who he married earlier 33 Su Folklorist Stetson Kennedy Gives a Voice to American History with the National Storycorps Project , Folio Weekly (Jacksonville, Florida, 2004 ), box labeled Articles about Stetson Kennedy 2000 (cont.) to 2009, Stetson Kennedy Papers; St binder labeled Stetson Kennedy on Folk Culture, Stetson Kennedy Papers; Sandra Parks, interview by the author, August 18, 2014. R The Will McLean Foundation , 2001, . 34 Sandra Parks, interview by the author, August 18, 2014. R Interview c. 2003 n.d., box titled Articles about Stetson Kennedy 2000 (cont.) to 2009, Stetson Kennedy Papers.


26 that year. Parks recalled that he never away from there . His failing health was the main reason why he could not continue living there. The air in St. Augustine was not the same as the air in Fruit Cove, and he could notice the difference . The thick, humid air at Beluthahatchee made it hard for him to breath, so to continue ugustine. According to Parks, he would comment on the fragrance of plants and discussed the moon almost daily. His connection with the natural world came from within. The geographical location did not mat t er . 35 The early stages of The Stetson Kennedy Foundation in late 2005 and early 2006 marked Parks helped Kennedy define a mission statement for The Foundation . When she with him , she asked him about the major causes that had d efined his life and career. According to Parks, K e nnedy lived in a Thus, he never considered the causes that he pursued as separate causes . From his perspective, they were a seamless whole. After a long discussion , Kennedy and Parks agreed upon three overarching initiatives: the preservation of traditional cultures, promotion of human and civil rights, and stewardship of the environment. The final statement includes stewardship over Mother Recognizing that stewardship of nature was an important part of his mission. He claimed that environmental stewar dship was not a choice but a responsibility. 36 35 interview by the author, December 18, 2014. Recordin 36 The Stetson Kennedy Foundation , accessed February 2015, .


27 In 2009, The Fellow Man and Mother Earth Memorial Grove was established at Beluthahatchee Park. Recipients of the award included activist MaVynee Betsch, also known as black history; environmental activist Peg McIntyre; and activist David Thundershield Queen, All of the award winners had at least nd The memorial grove at their responsibilities of stewardship. 37 The environment is always changing. Both natural and unnatural causes have drastically become Beluthahatchee. The population of St. Johns County was roughly twenty five thousand people in 1 In 2013, the population exceeded two hundred thousand individuals. Today, people traveling on the Bartram Trail Scenic Highway may drive by Beluthahatchee without even noticing it. From the road, the only visible landmarks are a historical marker and small wooden sign that reads: Beluthahatchee. In 37 Opinion: David Thundershield Queen stood against oppression by the City of St. Augustine and other wrongdoers accessed March 2015, david thundershield queen s tood.html The Stetson Kennedy Foundation (Fruit Cove, Jacksonville, Florida), 2006, informational brochure.


28 my deal with the county, I committed to leave everything in place, as if I had just gone out for a Beluthahatchee is a p lace where folklore, human rights, and nature become intertwined representing everything that Kennedy stood for. 38 38 Stetson Kennedy, interview by Karen Feagins, WJCT , DVD, No. 77, Stetson Kennedy Papers; Susan D. Kennedy turns the pages in his legacy Florida Times Union special to St. Johns Sun (Jacksonville, Florida), October 10, 2000, Stetson Kennedy Papers.


