CNN Commentator, Former South Carolina Legislator Bakari Sellers Headlines UNCW’s MLK Celebration Jan. 22

Thursday, January 17, 2019

CNN commentator and former South Carolina state representative Bakari Sellers is the keynote speaker for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

“When Tomorrow is Today: The Fierce Urgency of Now!” begins at 7 p.m. in the Kenan Auditorium. The celebration also features poetry and music, including a performance by the Williston Alumni Choir.

“We hope that our annual celebration of MLK makes it possible for students to understand that sitting beside one another took a prophetic vision and quite a bit of struggle,” said Sean Palmer, director of Upperman African American Cultural Center, a unit under UNCW Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. “To celebrate King is to embrace the deepest and widest kind of diversity that we can conceive and manifest as staff, faculty and administrators.”

To kick-off the celebration, the Upperman Center and UNCW Office of Housing and Residence Life will host a screening of While I Breathe, I Hope, a documentary about Bakari Sellers and what it means to be young, black and Democrat in the South.  The screening is scheduled for 6 p.m., Jan. 21 in King Hall auditorium.

For the 2018-19 academic year, the Upperman African American Cultural Center’s programming has sought to consider what the future looks like. “We thought that Bakari Sellers, as a young lawyer, civil rights advocate and journalist, could provide insight into our future,” said Palmer.

Sellers made history in 2006 when, at just 22 years old, he defeated a 26-year incumbent state representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina State Legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation. He was the 2014 Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina.

Admission to the MLK observance is free, but tickets are required. Tickets are available at the Kenan Box Office from noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. A maximum of four tickets are allowed per individual. For more information, contact Tiffany Campbell at or 910.962.3303; or visit

-- Venita Jenkins