By Susan D. Brandenburg

Back in October 1916, a baby boy was born to the Kennedy family of Jacksonville, Fla. – a boy who was destined to become an iconic, globally-recognized champion of civil rights, environmental and cultural preservation. Stetson Kennedy devoted his life to making the world a better place and when he died in 2011 at age 94, he left an impressive legacy that lives on today. In this year marking a century since Stetson Kennedy’s birth, the foundation that bears his name is celebrating his memory and his accomplishments at every opportunity.

One celebratory event, Second Sunday at Stetson’s, occurs monthly at Beluthahatchee, where Kennedy lived and worked for many years. His picturesque cedar cottage and its surroundings, just off State Road 13 in Fruit Cove, are now a Florida Heritage Park owned by St. Johns County, and Second Sunday at Stetson’s is a folk music fest that happens there on the second Sunday of each month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Starling Nocatee, 360 degree virtual tour

As a result of the collaboration between the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, the North Florida Folk Network and St. Johns County, Second Sunday at Stetson’s regularly features some of the best folk singers on the First Coast, all of whom hold Kennedy’s memories and values close to their hearts.

In addition to enjoying excellent musical performances, visitors are treated to a tour of Kennedy’s historic cottage, which has received two national literary landmark designations – one for author and activist Stetson Kennedy and one for his buddy, folksinger Woody Guthrie, who, while “hanging out” at Beluthahatchee in the 1950s, wrote his autobiography “Seeds of Man” and more than 80 songs.

“Nothing would please Stetson more than to see this place attracting folksingers of this caliber to come and perform the ‘words of the people’ for like-minded audiences,” said Kennedy’s widow, Sandra Parks, following a stellar concert, Songs for Stetson, performed on June 12 by three of North Florida’s finest folksinger/songwriters, Al Poindexter, Paul Garfinkel and Larry Mangum.

“Stetson loved to hold soirees here with musicians, philosophers, activists, artists and educators,” said Parks. “These three talented men standing here with me today fit all of those categories admirably.”

Among the many powerful songs performed in the round by the three musicians, Poindexter sang a song entitled “Beluthahatchee Bill,” (lyrics by Woody Guthrie, music by local folksinger Alvah Allen) explaining to the audience that Kennedy’s given name was William Stetson Kennedy, thus Guthrie’s alliterative use of “Bill” in his song. Guthrie’s song describes Kennedy’s legendary run-ins with the “Kluxers” (Ku Klux Klan) and promises, “You’ll never slack my speed none … not Beluthahatchee Bill!”

Poindexter, who is slated to receive the Stetson Kennedy Foundation’s Fellow Man and Mother Earth award at Kennedy’s 100th Birthday Bash on October 5 at the Wilson Center, Florida State College Jacksonville, has been called a “Florida Folksinger’s Folksinger.” In addition to writing songs that honor the environment and culture of Florida, such as “St. Johns House Boat,” “Alligator Hole,” “Sweet Back Roads,” and “Orange Pickers Lament,” Poindexter performs in elementary schools throughout the First Coast and teaches a class at the University of North Florida’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute based on the late Ron Johnson’s book, “North Florida Folk Music – History and Tradition.”

So inspired was he when he first visited Kennedy’s home place, that Poindexter wrote his own original song titled “Beluthahatchee.” He notes that as a folksinger and songwriter, he cares about folklore, folk music, the environment and human rights, as well as Florida history, its land, water and wildlife.

“No place I’ve ever been holds all these things as dear at one time as Beluthahatchee does,” said Poindexter. “You just can’t separate the man, Stetson Kennedy, from the place, Beluthahatchee. They are one and the same.”

As Stetson Kennedy’s centennial year celebrations continue, watch The CreekLine for articles about the Stetson Kennedy Foundation’s Songwriter in Residence program, the Reader’s Theater “Black Super-Heroes,” performances, pop-up history events, the 100th Birthday Bash on October 5 and more.

Visit for detailed information on upcoming events celebrating Kennedy’s centennial.

On June 12, Second Sunday at Stetson’s was a sold out performance. Second Sunday on July 10 at Beluthahatchee, 1523 State Road 13, Fruit Cove, will be a tribute to Woody Guthrie performed by folksinger/songwriters David Milam, Cindy Bear and Jeff Parker. Space is limited space and the recommended donation is $10. Call (904) 206-8304 for reservations.


