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A Son of Voorhees discusses hope and a dream

Attorney Bakari Sellers, CNN commentator, author, and activist recently discussed his new memoir “My Vanishing Country” and what it meant as a hope and a dream a part of the Lyceum Speaker Series. 

Sellers began with his first point, be prepared for every opportunity. “I submitted this book over 30 times, and no one wanted to publish it. I wrote this book to help people understand the smell, feel, and taste of Denmark,” Sellers said. “The good ol’ days where you smelled the fresh hot Tuten’s chicken, the aroma of the pastries at Wee Bake, the Icees at the five and dime downtown we would get after school, and you had the recreational center, where my friends and I use to go jump ditches.” 

He went on with his second point; you can be a leader wherever you are. “You do not have to wait until you graduate to be an activist or politician by any stretch. It is so many gaps to stand in. I remember I decided one day to run for the House of Representatives for District 90,” Sellers said. “We went out and knocked on more than 2,700 doors. Then, on June 13, 2006, I became the youngest elected official in the United States and the youngest state legislator in South Carolina history.” 

Sellers continued with his third point, you can dream with your eyes open. “The moment in 2005 when one of the biggest elections were taking place. Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Edwards were participating. I received a call from Obama asking me to endorse him, and I accepted,” Sellers said. 

“It was time to bring him to my district, so we took him to SC State. There I was in January 2008 standing on the stage with Usher Raymond, Kerry Washington, and Barack Obama, who would be the 44th president of the U.S. People always ask me what I was thinking, and I remember clearly.” 

He explained he was 19 miles away from where he had the audacity to dream with his eyes open in his kitchen. “I was 19 miles away from where I believed I could become a part of something larger than me and change the worked. I was 300 yards from where my father got shot during the Orangeburg Massacre, and the blood of family ran through the soil. My dreams from the big city of Denmark had taken me to where I am now.” 

Sellers concluded with his point; you have to be prepared for absolutely anything. “After that fateful day of the Emmanuel Nine, I did an interview with my father. Here we are 40 years apart in age, but still sharing some of the same racial experiences,” Sellers said. “Following the interview, I get a call from CNN, and they hired me on the spot because I was able to be a voice for Clem and the others who gave their lives. This became a moment of hope. When I go on CNN, I try to speak my truth. In my book, I elaborate on this entire journey, and some of the struggle, anxiety, truths of a Black man in America. Success does not mean those things do not exist. It is ok to go through issues and talk to people.” 

Sellers is no stranger to the Voorhees Family, as he and his siblings grew up in Demark, and his father, Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers, Jr., was the eighth president of Voorhees from 2008-2016. He is known as the “son” of Voorhees. “The whole world will know our story because of the words we put on paper. I am extremely proud to be from Denmark, proud to be a son of the movement, proud to be a son of Voorhees College, and proud of My Vanishing Country.”