A young James E. Clyburn in a suit sits on a sofa.

James E. Clyburn

Congressman and civil rights activist

James E. Clyburn (1940- ), was elected president of the NAACP youth chapter in his hometown, Sumter, South Carolina. As a student at SC State University in 1960, he marched with 388 college students in downtown Orangeburg to protest segregation. Police turned fire hoses on them, then arrested and jailed them outdoors in the cold. On March 2, 1961, Clyburn marched on the State House with 200 other students. Their arrest resulted in the landmark First Amendment case, Edwards v. S.C. After college, Clyburn worked as a history teacher in Charleston. He led the S.C. Human Affairs Commission from 1974 to 1992. In 1992, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as the state’s first Black Congressman since 1897. Clyburn was elected chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1998. In 2007, he became the first African American House Majority Whip.

Image courtesy of The State Newspaper Photograph Archive, Richland Library

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