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"one of a handful of people who, when they speak, the entire Congress listens."—President Barack Obama
We celebrate Congressman James Clyburn, author of Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black.
Congressman James Clyburn was born in Sumter, South Carolina on July 21, 1940. He attended Mather Academy, a private high school for African Americans in Camden, South Carolina and earned a B.S. from South Carolina State College in 1962. While attending South Carolina State, he participated in sit-ins to desegregate public facilities in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He and his wife Emily England were married in 1961. They are the parents of three daughters.
Clyburn has had an extensive career in public service. From 1962 to 1971 he lived in Charleston, South Carolina where he taught school, served as an employment counselor, and directed two youth and community development projects. From 1971 to 1974 he served on the staff of Governor John C. West; from 1974 until 1992 he served as South Carolina human affairs commissioner.
In 1992 Clyburn won the Sixth District congressional seat, which had been created when the U.S. Justice Department ordered the General Assembly to redraw the state’s district lines to create a “majority minority” congressional seat, becoming South Carolina’s first African American congressman since 1897.
In 1998 Clyburn was elected chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He was the first southerner to hold the chairmanship. As a congressman from the South with a large rural and poor constituency, Clyburn focused his agenda on building coalitions to garner support for issues such as economic development and public transportation.
Clyburn won election to his 15th term in office in 2020. He is among the Democratic Congressional leadership, currently serving as House Majority Whip, a post he assumed in January 2019. It is his second time serving as Majority Whip, having previously held the position 2007–11. Clyburn also served as House Assistant Democratic Leader, 2011–19 and has been the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives since 2007.
During Black History month all orders of $50+ will include a complimentary copy of Blessed Experiences, the Congressman’s inspirational memoir about his humble beginnings in the Jim Crow-era South to his rise in prominence in the Washington, D.C. We celebrate the Congressman by bringing his story to bookshelves across the nation.
Learn more about Congressman Clyburn and other Black leaders in 101 African Americans Who Shaped South Carolina.
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