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Dr. Said Sewell Presents MLK Keynote

January 24, 2014 - by Lauren Reihl

Dr. Said L. Sewell visited the University of MountDr. Said L. Sewell visited the University of Mount Union on Tuesday as the keynote speaker during the University’s week-long celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sewell, assistant provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College of Undergraduate Studies at Kent State University, is the author of several articles on faith-based initiatives, community and economic development, religion and politics and juvenile issues. He is currently completing work on two books – “Empowering Black Male Students to Greatness,”which he authored, and “Let Us Make Man: A Conversation With Black Men on Saving Black Boys,” which he edited.

A native of Houston, Texas, Sewell entered Morehouse College at the age of 16 as an early admission scholar. He excelled academically, graduating from Morehouse in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He has been mentioned as one of America’s rising young leaders for the 21st century. He received a Master of Public Administration in public policy from Texas Southern University at the age of 21, becoming the youngest person in the program’s history to complete all the requirements for the degree in a year and a half. He continued his academic pursuits in Georgia by earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree in political science from Clark Atlanta University. He has done post-graduate work at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and School of Divinity.

Throughout his lecture, Sewell made references to a recent plane flight in which he sat next to a young woman in her early 20s who took several “selfies.” Before the plane took off, she took a selfie photo with her iPhone, and after deciding that she did not like it, she took another.

“Life is like a selfie. If you don’t like a photo, you can delete it and take another,” Sewell said. “We often forget that a lot of people didn’t like King. We forget that he was once viewed as a troublemaker and that J. Edgar Hoover labeled him as America’s number one terrorist. We forget these things because we celebrate the way he challenged America and sought to improve the country because he knew it could be better.”

On a much larger scale, Dr. King looked at America in the way that the young woman on the plane looked at her selfie. She took another picture because she thought that the image was not a good portrayal of her self-image. Dr. King saw the potential in our country and knew that the current snapshot was not a good representation of what America could be.

Sewell praised the efforts of King and encouraged the audience to help make the world a better place. He told the audience members, “Realize that while standing up for what is right won’t get you a lot of likes on Facebook, speaking out against discrimination won’t get you a lot of followers on Twitter, questioning society – its culture and traditions – won’t get you a lot of hearts on Instagram, it will make you great.”

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