21-Year-Old Challenges Oldest S.C. State House Member

The oldest member of the state House of Representatives is facing a challenge from a 21-year-old looking to become the body's youngest member.

Bakari Sellers (search) announced his candidacy Saturday, less than two weeks after his birthday. His opponent in the Democratic primary next June will be Rep. Thomas Rhoad (search), an 82-year-old lawmaker seeking his 13th term in office.

Sellers, whose father became an icon of the civil rights movement in South Carolina, wasn't even born when Rhoad was first elected to the Statehouse in 1982.

"I have nothing against him, but I definitely think it's time for a change," said Sellers, a law student.

Rhoad says he's done a good job representing District 90, and plans to continue doing so. He declined to comment on Sellers' campaign.

"I don't have anything to say about him because I don't know him," Rhoad said.

If elected, Sellers would become one of the youngest state legislators to hold office. Former Gov. David Beasley (search) was 21 when voters first elected him to the House in 1978. State law sets 21 as the minimum age for a House member.

Currently, the state's oldest legislator is 86-year-old Sen. John Drummond. The youngest is Rep. Thad Viers, 27.

Sellers' father, Cleveland Sellers, was the only person imprisoned in connection with the "Orangeburg Massacre," (search) in which state troopers killed three black students during a civil rights rally in 1968. He spent seven months in jail for inciting a riot but was pardoned 25 years after the conviction.