29 Defending Nature: Environmental Activism People flocked to the Sunshine State in record numbers, making it the eighth largest state in staggering rate of five hundred and sixty four percent. The rapid expa nsion in Florida was directly related to the end of World War II. A childhood back injury prevented Kennedy from in a big way so I thought the least I coul He stand against the Klan equated to combating fascism on the home front. Many consider his infiltration of the Ku Klu x Klan to be the pinnacle of his activism but it was only a part, albeit an important part, of his overarching mission , which was to act and speak out against various forms of injustice in order to make the world a better place . After World War II, Florid a was quickly As a result, the pollution of water and air was becoming a paramount concern in Florida and the rest of United States. Kennedy did not join focus his efforts on the environment until after the U.S. Civi l Rights Movement. By 1970 , his attention had shifted towards the environment by not only promoting stewardship of nature but also fighting against environmental injustice. 39 Debates over the definition of conservation, specifically in relation to the us e of natural resources, occurred in the United States before Kennedy was even born. At the beginning of the twentieth century, President Theodore Roosevelt played an important role in making 39 Studs Terkel, (New York: The New Press, 1995), 392; Gary R. Mormino, Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams : A Social History of Modern Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005) 93 .


30 conservation a national issue. Roosevelt, a rancher originally from New York, witnessed The President played an important role in prote cting wildlife during the early twentieth century. On March 14, 1903, he signed an executive order establishing Pelican Island as the first federal bird reservation. His actions established an important relationship between the United States government and wildlife protection. In 1905, Roosevelt placed Gifford Pinchot at the head of the U.S. Forest Service and both men collaborated to ensure that people were using resources wisel y and efficiently. Pinchot was a utilitarian conservationist and supported managing resources in a sustainable way. John Muir, a well of thinking about conservation. Muir and the preservationists placed natur e before human The utilitarian conservationists and the preservationists eventually clashed over a proposed dam that would flood the Hetch Hetchy valley in California. Pinchot and Muir def ined the national discourse in relation to the despite their fundamental differences in philosophy. The confrontatio n, however, was more than a conflict between two men. It was a clash between two philosophies that directly impacted ecosystems and ultimately led to the U.S. Progressive Conservation Movement. 40 The people who participated in the early stages of the movem ent, especially Muir, Muir, inspired by the 40 Ted Steinberg, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 138 U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service , last modified September 18, 2009, accessed March 2015, .


31 works of transcendentalist s while attending the University of Wisconsin, claimed that people could experience God by spending time in nature as opposed to church. According to Muir, encompassing, including humans and the environment alike. Kennedy would eventually incorporate a similar phrase into his explanation of natural origins. Similar to Muir, Kennedy possessed a lifelong to He took the story of Noah and the Ark even further. Sometime at the end of the twentieth century, he created a typewritten satirical document, mimicking a help wanted newspaper ad, provided insight into his understanding of the stewardship of nature. He promoted environmental stewardship with an unprecedented when he attempted to protect the natural world from humankind. Whereas Muir prioritized nature over humans, Kennedy argued that humans could live in harmony with nature and problems only arose whe n humans tried to distinguish themselves from animals. According to as much The eternal fate of plants and animals did not trouble Kennedy. He was more concerned with the e xisting relationship between humans and nature on planet Earth. 41 Progressive conservationists, who were primarily concerned with wilderness and wildlife preservation, defined the early stages of the Progressive Conservation movement in the United 41 1; Ibid., 2 ; Manuscript in s possession; John Muir, A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf , (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916), accessed February 2015 ; Stets Stetson Kennedy, Palmetto Country (Cocoa: Flori da Historical Press, 2007), 353.


32 States. By the 1960s, conservation groups began to focus on ecology as opposed to wilderness preservation. Progressive conservationists wanted to close the gap between humans and nature a belief t hat Kennedy shared . . 42 As ecology based environmentalism gained traction in the United States, Kennedy s hifted his attention from human rights to environmental stewardship, yet he did not completely He c alled He also believed that environmentalism If humans failed to take care of their planet , t hen equality would not matter. The adage that h e lived by until his death, plan et, no human rights, no nothing, depicted two possible ways of understanding the interconnectedness between human rights and environmental stewardship: 1) Humans must have a place to live for their rights to matter or 2) W ithout both a place to live a nd the fair treatment of the people who li ve there nothing else truly matters. Either way his words exemplified the importance of the planet, the rights of all people, and the connection between them. He may have never explicitly defined the relationship between environme ntal justice and 42 Ted Steinberg, American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 247; Stetson Kennedy to Natalie Roberts, February 25, 1981, box titled Naturalist Manifesto. Letter in Sandra s possession.


