In the post-World War II era, the Klan experienced a huge resurgence. Its membership was skyrocketing, and its political influence was increasing, so Kennedy went undercover to infiltrate the group. By regularly attending meetings, he became privy to the organization’s secrets. But when he took the information to local authorities, they had little interest in using it. The Klan had become so powerful and intimidating that police were hesitant to build a case against them.
Struggling to make use of his findings, Kennedy approached the writers of the Superman radio serial. It was perfect timing. With the war over and the Nazis no longer a threat, the producers were looking for a new villain for Superman to fight. The KKK was a great fit for the role.
In a 16-episode series titled “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” the writers pitted the Man of Steel against the men in white hoods. As the storyline progressed, the shows exposed many of the KKK’s most guarded secrets. By revealing everything from code words to rituals, the program completely stripped the Klan of its mystique. Within two weeks of the broadcast, KKK recruitment was down to zero. And by 1948, people were showing up to Klan rallies just to mock them.
I ain’t the world’s best writer nor the world’s best speller
But when I believe in something I’m the loudest yeller
“Stetson Kennedy,” Woody Guthrie
If Woody Guthrie wrote a song about your merits, you freaking HAD them.
Stetson Kennedy: American Badass.
This is super cool
"Everybody said, ‘Oh you must’ve been on drugs when you made those movies.’ No! We weren’t on drugs when we made them. I was on on drugs when I thought them up and I was on drugs when we showed them, but I was never on drugs when we made them, because it was too hard.”
Waters’ new book is called Carsick. It chronicles his hitchhiking journey across the country.
Photo by Richard Burbridge, 2008