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University History

Appendix 3: Biographies of Proposed Names

James E. Clyburn

Reasons for Naming

  • South Carolina’s first Black congressman since Reconstruction
  • Civil rights activist, advocate for racial justice
  • First Black House Majority Whip


James E. Clyburn (1940-Present)

By Melissa DeVelvis

James Enos Clyburn was born in Sumter, South Carolina on July 21, 1940 to Enos and Almeta Dizzley Clyburn. He earned a B.S. from South Carolina State College (now South Carolina State University) in 1962 and participated in sit-ins to desegregate public facilities while in Orangeburg. From 1962 to 1971, he lived in Charleston and worked as a teacher, employment counselor, and director of several community development programs. After serving on the staff of Gov. John West from 1971 to 1974, West appointed Clyburn South Carolina human affairs commissioner. He served in this position from 1974 to 1992.

After several unsuccessful attempts to run for office, in 1992 Clyburn was successfully elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for South Carolina’s Sixth District. He thus became South Carolina’s first Black Congressman since 1897. He is the only South Carolina legislator to receive perfect scores on the Americans for Democratic Action and Children’s Defense Fund legislative report cards. In 1998, he was elected chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, the first southerner to do so. As a legislator, he supports legislation that addresses health care, transportation, environmental justice, education, free trade, and historic preservation. In 2002, he was elected vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus. In 2007, Clyburn became the first African American to address a joint session of the South Carolina General Assembly. In 2006, Clyburn became the first African American House Majority Whip. At the time, this was also the highest Congressional post held by an African American. He served in this post from 2007 to 2011, served as Assistant Democratic Leader from 2011 to 2019, and as of 2021 is again the Majority Whip.



Dulaney, W. Marvin. “Clyburn, James Enos.” South Carolina Encyclopedia Online. August 10, 2016.

"About Me." U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn

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