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Former S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers will be the keynote speaker at Claflin University’s spring commencement ceremony.

The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 6 in the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex.

Sellers made history in the 2006 South Carolina state legislature when he became the youngest African American elected official in the nation at the age of 22.

He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor as the Democratic nominee in 2014.

Sellers has worked for U.S. Congressman James Clyburn and former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.

In 2008, he served on President Barack Obama’s South Carolina steering committee.

His ability to “reach across the aisle to get things done” led to his being named to TIME Magazine’s 40 Under 40, and “The Root 100” list of the nation’s most influential African Americans in 2015 and HBCU Top 30 Under 30 in July 2014.

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He was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 and 2008.

Sellers currently practices law with the Strom Law Firm, LLC in Columbia, where he heads the firm’s strategic communication and public affairs team. The firm recently added diversity, equity and inclusion consulting to the list of services offered.

Sellers recently released a New York Times Best Seller, “My Vanishing Country: A Memoir.” The book has been described as part memoir, part historical and cultural analysis illustrating the lives of America’s forgotten black working-class men and women.

Sellers recently expanded his audience with the “Bakari Sellers Podcast,” a twice-a-week show that is part of The Ringer Podcast Network. His podcasts cover a variety of topics, including politics, race, sports, media, the presidential campaign and much more.

Sellers was born into an activist family. His father, civil rights leader Cleveland Sellers, instilled core values in him to continue in the tireless commitment to service.

In 2005, Sellers earned a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies from Morehouse College. He continued his education at the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2008, earning a juris doctor.

Sellers has been a guest speaker at various political events, colleges and universities, and national trade organizations nationwide.

Sellers and his wife, Dr. Ellen Rucker-Sellers, are the parents of twins, Sadie and Stokely.

Claflin’s commencement is a ticketed event. It can be watched live on Claflin University’s Facebook page.

Baccalaureate service

The Rev. Ken Nelson will be the guest speaker for Claflin’s baccalaureate service at 6 p.m. Friday, May 5, in the Tullis Arena at the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex.

The Baccalaureate Service is an interfaith service offering farewell to the graduates of Claflin University. The service is open to all graduating students and their families.

Nelson is the Orangeburg District Superintendent for the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Nelson was born in Beaufort and graduated from Newberry College in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, religion and philosophy.

Nelson was ordained in 1995 following his 1993 graduation from Duke Divinity School with a master of divinity degree.

Before his appointment as coordinator of clergy services, he served as a congregational specialist and as the conference African-American ministries coordinator, and at Silver Hill Memorial UMC-Spartanburg, Centenary UMC-Kingsville, St. John’s UMC-Aiken, Mt. Zion UMC-Sumter and St. Mark UMC-Sumter. He also has served as assistant dean and director of religious life at Duke University Chapel.

In addition to Nelson’s work in local churches and on conference staff, he has served in many ways, including on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and district committees on ministry, as a member of the General Board of Church and Society, and as a delegate to five General Conferences and four Jurisdictional Conferences.

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