Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leadership Development: Morehouse College

BOND: When did you begin to think of yourself as a leader?

SELLERS: I think "leader" is a very — I have a problem with "leader" and "leadership."

BOND: But just by virtue of the position you hold, you are a leader.

SELLERS: I felt that I had the ability to lead the day I won SGA president at Morehouse College, twice. I had to win the race twice, but I felt that as competitive as that is at Morehouse College and what that meant to the student body, is if I was able to convince my peers that have known me for four years that I needed to direct them and guide them and we were going to fight and we got cafeteria workers higher wages while I was there, and we were able to do those types of things, that I had the skill set necessary to be a good leader. And I had also made that decision that that summer I was going to run for the State House of Representatives.

BOND: So the outcome of the Morehouse second election influenced your decision to run for public office.

SELLERS: Definitely.

BOND: Everybody thinks his or her school is the best school and does the best job in molding us, but I think people who went to Morehouse College as you and I did, feel it played a special role in our lives. What did it do for you?

SELLERS: It just showed me that anything is possible. Our roster of alums at Morehouse is comparable to any college or university on the planet and you can compare the persons who graduated from Morehouse College to the persons who graduated from Chapel Hill and U. Va., Georgetown, Princeton, Harvard. You know, Harvard is the Morehouse of the north, and just that in itself shows you that you can absolutely accomplish anything, so it doesn’t give you a false sense of self, but it gives you a sense of self that allows you to work diligently and work as hard as possible so you can achieve your goals and we produce the second most African American doctors, only behind Xavier, in the country, and I think that that stands on its own merit. But going to Morehouse for my freshman year, staying in Graves Hall, behind the statue of Benjamin E. Mays, and going out front and just reading the quotes from Benjamin E. Mays and understanding that there wouldn’t be a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., if there wasn’t a Benjamin E. Mays, and just going and learning the lessons and being on the Board of Trustees with Otis Moss [Jr.]. I mean, that in itself speaks loudly, so there were just times, and they let you grow at Morehouse.

I was an African American Studies major. I started out a bio major and they let you grow and you learn from Anne Watts how to speak and how to enunciate. You go to Crown Forum where you just learn how that you should have some type of spiritual base and you hear different speakers come in and talk to you and then you have A Candle in the Dark when you see alums come back, and you know that your school is important to somebody when Oprah Winfrey comes and gives you a huge check and says that she’s proud of everything that you all have done for African American males. But more importantly, what people do not recognize is although Morehouse is a predominantly black, all-male institution, it is one of the more diverse institutions in this country. We had students from all fifty states and over ninety countries represented, and you learn so much from your colleagues and peers and just learning about different cultures and various backgrounds helped me go back home to South Carolina where we still have that level of growth to do.