New York Times Bestseller
What J. D. Vance did for Appalachia with Hillbilly Elegy, CNN analyst and one of the youngest state representatives in South Carolina history Bakari Sellers does for the rural South, in this important book that illuminates the lives of America's forgotten black working-class men and women.
Part memoir, part historical and cultural analysis, My Vanishing Country is an eye-opening journey through the South's past, present, and future.
Anchored in in Bakari Seller's hometown of Denmark, South Carolina, Country illuminates the pride and pain that continues to fertilize the soil of one of the poorest states in the nation. He traces his father's rise to become, friend of Stokely Carmichael and Martin Luther King, a civil rights hero, and member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), to explore the plight of the South's dwindling rural, black working class--many of whom can trace their ancestry back for seven generations.
In his poetic personal history, we are awakened to the crisis affecting the other "Forgotten Men & Women," who the media seldom acknowledges. For Sellers, these are his family members, neighbors, and friends. He humanizes the struggles that shape their lives: to gain access to healthcare as rural hospitals disappear; to make ends meet as the factories they have relied on shut down and move overseas; to hold on to precious traditions as their towns erode; to forge a path forward without succumbing to despair.
My Vanishing Country is also a love letter to fatherhood--to Sellers' father, his lodestar, whose life lessons have shaped him, and to his newborn twins, who he hopes will embrace the Sellers family name and honor its legacy.
- ISBN-13: 9780062917454
- ISBN-10: 0062917455
- Publisher: Amistad Press
- Publish Date: May 2020
- Dimensions: 9.25 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds
- Page Count: 240
My Vanishing Country
Family trauma—even inherited trauma—can take a tremendous toll on children. But as Bakari Sellers makes plain in My Vanishing Country, family trauma can also be a source of strength.
Sellers’ story is remarkable. When he was 22, he unseated a 26-year incumbent to become the youngest legislator in South Carolina. In that role, he championed policies addressing rural poverty, including access to health care and improved educational opportunities. He became a CNN political analyst in the wake of the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and today he is a successful attorney. These accomplishments required persistence and resilience.
In My Vanishing Country, Sellers beautifully evokes the South Carolina low country, the haunted landscape of his childhood, to explain how its backbreaking poverty and history of relentless racism molded him. But the greatest influence on his life was an event that occurred years before he was born, when his father, Cleveland Sellers, was imprisoned on trumped-up charges for his role in the Orangeburg Massacre.
The fact that many people have not heard of the Orangeburg Massacre is in itself an excellent reason to read My Vanishing Country. Sellers meticulously recounts how and why eight South Carolina highway patrol officers fired upon a crowd of black student protesters at South Carolina State University, killing three students and wounding 27 others. The massacre affected every member of the Sellers family, including the yet-unborn Bakari. Though they each still bear the painful effects of that event, their trauma has also become a source of power—the power to endure tragedy and achieve their goals.
My Vanishing Country is more than a memoir. It’s a loving celebration of a father’s gift of fortitude and determination to his son.