FOUNDER’S WEEK 2016
“There Is Still a Crown Above Me”
By VICKIE G. HAMPTON
At Morehouse, Bakari Sellers ’05 found a second home where the tradition of service and leadership was just as strong as the home he left.
HERE ARE two men whose lives of sacrifice and service have placed an indelible imprint on Bakari Sellers ’05. One is his father; the other, a Morehouse brother. Sellers, who was the 2016 Founder’s Day Convocation speaker on February 11, 2016, recounted how his father, Voorhees College president Cleveland Sellers, was indoctrinated into the civil rights movement when he was dispatched to Philadelphia, Miss., on a mission to look for three missing civil rights workers. As gruesome as the search for James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner was—they eventually were found murdered 44 days after their disappearance—Sellers would return home to face worse. The Orangeburg Massacre of 1968 turned out to be one of the most deadly civil rights demonstrations this country had ever seen. “[Students at South Carolina State University] didn’t foresee what would happen next,” recounted Bakari Sellers. “They didn’t know that shotguns would be turned on them with deadly aim. They didn’t know that it would not be rubber bullets, but buckshots fired at them.” Three were killed; 27 were wounded, including his father, Cleveland. The elder Sellers was taken to the hospital and, as fate would have it, the only black deputy in the town pointed him out as a protestor and had him arrested.
Bakari Sellers ‘05
Bakari came from a family where “service was a way of life—not a way to make a living.” At Morehouse, he found a second home where the tradition of service and leadership was just as strong. He also found a Morehouse brother, Horace Julian Bond ’71, who inspired and influenced his career as an activist.
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