33 social justice, but it remained an important part of his activism. Perhaps the relationship was so obvious in his own mind that he thought that he did not need to explain it. 43 Pollution was a growing concern in the Uni ted States during the latter part of the for all of this, but much of it He accused the industrial sector of ex ploiting the environment for made industry is rapidly gutting the Earth of her resources and wantonly contaminating her elements. His own species troubled him more than anything. 44 On June 14, 1984, readers of the Florida Times Union may have been shocked to find a were Stetson Kennedy. Kennedy used writing as a form of activism t hroughout much of his life and the late twentieth century was no exception. As e made a direct comparison between polluters and mass murderers, specifically Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole. Lucas and Toole were convicted murders, who killed multiple victims in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The arrests of both men would have been fresh in the mind of Times Union 43 34; Ibid., 35 ; Palm Beach Post (West Palm Best, Florida), August 19, 2001, Stetson Kennedy Papers. 44 ; Stetson Kennedy, untitled manuscript, n.d, box labeled Naturalist Manifesto. Manuscript in S Florida Times Union (Jacksonville, Florida ), June 14, 1984, Stetson Kennedy, possession.


34 readers. Lucas was apprehended in 1983 and Toole in 1984. He m ay have evoked a sense of fear from his audience by comparing pollution to two mass murderers in the article. He did not cite any scientific data to support his claim that pollution kills more humans than murders and the bottom of the article featured a sk etch instead of scientific charts or tables. The illustration depicted a skull in the foreground and billowing smoke stacks in the background. On a separate occasion, he boldly wrote in order Although Kennedy would not actually kill a person to save a tree, his claim was provocative and his message clear: Defen ding the environment from human destruction was of the ut most importance. 45 Kennedy advocated for the preservation of Florida with future generations in mind and attributed his vision of progress to growing up during the Great Depression and with the New Deal . If one of his idea s for combatting environmental inju stice was not original , then it was rooted in history. He based most of his methods of activism on past movements and protests. During the late 1980s, h e wanted children and youth to join the fight against environment al injustice, cal ling for a movement His He even Rights Movement during the 1960s of which he was a participant . In one of his imagined television commercial s, and poisoning a He also supported nonviolent acts of disobedience inspired by Gandhi and Martin L ut her King Jr. In 1982, he 45 Florida Times Union (Jacksonville, Florida), June 14, 1984, box labeled


35 recommended an environment/jobs p rogram for inner city youth . The involvement of children once again and reinforced the notion that the cause transcends not only race but also age. Kennedy argued that know who has been destroying our forests, and who has been trying to save them, than it is to Gathering support for the cause was important, but physical action would be necessary to make a difference. 46 When it came to developing new methods of activism, Kennedy operated under the assumption that quantity was better than quality, which often resulted in multiple good ideas i nstead of a single great idea. During the late 19 80s, he recommended fighting air pollution with black flags tied to helium balloons. He envisioned a double below a skull and crossbones. The main purpose of the flags was to draw public and media attention to the offenders. Ideally, private property owners with land in close proximity to the polluters would support the cause, launching the balloons into the c Flags were an advantageous form of protest because members of environment alist organizations, such as Greenpeace, could fly them without physically trespassing on private property. In response to the thought of polluters shooting down the G airspace with poisons His detailed proposals for new , creative methods of activism highlighted his dedication to protecting the environment. 47 46 dy to Natalie Roberts, February 25 , 1981, box labeled Naturalist Manifesto. Lett er 47 Stetson Kennedy to Ed Simmons, n.d, box labeled Naturalist Manifesto. Letter in Sandra Par Ibid.


