Blessed Experiences

Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black
Narrated by: James E. Clyburn
Length: 24 hrs and 15 mins
4 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From his humble beginnings in Sumter, South Carolina, to his prominence on the Washington, D.C., political scene as the third highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn has led an extraordinary life. In Blessed Experiences, Clyburn tells in his own inspirational words how an African-American boy from the Jim Crow-era South was able to beat the odds to achieve great success and become, as President Barack Obama describes him, "one of a handful of people who, when they speak, the entire Congress listens."

Born in 1940 to a civic-minded beautician and a fundamentalist minister, Clyburn began his ascent to leadership at the age of 12, when he was elected president of his National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) youth chapter. He broke barriers through peaceful protests and steadfast beliefs in equality and justice. Of his success Clyburn says he was "blessed with nurturing parents, a supportive family, and loyal friends." But, he added, "my life was not just about knocking down doors and lowering barriers. I spent some time marching in the streets and occupying the inside of South Carolina jails." As a civil rights leader at South Carolina State College, as human affairs commissioner under John C. West and three subsequent governors, and as South Carolina's first African American congressman since 1897, Clyburn has established a long and impressive record of public leadership and advocacy for human rights, education, historic preservation, and economic development.

Clyburn was elected to Congress in 1992. Serving as co-president of his freshman class, he rose quickly through the ranks and was elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1999 and House Democratic Caucus vice chair in 2002. Three years later he was unanimously elected chair of the Democratic Caucus.

©2014 University of South Carolina Press (P)2014 James E. Clyburn
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A good history lesson

I heard Congressman Clyburn speak live to a group and I could not wait to read his memoir, one of my favorite book genres. At 24 hours in length, it took me some time before I remembered that I could speed up the author's naturally slow speaking style. I first moved it to 1.50 speed, but that distorted his voice too much. 1.25 was perfect.

His stories were very interesting, rich with details of the influence of his parents, the Sumpter, SC, community where he grew up and his quest for education and finding a way to make a difference for his SC constituents. In some chapters he rambled, but I was patient and eventually he got back on track. The book could have benefitted from an editor to eliminate some of the redundancies, and a better narrator. But I also felt close to the congressman by listening to his story in his own voice. This book is great for people who enjoy learning and celebrating history.

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Outstanding

Real...heartfelt...when is the follow on book to reveal the ugly that brought such beauty you articulate...learned much, and we need to spread the message...