by Joe Courter
October is the anniversary month of the Civic Media Center and Stetson Kennedy Library, which was founded in 1993. There are three big events to celebrate this remarkable achievement.
The CMC will host a special presentation at 3pm on Sunday, October 6, a day after what would have been Stetson’s 103rd birthday. Stetson Kennedy was an American author, folklorist, and human rights activist. One of the pioneer folklore collectors during the first half of the 20th century, he’s most remembered for having infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, exposing its secrets to authorities and the outside world, but his activism continued throughout his long life. He donated his personal library to the CMC before he died, and they were blended into the CMC collection of over 10,000 books.
Presented by Sandra Parks, Kennedy’s wife and partner at the time of his death in 2011, the program is titled “Stetson Kennedy’s Florida.”
This event also commemorates the 80th Anniversary of the Florida Guide, produced by the Florida Writers Project. It begins with a short excerpt from the Smithsonian film, The Soul of a People, that explains the significance of the Florida Writers Project, headquartered in Jacksonville. The film includes information on the work of Zora Neale Hurston and an interview with Stetson Kennedy.
Following the film, there will be a Powerpoint presentation, which includes photographs from an exhibit prepared by the historical societies of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama for the anniversary of Stetson Kennedy’s book Palmetto Country. It depicts what Florida was like in the 1930s. Refreshments will be available, but donations of food and drink are welcome. The program is free, although donations are welcome to support the Civic Media Center’s operations.
On the actual anniversary date of October 18, from 6-9pm, there will be a program called “The 26 Mix,” a celebration of Gainesville history and activism, marking the 26th anniversary of the Civic Media Center.
It will be a night of music, poetry, and a community panel highlighting the roots of local activism and current local organizing efforts in our city; how Gainesville has changed over time; and how we envision our city’s future. A donation of $10-50 is requested, either through Eventbrite or at the door.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, an author event will take place at the CMC with Chanice Lee at 6pm. Chanice is a teen activist and Dream Defender as well as author of Young Revolutionary: A Teen’s Guide to Activism. She hopes to educate, inspire, and empower people to become active in their communities. Her radical imagination will leave you inspired and ready to take charge. This event is co-sponsored by Third House Books and Dream Defenders.
The CMC is located at 433 S. Main St., with lots of parking across the street or on SE 5th Avenue.