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Civil rights activist visits campus Feb. 28

Bob Zellner knows risks of fighting for freedom

CSU Monterey Bay’s celebration of Black History Month will conclude on Feb. 28 when nationally known civil rights activist Bob Zellner visits campus.

“Reflections on 50 Years of Activism” will be his topic. The free event will get under way at 7 p.m. in the University Center on Sixth Avenue. The public is invited.

Raised in southern Alabama, the son and grandson of Ku Klux Klan members, Zellner rejected racism and fought for civil rights along with his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today, he is seen as one of the most influential white Southerners of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

In his memoir, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement,” he recounts how a race relations class in college and young activists who were organizing sit-ins inspired him to make a difference in the segregated South.

That led him to take part in some of the most notable events of the movement – as a Freedom Rider, a leader in Freedom Summer, and a participant in marches, sit-ins and protests. He was beaten, imprisoned and arrested 18 times in seven states on charges including criminal anarchy and “inciting the black population to acts of war and violence,” all in an attempt to register voters and bring about change and equality.

While studying for a Ph.D. in history at Tulane University in the 1990s, he wrote a dissertation on the Southern civil rights movement. He keeps the stories of the movement alive through his work as a lecturer, his appearance in films documenting the era, and his writing. His memoir is being made into a movie by Spike Lee. He has taped a show with Oprah Winfrey that is scheduled to air in May.

Driving directions and a campus map are available here.

The Associated Students Cultural Enrichment Committee, Student Activities and Leadership Development, and the Office of the Dean of Students are sponsors of the event. For more information, contact Tim Bills at 582-4645.

He tells a story that is sometimes horrific, always interesting and ultimately inspirational about a white Southerner’s commitment to racial justice. – Library Journal