Political strategist, national news correspondent and South Carolina native Antjuan Seawright visited with students and faculty members at Williamsburg County Technical College, rather than being in New York on Nov. 4.
Seawright, a 2008 graduate of Winthrop, said he was to have been in New York, and he had been a bit torn about coming to the state, but he’d determined that he’d rather be in South Carolina talking to students and teachers about the importance of words, their power and literacy.
A first generation college student from his family, and a fifth generation AME member, he told the story of how a professor at college explained to him after his first semester, which was less than successful, that college might not be for him. It was suggested that Seawright return home to work in a grocery store.
Seawright simply told the professor he’d see him later. Later came, he said, when that professor’s hand was the last one he shook after receiving his diploma. “See you later” meant seeing him at the completion of getting his degree. “Words matter.”
“Scripture tells us there is life and death in the power of the tongue,” Seawright said. The gravity of this moment in history, he said, made it imperative for him to come and remind students that words matter today, and that they carry into the future.
It’s the words of the people who came before him that helped to bring him to where he is now, Seawright said. His grandparents couldn’t imagine college, and though his parents didn’t attend college, they could spell it, he said.
Others pave the wave for us, he said, adding that in 2017 at an awards banquet he was challenged by the words of Sen. Joe Biden, when he said to Seawright that the battle for the American soul that he sees is one “… we cannot afford to lose.”
It’s a war fought largely with words, and “If we’re not careful,” Seawright said, “we will return to a time our grandparents did not want us to see.”
“Words could take us back to a place we don’t want to experience … Words matter … The gravity of the words coming from our leaders matter,” he said. “Words can be used for good. Words can be used for bad. Use your words for good…”
Quoting the statistics for domestic violence, incarceration and poverty, Seawright encouraged those in the room to make the most of the opportunities they are being given.
“… Each generation faces challenges,” he said, encouraging those hearing his words to be responsible for leaving the world better than they found it, by monitoring the words they use.
“Speak truth,” he said. “Read … remember it’s not how you start, it’s how you end … move forward from this day.”
“Use your time wisely. Use your resources more wisely … spend time on the important things,” he said. Don’t take someone else’s torch, and don’t pass your torch, but rather light your torch from their torch, he continued, saying and pretty soon the whole trail is blazing with lights.
“Use your words to change the conversation and build a longer table … it’s important to bring others along with you … you can’t speak well if you don’t read well. Read,” he said.
Seawright made his comments as part of WTC’s One Book, One College, One Community initiative. Funded in part by The SC Humanities, a state program by the National Endowment of Humanities. Supporters, in addition to WTC, of the initiative, include The SC Arts Commission, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Lambda Theta Omega Chapter; The National Council of Negro Women, Inc., Williamsburg County Section; and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Delta Tau Zeta Chapter.
The Nov. 4 address featured WTC President Dr. Patty Lee; Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Cliffton Elliott; La-Dine’ Gamble, WTC grant writer; Diamond Parris, a WTC student offering quotes from “The Book Thief;” Sen. Ronnie Sabb, District 32; and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Margaret Chandler.
“Words matter,” Gamble told the students in the introduction to the Monday morning event in the school’s auditorium. “They have the power to create and build up and tear down and destroy.”
Gamble told students that even with differences, “… we all have so much in common.” Reading the same book, at the same time, and having discussions about it helps bring people together, she said.
In his introduction of the speaker, Sabb said that Seawright’s life epitomizes using his time wisely and doing all that God intends for us to do.
He advises people of influence, on their politics, campaigns … and he was a pretty good point guard when he was playing basketball for his high school team in Swansea, Sabb said.
According to his biography, Seawright, 34, “has led extensive grassroots and strategic efforts for political clients at the national, state and local levels.”
He has advised campaigns for governors, senators, those who serve in congress, state legislatures and more. He was an advisor to the 2008 and 2016 presidential bids made by Hillary Clinton, as well as to the Democratic National Committee, and more.
Seawright is a Buzz Feed News opinion writer and contributor, and a CBS/CBSN political contributor. He frequently appears on Fox News, Hill TV and MSNBC and is host to “Insight with Antjuan Seawright,” a weekly radio show based in South Carolina.
The final “One Book, One College, One Community” initiative event of the events planned at the college was on Nov. 11, when the school had an Art and Oration event in the Library. This event featured art work of high school and WTC students, as it relates to The Book Thief.