Blessed Experiences

Reading Jim Clyburn’s lucid, detailed, and fascinating autobiography, I was struck over and over again by how strangely familiar the stories of his formative years were to me. Strange because as a student leader, schoolteacher, and then staff member for South Carolina governor John C. West, Jim confronted overt political and personal racism far more directly than I did at a young age. His day-to-day life of professional trial and error and political awakening was also very different from mine. But throughout the book there is a sense of balance, pragmatism, and buttoned-down toughness that reminded me vividly of the men and women among whom I was raised on the north side of Tulsa. In following Jim’s career as a congressman, especially once he became House majority whip, I have been deeply moved by how truly “Representative” Jim Clyburn is of modern African Americans and of their parents, whom white people “politely” referred to as “Negroes”; and of their parents and grandparents, who endured being called “Colored”; and of their ancestors, who bore the terrors of slavery. Jim truly represents their collective aspirations, and he has the record, scars, and fighting spirit, to prove it. One has only to attend the annual Jim Clyburn Fish Fry in Columbia, South Carolina, to get a sense of the great respect he has earned from South Carolinians of every color and political persuasion.

Purchase Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black Today!