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Bakari Sellers to be Keynote Speaker for 2017 Aiken Community Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration
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Bakari Sellers to be Keynote Speaker for 2017 Aiken Community Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

Event will feature service fair, community choir

(December 6, 2016, Aiken, SC) Bakari Sellers, an attorney and CNN political commentator, will be the keynote speaker for the 2017 Aiken Community Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration presented by Aiken Technical College and University of South Carolina Aiken.

The celebration will be held Sunday, Jan. 22 at the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center, 375 Robert M. Bell Parkway in Aiken. A service fair featuring area nonprofits will kick-off the event at 2:30 p.m. followed by the program at 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

This year’s theme is: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”, a quote by Dr. King.

“One of the unique aspects of this annual event is challenging the keynote speaker with a topic based on a quote from Dr. King. I am sure Mr. Sellers will be dynamic!” said Stephanie Franklin, the event chairwoman.

In 2006, Sellers became the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature and youngest African American elected official in the nation when he was elected to represent the 90th district in the state’s House of Representatives. In 2014, he was the Democratic nominee for the S.C. Lieutenant Governor’s office.

He has served as the featured speaker at events for the National Education Association, College Democrats of America National Convention, Democratic National Convention, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference.

His accolades include being named to Time Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list and The Root’s “100 Most Influential African Americans” list. 

Sellers currently practices law with the Strom Law Firm, LLC in Columbia, SC. In addition to CNN, he has provided commentary and analysis on MSNBC. He also now serves on AIPAC’s National Council.

Students from the Aiken County Public School District were also invited to participate in creative visual and essay contests centered around the event’s theme. 

Winners of each category will be recognized during the event.

“The elementary students submit beautiful art work and the middle and high school students submit introspective essays on their interpretation of the theme,” said Franklin. “It’s rewarding to recognize the winners in each category and challenge the students in the areas of art and writing.”

The annual event has been a great partnership between Aiken Technical College, the University of South Carolina Aiken, and the community. 

“This event is important to our community, and I appreciate the multitude of people and myriad organizations who are committed to working together to present a successful program that highlights, celebrates and encourages diversity of thought, approach and perspectives,” said Dr. Sandra Jordan, chancellor, University of South Carolina Aiken.

“This is truly an Aiken-wide program, coordinated by the community for the community.  We are blessed to have talented, dedicated individuals among us to foster – and epitomize – this type of teamwork.”

There are also opportunities for others in the community to get involved with the event.

Nonprofit organizations interested in showcasing their organization during in the service fair should contact Sharon Rodgers at (803) 648-8331 or sharon@uwaiken.org.

Those interested in singing with the community choir during the event are asked to sign up by Jan. 13 by contacting Joel Scraper at joels@usca.edu. Practices will be held in advance of the event.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a passionate advocate for unity, service and collaboration. This event truly celebrates his legacy by embodying each of these principles,” said Dr. Forest Mahan, president, Aiken Technical College. “I encourage the community to join us to honor Dr. King and become encouraged to seek opportunities to serve one another, help build a stronger community and make a difference.”
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