If anyone asks……….it’s for the cause of so many of our predecessors whose souls I hope to stir, as we honor their all but forgotten legacies……..
I attended the Grand opening for an exhibit titled “Justice for All” at the University of South Carolina’s special collections department in the library. There are over 300 rarely seen telics of a time not too long ago. These displays highlight the contributions of South Carolina’s own Black American freedom fighters. Dr. Donaldson was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, for what it’s worth, he has been a motivating force for highlights of our history as the head of African American studies at University of South Carolina. This vast body of work, the culmination of himself and his team of dedicated archivists and researchers. The guest speaker needs know introduction, but I will speak with great esteem, at having the honor of conversation with Dr. Cleveland Sellers.
A three-year-old mascot; pardoned civil rights activist; author; educator; devoted husband and father. These are the roles that have indelibly shaped the legacy of Cleveland L. Sellers Jr., PhD, the eighth president of Voorhees College.
He grew up in Denmark – in the shadows of Voorhees – and became active in the 1960’s civil rights movement as an advocate for voting rights, justice and human rights. He aligned himself with veterans of the movement such as Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Esau Jenkins, Modjeska Simpkins and Septima Clark. He was a victim of the Orangeburg Massacre that resulted in only one arrest – his. He used the detention to rededicate his life to empowering others through education – his life’s calling.
Under Dr. Sellers’ leadership, the South Carolina State Commission on Higher Education has recognized Voorhees College as the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to receive the 2008-2009 Service Learning Award for exemplary academic service learning programs of public and private higher education institutions. The college also made history as one of only two HBCU’s to be featured in the first Inauguration Debate Series held at the National Museum of Natural history in Washington, D.C.
Previously, Dr. Sellers served as director of the African American Studies program at the University of South Carolina. An alumnus of Shaw University, Harvard University, and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, his affiliations include the Kosmos Club, South Carolina State Board of Education, South Carolina African American Heritage Committee, the Organization of American Historians, and Southern Historical Association. Among his numerous awards are the 2009 “Preserving Our Places in History” Lifetime Achievement Award, South Carolina African American Heritage Commission……He is a remarkable figure whom everyone should know.
Now if that wasn’t enough, lets get into the displays! Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr was originally scheduled to speak in Columbia when he was killed? Yeah, he rescheduled to make that trip to Memphis instead and paid the ultimate price for us. There’s proof within those displays. While viewing I met a white photographer who was ultimately beaten within inches of his life by police officers, because he was filming the carnage ensuing because brothers and sisters were boycotting stores in downtown Columbia. His pictures tell a story, his films even more.
I met sons and daughters of some of our members as well. They were proud to know that District 13 is back, I plan to do some interviews with them so stay tuned !!! I read the names of a good bit of our brethren mentioned amongst the greats, like Luther James Battiste, Isaiah DeQuincey Newman, Judge Matthew Perry, and J.C. Artemus…..If you don’t recognize the names a quick Google search will set you straight….
There aren’t that many ancestors left so we must focus on a new generation to care for the and carry the torch…..
I won’t post anymore pictures in hopes that you will take time off to come and see it for yourselves. For the Grand United Order of Oddfellows?! I am working with Dr. Donaldson currently to assist with telling our unique history. Hopefully we will be able to host an event like this all our own. Til then though I will continue to bring you the latest and greatest ,as I find new information…..
Black History is this month, March should be “Odd History Month” !!!
I leave as I came in the bond of Friendship Love and Truth with a touch of Peace Hope and Prosperity…..
Bro. Supreme Emanuel Page jr, Noble Grand: Wayman lodge 1339, Dist.13 Gr. Historian and National Gr. Historian for America and Jurisdiction