Where do we go from here?

Bakari Sellers posed that question to the more than 600 community and business leaders at Monday’s 36th Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Breakfast at Millersville University.

Sellers, a civil rights activist, author, entrepreneur and political commentator, delivered the keynote speech, speaking on this year’s theme, “Activating the Promise of Democracy.”

Sellers said the conversation needs to be about people’s journey in life.

“Life is not a singular step, but a collection of steps and we are all on this journey together. We have an expectation of excellence and need to ask ourselves how far we have come and where do we go from here,” Sellers said.

Using a historical context, Sellers spoke of George Elmore, who in 1946 challenged the Democratic Party for the right to vote in the Democratic Primary in South Carolina; Sarah Mae Flemming, who fought to desegregate intrastate transportation in South Carolina after being assaulted on a bus for sitting on the wrong seat and exiting through the wrong door; and of Harry Briggs, one of 20 parents who brought a lawsuit against the president of the school board for Clarendon County, South Carolina, because they wouldn’t provide school buses for the Black students as they did for whites.

“The answer to the question how far we have come is that we’ve made progress but we‘ve still have a long way to go,” Sellers said. “So where do we go from here?”

That, Sellers said, depends on two things. “We need to rededicate ourselves to loving our neighbor even when they don’t love us. That’s a different type of love. That’s a hard type of love. The second thing we have to do is learn how to dream with our eyes open. The most important part is we have to teach the younger generation coming behind us that they too can dream. That is what’s required to get to our final destination,” he said.

Sellers is an attorney with Strom Law Firm, in Columbia, South Carolina, where he heads the firm’s strategic communications and public affairs team and its diversity, equity and inclusion consulting practice, which enables the implementation of best practice standards for LGBTQ+ equity across law firms and companies. He hosts The Bakari Sellers Podcast and is a CNN political analyst.

Sellers has also written two books: My Vanishing Country, a memoir, and Who Are Your People, a children’s book. He served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2006 to 2014, becoming the youngest legislator in the South Carolina state Legislature at age 22.

The breakfast, sponsored by Crispus Attucks Community Center and Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County, is Crispus Attucks Community Center’s biggest fundraising event annually and raises about $100,000.

Manheim Township High School student Alicia Blanco performed an original spoken word piece, saying “Dr. King knew that equality exists for everyone. Democracy is the sound of freedom calling, activating our voices for the benefit of tomorrow. And I know I’m only 17 and some might say I’m naïve, but I think 17 just means that I have the rest of my life to be the change that I want to see. Change starts with me. Democracy starts with us and tomorrow will heal the sorrows of the people who set us free.’’

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