CLEMSON — U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities at commencement exercises at Clemson University on Friday, May 7, in Littlejohn Coliseum.

The colleges of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Architecture, Arts and Humanities; and Engineering and Science will confer degrees in a 9:30 a.m. ceremony during which Clyburn will be honored. The second ceremony begins at 2:30 p.m. for the College of Business and Behavioral Science and the College of Health, Education and Human Development. Approximately 2,680 degrees will be awarded in the two ceremonies. 

Clyburn, a Sumter native and graduate of S.C. State University, first pursued a career in politics in 1970 when he campaigned for the South Carolina House of Representatives. He lost the election, but then-Gov. John West asked Clyburn to join his administration, making him the first African-American adviser to a South Carolina governor since post-Reconstruction. He later was appointed Human Affairs commissioner, a position he held for 18 years.

In 1992 he resigned his Human Affairs position to devote time to pursuing a seat in Congress. He won the election and in January 1993 was sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where no black South Carolinian had served since 1897.

In November 2006, Clyburn became majority whip for the 110th Congress, making him the first South Carolinian and the second African-American to ascend to the third-ranking position in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Live video from both commencement ceremonies will be streamed online at


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