Bob Zellner's Civil Rights Memoir

Paul Harvey

Everyone who studies SNCC and the civil rights movement will recognize the name of Bob Zellner. A white Alabamian, son of a clergyman and college student in the early 1960s, Zellner cast his lot with the black freedom movement. In spite of his ubiquity in the historical literature of the movement (including a couple of brief appearances in my book Freedom's Coming), he remains much less well known than other characters from the era. That may be rectified somewhat now by the publication of Zellner's new memoir, Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Movement. Connie Curry, instrumental in the wonderful collection Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement, and a number of other memoirs and books about the period, is listed as the co-author, and Julian Bond provides the foreword. I look forward to reading this soon and blogging about it some more.

A brief description of the book, with Web extras below:

Even forty years after the movement, the transition from son and grandson of Klansmen to field secretary of SNCC seems quite a journey. In the early 1960s, when Bob Zellner’s professors and classmates at a small church school in Alabama thought he was crazy for even wanting to do research on civil rights, it was nothing short of remarkable. Now, in his long-awaited memoir, Zellner tells how one white Alabamian joined ranks with the black students who were sitting-in, marching, fighting, and sometimes dying to challenge the Southern “way of life” he had been raised on but rejected. Decades later, he is still protesting on behalf of social change and equal rights. Fortunately, he took the time, with co-author Constance Curry, to write down his memories and reflections. He was in all the campaigns and was close to all the major figures. He was beaten, arrested, and reviled by some but admired and revered by others. The Wrong Side of Murder Creek is Bob Zellner’s larger-than-life story, and it was worth waiting for. Zellner now lives and teaches in New York state. Atlanta-based co-author Curry is also a civil rights veteran and has written several books and directed a documentary film.

Web Extras

• Bob Zellner reads from The Wrong Side of Murder Creek on YouTube.
Read an excerpt of The Wrong Side of Murder Creek.
• Visit the official Wrong Side of Murder Creek website.
• Read the Alabama Writers’ Forum review of The Wrong Side of Murder Creek.


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