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Sun, 07.21.1940

Jim Clyburn, Politician born

Jim Clyburn

*Jim Clyburn was born on this date, in 1940. He is a Black politician and retired educator.

James Enos Clyburn was born in Sumter, South Carolina, the son of Enos Lloyd Clyburn, a fundamentalist minister, and his wife, Almeta (née Dizzley), a beautician. He is a distant relative of George W. Murray, an organizer for the Colored Farmers Alliance (CFA). He was a Republican South Carolina Congressman in the 53rd and 54th U.S. Congresses in the late 19th century.

Clyburn graduated from Mather Academy (later named Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy) in Camden, South Carolina, then attended South Carolina State College (now South Carolina State University), a historically black college in Orangeburg. He joined the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and graduated with a bachelor's degree in history. For his first full-time position after college, he taught at C.A. Brown High School in Charleston.

In the aftermath of the 1968 Orangeburg massacre, when police killed three protesting students at South Carolina State, Governor John C. West appointed Clyburn as the state's human affairs commissioner. West's appointment of Clyburn as his advisor made him the first nonwhite advisor to a governor in South Carolina history. Clyburn became involved in politics during the 1969 Charleston hospital strike. After assisting in settlement of the protests at the Medical University of South Carolina, he became involved in St. Julian Devine's campaign for a seat on the Charleston city council in 1969. Clyburn came up with the campaign's slogan, "Devine for Ward Nine." When Devine won the race, he became the first African American to hold a seat on the city council since Reconstruction.

Clyburn later credited that campaign as the reason he got into electoral politics. After an unsuccessful run for the South Carolina General Assembly, Clyburn moved to Columbia to join the staff of Governor West. He served in this position until 1992 when he stepped down to run for Congress. In his 15th term, Clyburn has served as the U.S. representative for South Carolina's 6th congressional district since 1993. His congressional district includes most of the majority-black precincts in and around Columbia and Charleston, most of the majority-black areas outside Beaufort, and nearly all of South Carolina's share of the Black Belt.

He is the dean of South Carolina's congressional delegation. Since John Spratt's departure in 2011, aside from the single term served by Joe Cunningham, Clyburn has also been the only Democrat in South Carolina's congressional delegation. Clyburn has been the third-ranking American House Democrat since 2007. After the Democrats took control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections, Clyburn was reelected majority whip in January 2019 at the opening of the 116th Congress, alongside the reelected Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer, marking the second time the trio has served in these roles together. 

Clyburn played a pivotal role in the 2020 presidential election by endorsing Joe Biden three days before the South Carolina Democratic primary. Biden's South Carolina win before Super Tuesday transformed his campaign; the momentum led him to capture the Democratic nomination and later the presidency. In the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans gained control of the House. Clyburn announced that he would seek the House Assistant Democratic Leader position rather than Democratic Whip. Clyburn was married to librarian Emily England Clyburn from 1961 until she died in 2019. They had three daughters.

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