Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 by

Dr. Maya Angelou expressed her support for the new movie Son of the South — based on Bob Zellner’s memoir The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement — with a fundraising party at her home October 3. In attendance were Zellner, Son of the South director Barry Alexander Brown, and a host of civil rights figures including former US Department of Agriculture staffer Shirley Sherrod.

Dr. Maya Angelou, Shirley Sherrod, and Bob Zellner together in support of the Son of the South movie

Dr. Maya Angelou, Shirley Sherrod, and Bob Zellner together in support of the Son of the South movie

Verane Pick described the event in an article on the Scallywag & Vagabond website. (Event photographs by Pick.)

Son of the South, with executive producer Spike Lee, will bring to the big screen the events Zellner describes in The Wrong Side of Murder Creek. In the book, Zellner chronicles a lifetime of civil rights activism, from his childhood as the son and grandson of Klansmen to field secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), including his imprisonment for desegregation work and his meetings with Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and others.

At the Son of the South event, Dr. Angelou told Pick that “in an era of such strong polarization, where hate is again being accepted as a tolerable response to our fellow human beings, [Bob Zellner’s] story needs to be told, this story needs to be heard.”

Zellner himself described the story he tells as “not about who wins and who loses, who’s strong or who’s weak, [but rather] about standing up for what you know is right. And if you really look, you’re bound to see it: true courage isn’t measured by your fists, your tanks, or your ability to overpower your enemy, it lies in compassion, forgiveness, benevolence . . . and the joy it sprouts within.”

The Wrong Side of Murder Creek received the 2009 Lillian Smith Book Award presented by the Southern Regional Council. Library Journal gave The Wrong Side of Murder Creek a starred review, noting that “this powerful portrait of a courageous man is highly recommended”; Publishers Weekly called the book “a testament both to the courage of civil rights activists and to the hatred they overcame.”

The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, by Bob Zellner with Constance Curry, is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.