36 Kennedy grand ed with the organized environmental movement. On January 24, 1983, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Florida Times Union erhang the Kennedy did not think that the plans would have any negative effects on the environment. At worst, he thought that the building would re plicate cypress trees shielding ey wood rooter would see such an From his perspective, ecologists sh In 1988, he was critical of the Florida Greens because they were debating over trivial issues instead of more urgent matters, such as lethal po llution. He said roughly four years prior, appeal to everyone, but he refused to change his tone. He sa By 1990, Kennedy believed that most people were concerned about the en vironment, but they did not know how to protect the natural world nor did they want to join a 48 Kennedy stop him from joining them. He was a member of the Sierra Club in 1981 and several other groups throughout his life including Greenpeace . Greenpeace Southeast originated in 1983. The organization protected endangered sea turtles and advocated for their protection in other regions 48 Florida Times Union (Ja cksonville, FL), Jan. 24, ; Ibid; Stetson Kennedy, untitled m anusc ript, n.d., folder 7, box 5 labeled Perso nal Files, Awards and Honors, Stetson Kennedy Papers.


37 of the world. Protective measures included identifying dead turtles and moving nest s out of deaths of seals in Canada. A representative of Greenpeace Southeast, Bruce Jaildagian, was arrested for violating the Seal Protection Act. The organizati on also protested the Environmental sea incineration of highly toxic substances in the Gulf. fter hearing about the difficulties of saving the natural world , he decided that e nvironmentalism as 49 Kennedy personalized the causes that he supported. During World War II, h is enemy was not fascism but the Ku Klux Klan. In the 1970s, his ad versary was not industrialism, i t was James G. Watt. Ronald Re a gan appointed Watt as Secretary of the Interior from 1981 to 1983 . o put a man like Watt in charge of national conservation is (in view of his end of world prognostication) tantamount to anointing a conscientious objecto r to head Selective Service his most aggressive words and radical ideas in relation to environmental activism towards Watt. course but the natural resources cog in the wheel that is grinding out doomsday for everything O ne of his more radical ideas involved maki In a letter to the Executive Director of the Sierra Club Michael McCloskey, he He knew that a to Watt environmental policies. On Sept ember 10, 1981, Kennedy wrote a letter to 49 G reenpeace Southeast , August 1984, box labeled Naturalist


38 Florida Representative Richard L. Ottinger in which he praised the ha ve Watt removed from office . willingness to advocate for a cause by attaching it to a radical method. He described his plan as He was not concerned with the success rate of his ideas as long as his voice was heard. 50 Kennedy pro po sed amending the U.S. Constitution to protect the environment. He wrote He recognized that amending the Constitution was a slow and difficult process. From his perspective, he was only raft of the amendment stated: The land, water, and air subject to the jurisdiction of the United States belong ultimately to the people of the United States and their posterity. It shall be the duty therefore of the Government of the United States to est ablish and enforce minimum standards governing public and private use of these indispensable natural assets in a manner consistent with the public interest. As environmental organizations grew larger during the 1980s, they became increasingly involved in politics. A sect of environmentalists, referred to as eco radicals, believed that politics alone could not protect the environment, so they adapted a more militant approach. Edward 1975 novel The Monkey Wrench Gang inspired eco radicals who opera ted during the highpoint of the U.S. Environmental Movement in the 1970s and 1980s. According to historian Roderick The eccentric cast of characters in his novel v iewed mechanical sabotage as a form of protest. red men a plausible way of life. Now it functions as a psychiatric refuge. Soon there will be no wilderness. Soon there will be no 50 Stetson Kennedy to Natalie Roberts, August 28, 1981, 1, box labeled Naturalist Manifesto. Letter in Sandra ; Ibid; Ibid., 2; Stetson Kennedy to Michael McCloskey, September 10, 1983, box labeled ; Ibid; Stetson Kennedy to Richard L. Ottinger, September s possession; Ibid; Stetson Kennedy to Michael McCloskey, September 10, 198 3 .


