The journey white Southerners travel in this riveting memoir, from virulent racism to acceptance of blacks' civil rights, is as momentous as any in American history. Zellner moved a shorter distance-son of a progressive, integrationist minister from Alabama, he had his family's support when he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1961. A frontline participant in many civil rights battles, he was jailed, beaten, slashed, shot at by police and taken on a terrifying night ride by Klansmen as they debated whether to lynch him. He's also a canny observer of major figures in the struggle, from SNCC legend Robert Moses to segregationist stalwart George Wallace. Zellner comes off as confident, even cocky-especially in his many arguments with racist antagonists, of which he has an implausible verbatim recall-but the constant menace of howling white mobs, vicious cops and Klan terrorists takes its toll. The result is a testament both to the courage of civil rights activists and to the hatred they overcame; when Zellner survives to see white and black workers come together for a wildcat strike, it seems almost miraculous. Photos. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movementby Bob Zellner
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 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
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 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 was in all the campaigns and was close to all the major figures. The Wrong Side of Murder Creek is Bob Zellner's larger-than-life story, and it was worth waiting for.
Zellner's memoir focuses on his experiences as a civil rights activist from 1960 to 1967. He tells a story that is sometimes horrific, always interesting, and ultimately inspirational about a white Southerner's commitment to racial justice. Born and raised in the Deep South, Zellner was profoundly influenced by his father, a Methodist minister who rejected his own Ku Klux Klan ties and encouraged his son in his growing interest in the civil rights movement. In the 1960s, Zellner became a member and ultimately a field secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and participated in numerous demonstrations attacking racial discrimination. He was arrested, jailed, beaten-often savagely-shot at by police, and almost killed. Yet he remained committed to the cause of racial justice and the organizing needed to achieve it. In 1967, he and his activist wife, Dottie, were kicked out of SNCC owing to a decision to remove all whites from the organization, which he understood but was saddened by. Written with Curry (Silver Rights: The Story of the Carter Family's Brace Decision To Send Their Children to an All-White School and Claim Their Civil Rights), this powerful portrait of a courageous man is highly recommended for all but the smallest libraries.
Anthony O. Edmonds
- NewSouth, Incorporated
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Meet the Author
Zellner now lives in Southhampton, New York, and teaches in New York state. Atlanta-based co-author Curry is also a civil rights veteran and has written several books, including the award-winning Silver Rights, from which she produced a documentary film entitled The Intolerable Burden.
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