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January 9, 2023

Legislator, civil rights activist Bakari Sellers to give keynote address at MLK Jr. Regional Celebration

Event will take place at SVSU on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

Man in suit holding microphone, smiling and gesturing

Political analyst, activist and former South Carolina representative Bakari Sellers will deliver the keynote address for the 14th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Celebration at Saginaw Valley State University on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. The event is a collaboration of SVSU, Delta College and the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations. It is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. 

Sellers’ address will be presented in a “fireside chat” format, with John Kaczynski, SVSU’s executive director of governmental and community affairs, moderating the discussion.

Born into an activist family, Sellers has carried on the legacy of his father, civil rights leader Cleveland Sellers, a powerful voice for equality, especially in the 1960s and early 1970s. Bakari Sellers has helped shape contemporary civil rights initiatives with U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, attorney Benjamin Crump and former President Barack Obama.  

In 2006, at age 22, Sellers unseated a 26-year incumbent congressman to become the youngest member of the South Carolina State Legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the United States. In 2014, he won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in South Carolina. 

Sellers joined the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. in Columbia, South Carolina, in 2007 and currently leads the firm’s strategic communication and public affairs team and the diversity, equity and inclusion consulting practice. He also is a political analyst with CNN and hosts a twice-a-week podcast on the Ringer Podcast Network.

Sellers is the author of two books, the New York Times best-selling “My Vanishing Country” and a children’s book, “Who Are Your People?” He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College and a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. 

In addition to the keynote address by Sellers, the Jan. 18 program will include the presentation of regional scholarship awards by the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations to regional high school seniors who have embodied Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideals. The 15 scholarship recipients will read “The Negro and the American Dream,” excerpted from King’s address at the Annual Freedom Mass Meeting of the North Carolina State Conference of Branches of the NAACP on Sept. 25, 1960.

Officials also will announce the winners of the Drum Major Awards, which recognize members of the Great Lakes Bay Region who advance King’s vision through their community involvement.