He urged them not to “let where you graduate from school, dictate your outcome.”
Situated along the infamous I-95 “Corridor of Shame,” Lee County ranks 6 highest among the 46 in South Carolina in terms of poverty. The Denmark native used his personal story to further illustrate that good things can come from obscure and poor places.
He graduated from South Carolina’s Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School at age 16 and college at age 20. Sellers told students how he made history in 2006 when, at the age of 22, he defeated a 26-year incumbent to become the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation.
“The reason I tell you that story is because I became the youngest black elected official in the entire United States of America and I’m from Denmark, S.C.,” says Sellers. “So, do not think that anything that you all want to do is impossible.”
His father, civil rights icon Dr. Cleveland Sellers, was a semblance of hope in his message to students. Though his father suffered grave injustices, Sellers says he overcame them and became the reason for his passion to make a difference.
“The blood of my family literally runs through the soil of this great state,” says Sellers.
Much of what he shared was featured in his documentary “While I Breathe, I Hope,” which was shown to middle and high school students a week prior.
The documentary chronicles the life of the captivating, expressive Sellers and the challenges he encountered as a young democrat in the U.S. South. A practicing attorney as well, the story includes his life as an activist.
This star within the Democratic Party is a leading voice for his generation, following in the footsteps of his father. Just as he has obtained some modicum of success, Sellers told students that they had no choice but to be excellent as well.
“There are a lot of people outside this building who don’t expect much from us and our job is to prove all of those people wrong,” says Sellers.
He practices law with the Strom Law Firm, LLC in Columbia and is a CNN contributor. He is married to Ellen Rucker and they have three children.