Civil rights

After six decades of civil rights activism, Bob Zellner is still here

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) — At a time when most 83-year-olds may have long since begun to relax, longtime civil rights activist Bob Zellner is still working.

“We consult with universities, colleges, political campaigns and also people who write history, so that’s what we do full time,” Zellner said.

Zellner is joining forces with his wife, Pamela Smith, to stay ahead of what he calls a new era for civil rights. They work nationwide, but right now primarily in seven southern and midwestern states.

“States that are very close in voting between Republicans and Democrats, who we consider to be the progressives and those who want to step back in American history,” he said.

And Zellner is no stranger to the story. His book, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek,” chronicles his story of being a southern white man – an Alabama native, Murphy High Graduate – and his involvement in the civil rights movement. The film, Son of the South, is based on his book.

The heyday of the civil rights era was an ominous time for Zellner. Today is no different, he says, with clear efforts by some to restrict access to the voting booth.

“So there’s a group in our country that wants to suppress the vote,” Zellner said. “It means suppressing democracy, but the majority does not want that. And we are busy organizing this majority to regain its power.

And Zellner and Smith show no signs of slowing down, as long as there are still some wrongs to be righted.

“I tried to quit, but you can’t. We’re like the old horses that pulled the fire truck, when the bell rings you charge out of the stable and go to where the fire is.

And Zellner says right now there’s a lot of fires going on.

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