Bakari Sellers urges students to ‘journey to excellence’



Bakari Sellers speaks to students at an all-school sssembly Monday. Credit: Pavan Tauh/Chronicle

Anthony Weinraub

CNN political commentator and former South Carolina Representative Bakari Sellers urged students to reflect on the progress made toward racial equality and how to best continue such progress at an all-school assembly today.

Sellers was invited by the Black Leadership Awareness and Culture Club in honor of Black History Month. BLACC co-leader Phaedra Robinson ’17 introduced Sellers.

“We feel Mr. Sellers’ life mission in pursuit of justice reflects BLACC’s values in desiring equality within the community regardless of political beliefs, gender or race,” Robinson said.

In his speech, Sellers encouraged audience members to strive for academic and political excellence as individuals and communities.

“Yes we’ve made progress, but now it’s about recognizing that we’ve still got a ways to go,” Sellers said. “That’s when you see more change.”

Referencing the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education and the difficulties his father, civil rights activist Cleveland Sellers, faced, he further encouraged students to consider both how far the nation has come in achieving racial equality and the progress that remains.

“Two simple questions are very necessary,” Sellers said. “The first is, how far have we come? And the next is, where do we go from here?”

Liz Yount ’17 asks Bakari Sellers a question as Connor Engel ’17 listens. Credit: Pavan Tauh/Chronicle

Prior to the conclusion of the assembly, Sellers accepted questions from students, including questions about the future of the Democratic Party and how young people should get involved in politics.

“The best thing you can do is get other young people involved,” Sellers said.

At the time of his election to the state legislature, Sellers was the youngest black elected official in the United States.

Sellers endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008 during his successful bid for president and in 2010 earned a spot on Time Magazine’s annual “40 Under 40” list. In 2014, Sellers lost his race for Lieutenant Governor in South Carolina to Republican candidate Henry McMaster.

Sellers, a two time Democratic National Convention speaker, is also an advocate for causes including educational rights, domestic violence and obesity.

“I’m really happy about what he had to say,” BLACC co-leader Taylor Jones ’18 said. “I really think that this could be a good catalyst for a bunch of conversations around campus.”