On November 16th, 2006, the House Democratic Caucus unanimously elected Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina Majority Whip for the 110th Congress. This was a historic day for House Democrats, having just won back the majority for the first time in twelve years. It was also historic for Jim Clyburn, who became the first South Carolinian and the second African American to ascend to the third ranking position in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In accepting his new role, Congressman Clyburn shared with his colleagues a story from his childhood that told much about the environment from which he came and about the man he has become. When he was about 12 or 13 years old, he stopped by his mother's beauty shop after school in his hometown of Sumter, South Carolina. A client of his mother's asked young James what he wanted to be when he grew up. James responded by expressing his dreams of wanting to be in politics and government. He was quickly rebuked by the woman, who admonished him never to utter those words again. She was not intending to throw cold water on young James' dreams. She genuinely felt that such expressions could bring danger to him and his family in the segregated South. That night, his mother told young James to ignore the client's warning and encouraged him to hold fast to his dreams. (Read more)