House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. ClyburnTALLAHASSEE, Fla. – House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn will serve as the 2011 Florida A&M University (FAMU) fall commencement speaker on Friday, December 16 at 6 p.m. in the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium.

Clyburn is the leadership liaison to the Appropriations Committee and one of the Democratic Caucus’ primary liaisons to the White House. Working with the internal caucuses, he plays a prominent role in messaging and outreach.

When Clyburn came to Congress in 1993, he was elected co-president of his freshman class and quickly rose through leadership ranks. He was elected chairman of the congressional Black Caucus in 1999, and his reputation as a leader and consensus-builder helped him win a difficult three-way race for House Democratic Caucus vice chair in 2002.

Three years later, he was unanimously elected chair of the Democratic Caucus. When Democrats regained the House majority in 2006, Clyburn was elevated by his colleagues to House Majority Whip.

As a national leader he has worked to respond to the needs of America’s diverse communities. He championed rural communities supporting the development of regional water projects, community health centers, and broadband connections. He has supported higher education by leading the charge for increased Pell grants and invested millions in science and math programs and historic preservation at historically black colleges and universities.

He has encouraged economic development by securing funding for Empowerment Zones; invested in green technology development such as nuclear, wind, hydrogen and biofuels; and directed 10 percent of Recovery Act funding to communities 20 percent under the poverty level for the past 30 years. Clyburn was instrumental in advancing into law measures to resolve historic discrimination issues, significantly reducing the statutory disparity in cocaine sentencing and compensating African and Native American farmers who suffered racial discrimination under the USDA loan program.

Clyburn and his wife, Emily, have three daughters, Mignon, Jennifer Reed and Angela Hannibal; two sons-in-law, Walter Reed and Cecil Hannibal; and two grandchildren, Walter A Clyburn Reed and Sydney Alexis Reed.