“If you see something wrong, eventually you’re going to have to do something about it. You can’t study it forever.”
That advice from Rosa Parks, given while helping Bob Zellner and four other Huntingdon College students elude arrest for attending a civil rights meeting in a Montgomery, Ala., church in 1959, would propel Zellner down an unlikely path for a white southerner of his generation – to more than 50 years as a civil rights activist.
Zellner and the other members of the Huntingdon Five, as they became known, had gone to Montgomery to interview Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. for a college sociology paper, despite warnings from their college professor and King himself about the chances of being arrested.
When the police showed up as expected, the boys wanted to try to escape arrest so King went out one door as a distraction while Parks went with them to another exit – and delivered her life-changing words to Zellner.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, Zellner will present a lecture at Eastern Kentucky University based on his award-winning memoir, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement,” which documents the path Zellner took after that fateful meeting.