Martin Luther King Jr. Program at Fairfield University announced - Essay contest for Bridgeport students introduced.

Image: Bob ZellnerBob Zellner, a civil rights activist and the first white Southerner to serve as a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), will be the speaker at Fairfield University's 2004 Martin Luther King Jr. convocation, to be held in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Thursday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m.

The convocation will be followed by a dinner in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room at 6 p.m. where this year's Vision Awards will be presented. The Vision Awards, begun in 2001, recognize a faculty member, an alumnus, community member and student for their "tireless effort to instill and inspire the teachings and ideals of Martin Luther King Jr. in today's youth."

This year the Martin Luther King Jr. committee and the Connecticut Post are offering an essay contest for Bridgeport students, grades 6-8. The students will be invited to write on the subject, "What Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy Means to Me and My Community." The three top winners will receive prizes of $200, $150 and $100 and have their essays published in the Connecticut Post. They and their parents will also be invited to the convocation and dinner.

Other events commemorating the holiday include the reading of memoirs of the civil rights movement on Wednesday, Jan. 21, beginning at 7 p.m., in the lower level of the Barone Campus Center; and a Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Leadership Conference for local middle school students, led by Fairfield University students, to be held on Friday, Jan. 23, in the Barone Campus Center.

Bob Zellner, born and raised in south Alabama, graduated from Huntingdon College in Montgomery in 1961 and was working at Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn., when he became a field secretary for SNCC. From 1961 to 1967, he was arrested 25 times in five states, and was charged with everything from criminal anarchy in Louisiana to "inciting the black population to acts of war and violence against the white population."

From 1963-66, he did graduate work at Brandeis University in the Sociology of Race Relations in America. He is now completing a Memoir of The Southern Civil Rights Movement for his doctoral dissertation at Tulane University. David Halberstam is his advisor on adapting the history dissertation for publication and talks are now underway with Viking Press. In addition, Bob Zellner teaches a course on the history of activism at Southampton College of Long Island University in the Friends World Program.

In the years since his involvement with SNCC, Bob Zellner has continued to work for civil rights, through his lectures and academic conferences. In the 1980s, he worked on documentary and feature films, including "Eyes on the Prize," "Los Marielitos," and "Mozambique," traveling to Europe. Africa, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on January 7, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 140

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