Congressman James E. Clyburn Educates Xavier Community on Black History
Leonard Lewis IV | 3/1/2017, 7:04 p.m.
U.S. Rep James E. Clyburn, D-S.C. delivered the Black History Month convocation address at Xavier University’s Convocation Center on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. The third ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives educated students and faculty on the history of the month dedicated to celebrate black history and why it’s important to preserve black history today.
“Black history month is a time for us to think about the challenges that we are facing with educating our youth and providing a better community for them,” Clyburn said. The efforts made by Clyburn to improve his community began long before he was the assistant Democratic leader in Congress as a public school teacher in South Carolina. His passion for historically black universities runs deep. And as a Congressman, he has pushed for a bill to preserve historical sites on HBCU campuses.
“I celebrate HBCU’s everyday, and if you question their value, then tell me what you think people like Elijah Cummings, Cedric Richmond, and John Thompson what have done without the education they received at HBCU’S,” Clyburn said. Richmond, the New Orleans congressman, attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. and joined Clyburn for the day’s events.
After Hurricane Katrina, Clyburn supported the recovery of Xavier and the city through personal visits, persuasive mediation and encouraging maximum government support for recovery. During his speech, Clyburn said that African-Americans should use this time to reflect on rates of violence, the quality of education, and the impact of politics on the black community. He called for more involvement to further the achievements made by black leaders in the past. He encouraged the audience to give back to the community to educate young people.
“Black history month is a time for us to figure out what is going on around us, but more importantly, to figure out what God intended our role to be in society,” Clyburn said.
He spoke on persistence and referenced Thomas Edison’s process in inventing the light bulb. He explained that it took Edison several times, and help from others to make this breakthrough. Clyburn said he wanted young people to also understand the importance of black contributions to inventing things we use every day like the traffic light.
“In order to move forward in life you must know where your are, who you are, and what you are,” Clyburn said.
It was message tailored for Xavier’s spring graduating class, as they leave the safety of an HBCU and enter the real world. “As we prepare for graduation it is important for us as a graduating class to take this message Clyburn said and apply to our adult life,” said Sierra Blanchard-Hodge, Xavier’s student government president.