Interviewee: Jim Clyburn
IWY SC 571
Interviewer: Elaine Paul
Date: June 10, 1977
At the time of the IWY State Conference in South Carolina, Jim Clyburn lived in Columbia and ran the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. Clyburn is African-American and was originally from Sumter, SC. Clyburn attended the state IWY conference to represent the Human Affairs Commission and because he was considering running for state-wide office the following year. Interview includes discussion of: Clyburn’s favorable impressions of the conference; Clyburn’s support for women’s activism; Clyburn’s goal of listening to diverse opinions at the conference; and his belief people should “begin to view the rights of human beings in a broader perspective.” Since 1993, Clyburn has served as the U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District as a Democrat.
Elaine Paul: Please tell me your name, sir.
James Clyburn: I’m Jim Clyburn.
EP: And what do you do, Mr. Clyburn, where do you live? Tell me a little bit about yourself?
JC: Well, I presently live here in Columbia. I lived in Charleston before and was born in Sumter, and I run the State Human Affairs Commission.
EP: On, you stay busy.
JC: Oh, yes.
EP: Human Affairs Commission, is that why you’re here?
JC: Yes, and because some people see me as a candidate for state-wide office next year, I guess.
EP: Oh, you’ve got selfish interest, huh?
EP: I was about to say, that’s not selfish, is it? Enlightened self-interest.
JC: That’s right, that’s right.
EP: Well Mr. Clyburn, what do you think of this conference, tell me?
JC: Well, I’m quite, quite pleased with it. I had some misgivings as to whether or not the conference could come off as smoothly as it is coming off because naturally a lot of people viewed the, the putting together of the conference with some suspicions as to whether or not it was a part of a nation-wide lobbying effort on behalf of ERA. But I think Dr. Davis and the committee has done a tremendous job in keeping it sort of in the middle of the road, and I’m very impressed with that. The resource people I’ve talked to and listened to have been outstanding in their presentations. I think the issues that are of substance are being discussed and I’m enjoying it.
EP: Does it make you nervous in any way? Since you’re a male I have to ask you that question.
JC: To be here?
EP: No, the fact that women are maybe a little pushy?
JC: Oh no, no, I think it’s high time the women –
JC: – do become a little pushy. Sure, I think that were it not for pushy women we wouldn’t, you probably still wouldn’t be voting. So I suspect that in a country as enlightened as ours should be and a country of equal opportunities ours purport to be, women should become assertive to the point that they can be able to stand on equal footing, because it’s long overdue.
EP: So you, do you think we’ve made some progress in that direction as a result of this conference?
JC: Oh sure, oh sure. I think that, I’ve talked to some of the dissidents today and they, too, to some instance kind of grudgingly, but they seem to admire the way the conference has gone off. I think that’s a –
EP: Tell me more. You have talked to some of the people who –
JC: Sure, who oppose the whole idea. Yes, I’ve talked to them. I, I try to also stay enlightened by talking to both sides of the issues. I –
EP: A real mediator.
JC: (Laughter) No, no, I wasn’t mediating, I was just trying to find out what people’s thoughts are. I suspect that anyone in public life –
EP: Better keep his ear to the ground.
JC: – should keep his ear to the ground, sure, sure. So I think that they are pleased that it has not at least been a forum to push for things that they don’t seem to be caught up in like we are.
EP: Very delicate way of putting it. Have you anything else to say for this statement as a, an official who is peculiarly interested in Human Rights, have you got something you’d like to say for the record?
JC: Sure, I think that, for the future or for everybody’s actions on this question, I would like for people to be able to look at the issue of Human Rights as it really is; and that is it’s not a Civil Rights question. These things that are civil are in fact man-made, but the whole question of Human Rights is something that’s God-given and I think that people should begin to view the rights of human beings in a much broader perspective than it’s used to.
EP: You sound like one of the Founding Fathers right in the Constitution.
JC: Well. (Laughter) Well, that’s what the Constitution’s all about.
EP: You mean it don’t you?
JC: Sure. Feel strongly about that.
EP: I feel a little better about the way our Human Rights Commission’s being run. Thank you so much, Mr. Clyburn.
JC: Thank you.
End of Interview