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Tyler – Texas College is pleased to announce that the Honorable James E. Clyburn, Assistant Democratic Leader in the United States House of Representatives, will serve as the 2023 Commencement Speaker. The 2023 Commencement Exercise will be held on Saturday, May 6, 2023 on the Texas College campus at 10:00 A.M. For additional information regarding the 2023 Commencement Activities, please visit the Texas College website at:

James E. Clyburn is the Assistant Democratic Leader in the United States House of Representatives. He previously served in the post from 2011 to 2018 and served as Majority Whip from 2007 to 2010 and 2019 to 2022, making him the first African American to serve multiple terms as Majority Whip. A native son of South Carolina, Clyburn has represented the state’s Sixth Congressional District since 1993.

Congressman Clyburn’s humble beginnings in Sumter, South Carolina, as the eldest son of an activist, fundamentalist minister and an independent, civic-minded beautician, grounded him securely in family, faith, and public service. As a 1961 graduate of South Carolina State, he began his professional career as a public-school teacher in Charleston, South Carolina. He later served as an employment counselor, and director of two youth and community development programs. In 1971, he joined the staff of Governor John C. West, becoming the first African American advisor to a South Carolina governor. In 1974, Governor West appointed him South Carolina Human Affairs Commissioner, where he served until 1992 when he retired from state government to run for Congress.

When he came to Congress in 1993, Congressman Clyburn was elected co-president of his freshman class. He was subsequently elected Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Vice Chair, and Chair, of the House Democratic Caucus. From 2011 to 2018, he served as Assistant Democratic Leader. In addition to serving as Whip, Congressman Clyburn chairs the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Congressman Clyburn has led efforts to preserve and restore historic buildings on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). He sponsored legislation creating the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor, the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, the Congaree National Park, the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park and expanding the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site to South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, DC.

Dedicated to making America’s greatness accessible and affordable for all citizens, his 10-20-30 federal funding formula – initially applied to three programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – has been expanded to 15 accounts of the appropriations bills. Additionally, his Rural Energy Savings Program provides loans to families and businesses to implement durable, cost-effective energy efficiency measures. His “Accessible, Affordable Broadband for All” bill was included in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill and is funded at a level of $65 billion.

The recipient of 36 honorary degrees, Congressman Clyburn has received numerous awards including: the Lyndon Baines Johnson Liberty and Justice for All Award in 2015; the Harry S Truman Foundation’s Good Neighbor Award in 2021; and the NAACP’s highest honor – the Spingarn Medal – in 2022. His endorsement of Joe Biden for president in 2020 is credited with boosting him to an overwhelming victory in the South Carolina and subsequent primaries and setting Biden on path to the presidency.

Congressman Clyburn and his late wife, Emily England Clyburn, met as college student protestors in an Orangeburg, South Carolina, jail in 1960. The encounter led to a 58-year marriage, and they became parents of three daughters and grandparents to four grandchildren.


Texas College is a Historically Black College founded in 1894, by a group of CME ministers. Our mission continues to embody the principles of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The College shall prepare students with competencies in critical and creative thinking related to the knowledge, skills, and abilities as defined in areas of study. Additionally, the College shall provide an environment to inspire intellectual, spiritual, ethical, moral, and social development, which empowers graduates to engage in life-long learning, leadership, and service.

Led by President Dwight J. Fennell, PhD, Texas College serves as the oldest institution of higher education in the city of Tyler, celebrating over 129 years of providing educational opportunities to all. As an ethnically diverse liberal arts institution, students gain the theoretical and foundational preparations designed to propel them into a major that will equip them for graduate and/or professional schools, as well as the world of work.

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