39 place to go. Kennedy may He wrote em consists His solution: Humans must put their Despite his seemingly radical ideas, which he intended to promo te environmental activism, he w as not an eco radical. 51 On April 13, 2009, St. Johns Water Management District officials held a public meeting to discuss plan to construct a water treatment plant resulting in the reclamation of millions of gallons of water from the St. Johns River for lawns and future development . Once the capacity of the meeting room was reached, District officials began turn ing people away . Instead of leaving the premises, peop le congregated outside the building . Included in the lingering crowd were members of a privately funded organization established to protect the St. Johns River called the St. Johns Riverkeeper , prominent environmentalists, and ninety two year old Stetson Kennedy. Kennedy, a survivor of two heart attacks, skipped his appointment with his cardiologist to remain at the hearing. Ninety additional minutes passed before he decided to go home , but when he learned that the District never allowed the people waiting outside to speak , he decided to take legal action. After contacting the presiding St. Johns Riverkeeper, Kennedy and Parks filed a legal challenge against the District, citing its members denying their right to speak and failing to accommodate the large crowd . T he Government in 51 Roderick F. Nash, The Rights of Nature (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 167; Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang (New York: Harp erCollins Publishers, 1985), 63; Stetson Kennedy, untitled m anusc ript, n.d., folder 7, box 5 labeled Perso nal Files, Awards and Honors, Stetson Kennedy Papers; .d., box labeled Naturalist Manifesto,


40 the Sunshine Law , passed by the Florida Legislature in 1967, granted the public access to most governmental meetings. On September 27, 2010, Circuit Judge of the Seventh Judicial C ourt in Putnam County, Edward Hedstrom, respected the precedent established by Keesler v. Community Maritime Associates, Inc. (2010) and Wood v. Marston (1983), concluding that the Sunshine Law does not give the public the right to speak at a meeting of a Sunshine body. Consequently, the D istrict acted in accordance with the Sunshine Laws on the day of the April 29 hearing . Kennedy died on August 27, 2011, at the age of ninety four, almost one year after the initial ruling. Parks continued to represent the issue in the months following his death. The ruling , however, remained the same. On June 28, 2013, ti to be heard by a board hearing laws. Even though Kennedy did not live to see the outcome of his case, his activism transcended his life on Earth, which is exactly how he would have wanted his journey to end. 52 52 Sandra Parks, interview by the author, August 18, 2014. R Stetson Kennedy, Palmetto Country (Cocoa: Flori da Historical Press, 2007), 358 ; for Putnam County, Florida September 27, 2010, 4, accessed April 1, 2015, 8525792E006DA61F/$file/Kennedy1; Ibid., 5; Office of the Attorney General of Florida , accessed April 1, 2015, Public http://www.flsenate.go v/session/bill/2013/0050 .


41 Stewarding Nature: The Legacy of Stetson Kennedy belongings, property, or documents. Historically speaking, legacies are often preserved in museums, libraries, and archives. When Kennedy died in 2011, he left behind far more than a smudge on the glass door at Beluthahatchee, and although his legacy includes artifacts from his travels and the books that he wrote, his g reatest gift to humankind is a call to action. In the words of The Stetson Kennedy making the world a better place. 53 th. During his later years, when people asked He supported multiple causes throughout his life. Most of th em, however, fell into three categories the preservation of folklore, the protection of human and civil rights, and the stewardship of nature. At first glance, the three purposes, which defined his activism, appeared to have nothing in common, but he thou ght differently. 54 was the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including the NAACP Freedom Award, Dr. Benjamin Spock Peacemaker Award, Jules Verne Medal, the Florida Folk Heritage Award, th Heartland Award , and many others . Never theless, one of the most important aspects of his legacy is the insight he provided into the distinct relationship between preserving folklore, 53 The Stetson Kennedy Foundation (Fruit Cove, Jacksonville, Florida), 2006, informational brochure. 54 Palm Beach Post (West Palm Best, Florida), August 19, 2001, Stetson Kennedy Papers.


