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South Carolina political icon James E. Clyburn releases memoir

South Carolina political icon and confidant to President Barack Obama shares his memoir
University of South Carolina Press

A new memoir by James E. Clyburn, "Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black" was released May 1. The book was published by the University of South Carolina Press.

In moving and personal prose, the civil rights activist, South Carolina political icon and confidant to President Barack Obama describes his rise from the Jim Crow-era South to become, as President Obama describes him, "one of a handful of people who, when they speak, the entire Congress listens."

James E. Clyburn, the highest ranking African American in the U.S. Congress has represented the 6th congressional district in South Carolina since 1992. He is the former Majority Whip, the chief vote counter in the House of Representatives, who secured the passage of an ambitious legislative agenda, including the Affordable Care Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Dodd-Frank Act.

More recently, he has been a national leader in high-level budget negotiations and one of the leading voices for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act. As one of the chief surrogates for President Obama's re-election campaign, Clyburn campaigned in swing states across the country to help secure the re-election of America's first black President in 2012.

Clyburn's narrative recounts his humble beginnings in rural South Carolina and his early involvement in civil rights and public service. He was elected president of his NAACP youth chapter when he was 12 years old, worked with Dr. Martin Luther King as leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and organized many civil rights marches and demonstrations. He even met his wife, Emily, in jail during one of his many incarcerations for non-violent protests.

Clyburn went on to become the first black executive on a South Carolina governor's staff. Clyburn currently serves as Assistant Democratic Leader, the number three Democrat in the House. During his career in public service, he has earned a reputation as a fierce champion of education, health care, civil and human rights for all, and as one of the most powerful voices for social justice in America.

Blessed Experiences opens with Clyburn recalling an intense and provocative conversation with former President Bill Clinton in the early morning hours after the hotly contested 2008 South Carolina presidential primary.

Clyburn also reflects on his turbulent interactions with then-Governor Mark Sanford, his relationship with President Barack Obama and how his upbringing as the son of a fundamentalist minister instilled in him the values he lives by today.

"Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black," is published by the University of South Carolina Press: $19.99 on Kindle; $24.89 in hardcover on Amazon.

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