Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Funding the Forgotten: House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina Has Seen to It That Historically Overlooked Constituents, Especially HBCUs, Get a Larger Share of Federal Dollars

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Funding the Forgotten: House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina Has Seen to It That Historically Overlooked Constituents, Especially HBCUs, Get a Larger Share of Federal Dollars

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

When U.S. Rep. James Clyburn gathers in August with hundreds of supporters and well-wishers in South Carolina for his annual Rudolph Canzater Memorial Golf Classic, the highlight of the event will not be golf.

The focus of the two-day gathering in Santee, S.C., is a dinner at which Clyburn honors the more than 100 winners of a $1,000 Canzater Scholarship to college students from his congressional district. The money raised for the needs-based Canzater Scholarship (named for a late close friend and Clyburn campaign volunteer who had a passion for education and helping young people) helps determine whether a disadvantaged student will get to go to college this fall.

"It's a weekend about more than golf," says Clyburn, a nine-term Democratic congressman for the 6th Congressional District in South Carolina. In an interview, he recently reflected on the impact of the tournament, first held nearly 25 years ago as the Palmetto Issues Conference Classic, with 12 participants who raised enough to offer four $500 scholarships.

Now, "it's a big economic engine for the whole area," Clyburn says, and it includes a free health fair for residents of his district, one of the poorest and least healthy in the nation. Created in 1992 under the federal Voting Rights Act to ensure Black voter strength in this once majority-Black state and other mostly Southern states, the district also includes a largely rural, 200-mile stretch along Interstate 95 that's widely known as the "Corridor of Shame" because of historically high rates of poverty, lack of employment opportunities and substandard schools.

The $1,000 scholarships, often matched by the students' selected schools, can be used to attend any college in the country, although many attend schools in Clyburn's congressional district--home to most of South Carolina's HBCUs. Each Canzater recipient also gets a new Dell laptop and a Microsoft software package, according to the James E. Clyburn Research and Scholarship Foundation, organizer of the golf tournament and administrator of the scholarship program.

"What he's doing is simply giving back and helping," says Dr. Henry Tisdale, president of Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C. Clyburn has been "a real advocate for the people of South Carolina. He has helped us understand the availability of resources and how to get resources."

Elected to Congress in 1992 after a nearly 20-year stint as an appointed state official, Clyburn worked his way through the Democratic Party ranks to become House majority whip in November 2006. In the third-highest position in the U.S. House of Representatives behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, it is his job to line up votes--through arm-twisting, deal-cutting and brokering--in support of legislation proposed by the president.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As whip, Clyburn is a core member of a leadership team that determines how legislation proceeds through the House, if at all.

Along the way--through committee, Congressional Black Caucus and House leadership assignments--Clyburn has learned how to keep federal funds flowing to his state and get more federal funds for citizens and institutions historically left out of the sharing of federal tax revenues. The golf classic that predates Clyburn's election to Congress has had an increasing ripple effect over time as it has grown in participants and financial value. Beyond that signature event, the fruits of Clyburn's labors in Washington for his home state are evident in myriad ways.

Instrumental Support

Clyburn has fought for the historically marginalized since his college days. When he was a student at South Carolina State College in the late 1950s, his political activism compelled classmates to jokingly refer to him as "senator." Clyburn and his eventual wife, Emily England, organized and participated in student sit-ins, boycotts and mass marches against businesses and local government agencies to protest the segregation laws that consumed the South. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.