42 defending human rights, and stewarding nature. He acted as if they were a single, seamless initiative only considering them separate upon the creation of his fo Whereas three main causes influenced his activism, his relationship with the environment defined his life. onship with nature added another layer of complexity to an already for the natural world, which started during childhood, fostered a bond with nature that grew stro nger as he grew older. He believed that both humans and nature could coexist in harmony, nature. Although, h e realized his connection to the environment at a young age, numerous people, each with different perspectives and bac kgrounds, enhanced his understand ing of the natural world. 55 Throughout his life, Kennedy met people who influenced his connection to natur e. His father, George Kennedy, led by example when he used nature as a retreat from society; Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings inspired him with her written work, which captured the relationship between eale Hurston, similarly to Kennedy, had a passion for collecting folklore for the purpose of preserving traditional cultures; and Mario Sanchez, who lived across the street from Kennedy in Key West, portrayed the connection between humans and nature in his art. Kennedy witnessed firsthand the reciprocal relationship between humans and the natural the ways in which humans treated the environment troubled him more th an anything. More 55 Sandra Parks, interview by the author, December 18, 2014.


43 peculiar notion of what constitutes a natural resource: something that can be converted into grew older, continuing to obser ve the actions of his own species, he became less optimistic about the state of the environment in the future. At some point, it would have been easier for him to rest on his laurels and live out the rest of his life in peace. For Stetson Kennedy, however, res t was not an option. 56 Thus far, scholars have not associate him with the heroes in Florida environmental history including Mary Mann Jennings, Ernest F. Coe, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Nathaniel Reed, Ma rjorie Harris Carr, and others. his purpose is very similar he loved Florida. His love of nature was t he underlying motivation behind his environmental activism. 57 ly rustic, earthy appearance, he changed the natural world to fit his vision. Nevertheless, h is lifestyle at Beluthahatchee also provided insight into his understanding of how he believed humans should l ive in accordance with nature and h is development of Beluthahatchee was an important part of the region s environmental legac y. In the eighteenth century, n aturalist William Bartram claimed that spending time in nature led to a more positive life. In the nineteenth century, Harriet Beecher Stowe claimed that human development was destroying natu re. Then, near the middle of the twentieth century, Kennedy created Beluthahatchee in part for the purp ose of environmental stewardship . 56 Stetson Kennedy, Palmetto Country (Cocoa: Flori da Historical Press, 2007), 354. 57 St. Augustine Record , April 7, 2015, Stetson Kennedy Papers.


44 In his first published book, Kennedy dedicated a chapter to the cabbage palm also known as the palmetto: a plant tha t he described as resilient, multi purposed, and symbolic of Palmetto end of it lessen you cut it down. The sun c it was unsurprising that he was fascinated by the plant . Similarly to the palmetto, h e w as resilient and multi purposed. He was environmental stew ard. He was Stetson Kennedy. 58 58 Stetson Kennedy, Palmetto Country (Cocoa: Flori da Historical Press, 2007 ), 1 .


45 Bibliography Abbreviations SKP Stetson Kennedy Papers, Smathers Library, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. SP Sandra Parks Primary Sources Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang . New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1985. Hurston Papers, Smathers Library, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. Kennedy on Folk Culture, SKP. New Masses , September 17, 1935 . Accessed October 2014. 1935sep17 00009 . s Florida Times Union , Jan uary 24, 1983. Box labeled Naturalist Manifesto.


46 Kennedy, Stetson. Grits & Grunts: Folkloric Key West . Sarasota: Pineapple Press, Inc., 2008. Kennedy in folk culture, SKP. Manifesto. Manuscript in SP .d. Box labeled Naturalist Manifesto. http://cleanupcityo david thundershield queen stood.html .