Photo courtesy Susan D. Brandenburg

Second Sunday at Stetson’s, June 12, 2016: Paul Garfinkel, Larry Mangum, Sandra Parks and Al Poindexter (with Stetson Kennedy portrait by graffiti artist Chip Southworth)


  • Smiles by Glenos & Hadfic Orthodontists
  • I.T. Promise Inc. Computer Services Professional Computer Services business and residential
  • Pavers concrete and more Free estimates
  • Snip's Tree and stump service over 25 years experience
  • The right cleaners, LLC House cleaning services
  • Premier Homes Realty Inc. Michael Taylor and Tari Taylor
  • Quality Eye care 25+ years of experience
  • Vote Rod Hardwick for st johns county sheriff Working together for the strength of our community during challenging times
  • Preddy law firm estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, guardianship
  • Starling Nocatee, 360 degree virtual tour
  • Advertise in our May Issue The Creek Line
  • Staverman Hearing Centers Hear loud and clear
  • Support Community Journalism The Creek Line
  • Tutoring club of st johns. Text tutoring to 484848 for a chance to win one month of free tutoring
  • Being Well Florida News line is excited to introduce Being Well magazine
  • Westminster Woods on Julington creek. Live well. Be Happy
  • Have questions about your medicare benefits? Call a SHINE volunteer.
  • Ellegant earth solutions complete lawn maintenance with 28 years experience, complete lawn maintenance
  • Prudential Financial Planning Services with Andrew Laino
  • Vote for Dr. Erick Aguilar Republican candidate U.S. House Fl 4th district
  • Academy of Dance Open House & Registration August 19th and 20th 3pm to 6pm Classes start August 24th! Ballet, Pointem Jazz, Hip Hop Contemporary, Modern, Lyrical, Music Theatre, Vocal
  • Affordable Water
  • All About Ballroom
  • Do you only want cremation?
  • Craig Funeral services, Funeral, Crematory, Memorial Park
  • Cronin Ace Hardware
  • Vote for Christian Whitehurst! for St. Johns county commissioner, District 1
  • Doug Nunnery, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices,
  • Finding the right doctor just got easier, Dr. Levine Baptist primary care
  • DIscount up to 30% Jim Register state farm agent
  • Nemetz Dental Associates! Your new smile awaits!
  • Deerwood Academy register now for 2020-2021 VPK
  • Eye center of st augustine, The eye surgery Center of St Augustine
  • Famous Automotive and tire center
  • Fruit Cove Baptist Church
  • The Goddard School summer camp
  • Havana Printing and office supply Call us today for all your cutome printing needs
  • Ian MacDonald Mortgage loan originator with Regions Mortgage
  • Julington Creek Chiropractic & Wellness Center P.A. serving st. johns county for nearly 21 years
  • Wild Birds Unlimited Nature shop. Have you watered your birds lately?
  • Creeks Air Conditioning & Heating. We service all makes and models for residential and commerical!
  • Crosswinds Veterinary Hospital. Preventative Medicine and wellness, Surgery, Dentistry, Labs and Imaging, Farm Animal Medicine, In-Patient and Emergency Care
  • Florida Waterways Inc. Your trusted Waterway Advisers
  • Julington Creek Family Dentistry. Implant Cosmetic and Restoration Dentistry. We are following Advanced Safety protocols set forth by CDC, OSHA and ADA guidelines for dental practices
  • Alicia Washington for Circuit Judge
  • Re-elect Mike Orfinger for circuit judge
  • Concrete Works! Free Estimates, driveways, Patios, Walkways, Concrete removal, Driveway extension, Pavers
  • Family Remodeling Contractors! Bath, Kitchen &ADA Remodeling
  • River Garden Senior Services, However and whenever you need us we're here
  • Starlight Gymnastics! Our #1 priority is your children!
  • Chris Strickland for ST Johns county sheriff!
  • Sugar Bear Antique Mall Summer spectacular sale July 10th-12th
  • Baptist Health, Great tools for motherhood
  • A Green Cleaner, Free pickup and delivery to your home!
  • HarborChase independent & assisted living Memory Care Mandarin. Your safety and peace of mind is always our Top Priority
  • Havana Printing 904-447-5021