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Zellner, Bob (John Robert), 1939-



  • Existence: 1939-

Biographical Statement

John Robert Zellner was born on April 5, 1939 in Jay, Florida and grew up in small towns throughout south Alabama. His father, James Zellner, was a Methodist minister and a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, a group to which his grandfather had also belonged. Zellner attended W.S. Neil High School in Brewton, Alabama and graduated from Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama in 1957. In 1961, he graduated from Hundington College in Montgomery, Alabama with a degree in psychology and sociology. He studied race relations and sociology at Brandeis University for two years, but eventually left. He later went on to earn a doctorate in history from Tulane University in the 1990s.

As a student at Hundington, Bob Zellner became involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was hired by SNCC after his graduation and became the group's first white field secretary. He was tasked with outreach to the white student bodies at Southern colleges and universities. Zellner and his then wife, Dorothy "Dottie" Miller Zellner, worked for SNCC until 1966, and then moved to New Orleans to work for the Southern Conference Educational Fund when disagreement over their proposal for the GROW Project (standing for "Grass Roots Organizing Work" or "Get Rid Of [Alabama governor George] Wallace," and designed to organize working class whites in the South) led to their departure from SNCC. He later married Linda Miller. He taught the history of the Civil Rights Movement at Long Island University until his retirement, and remains an engaged activist.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Bob Zellner oral history collection

 Collection — Container: 5 audiocassettes
Identifier: 2333
Scope and Contents

This collections is made up of five audiocassette recordings of oral history interviews with civil rights activist Bob Zellner conducted by Eric Diner, then a Tulane University undergraduate, as part of Diner's honors thesis. Zellner, the first White field secretary from the south for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), has a long career in civil rights activism.

Dates: Created: 1994; Other: Date acquired: 05/11/1995