Kent State to Honor the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. With Virtual Program Featuring Bakari Sellers

Kent State University will hold its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, to celebrate King’s life and legacy. Serving as this year’s keynote speaker is CNN political analyst and former South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers. The virtual program is free and open to the public.

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. In 2014, he was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in South Carolina. 

Sellers earned his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College, where he served as student body president, and his law degree from the University of South Carolina. He has followed in the footsteps of his father, civil rights leader Cleveland Sellers, in his tireless commitment to service, championing progressive policies to address issues ranging from education and poverty to preventing domestic violence and childhood obesity. 

In addition to having served on former President Barack Obama’s South Carolina steering committee during the 2008 election, Sellers is widely considered to be a rising star within the Democratic Party and a leading voice for his generation. His accomplishments, coupled with his uncommon ability to reach across the aisle and get things done, have led to numerous accolades, including being named to Time magazine’s 40 Under 40 list in 2010, as well as “The Root 100” list of the nation’s most influential African Americans in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

He has served as a featured speaker for the National Education Association, College Democrats of America National Convention and the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and 2016. 

Sellers practices law with the Strom Law Firm LLC in Columbia, South Carolina, and is a political commentator at CNN. He is married to Dr. Ellen Rucker Sellers.

To register to attend the virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration featuring Sellers, visit

Following the keynote address at 7 p.m., COLLAGE: Music and Poetry will perform. COLLAGE: Music and Poetry is a multidiscipline performance experience that takes the audience on an electrifying journey through spoken poetry woven in and around music. The members of the Cavani String Quartet in collaboration with poet Mwatabu Okantah, an associate professor in Kent State’s Department of Pan-African Studies, inspire audiences to deepen their understanding and appreciation of both music and the spoken word while representing living history from the 18th through the 21st century. This unique fusion of chamber music and poetry creates a new and larger experience and serves to reach all audiences through mind and heart. More information, including the link to watch the live performance, can also be found at This event is also free and open to the public.

Kent State will kick off a series of celebratory events at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, with the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Remembrance, coordinated by Kent State’s Office of Community Engaged Learning. This virtual event will include a series of dance and spoken word performances, a reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a moderated conversation with Ohio House of Representatives Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes and Ohio state Sen. Vernon Sykes, and the launch of a communitywide service experience affiliated with the United Way of Portage County’s Reading Role Models program.

To view Kent State’s 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Events Calendar, visit

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Photo Caption:
CNN political analyst and former South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers will serve as the keynote speaker at Kent State University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. The virtual event will take place Jan. 21. (Photo provided by Keppler Speakers)

Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield,, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2021 11:01 AM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 01:36 PM
Emily Vincent