Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He was the youngest child of Tyrone and Felicia Sanders. From an early age, Sanders had an entrepreneurial spirit which he gleaned from both of his parents. His mother was a local cosmetologist and owned her own beauty salon. While in elementary school, Sanders opened a lemonade stand outside of his mother’s beauty salon. It was through her business that he gained most of his customers. During these adolescent years, Sanders began to embrace his business mindset. In partnership with his father, Sanders began selling car fresheners that the pair created. While he was in middle school, he worked as a barbering assistant. Sanders attended Ferndale Baptist School for elementary and middle school. He attended and graduated from James Island Charter High School in 2006. Sanders then enrolled at Greenville Technical School in Greenville, South Carolina. He continued his post-secondary education at Denmark Technical College in Denmark, South Carolina where he obtained a Diploma in Applied Science in Barbering
Prior to pursing his bachelor degree, Sanders worked various jobs including lifeguard, retail salesman, and barber. In 2009, Sanders enrolled at Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina. While studying business administration at Allen University, Sanders also began to experiment in various sectors of the arts. His interests included both the creative and performing arts. Sanders began writing and composing music. This increased interest in music inspired him to begin writing poetry. His poetic style was one that focused on black themes and social consciousness. While in college, he performed many of his poems at various open-mic nights and spoken word events.
In 2014, Sanders received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Allen University. After his graduation, Sanders returned to Charleston. He worked as a licensed barber.
The Man of God
On June 17, 2015, Tywanza Sanders was assassinated while attending bible study at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Sanders was one of 12 persons attending the weekly Wednesday night bible study when a gunman, who joined the bible study session, opened fire and killed nine of the parishioners.
Prior to his death, Sanders was accepted at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida to pursue a degree in Media and Communication, which he was slated to begin in the fall of 2015. He was also poised to make his acting debut in a local stage play. While Sanders only lived for 26 years, he had an extensive life. He always sought new opportunities and embraced new skill sets. He was focused on achieving all of his dreams and never underestimated his potential to do so.
Sanders’ legacy lives on through his family and friends. The essence of Sanders’s character was pure love. He was genuine, kind-hearted, ambitious, zealous, inspirational, exuberant, faith-filled and faithful. No one was ever a stranger to Sanders. To commemorate Sander’s commitment to people, the Race 4 Achievement organization, renamed an academic scholarship in honor of him. The Tywanza Sanders® Legacy Scholarship is awarded to high school seniors graduating in the state of South Carolina. We hope to expand the scope of our scholarships in hte near future to help and serve as many as possible. His family has also instituted an annual celebration held around his birthday which memorializes his life and legacy.