47 Kennedy, Stetson. Palmetto Country . Cocoa: The Florida Historical Society Press, 2009 (Originally published 1942). 7. Binder labeled Stetson Kennedy on Folk Culture, S KP. Florida Times Union , Kennedy, Stetson. Letter to Ed Simmons possession. Kennedy, Stetson. Letter to Michael McCloskey . September 10, 1983. Box labeled Naturalist Kennedy, Stetson. Letter to Natalie Roberts. February 25, 1981. Box titled Natural ist Manifesto. Letter in SP


48 Kennedy, Stetson. Letter to Richard L. Ottinger . Se ptember 10, 1981. Box titled Naturalist SP t Manifesto. Kennedy, Stetson. Untitled manuscript, n.d. Box labeled Naturalist Manifesto. Manuscript in Kennedy, Stetson. Untitled manuscript, n.d. Folder 7, box 5 labeled Personal Files, Awards and Honors, SKP. SKP. Muir, John. A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf . Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916. Accessed February 2015.


49 _exhibit/writings/a_thousand_mile_walk_to_the_gul f/chapter_5 . Rawlings, Marjorie. Letter to Stetson Kennedy . August 11, 1942. SKP. Greenpeace Southeast . Box labeled Naturalist Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Palmetto Leaves . Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1873. Google Books. Accessed October 12, 2014. es&hl=en&sa=X&ei=QhkcVdr6I6S_sQS15ILQDg&ved= 0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=fa lse ) . 2010. Accessed April 1, 2015.$fil e/Kennedy1 .


50 The Stetson Kennedy Foundation . Informational brochure. Fruit Cove, Jacksonville, Florida, 2006. These Diamonds . The Will McLean Foundation . Song Lyrics. 2001. ds/Webb.html. Secondary Sources Florida Times Union , February 2, 2005, SKP. National Storycorps Project Folio Weekly , 2004. Box labeled Articles about Stetson Kennedy 2000 (cont.) to 2009, SKP. Florida Times Union, October 10, 2000, S K P . Belleville, Bill. River of La . Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000.


51 Daniel, Pete. The Shadow of Slavery: Peonage in the South, 1901 1969 . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990. Google Books. edy+peonage+labor+geneva&source=bl&ots=O4V2W3Pk2&sig=wDA3qcgMgsoUaBO5 Tz_Bd2C71qw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yM4dVbDXCbDfsATJuoDgDw&ved=0CB4Q6AEw AA#v=onepage&q=kennedy&f=false. Davis, Jack E., and Raymond Arsenault, ed. Paradise Lost?: The Environmental History of Florida . Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2005. Gannon, Michael. Florida: A Short History . Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2003. Glave, Dianne and Mark Stoll. To Love the Wind and the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History . Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011. St. Augustine Record , April 7, 2015, SKP . U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service . Last modified September 18, 2009. Accessed March 2015.


52 Mormino, Gary. Land of Su nshine, State of Dreams . Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2005. Nash, Roderick. The Rights of Nature . Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1989. The Florida Reader: Visions of Paradise from 1530 t o the Present . Sarasota: Pineapple Press, 1991. April 1, 2015.;


53 American Red Cross South Florida Region . Accessed October 2014. remembering the 1935 labor day hurricane.htm l. Palm Beach Post , March 12, 2003, SKP. Palm Beach Post , August 19, 2001, SKP . Florida Times Union , March 13, 2003. S K P . Folio Weekly , March 4, 2 003, S KP. Steinberg, Ted. . New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Terkel, Studs. New York: The New Press, 1995.


54 The Stetson Kennedy Tourist Development Council, City of Jacksonville . Informational Brochure. Fruit Cove, Jacksonville , Florida, 2003. Sun Sentinel , 2006, SKP . Oral Histories Parks, Sandra. Interview by author. December 18, 2014. Kennedy, Stetson. Interview by Gary Mormino. January 23, 1986. Transcript. Box 6, SKP. n.d. ,SKP. Kennedy, Stetson. Interview by Ka ren Feagins. WJCT . DVD, No. 77, SKP .