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Civil Rights Activist Cleveland Sellers Featured Speaker For Wittenberg Series-Sponsored Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation

December 6, 2010  
 Filed in Campus Headlines

Springfield, Ohio— Internationally-known civil rights activist and scholar Cleveland Sellers will address the Wittenberg University and Springfield communities at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Convocation at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 17, in Weaver Chapel. The annual event is part of the 2010-11 Wittenberg Series.

Click here for the Wittenberg University Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Convocation home page.

Currently president of Voorhees College in Denmark, S.C., Sellers previously taught history and African-American Studies and served as the director of the African-American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina.

Seller’s activism and academic career have their roots in a fateful day in February 1968 when student protesters and state police clashed on the South Carolina State University campus. In what became known as the “Orangeburg Massacre,” three men were killed and 27 wounded, including Sellers. The only person arrested as a result of the incident, Sellers spent seven months in prison on rioting charges. Twenty-five years later he received an official pardon.

After his release from prison, he poured himself into his studies, obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Shaw University, a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Sellers is the author of six publications and has worked as a historian and consultant for several documentaries, including ESPN’s Black Magic, Tom Brokaw’s 1968, College of Charleston’s Emmy award-winning Where Do We Go From Here and a classic by Blackside Productions Eyes on the Prize.

In addition to the convocation, a Unity March will take place prior to the convocation, and a question-and-answer session with Sellers is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning, Room 105.

Also, on Thursday, Jan. 13, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Multicultural Programs John Young will present the video Orangeburg Massacre, which is a film about the events that led to Sellers’ arrest and incarceration. A panel discussion led by Julius Bailey, visiting assistant professor of philosophy, Molly Wood, associate professor of history, and Miguel Martinez-Saenz, associate provost, will follow the video.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Convocation was created in 1989 to pay tribute to the slain civil rights leader and to celebrate his accomplishments. Classes and other regularly scheduled academic activities proceed as usual on Martin Luther King Day, although faculty members have the option of canceling class to facilitate discussion of King, his legacy, the civil rights movement or issues of diversity.

A variety of influential speakers have addressed Wittenberg’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Convocation, including historian and law professor Mary Frances Berry in 1990 and 2009, author and political commentator Juan Williams in 1993, and NAACP Chair and civil rights activist Julian Bond in 2003.

The Wittenberg Series brings distinguished lecturers and performing artists of national and international prominence to the Wittenberg campus and Springfield community. To make special arrangements, reserve a Series poster, or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Jeannine Fox at (937) 327-7470 or via e-mail at

Written By: Gabrielle Antoniadis


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