VIP Reception for Dr. Cleveland Sellers Jr. and Adam Parker
Please join us for a VIP reception Nov. 1 at 5pm as we celebrate the publication of the new book Outside Agitator: The Civil Rights Struggle of Cleveland Sellers Jr. Dr. Sellers and author Adam Parker will be on hand to meet guests and talk about this important new biography, released in the 50th anniversary year of the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre. The $20 ticket price for this event includes a signed book and light refreshments. Attendance is limited to 75 people.
This event will be held in the SMC Studio on the ground floor of the Aug. W. Smith building, 174 East Main Street, downtown Spartanburg. After this event, Sellers and Parker will present a public program at the Spartanburg County Public Library at 7 pm. The library program is free and open to the public.
In 1968 state troopers gunned down black students protesting the segregation of a South Carolina bowling alley, killing three and injuring 28. The Orangeburg Massacre was one of the most violent moments of the Southern civil rights movement, and only one person served prison time in its aftermath: a young black man by the name of Cleveland Sellers Jr. Many years later, the state would recognize that Sellers was a scapegoat in that college campus tragedy and would issue a full pardon.
Outside Agitator is the story of Sellers’ early activism: organizing a lunch counter sit-in as a 15-year-old in the tiny South Carolina town of Denmark, registering voters in Alabama and Mississippi, refusing the Vietnam War draft, serving as national program director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) 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, a major Southern university elevates Sellers to chair its African-American Studies program, and the historically black college in his hometown respectfully calls him to be its president.
Adam Parker’s incisive biography is about a proud black man who refuses to be defeated, whose tumultuous life story personifies America’s continuing civil rights struggle.
Sponsors for the reception and the library event are: Hub City Writers Project, the City of Spartanburg, Spartanburg County Public Libraries, Spartanburg Methodist College, the Southside Heritage Coalition, the Spartanburg Chapter of the South Carolina State University Alumni Association, and the Divine Nine.
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 long-time 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.