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Cleveland Sellers' life story is the subject of a new biography, “Outside Agitator: The Civil Rights Struggle of Cleveland Sellers Jr.”

Both Dr. Sellers and the book’s author, Adam Parker, will speak at South Carolina State University at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the Fine Arts Building. The event is free and open to the public.

The 276-page book was featured recently on CSPAN “Book TV.” The book includes many photographs of Sellers’ life, from his childhood in Denmark and throughout his career as a civil rights activist and educator.

“I'm excited to bring the remarkable story of Cleveland Sellers to the campus of S.C. State University, a school that plays a central role in Sellers' life,” Parker said. “It was there that the Orangeburg Massacre took place in February 1968. It was there that unarmed black students protesting segregation in town and unequal treatment on campus were gunned down by state troopers. It was there that Sellers imagined he might continue his own education. It was there that the trajectory of his life took a fateful turn.”

Parker noted that Feb. 6 is the anniversary of the Orangeburg bowling alley protest that led up to the tragedy.

Parker and Sellers have been on a speaking tour with the book since its release in November. The tour has taken them to Charleston, Atlanta, Spartanburg and elsewhere.

“This is important history that too few of us fully appreciate,” Parker said. I am thrilled to have the support of S.C. State University in revisiting this and other aspects of Sellers' experiences, all recounted in ‘Outside Agitator.’"

“Outside Agitator” is the story of Sellers’ early activism: organizing a lunch counter sit-in as a 15-year-old, registering voters in Alabama and Mississippi, refusing the Vietnam War draft, serving as national program director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and working alongside 1960s civil rights icons Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King Jr., H. Rap Brown and Malcolm X.

It's also the story of his lifelong struggle to overcome the Orangeburg incident and his slow crawl to justice. That journey takes him to Harvard University, then to a hard-fought position in civil service in Greensboro, North Carolina. And in a triumphant end to his career, the University of South Carolina elevated Sellers to chair its African-American Studies program, and Voorhees College, the historically black college in his hometown, respectfully called him to be its president.

Parker’s biography is about a proud black man who refuses to be defeated, whose tumultuous life story personifies America’s continuing civil rights struggle.

Library Journal gave the book a starred review and said, “With vivid details, Parker unpacks Sellers’ upbringing and influences, portraying the realities of segregated South Carolina and presenting an ultimately compelling read about an educator and activist. Readers of historical biography, especially about civil rights and justice, will enjoy this informative work.”

Author Adam Parker earned degrees in music, then spent a decade in the business world before going back to school to earn a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University. He taught journalism as an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston and soon landed a job at The Post and Courier. At the newspaper, he worked as a copy editor, metro editor, general assignment reporter, restaurant critic and religion reporter, arts writer and more. A longtime student of the civil rights movement and race in America, he has written extensively about the African-American experience. Outside Agitator is his first book.

The book is published by Hub City Press in Spartanburg.

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