Highlights

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Part One – Blessed by Experiences

“Clyburn,” she asked, “how did you vote in this primary?”It was quite a question. But, given the weightiness of the previous half-hour’s conversation, I was prepared. I looked at Emily, took a deep breath and said, “How could I ever look in the faces of our children and grandchildren had I not voted for Barack Obama?”
Chapter 1: Conversations with a Former President
Chapter 2: Courting the Super-delegates

Part Two – A Blessed Beginning

“James, you are scheduled to graduate in three months. Three months of silent treatment is nothing. I believe I could live in hell for three months if I knew I was going to get out.” And, as if to underscore the lack of manhood I was exhibiting, she continued, “and I’m a woman.”
Chapter 3: Inherited Values
Chapter 4: A World without Blinders
Chapter 5: The Young Clyburns

Part Three – Finding My Way

“Our troubles, we began to realize, were not just with the segregationist political elements in Columbia or with the closed-minded officials in the City of Orangeburg. Our troubles were right there on campus under a dictatorial president still practicing the worn-out dicta of the nineteenth century. The question facing us was whether we would continue to accept that kind of treatment. . . . we decided among ourselves, to challenge that system. It was time to step forward where previous classes had accepted the status quo. It was time to make a major gesture to indicate our dissatisfaction with that status quo.”
Chapter 6: Into the Streets
Chapter 7: Back to the Basics

Part Four – The Charleston Shuffle

“ . . . I was emerging with something of a hybrid political identity. I was the S.C. State graduate who had been jailed for student protests. But I was also the classroom teacher who had been head of the eleventh-grade level at C. A. Brown. I had gotten college scholarships for hundreds of needy high school graduates. I had also been heavily involved in the Medical College hospital strike, and the City of Charleston garbage workers strike. And I had coordinated St. Julian Devine’s successful campaign for City Council. People were having trouble putting me in a pigeonhole. And I liked it that way.”
Chapter 8: Two Steps to the West
Chapter 9: Three Steps to the East
Chapter 10: Two Steps Forward
11: One Step to the Rear

Part Five – Making History

“. . . the governor wanted to play golf on Saturday morning, . . . since Phil thought nobody on the staff played golf, he asked for a volunteer to sacrifice his or her Saturday morning. I got great joy out of informing him that I played golf. I got the Saturday morning assignment.The episode got better when we walked into the clubhouse. They were expecting the governor but not anyone who looked like me. The governor acted oblivious as we signed up to play. Maybe he didn’t know that the Santee Cooper Country Club had a whites-only policy. I sure did. It gave me great pleasure to watch the guy behind the desk nervously taking our money and handing us some score cards.”
Chapter 12: Trailblazer
Chapter 13: Myth Buster

Part Six – A Racial Arbiter

“ . . . a big pickup truck drove up shining a big spotlight in our direction. Two white gentlemen jumped out. . . . They had a hook and steel cable attached to the front of the truck. One of them hooked the cable to the bumper of our car, and they pulled us to safety. They adamantly refused to accept any pay, jumped into their truck, and drove away, proclaiming that there might be others out there who needed their help. I don’t know what made me gaze at the rear of that truck as they drove away, but I did. The back window of that pickup was covered by a screened rendition of the Confederate battle flag. When we got into the car, I turned to Emily and said, “Just when I thought I had this flag thing all figured out.”
Chapter 14: The Chester Controversy
Chapter 15: The Citadel Confrontation
Chapter 16: The Conway Crisis
Chapter 17: The Confederate Battle Flag

Part Seven – Coming to Grips with Reality

“I had gotten sidetracked by an episode of self-doubt and some irritating challenges that I had allowed to distract me. I still saw myself completely dedicated to a life of politics; that’s where my skills lay, and that’s what energized and motivated me. My dreams and hopes were still built around the prospect of my being elected to public office Two losses in that arena in 1970 and 1978 might seem to make such a prospect rather remote, but I promised myself that I would just redouble my resolve and run again for secretary of state the following year, 1986.”
Chapter 18: A Day of Reckoning
Chapter 19: Reaffirming My Goals

Part Eight – The Dream Realized

“About the time the Rotarians were checking their watches and wondering where
I was going with all this, I pointed out that with the new district lines splitting Lee County, all but one of my relatives lived—and would be voting—in the Fifth District, and I felt certain they would be voting for John Spratt.“I fully expect, and I am absolutely certain, that John Spratt will be treating my family members, with the utmost dignity and respect,” I said. “By the same token, you can be absolutely certain that I will treat you, sir, the members of this club, and all other white voters of the Sixth District with the same dignity and respect I expect John Spratt to extend to my family members in Lee County.”
20. Deciding to Run for Congress
21. Adventures in Campaigning
22. 1992 Primary Election Day
23. 1992 General Election

Part Nine – Mr. Clyburn Goes to Washington

“My security Detail was seated behind me. I suddenly felt a presence in front of me. I looked up, and the flight attendant, who looked to be a thirty-something African American was staring at me. She quickly retreated to the cockpit, returning shortly to inform my Detail that the Captain needed to see him.

He returned with a rather amused look on his face. When I inquired, he told me that the flight attendant had reported to the pilot that I was in violation of the airline’s policy because prisoners were not allowed to sit on the exit rows. My business suit, tie and briefcase notwithstanding, that flight attendant’s only experiences with black passengers boarding airplanes with armed escorts were as prisoners.”
Chapter 24: Arriving in Congress 341
Chapter 25: Playing Hardball Clinton Style 355
Chapter 26: My First Bill 365
Chapter 27: Building Friendships 379

Part Ten – Treading and Toilin

“. . . Emily and I set a goal of raising $1 million to establish the James E. and Emily E. Clyburn Endowment for Archives and History at South Carolina State University. I announced our intentions in a speech at an annual meeting of the Washington, D.C. alumni chapter. When I mentioned the million dollar figure, I could see on the faces of those assembled that they thought I had spent too much time at the bar during the reception.

. . . No matter how tortuous I have found many of my experiences to be, I have never questioned their efficacies or failed to find a blessing in all of them—with the possible exception of my efforts on behalf of S.C. State. Every time I think of my experiences with almost every aspect of the institution, I understand why I keep “Duty as Seen by [Abraham] Lincoln” hanging on a wall of my office.
Chapter 28: Wandering in the Wilderness
Chapter 29: Principles above Politics
Chapter 30: Service above Self

Part Eleven – The Age of Obama

“. . . When it came my time to speak I made it clear what my primary concerns were.
I was very concerned about a stimulus package that failed to give due consideration to those communities that were traditionally overlooked during such governmental action. I started out by saying that up to that point in my life, Harry Truman was my favorite president.

But I assured the president-elect that he could do something about changing that. I said that my fondness for Truman as grounded in his “Fair Deal” policies as opposed to Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” which seems to be preferred by most Democrats. I went on to explain that many of the policies of the New Deal were unfair to people of color and a raw deal for many of the communities I represented.”
Chapter 31: 3-V Day: Victory, Validation, Vindication
Chapter 32: Barack and Me
Chapter 33: Reforming Health Care
Chapter 34: Reducing the Deficit

Part Twelve – Blessed by the Past

“Today the small thinkers like to belittle public service and make it sound like some sort of social evil. … They have railed against government and used that argument to justify their campaigns to cut taxes for the greedy, deny services to the needy, and reduce government across a broad range of activities. In the world of Lewis Powell, whenever there is conflict between government and business, business should always win. In my world, there should always be a search for proper balance between business and labor; policy and practice; efficiency and effectiveness; government and the governed.”
Chapter 35: Genuinely Southern
Chapter 36: Proudly Black