Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influential People: Parents, Teachers, and Mentors

BOND: Let me ask you a question that most people who sit in your chair say "my parents," and I know you’ll say that, but I want you to talk about others as well. Who are the people who’ve been most significant in shaping your life and career?

SELLERS: Well, as I oftentimes tell people, and I said this recently, I said that I truly believe in my political career I want to be more Julian Bond than Barack Obama.

BOND: Thank you.

SELLERS: And I look at those people like Marion and — I studied Marion Barry in his first two terms and the way he was able to impact middle class growth and economic development in the city of D.C. — and, of course, my parents. They had a huge influence on me, but growing up in small town South Carolina, you really had that community feel so there were— you know, Miss Shirley Archer who taught me in fifth grade and my aunt Jenny Marie Sellers, who was the matriarch of the family and during her — when she was at Shadow Oaks Nursing Home, we took her to T.G.I. Friday’s because she loved soft-serve ice cream and after she really truly recognized who I was, she told me, she said, “You’re the one that’s in law school.” And I said, “Yes, ma’am.” And she said, “Well, make sure you grow up to be a good lawyer and not a good liar.” So those are the type of people that have influenced me as I’ve matriculated and those are the people that I try to make proud.