Lancer Spotlight 4/28/23: Civil rights activist speaks to FCPS students at Hood College event


Danny Lyon

Bob Zelllner on the far left sings with his fellow Freedom Riders, “I Woke Up This Morning With Freedom On My Mind.”

by Leila Gibril, Editor

On April 26, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) students all around the district visited Hood College to hear from civil rights activist Bob Zellner give a genuine and informative speech.

Zellner, who is 84 years old, gave insight into what it was like to live in the 1950s in the deep south. Born to a family in the KKK, his father later on left the Klan and raised Zellner to think differently than his white peers.

In his youth, Zellner was one of the first white members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He felt it was his responsibility to stand up for what was right. He spent his life teaching others and writing about his experiences.

Zellner wrote a book called “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement” that was adapted into a movie called “Son of the South.” The film came out in 2021 and was directed by Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee, Tubi

“Son of the South” is a biopic about Zellner’s life in the deep south and the struggles he faced when he turned against the Klan, including his grandfather, the Klan’s grand wizard.

Zellner had a difficult relationship with his grandfather after he found out about his grandson’s morals.

“Children were to be seen and not heard,” said Zellner.

When Zellner told his grandfather that he was a supporter of civil rights, his grandfather said he would kill him after the next civil rights march he participated in. 

“Hearing his story on how he broke off his family ties and became very influential to the next generation today was very inspiring,” Linganore senior Lalah Briscoe said.

Teachers and students all around the U.S. are inspired by his words and join him on many tours to learn about his life as a proponent of civil rights.