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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Jan. 20, 2016

Civil Rights activist Zellner to visit Northwest for lecture series

Dr. Bob Zellner

Dr. Bob Zellner

Northwest Missouri State University will host Dr. Bob Zellner, a prominent Civil Rights activist and Freedom Rider, as the next guest of its Distinguished Lecture Series at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, in the Charles Johnson Theater at the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building.

As a natural leader and speaker, Zellner excites his audiences through stories of his travels and a continual pursuit of civil rights. He continues to travel to share his experiences and inspire others on the pursuit of civil rights.

Zellner was the first white southerner to serve as field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). When SNCC became an all-black organization in 1967, Zellner and his wife, Dottie, joined the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) to organize an anti-racism project for black and white workers, called Grass Roots Organizing Work (GROW), or Get Rid of Wallace.

Arrested 18 times in seven states, he organized in cities across the country. Zellner was charged with everything from criminal anarchy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to “inciting the black population to acts of war and violence against the white population” in Danville, Virginia.

In the early 1990s, Zellner began studying at Tulane University for a Ph.D. in history. As he wrote a dissertation about the southern civil rights movement, he taught the history of activism at several universities.

Zellner was a featured Civil Rights luminary in the award-winning documentary to “Come Walk in My Shoes” in 2005. The Annual Faith and Politics Congressional Pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama, and other sites of the freedom struggle was led by the Honorable John Lewis and filmed by Robin Smith, the award-winning documentary director and producer and president and founder of VideoAction.

In 2008, Zellner’s memoir, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement,” was published. He received a Red Star Review from the Library Journal.

Zellner was born and raised in south Alabama. He received his bachelor’s degree from Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1961 with highest honors in sociology and psychology. From 1963 to 1965, he studied race relations in the graduate school of sociology at Brandeis University.

The objective of the Distinguished Lecture Series is to enhance the academic environment through individual discipline and interdisciplinary topics. Supported by the Office of the Provost and the Office Campus activities, the series presents the Northwest campus and surrounding communities with opportunities to hear from extraordinary individuals from around the globe. Scholars, world travelers and leaders in their fields visit the Northwest campus to share their wisdom, insight and experiences.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468