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While I Breathe, I Hope
While I Breathe, I Hope

What does it means to be young, black, and a Democrat in the American South? While I Breathe, I Hope follows South Carolina politician and CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers as he runs to become the first African American candidate elected statewide in over a century.

The film from award-winning director Emily Harrold who is making her documentary feature directing debut, and from Executive Producer Charlamagne Tha God, the radio personality who co-hosts the nationally syndicated iHeartRadio program The Breakfast Club will have it New York Premiere screening at DOC NYC on Sunday, November 11.

In 2014, Bakari Sellers–one of the youngest sitting members of the South Carolina House of Representatives–campaigns to be the first African American elected to statewide office since the 1870s. He runs for Lieutenant Governor, the second highest office in the state. The son of Cleveland Sellers, a prominent 1960s Civil Rights activist who was a leading member of SNCC, Bakari understands the difficult race relations in the American South. “Our race is not about what South Carolina was, it’s not about what South Carolina is, but it’s about what South Carolina can be,” he says. But as a Democrat in a red state, Bakari has a tough race ahead. News media consistently place Bakari behind his Republican opponent, Henry McMaster. Moreover, South Carolinians have not elected a Democrat to state office since 2006. Bakari doesn’t help his electability among white voters when he makes removing the Confederate Flag part of his campaign platform. But he refuses to give up. “I can’t win if I don’t run,” he states. But, in the end it seems South Carolina isn’t ready for the kind of change Bakari wants to bring to his state.

Just months after the election, racially motivated shootings in Charleston in June of 2015 throw Bakari back into the spotlight. As he struggles to deal with the brutal death of his friend Clementa Pinckney, he finds thousands of faces turn to him for leadership. Bakari rises as a spokesperson for the community while also trying to unravel and understand the strained race relations of his beloved state. As the Confederate Flag drops from the State House grounds, he is on national television explaining the momentous nature of this event. In one of the most significant moments of his life, Bakari addresses the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He brings audiences to their feet as he proclaims “Stand up for progress. Stand up for justice. And stand up if you know like I know that we’re stronger together!”


Sunday, November 11 at 4:15 PM
IFC Center
323 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014

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