James E. Clyburn's Memoir, 'Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black' is Released, 5/1

James E. Clyburn's Memoir, 'Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black' is Released, 5/1

COLUMBIA, S.C., April 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ The University of South Carolina Press is proud to announce the forthcoming publication of a new memoir by James E. Clyburn entitled, Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black. 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."

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 writes, ". . . this powerful voice came on [the phone]: 'If you bastards want a fight, you damn well will get one.' I needed no help identifying that voice. It was Bill Clinton, the former president of the United States, my longtime political friend. . . His wife, Hillary, had just suffered a major defeat in South Carolina's Democratic primary, which was supposed to be a test of black political strength between Senator Clinton and a charismatic newcomer, Barack Obama. Obama had whipped her, and Bill Clinton wanted me to explain why. I told him I had pledged neutrality and I had kept that promise. I asked him to tell me why he felt otherwise. He exploded, using the word 'bastard' again, and accused me of causing her defeat and injecting race into the contest."

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