2016 Keynote Speaker Bob Zellner

Keynote Speaker Bob Zellner

Bob Zellner

America's great war over slavery has not ended; it has evolved. Fifty years ago, Bob Zellner risked his life and nearly lost it many times, achieving The Second Emancipation. Today, at 76, he remains a soldier in what may become a Third Emancipation—a turbulent and promising chapter that may come to be known as #BlackLivesMatter.

Famous for battles with the KKK, segregationist lynch mobs, and violent police, Zellner is now the individual that a new generation turns to with questions on the racial, historical, and cultural assumptions on which they were raised, as they ask themselves, "What is my place in this struggle?"

In 2014, he was featured in TIME Magazine as one of 17 "living legends" of the Civil Rights Movement to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The first white Southerner to serve as Field Secretary for The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, he worked with historical figures including John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, to supply The Civil Rights Movement with its most significant assets, including the revolutionary power of multi-racial solidarity and committed grassroots organizing.

For nearly 60 years, Zellner has leaped into the chasms that divide God's human family and built bridges to reunite them. With lectures rich with death-defying, inspiring, and often humorous accounts of when his life intersected with history, he brings to life the heartbreaks and victories of the Civil Rights Era in a way that empowers and instructs the modern day movement. His continued active role in the movement—most notably as one of 16 arrested with Rev. Dr. William Barber in the civil disobedience that kicked off the Moral Monday movement in 2013—presents a message informed by direct experience with modern day inflection points and tools for organizing in the fight for justice.

List of Previous Speakers

2016 Bob Zellner, Civil Rights activist
2015 Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist
2014 Dick Gregory, Civil Rights activist and comedian
2013 Myrlie Evers-Williams, Civil Rights activist, first female chairperson of the NAACP
2012 Andrew Young, US Ambassador, Congressman, Mayor of Atlanta and Co-Founding Principal and Chairman of Goodworks International
2011 Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, political commentator and educator
2010 Kweisi Mfume, political and business leader
2009 Dr. Nikki Giovanni, poet, author, essayist and professor
2008 Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister Emeritus, The Riverside Church; President and Founder, Healing of the Nations Foundation
2007 Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Co-Founder, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
2006 Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP
2005 Juan Williams, Author, Columnist, NPR Host
2004 Dr. Scott Ellsworth, Author, "Death in a Promised Land..."
2003 *Rep. Opio Toure, Oklahoma State Representative
2002 Hon. Fred R. Harris, Former US Senator, Member of "The Group"
2001 Dr. G. Calvin McCutchen, Sr., Pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist Church
2000 W.A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma
1999 Ms. Diane Nash, Student Leader of the Non-violent Civil Rights Movement of te 1960s
1998 Rev. Dr. James Lawson, Pastor, Holman United Methodist Church, Los Angeles, California
1997 Mr. Morris Dees, Co-Founder, Southern Law Poverty Center, Montgomery, Alabama
1996 *Rev. Wade Watts, Pastor, Jerusalem Baptist Church, Oklahoma City
1995 *Dr. Ernest Holloway, President, Langston University
1994 *Ms. Clara Luper, Oklahoma Civil Rights Leader, Oklahoma City
1993 Dr. Cynthia Hale, Pastor, Atlanta, Georgia
1992 *Dr. Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, University of Oklahoma Board of Regents
1991 *The Honorable Hannah Atkins, Oklahoma Secretary of State, 1987-1991
1990 Brig. Gen. Frank L. Miller, Jr., Commander, III Corps Artillery, Fort Sill
1989 Dr. George Henderson, Department of Human Relations, University of Oklahoma
1988 *Rev. JL Davenport, Pastor, St. John's Baptist Church
1987 Dr. Melvin Todd, Vice President, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
1986 Rev. Gregory Wilson Jones, Pastor, Frederick, OK
1985 Dr. Valree Wynn, Emeritus Cameron Faculty

*Denotes deceased