Recognizing Our Leader This Black History Month

Recognizing Our Leader This Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, SCDP would like to recognize our esteemed Congressman and party leader, James E. Clyburn.


President Barack Obama has said he is, “One of a handful of people who, when they speak, the entire Congress listens.” As Assistant Democratic Leader in the 114th Congress Congressman Clyburn is the number three Democrat in the House.

His humble beginnings in Sumter, South Carolina, as the eldest son of an activist fundamentalist minister and an independent civic minded beautician, grounded him securely in family, faith and public service. He was elected president of his NAACP youth chapter when he was 12 years old, helped organize many civil rights marches and demonstrations as a student leader at South Carolina State College, and even met his wife Emily in jail during one of his incarcerations.

When Clyburn came to Congress in 1993, he was elected co-President of his Freshman class and quickly rose through leadership ranks. He was elected Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1999, and his reputation as a leader and consensus-builder helped him win a difficult three-way race for House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair in 2002. Three years later, he was unanimously elected Chair of the Democratic Caucus. When Democrats regained the House majority in 2006, Congressman Clyburn was elevated by his colleagues to House Majority Whip.

South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District is the state’s most rural, suffering from chronic underinvestment and poverty.  Clyburn became a national leader for rural communities, especially in those counties in South Carolina and across the country that are categorized as “persistent poverty communities,” those communities where 20 percent of the population has been stuck beneath the poverty level for the past 30 years. He got an amendment adopted in parts of the “Recovery Act” to direct at least 10 percent of the Section’s appropriations to these communities.  He secured investments for regional water systems for South Carolina communities that had never before had access to clean water, ensured that community health centers were expanded to bring health care services to rural areas, and championed federal investments in rural broadband.

He has been a staunch advocate for South Carolina’s infrastructure needs, from securing new investments in its highways and bridges, to maintaining our ports.  As companies are increasingly attracted to South Carolina, we must credit Clyburn’s efforts over his long tenure in Congress.  Without his vision, bringing federal investment in the infrastructure needed to attract industry, the state would not be enjoying the successes it has of late, especially in those historically neglected and underinvested areas.

As Representative of seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, Denmark Technical College, Morris College, South Carolina State University, and Vorhees College), Clyburn has been a champion of HBCUs in Congress.  He led the charge to invest millions in science and math programs at HBCUs, and wrote legislation, passed in 2003, increasing federal resources available for historic preservation on HBCU campuses.

After ten years of effort, Clyburn secured passage in 2006 of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act, a landmark law to help preserve African culture in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

As the highest ranking African American in Congress, Jim Clyburn has taken a leading role in defending Democratic priorities in the federal budget fights of recent years. Specifically, he has helped lead the charge against Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, privatize Social Security, voucherize Medicare, block grant Medicaid and slash nutrition assistance for low-income American families.  As a leading surrogate for President Obama’s re-election campaign, Congressman Clyburn traversed the nation to secure the victory in 2012.  He frequently appears on national television and maintains an active presence on social media to represent the Democratic party, and he always does us proud.

And we can’t forget, Congressman Clyburn throws a great Fish Fry!!

South Carolina Democrats are grateful for his service to our state and to our nation.



Source: SCDP
Recognizing Our Leader This Black History Month

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