Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influential Experiences: Orangeburg Massacre and Morehouse College

BOND: What about particular events that happened in your lifetime or that your father, particularly, who is a icon of the civil rights movement referenced to when you were younger — what about specific historical events? How did they affect you?

SELLERS: I always say that the most important day in my life was February 8, 1968, and that was the day of the Orangeburg Massacre and that, although it was some twenty-odd years before I was born, is by the far the almost important day in my life, and from that, I oftentimes carry the chip on my shoulder, especially in my legislative duties, of Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond, and Delano Middleton. And I try to just to do things that I feel will help continue their mission in life, though they died at a very young age, and my hope and goal is that every day that I stay here, I continue to move that mission and move that goal forward, although the goal may have switched and changed just a little bit, I try to continue down that path. So, that is, by far, the most important day of my life, and throughout my life, I’ve had some interesting experiences.

Going to the fortieth SNCC reunion and just having those type of discussions with icons of the civil rights movement and just, you know, sitting in my father’s class and learning something new every day have been awesome experiences. And then my four years at Morehouse College cannot be underestimated or devalued because those helped mold the man that I am today and learning the lessons of Benjamin E. Mays and Dr. King and yourself and having the opportunity to sit and talk with Samuel L. Jackson and Spike Lee, and just knowing of the struggles of —

BOND: Morehouse men, we should mention.

SELLERS: Morehouse men, definitely. And that definitely gave me a crown above my head and I just have to try to continue to grow until I can reach it.