Bob Zellner was raised in Alabama and is the son and grandson of Ku Klux Klan members. But early in life, he questioned Jim Crow segregation, which was endemic in his community.
As a young man, he joined the civil rights movement, becoming the first white field secretary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. In the course of being beaten, jailed and personally targeted by Alabama’s notorious governor George Wallace, he came to know many of the movement’s icons, including John Lewis, Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer.
Zellner’s autobiography, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek,” has been made into a just-released movie produced by Spike Lee. Called “Son of the South,” the film, written and directed by Barry Alexander Brown, can be viewed on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
On Friday, February 19, at 7 p.m., the Shelter Island Health and Wellness Alliance, along with the Shelter Island Public Library, will host “Son of the South: A Conversation with Robert Zellner,” a Zoom discussion. The program is the third in the Necessary Bridges online series the alliance has hosted.
Interviewing Zellner, a former resident of Southampton, will be fellow Alabamian Diane McWhorter, author of “Carry Me Home,” a civil rights history of Birmingham that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. A former Shelter Islander, McWhorter interviewed Zellner in the research for her book and is eager to reconnect with him about their shared “hometown” communities of Alabama and the East End of Long Island, where Zellner continues his activism.
Preregistration for the program is required at silibrary.org.