Civil rights photographer Cecil Williams speaks at the commemoration of the Orangeburg Massacre.

DENMARK – Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers, Jr., 8th president of Voorhees University, was the lyceum speaker for Black History Month on Feb. 9 in Massachusetts Hall.

The American educator and civil rights activist, in an interview-style conversation, discussed his story, “Hiding in Clear Sight.”

The Denmark native, interviewed by Professor Tywana Chenault-Hemby, highlighted his life and legacy as an activist in the mid-1900s.

In 1960, he organized and led his first sit-in protest at a Denmark lunch counter. Sellers participated in many marches in segregated areas, allowing him to eventually work side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“It was the young people who made a difference in the civil rights movement. I remind young people all the time that they don’t need to have their name on the front page. I tell them that they just need to do the work,” Sellers said.

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Sellers was wounded in the Feb. 8, 1968 Orangeburg Massacre, in which three students were killed and 28 others were injured when S.C. Highway Patrol troopers opened fire on a crowd of protesters following three nights of escalating racial tension over efforts to desegregate the All-Star Triangle Bowl.

Sellers was the only person convicted of a crime from the events leading up to and including the massacre. Nine state patrolmen charged with using excessive force by the federal government were acquitted.

He received a full pardon 25 years after the Orangeburg Massacre but elected to keep the charge on his record as a “badge of honor.”

Voorhees President Ronnie Hopkins thanked the former president for his contributions to the civil rights movement and for his leadership as a past president of Voorhees University.

“Dr. Sellers, we are honored to have you return home to share your amazing historic legacy and contributions to the civil rights movement,” Hopkins said.

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