Cleveland Sellers Reminds Rust College Students of Civil Rights Struggles


By Tommiea Jackson, Rust College Communications
Photo right: Dr. Cleveland Sellers, a civil rights leader shared stories from his account of Freedom Summer to students at Rust College.
Civil rights leader, Dr. Cleveland Sellers was the featured speaker at a Rust College campus and community assembly on November 6 during the college's 148th Founders' celebration. Sellers' speech highlighted a day that included a panel discussion on the Freedom Summer of 1964, which unveiled a historic marker dedicated to those who fought for racial equality.
"Our work was not easy," stressed Sellers to the audience remembering himself as a 19-year-old in search of the three civil rights workers who had been slain and were later found near Philadelphia, Mississippi. "I became mature as soon as I stepped onto the Mississippi soil."
The president of Voorhees College in his hometown of Denmark, South Carolina has told stories of being interrogated by the police in Oxford, Mississippi and described a time where the Ku Klux Klan ran rampant burning crosses on church lawns and in front of businesses and homes of those sympathetic to the movement.
"These were the kinds of experiences young people had to endure," Sellers said.
Despite the tense environment, the Holly Springs Project was able to get the largest amount of Mississippi Freedom Democrats registered for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. They established Freedom Schools and boycotted merchants until they hired blacks.
"As we look to commemorate the Voting Rights Act soon, let us not forget those who helped us put it back on the national agenda," said Sellers. "As we seek to commemorate, let's remember those organizers, the sharecroppers, the students and the spirit that made that summer more than a fleeting season."
Rust College is a historically black, co-educational, senior liberal arts college founded in 1866 by the Freedman's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The College is related to The United Methodist Church, and is dedicated to serving students with a variety of academic preparations, through instruction in the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, natural science, business, technology, and education. Rust College provides an opportunity for education to all, regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin, or ethnic background.