Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Zellner, Bob (1939–)

Zellner grew up in southern Alabama amidst a family and culture of Ku Klux Klan members. While in college, his interest in the civil rights movement grew, and for his senior thesis he interviewed key leaders like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. Graduating in 1961, he became the first white field secretary of SNCC, coordinating grassroots campaigns in Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia. He was jailed for his work over 18 times and was represented in court by black lawyers after white ones would refuse. He became a lecturer on social justice, race, and activism, and his own advocacy and civil disobedience continued. In 2000, he helped negotiate a land dispute for which he was arrested, and in 2013 he was arrested for protesting North Carolina’s voter restrictions.